Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Chile before Chile

Wooden spirits

Rapa Nui art is rooted in Polynesian traditions. Pieces include anthropomorphic wooden sculptures, whose shapes and symbolic elements reflect a cosmovision dating back more than 1000 years. The moai kava kava, tangata and pa’a pa’a figures represent guardian spirits and demons, as well as incarnate animals and people. According to island legend, a chief once saw these spirits and reproduced them in wood, thereby capturing their power. Items such as the rei-miros and the tahongas were worn as adornments during religious celebrations.