Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Chile before Chile

Rapa Nui

The Land of Hotu A Matu’a

Rapa Nui is a volcanic island in the Pacific, the world’s largest ocean, that was colonized 1500 years ago by Polynesians. Tradition recounts that leader Hotu A Matu’a led the first daring expedition, bringing royal family members, priests, advisors, farmers, fishermen and skilled tradesmen to the island with him. Rapa Nui culture peaked in A.D. 1000, when large altars and monumental stone statues were erected. This was followed by a period of deforestation, crisis and re-adaptation. Later, the arrival of European navigators, slave traders and epidemics drastically reduced the population to just 110. The island became Chilean territory officially in 1888, but the Rapa Nui people were recognized as Chilean citizens only in 1966.