"Orongo" Top 5 Page for this destination Easter Island Things to Do Tip by pure1942
Easter Island Things to Do: 305 reviews and 695 photos
Perched high above the crater of Rano Kau is one of the island?s most enigmatic places. Orongo village is located on the southern ridge of the volcano on a cliff overlooking the pounding waves of the Pacific far below and looking out over the three small islets, or motus, Motu Nui, Motu Iti and Motu Kao Kao.
Orongo was a ceremonial village comprising of about 54 stone houses connected to the make-make cult, more commonly referred to as ?The Birdman Cult?(see Local Customs Tips for more on the birdman cult) The village was occupied and used for only a few weeks every year at the beginning of spring during the time of the make-make cult although evidence suggests that there were dwellings here at Orongo since the 16th century. Orongo became the focus of a new political and religious order after the clan warfare and inter tribal rivalries led to the abandoning of traditional ?moai? based religious expression.
A walk around the village of Orongo is one of the highlights of any trip to Rapa Nui and there is a huge amount to see and learn about in the area. Apart from breathtaking views seaward towards the motus and inland over the fantastic crater of Rano Kau, the village itself is a spectacular sight. Restored between 1974 and 1976, the village consists of about 54 stone houses built from flat stone slabs quarried from the crater walls. (The quarry can still be seen today). The houses were simple, elliptically shaped buildings with one room and corbelled ceilings. Outside each house was a grassy terrace where ceremonial music, dance and song was performed in the weeks leading up to the tangata-manu competition. The houses were covered in earth and grass to protect them from the elements on this highly exposed point of the island. Several of the houses have been left unrestored to show how the houses would have been found and one house has been restored as a cross section to show how the interior of one of the houses would have looked. Because of the restrictions on space on this most precarious of perches, the stone houses of Orongo were built stepped ontop of each other with one house?s grassy terrace serving as the roof of the one below it.
All the houses at Orongo are orientated towards the religiously important motus to the west.
One of the houses at Orongo is linked to the controversial Moai Hoa Haka Nana La. This moai was stored at one of the Orongo houses before being taken/stolen from the island. The moai is now displayed in the British Museum and is the subject of fierce controversy, with a huge number of people advocating its immediate repatriation to the island. The British Museum has remained steadfast in its refusal to return the moai stating that its suberbly preserved, present-day condition is due to the protection and safety afforded to it by its conservation and guardianship. Personally, I don?t think the British Museum has any claim to the moai, but it isn?t the first thing in the British Museum to have been plundered from the four corners of the world. Incidentally the name Hoa Haka Nana la means ?stolen/lost friend?!
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