A tourist has caused outrage after he was snapped hugging some of the sacred ‘head’ figures on Easter Island.
The tourist was snapped hugging the Moai figures in the municipality of Rapa Nui on Easter Island in the central Chilean region of Valparaiso and pictures were shared by the municipality on social media.
Moai statues are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island in eastern Polynesia between the years 1250 and 1500. They are located in different parts of the island.
In the photos, the male tourist who has not been identified can be seen grabbing a Moai figure with his tongue out and another snap shows him hugging a different figure.
The authorities said “the accumulated damage to Moai is irreparable” and they added that the rules of the Rapa Nui national park saying the figures should not be touched are clear and written in different languages.
They added that the figures represent the “soul of our ancestors and are sacred for us”.
In the press statement, the authorities asked for people “to be aware” and claimed that these kinds of actions “cost more than a fine”. They also noted that the National Monument Law do not seem to do enough to prevent tourists’ actions from damaging the heritage.
The municipality said: “We want to promote responsible tourism and especially respect for our culture and heritage that is being threatened with disappearing forever.”
The meaning behind the Moais is unknown but the most common theory is that they were carved by Polynesian citizens on the island as representations of their dead ancestors so that they could project their “mana” (supernatural power) over their descendants.
It is unclear if the authorities are working to arrest the tourist.
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