Easter Island, located in the Pacific Ocean, attracts the world’s attention with its riddles and mysteries. One of them is the ancient writing of kohau rongo-rongo, which arouses the amazement of scientists. The signs engraved on the smooth surface of the plaques represent winged people, strange bipedal creatures, boats, frogs, spirals and more. But who created these signs and what their essence is – still remains a mystery.
Two plaques from the Kunstkamera, kept in the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, are one example of this mysterious writing. They were presented to the Russian scientist H.H. Miklukho-Maklai in 1871. The Kohau rongo-rongo script was written on plaques in inverted boustrophedon – the text began in the lower left corner of the plaque and went from left to right. When the end of the plaque was reached, the carver turned it upside down and continued to carve the signs also from left to right.
Today, only 25 plaques and their fragments, as well as stone figurines decorated with mysterious signs have survived in museums around the world. However, their meaning and significance are still unknown to science.
Easter Sunday in 1722 became an important date in the history of Easter Island. On this day the Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen landed on the island, which for 48 years remained unvisited by Europeans. In 1770, Spanish ships under the command of Felipe Gonzalez de Aedo arrived at the shores of the island and annexed the island to the Spanish crown. The chiefs of the local tribes left their signatures under the act of annexation, writing strange signs on the paper, similar to those carved on the plaques. This suggested that there was an ancient written language on the island.
The Spaniards compiled a small dictionary of the local language and recorded many words that were not found in other Polynesian dialects. This indicated the existence of a special ancient language that had been spoken by the islanders for centuries.
However, the mystery of the Kohau rongo-rongo writing becomes even more confusing when mentioning the plaques that used to be found in every house on the island. French missionary Eugène Ayrault wrote in 1864 that these plaques were covered with various hieroglyphic characters carved by the natives using sharp stones. However, after a few years, the plaques almost completely disappeared, as if they had vanished.
Many theories and hypotheses have been proposed by scholars to explain the origin and meaning of the Kohau rongo-rongo writing. One of them links the signs on the plaques to images that the island’s tribes used in their religious practices. Other scholars offer the idea that it was a communication system between the island’s various tribes. However, there is still no definite answer to these questions.
The mysteries of Easter Island’s ancient writing continue to attract the attention of scholars and researchers from around the world. Each new discovery and research brings us closer to solving this mystery, which can reveal much about the ancient inhabitants of this amazing island.