Human figures in Rapanui woodcarving

Sveinn Eggertsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this paper the varied explanations, both local and academic, of Rapanui woodcarvings are discussed and some possible interpretations presented. First, it is suggested that some figures can be understood as representing processes of mediation between different cosmological spheres. Second, it is proposed that particular figures can be considered as having protective qualities similar to those of carvings elsewhere in Polynesia. Finally, the argument is made that certain carved figures should be understood as portraits of particular people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Polynesian Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

Other keywords

  • Mediation
  • Portraiture
  • Protection
  • Rapanui
  • Woodcarving


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