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Photo of Moai mold 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.

Photo of Moai mold 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.

Lessons Learned (May 11)
A New Way to Move a Moai (May 9)
Moai is Upright (May 6)
Moai Nearly Raised (May 5)
A Tourist Attraction (May 3)
The Secret of the Sledge (May 2)
Moai Ready to be Raised (May 1)
The Moai is Moved (April 30)
15-Ton Moai Removed from Mold (April 27)
Moai Platform Complete (April 26)
Moai Mold is Filled (April 24)
Moai Mold Ready for Concrete (April 23)
Statue Mold En Route (April 22)
The Team Arrives (April 20)
Arrival on Rapa Nui (April 17)

Photos: Liesl Clark

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