Easter Islanders Ask British Museum to Return Sacred Statue, Offering Replica in Return

Hyperallergic, October 23, 2018

“The eight-foot-tall Moai sculpture at the British Museum is called Hoa Hakananai’a, which translates to “the stolen or hidden friend.” This name is fitting, since the four-ton statue was stolen from the island in 1868 by Royal Navy captain Richard Powell, and presented as a gift to Queen Victoria. She donated it to the national museum in London in 1869.

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Now, as reported by the Guardian, the Rapa Nui people, indigenous to Easter Island, would like their statue back, please and thank you. As Easter Island sits about 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, advocates for the reclamation and restoration of Rapa Nui culture have petitioned the Chilean government to arbitrate on their behalf for the return of the work — which is not only considered an object of sacred worship, but believed to house the spirit or mana of the depicted deity.

Now, as reported by the Guardian, the Rapa Nui people, indigenous to Easter Island, would like their statue back, please and thank you. As Easter Island sits about 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, advocates for the reclamation and restoration of Rapa Nui culture have petitioned the Chilean government to arbitrate on their behalf for the return of the work — which is not only considered an object of sacred worship, but believed to house the spirit or mana of the depicted deity.

While respecting religious customs tends to raise the stakes, in terms of the path of moral righteousness, it’s worth noting that you’re on the wrong side of Ethics 101 for stealing anything, even an Easter Island ashtray, and refusing to return it.

More here.