Rapa Nui - Vinapu & festivals

Sun 1 Aug 2010 00:27
Vinapu has a wall built in exactly the same way as the sun god site just outside of Cusco, Peru but everyone says the origin of the islanders is Polynesian not South American - so this just adds to the Easter Island enigma.
Picture of Vinapu
The islands behind us used to be the site of the birdman competition. Contenders for the position of Birdman would choose a champion to compete. The islanders competing would scale the cliffs, swim out to the furthest island and wait for the sooty terns to start lying eggs. The winner was the first man back with an intact egg and his sponsor would hold the important position of Birdman for a year. The Catholic missionaries abolished the competition as it was based around homage to the God Make Make. Now the island has 2 competitions. In one, males and females slide down a hill on two tied together banana tree trunks - winner is first one down.  The local amubulance is always in attendance.
Birdman competition site
The other competition is for young muscular men who wear a grass thong and nothing else. They have to paddle across a lake, run round it carrying 2 heads of bananas and then swim across the lake again. It's a sort of Easter Island triathlon.
Pic from book - we couldn't wait for February.
One of the smallest, but most spectacular and best preserved moai is in the British Museum in London. The islanders would like it back, but as it took 200 islanders to help load it onto the transport ship, it can hardly be described as stolen.