Easter Island – Birdman Competition

Before the tribal wars but after the reign of the King Motu, it was decided on a yearly competition for leadership – the Birdman Journey.

Every year the  best warrior was chosen to represent his respective tribal chief. The priests, chiefs and chosen warriors would go to Orongo for the Birdman Competition – no children or women.

homes made into the ground where the men stayed for months during the competition

homes made into the ground where the men stayed for months during the competition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chosen men would swim out to the island off the coast of Orongo – which is one of the calderas on the eastern side of Easter Island. The island is called Motu Nui, it is the biggest island where the Manutara nested.

rows of homes built into the ground with very small doors to protect the men

rows of homes built into the ground with very small doors to protect the men

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The men would have to wait for the birds to migrate back to the island to nest in order to take one egg and swim back to Orongo. The first man back would mean his tribal chief would be leader over all the tribes for one year.

Island off of Orongo that warriors swam too for an egg of the migrating birds.

Island off of Orongo that warriors swam too for an egg of the migrating birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was not a friendly competition either. Men died at the hands of other competitors.

The caldera of Orongo is now used as a natural filter for the potable water on Easter Island.  A caldera by the airfield in the west is also used.  These calderas collect and filter the water.  Easter Island is made of 75 volcanic cones, though not all are obvious.

Orongo caldera

Orongo caldera

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