You cannot copy contents of this page.

Consider to upgrade to get all contents.

All Access Pass

Easter island Rapanui symbols
Easter island Rapanui symbols

Easter Island Rapa Nui Symbols - Easter Island Rapa Nui Meanings - Easter Island Rapa Nui Vectors

Easter Island Rapa Nui is renowned for its massive stone statues, the moai, constructed on this tiny isolated island lying over 2000 miles from the coast of Chile. The moai constitute part of the short-term but magnificent cultural achievement of Easter Island, which lasted no more than 1400 years before being undermined by environmental degradation and endemic war- fare. Yet the moai were just one element of a remarkable artistic output.
History, as much as art, made this island unique. But attempts to unravel that history have produced many interpretations and arguments. The missionary’s anecdotes, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s oral histories and boxes of bones have all revealed something of the island’s story.
The motifs of Easter Island symbols are very diverse, ranging from simple cup marks to elaborate bas-relief carvings of subjects including anthropomorphs, ships and the birdman- an image which combines the body of a man with the head and beak of a frigate bird. This typology is a considerable achievement, and its presentation includes an analysis of the distribution of motifs across the island to show significant variability and patterning. It combines a very clear and precise descriptive prose with a splendid series of line drawings, although these pale in comparison with the magnificent color plates.
The most important motif is the birdman. This figure pervades the rock art of Easter Island and is the theme for many variations such as a two headed birdman, a birdman with legs splayed and a birdman with human-like feet.

Moai statue Rapanui symbol

Moai Statue

Moai statues are solid stone statues weighing 10 to 90 tons.
The ancient Rapa Nui cut down Moai, the indigenous inhabitants of Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. They believed that Moai helped to bring a greater harvest. The island has over 1000 Moai statues ranging in size from 3-5 to 10-12 meters. Rapa Nui people created all of them in the XI-XVI centuries, long before the Europeans first arrived there.


Ao Rapa Nui


Ao is the traditional wand of Rapa Nui, which was a symbol of leadership and was used in rituals by the chiefs. The main ritual associated with Ao was the battle dance. The upper part of Ao is a stylized human face, which used to be painted with white, black and red colors. The person depicted in Ao most likely simulated the warrior.


Manu Piri Rapa Nui

Manu Piri

Manu Piri is an image of a double bird, which is a symbol of unity. Although the origins of this symbol are not known.
These birds are similar to Tangata Manu (the god of the birdman) or the Manutara (bird of luck), but there are two of them and their hands, bodies, wings are connected.

Manutara Rapa Nui


Manutara is a sacred bird in the traditional Rapa Nui performances. It was worshiped and was an important part of the Tangata Manu ritual. Manutara also represented good luck. The name itself translates as “bird of luck”. The luck is probably associated with the arrival of birds on the island, which coincides with the end of winter and the beginning of the season with a large abundance of eggs and fish. Perhaps these reasons later made Manutara the center of the birdman ritual.

Mangai Rapa Nui


Mangai is a Rapa Nui fishing hook. Such hooks were considered the highest art and were used to catch great predators such as tuna, albacore and sharks. They were carved out of stone, so this was not an easy task. Mangai were also considered a defense symbol.
In addition, the mangai are part of Rapa Nui’s cosmogonic representations. God-creator on such a hook pulled the earth out from under the water so that people could live on it.

Ho’onu Rapa Nui


Ho’onu is turtle is a traditional Rapa Nui culture. Ho’onu is a symbol of longevity and prosperity.

Ahu Te Pito Kura

Ahu Te Pito Kura

Ahu Te Pito Kura or “navel of light” is an archaeological complex located on Easter Island. It is believed to be the ceremonial center of the island. According to legend, Hotu Matua, the first king of the Rapa Nui, brought a ceremonial stone. Hotu Matua was the king who brought Rapa Nui people to Easter island from the ancestral home of Khiva. This stone, almost spherical and smooth, concentrates magnetic and supernatural energy called mana.

Hotu Matua Rapa nui

Hotu Matua

Hotu Matua is the first king of Rapa Nui. Rapa Nui considered Tiki te Hatu to be one of their earthly ancestors. In the creation myth, Tiki is the direct ancestor of the legendary Rapanui leader Hotu Matua, that is, in fact, the first person on earth. Hotu Matua brought his people to Easter Island. He also brought with him animals and plants that helped Rapa Nui to survive.

Tanga Roa Rapa nui

Tanga Roa

Tanga Roa is a deity who was in charge of water and sea animals. Rapa Nui legends say that Tanga Roa (and his son Rongo) were the first ancestors of the Rapa Nui and the island’s supreme leaders began their genealogy from them. Tanga Roa figurines are carved two-faced anthropomorphic images in the form of a ceremonial staff, which most likely served as an attribute of the ruler’s power of Easter Island.

Pu o Hiro Rapa Nui

Pu o Hiro

Pu o Hiro or “Hiro’s trumpet,” who was the ancient god of rain. It is a stone aerophone, considered to be the original musical instrument of the Rapa Nui culture. The Rapanui knew the Polynesian chthonic deity Hiro, whom they also endowed with the functions of the rain god.
This Pu o Hiro musical instrument was used as a stone pipe to increase fertility and take fish to the shore. It was also used to call neighbors to a meeting. Pu o Hiro traveled around the island as a trophy for the victors in battles.

Uoke Easter Island


Uoke is a chthonic deity-destroyer in Rapa Nui mythology.
It was Uoke, according to legend, who drowned a significant part of the land of Rapa Nui with the help of his magic lever and made it an island, not a continent (the traditional legend of the worldwide flood).
In Rapa Nui mythology, Uoke and his lever are also responsible for the destruction of the ancestral home on the mythical island of Khiva.
Uoke is an antagonistic deity in relation to Make Make, which can be regarded as the beginnings of the dualistic ideas of the Rapa Nui people.

Heke Rapa Nui


Heke is a mythological huge octopus in Rapa Nui’s representation. The cosmogony of Rapa Nui has not survived, but the legends mention the story of the great octopus.

Make Make Rapa nui

Make Make

Make Make is the main deity of the Rapa Nui pantheon and was responsible for wealth, fertility and success in wars. Make Make sighed and created the Earth. The god is portrayed as a birdman and the tangata manu figurines are most likely dedicated to him. The tangata manu competition was also originally dedicated to Make Make. The winner of this original test was made the representative of Make Make on earth for a year, during which his group received special privileges.

Rapa Nui canoe

Rapa Nui canoe

Rapa Nui canoe was described by the European colonialists. It was a small canoe made from small pieces of planks curiously and neatly stacked together. Its length could be about ten or twelve feet, its head and stern were raised considerably, but its middle part was very low. It had an outrigger, or balancer, made of three slender poles, and each of the men had a paddle, the blade of which also consisted of several parts. The bow and stern were cut or scribbled with figures.

Moai kavakava Rapa Nui

Moai kavakava

Moai kavakava is a statue with pronounced ribs. According to the legend about the origin of kawakava, the word itself means the ribs of supernatural beings. Moai kavakava is a male figurine according to the characteristic features of the face: a special aquiline nose with open nostrils and bulging eyes with large brow ridges, a small curved beard on the chin. These sculptures were displayed during public holidays during the harvest or main fishing seasons, when the Rapa Nui offered the first fruit or the first fish to the gods.

Moai papa Rapa Nui

Moai papa

Moai papa are female figures. They are quite rare and usually larger than the kawakawa moai and tangata moai. In proportion to these figures, the head is smaller in relation to the body. Some Moai papa have a small, pointed beard that looks like a goatee. Moai papa have flat chests. One hand is pressed to the vulva and the other to the abdomen or under the breast.

Reimiro Rapa Nui


Reimiro is a crescent-shaped pectoral worn by aristocrats of any gender, as well as the king of the island. The ends of the reimiro are decorated with stylized human heads with eagle profiles. Some reimiro have endings decorated with shells or whale tails, less often with bird heads. Some reimiro are engraved with signs similar to the kohau rongorongo tablets, which is the Rapa Nui writing system.

Moai tangata Rapa Nui

Moai tangata

Moai tangata is a figurine of a man. It is believed that such figures represent family ancestors. Usually they are not large from 33 to 45 cm. Unlike other human sculptures of Rapa Nui, the body of the Moai tangata is natural. The Moai tangata has a small pointed beard similar to that of the kawakawa moai. The skull is often adorned with three-headed octopuses with long, wavy hair.

Tangata manu competition Rapanui

Tangata manu competition

Tangata Manu competition was originally a religious celebration and praise for the birdmen god Make Make. Later, with the emergence of new clans led by matato’a or warrior leaders, the ceremony took on a more political character, evolving into a system that allowed the warrior class to justify its rule.
Military leaders were chosen from among the winners of the annual competition, not for hereditary or warlike reasons. The competition consisted of obtaining a sacred egg and with an egg tied to the men’s forehead, the contestant had to swim to the sacred island Orongo. The man had to fight to keep the egg intact, to get rid of the waves crashing against the rocks, and not to fall during the ascent. Sometimes participants died during the test.

Mata'a Rapa Nui


Mata’a is a spearhead similar to battle-axe. There are two versions of how it could be used: as a combat weapon or as a knife for processing and collecting plants. New research has shown that mata’a could not be used as a lethal weapon in civil wars and systemic violence, as previously thought. Mata’a is not fatal, which was purposefully done to prevent the destruction of society on an isolated island. Unless, of course, we assume that this is generally a weapon. Thousands of such mata’as have been found on Easter Island.

Haka Pei

Haka Pei

Haka Pei is a Rapa Nui sport during the Tapati festival.
Bananas are very important in Rapa Nui culture. In Rapa Nui, there was a banana called maíka, and it was the first food that the locals offered to Europeans. The banana trunk was used in a sport called haka pe’i and Rapa Nui people slid on them from the hills. The rules of Haka Pei are very simple: you need to become naked in a loincloth at the top of a volcano 300 meters high, tie yourself to two banana trunks and slide on them.
The speed could reach 50 miles per hour. It was necessary to stop the banana trunks in front of the crowd of spectators at the foot of the volcano.

Ua Rapa Nui


Ua is a staff that has a slightly flattened part, which becomes more marked on their base. The upper part of the Ua ends with a stylized human head with two opposite faces, sometimes with inlays. The nostrils are often highlighted with red dye.
Ua is an object of prestige, most likely a scepter of representatives of the higher hierarchy and was a ceremonial weapon.

Rapa Easter Island


Rapa is a dance accessory. It consists of two flat pieces that are fastened together at the handle. One of the parts is a stylized human face in the form of a curved line. The lower part is often interpreted as a phallic symbol. Military leaders mainly used Rapa when they performed dances in front of the supreme chief.

Moai tangata manu

Moai tangata manu

Moai tangata manu is a birdman figures that are not standardized and can be vary. The only common feature of all moai tangata manus is the position of wings or arms like wing near the body of the birdman. Moais can look more like a bird than man, sometimes the opposite. These figures could be the representation of the spirit of Make Make, one of the biggest god in the Rapa Nui’s pantheon.

Tahonga Rapa Nui


Tahonga is mostly an oval ornamented figure that evokes the tern’s egg. A hole drilled in the superior extremity is on Tahonga. Tahongas are sometimes decorated with opposite human heads or heads of birds. These figures were used as neck ornaments that were worn during annual festivities by the king, young men recently initiated, and by certain women.

Kohau rongorongo Rapanui

Kohau rongorongo

Kohau rongorongo are wooden tablets with glyphs signs carved on both sides. Each line is reversed in relation to the previous one. The plate is read from left to right from bottom to top. Symbols look like stylized turtles, fish, birds, people, plants, as well as geometric shapes and phases of the moon, etc. The signs are carved with a very high quality with an obsidian cutter.

Moai moko Rapa Nui

Moai moko

Moai moko is a half-human and half-lizard creature. Also the name of the wooden statues of this creature. These sculptures, often male, have an oval and flat head, separated by a well-defined neck, sometimes decorated with a zigzag pattern. The arch of the eyebrows hangs over the round eyes, which are clearly bulging. Birds or roosters are sometimes depicted on the top of the skull. The statuette has clearly depicted ribs, and the hands sometimes end in palms with long, curved fingers. The mid-back is a spine ending in a bird’s tail. There is a hole in the middle of the figurine, which made it possible to carry it on oneself or hang it horizontally.
They were placed on either side of the entrance to the houses for protection from ghosts. Moko was also worn around the neck of the dancers during community festivities.

Rapanui man

Rapa nui man

Rapa nui man is the indigenous inhabitant of Easter island (Local Rapa nui). The language is Rapa nui.
Rapa Nui’s occupations are agriculture, fishing, and cattle breeding. Crops: bananas, sweet potatoes, sugar cane. Very little is known about the structure of the ancient Rapa Nui society that existed before the 19th century. In connection with the export of the local population to Peru, where they were used as slaves, epidemics due to diseases brought to the island by Europeans, and the adoption of Christianity, Rapa nui society forgot about the previously existing hierarchical relations, family and tribal ties. The Rapa nui people had many tattoos on their bodies. They also painted the skin with red and white pigments. Rapa nui men wore rather short haircuts, and the hair was gathered from above in a bun.

Download All Easter Island Rapa Nui Symbols

Cart (0)

  • Your cart is empty.