Nobody will argue that this is a
unique place to know about or to see. Off in the far reaches of the
Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of miles west of Conception Chile, this rugged
island, now known as Rapa Nui has a unique history and living quality.
The huge statues date back to the 12th century. But there are countless
other relics to discover if you can take the epic journey to this UNESCO
World Heritage site.
Very few people have lived there or
even visited it’s forbidding rocky coast. But now, if you are lucky to
be in Montreal this summer you can get as close to Easter Island as you
can without the long trip into the distant Pacific.
At Montreal’s Pointe-A-Calliere
known for its archeology and history displays, Easter Island, an Epic
Voyage awaits you.
facing the Montreal Harbor, this modern museum offers the special Epic
Voyage exhibit but it also boasts an underground set of streets rebuild
from the original site of the first settlers in a truly historic city.
But the special exhibition built
above the city ruins will open your eyes to a place most people know
Here’s your chance.
Of course, everyone knows about the
gigantic stone statues but this exhibit includes wood carvings rarely
seen in North America. They show remarkable artistry especially
considering their age and lack of tools.
The island was originally settled by
Polynesians who brought some animals and food plants when they arrived.
They had some understanding of horticultural techniques but they were on
a particularly difficult volcanic island. They made stone tools, wooden
fish hooks containers from banana leaves or gourds cloth made from bark,
and feather headdresses. Their ancestral beliefs drew them to carve the
890 large statues, many of which can still be seen.
But weather and location were not
good to the islanders. The forests that once covered the island began to
disappear. This could have been due to climate changes or a powerful El
Nino that warmed the waters. Even their personal beliefs changed with
time as they they attributed the island’s power to what was referred as
the ‘Birdman”.(Makemake) Headgear and personal ornaments signified this
Writing was also developed which can
be seen today in the inscriptions with rongorongo signs. These were the
only Polynesians to develop a primitive form of writing.
There were visitors from distant
lands and an influx of Peruvian slaves. Major research missions from
France, Spain, Holland and England. Today, about 40,000 visitors arrive
each year and they bring with them certain environmental threats.
It is important to visitors and
organizations like UNESCO to work in cooperation with the natives. The
best way is to become familiar with problems facing the island.
I saw a copy of one of the heads but
it was a far cry from the original 9 foot high, 10,000 pound original.
The displayed objects were worth the
visit. The natives take great pride in their stone and wooden carvings.
There are tablets with rongorongo symbols, single and two-headed
carvings of men, carved bidrs, animals and masks. There are Paoa whose
handle has two faces. It looks like a club but probably just an item of
prestige. Their wooden neck ornaments (reimiro) are crescent-shaped with
suspension holes. They are sacred and worn during special ceremonies by
powerful family members.
I say stone carved carving tools,
arrows and sacred eggs. There were rock paintings and other primitive
figures. But it was the busts and heads that particularly drew me. They
are more intricate and varied than the mysterious heads we have come to
connect to this distant and mysterious island.
If you can’t get to the island, the
Museum Pointe-a-Calliere in Montreal offers you the next best thing
The exhibition continues until Nov.
14th at 350, place Royal, the birthplace of Montreal.
For more information contact
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)