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A visitor from Easter Island

16 May 2011 by Lisa

We’ve just got some news that a mysterious visitor will soon be arriving at World Museum! Here’s our Curator of Oceanic Collections, Lynne Heidi Stumpe, to tell us about him…


Dark grey stone statue of a head and torso.

Image courtesy and copyright Trustees of the British Museum

An interesting new visitor is arriving at World Museum this evening. Moai Hava is just over five feet high, weighs about two and a half tons and is a little bit rough around the edges. He comes originally from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) but has been staying at the British Museum in London for the last 142 years, along with a larger friend called Hoa Hakananai’a.

All Rapa Nui statues have individual names: ‘moai’ means ‘statue’ or ‘image’ in the Rapanui language and ‘hava’ best translates as ‘to be lost’. Moai Hava is quite a mysterious character. Most moai were carved from volcanic tuff, a relatively soft rock, have a distinctive style and were made to commemorate ancestral chiefs. Moai Hava, however, is one of the few moai made from basalt, a much harder rock and is in a slightly different style. We don’t know exactly why he was made.

We’re really excited to see him, as there are only two of these Rapa Nui statues in the UK and Moai Hava isn’t usually on display. Luckily he’ll be here for a while (at least a year and probably three) and you can meet him in the World Museum atrium from Tuesday 17 May 2011.

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