Ahu Nau Nau

Ahu-Nau-Nau-anakenaPanoramic viw of Ahu Nau Nau at Anakena beach

Ahu Nau Nau is symbolically one of the most important ahus on Easter Island as it is located on the beautiful beach of Anakena, the place where, as the story goes, King Hotu Matu’a first landed with his entourage to populate the island. 

The ahu was restored in 1978 by a team led by Sergio Rapu, the island’s first professional archaeologist. It was also here that the white coral and red scoria eye was found, which is currently exhibited in the museum and has served in the recreation of the true image of the upright moai statues on their altars.

Ahu-Nau-NauView of the Ahu Nau Nau moai statues

When the Rapa Nui toppled over the moai during their resource crisis and tribal wars, the Ahu Nau Nau moai fell on the white sands of Anakena and were gradually covered by it. This protected them from erosion, so now you can appreciate the details in the fine carving of the eyes, nose, ears, and hands of these stone giants. Though they are not the largest sculptures that have been raised onthe island, they are possibly the most refined.

Ahu-Nau-NauDetail of petrogliphs and releifs on the moai backs

The backs of the statues are also sculpturally impressive. You can appreciate the knotted loincloth and, under it, the circular designs that are believed to be tattoos on the buttocks; you can also see the line of the spine. This level of detail is only found in Ahu Nau Nau and in the statues that remained in the Rano Raraku quarry and are currently half-buried.

Ahu-Nau-NauDetail of the moai head used for building the ahu base

On the back of the stone wall that forms the ahu base, there are several petroglyphs depicting birds and other animals, like lizards or monkeys, which can be identified. It can also be appreciated that a moai head forms part of the ahu’s structure. This was a common practice in ancient times, when both the original ahu and the moai that stood above it were used as the base in the building of a new ahu.