Pou Hakanononga

Statue of Pou Hakanononga
Ahu o Rongo (Easter Island)
Late 13th-14th cent.
Solid andesite; H.273 cm
Inv. ET.35.5.340

The statues of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) have greatly contributed to the fame of this isolated South Pacific island. They represent deified ancestors or domestic gods. Belgium has the rare privilege of possessing one of them, which it received from the Easter Islanders and the government of Chile in 1935 following a scientific expedition organized by the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels. This 2.73-metre-tall colossus was sculpted seven centuries ago, according to radiocarbon dating of charcoal found in the foundations of the stone podium on which it formerly stood. It bears the name of Pou Hakanononga, which could be interpreted as ‘god of tuna fishers’. This designation is fairly recent, arising not from the satue’s original role but from the cultural renaissance that occurred on Easter Island after the near genocide of the 19th century.

Discover this masterpiece in the gallery China, on the online museum catalogue Carmentis and in the book Masterpieces of the Cinquantenaire Museum, Ludion, 2015.