The Rise & Fall of Easter Island's Culture

Easter Island / Rapa Nui - Glossary of Terms & Definitions



GLOSSARY A - Z
ahu A shrine, place of worship, called marae in other parts of Polynesia
aku aku Supernatural spirits that frequent specific clan areas
ao Ceremonial dance paddle with human face on one end; also refers to those taking part in the birdman culceremonies
ariki Chief, head of descent group
ariki mau Paramount of high chief of Easter Island, chosen from the Miru clan (primary status clan)
ariki paka Member of the Miru clan
arioi A class of professional dancers/entertainer in the Society Islands
avanga Irregular stone cists with human bones; a form of burial
hanehane Red scoria stone
Hanga Roa The only village and commercial center on Easter Island today
hara Sin or error
hare moa A stone structure with an inner chamber said to be a pen for chickens. Most of these were probably tombs but were reused in later times
hare paenga A house for statue individuals built in the shape of an upturned canoe. The foundation was formed of dressed stones, the top thatched. Also called hare vaka
ha'u Hat
haukiri A hat worn by women; made of feathers, it came to a point
Hiva Mythical ancestral homeland
hopu A servant or proxy for the birdman contestant
Hotu Matu'a Founding ancestor, according to legend
huruhuru moa Feathered brush
ika Fish or human sacrifice (fish for the gods)
ivi atua A type of priest (sorcerer, diviner, prophet; called taula elsewhere in Polnesia)
keho Thin slabs of basalt
kio Sevant or farmer
komari Vulva
kumara Sweet potato
kura Red
maea mo moa Stone to promote fertility in chickens
mahute Bark of the Brousanetia papirifera tree, used to make barkcloth
Makemake God of the warriors
makohe Frigate bird
mana Supernatural power
manavai Stone-walled garden enclosures
manupiri Design depicting two birdmen face to face. Said to represnt the idea of source, family tree, groups into which one may marry; tumu
manutara Sooty turn
manukura Sacred red bird
manu Ceremony to initiate children
marae Sacred temple and/or precinct, associated with gods or spirits of the dead
mata Eye, people, clan, ancestor
mata'a Obsidian spear point
matatoa Warriors
Manunga Orito Obsidian source
Miru Name of leading status clan on Easter Island
moa Chicken
moai Statue, carving
moko Lizard
motu Islet
nanue Favorite fish of the Easter Islanders
noa Profane; opposite of tapu
nuihi Mythological sea creature, half human, half shark
paenga Worked stone for structures
pakia A type of fish, or seal-like creature
papa Flat lava flow
piu Young sooty terns
pipi horeko Stone cairns that may have been boundary markers
pora Reed boats or floats
poro Rounded beach cobbles
pua Dye
pukao Cylindrical stone topknots carved of red scoria and placed on the heads of moai
rahui Prohibition on the use of resources
rapa A dance paddle, smaller than an ao but having the same general confirmation
Rapa Nui Easter Island, Easter Islanders, and their language
rei miro Lunate-shaped ceremonial pectoral said to have been worn by royalty
rongorongo Wood tablets with script
taheta Basin, usually for water collection
tahonga Wooden coconut-shaped oraments worn around the neck
take Initiation rite for children
tangata Man
tangata manu Bird Man
tapa Sacred, prohibited
taula Priest similar to ivi atua; in the Marquesas, taua
ti A plant that is a source of dye
tiki Figures carved in human form
totora A reed that grows in the creater lakes
tufunga Protopolynesian word for priest or expert; tofunga, kahuna eleswhere
tumu Source, family tree, group into which one may marry
tupa Large stone tower with inner chamber whose function is uncertain. Similar structures called "turtle watching towers" were used in the Tuamotus to watch the stars
turua Stone pillows
umu Earth oven
vai Water
vaka Canoe
varua Spirit


Easter Island Introduction
Sentinels in Stone - Rise & Fall of Easter Island's Culture | Page | 1 | 2 | 3 |
The Rock Art of Easter Island
The Birdman Cult / Motif of Easter Island
Sea & Marine Creatures in Easter Island Rock Art
Designs & Motifs of Easter Island's Rock Petroglyph Carvings
Dr Georgia Lee - Publications on Easter Island
Moai Location Map & Islanders
Contemporary Easter Island Art
Easter Island Glossary
Easter Island Conclusion

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