Moai Mold Ready for Concrete
by Liesl Clark
April 23, 1998
It looked like a caricature of a moai, sitting red-faced in anticipation
of being filled with concrete. The human moai-like features on the red fiberglass
mold are beautifully formed, and an exact replica of a statistically average
moai on Easter Island.
Today Rapa Nui artist Santi Hito and American
Darus Ane pulled the Styrofoam
plug filling from the mold. Based on years of research, including measuring all
of the nearly 900 moai on Easter Island,
Jo Anne Van Tilburg was able to
render a 3-D moai model through digital imaging. This red mold is the result of
that work. And tomorrow it will be filled with a special mixture of concrete to
simulate the same density, texture, and color of the tuff from
Rano Raraku quarry.
The concrete mix is made of red scoria, sand, cement, and aggregate. Its density
should be 105 pounds per cubic foot. The team will be able to determine the
exact density of the concrete mixture by measuring the dimensions of the mold to
calculate its volume and then weighing the concrete-filled moai (weight divided
by volume equals density). The concrete will take three days to cure.
Meanwhile, at the red scoria quarry, Rapa Nui sculptor Raphael Rapu began
carving the one-ton pukao, or top knot, that will be raised onto the moai's
head. He demonstrated to us the ancient methods of carving red scoria
pukaos using an original tool called a toki, a long, sharp piece of gray
basalt rock. Santi Hito, who translated Raphael's Rapa Nui to English for
us, explained that traditionally, carving a pukao like this would take
weeks. The two artists, Hito and Rapu, come from a long tradition of stone
carvers and sculptors on this island, who seem to intuitively know rock without
having to measure its density. Theirs is an art by feel of texture and years of
experience with stone.