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Easter Island historical flags (Chile)

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by antónio martins
Keywords: te pito o te henua | te reva | paoa | tangata manu | manu tara | bird man | bird (orange) | ioane 1 (jean-onésime dutrou-bornie | easter island) | moai |
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The inhabitants call their land Te Pito o Te Henua, the navel of the world, based on local pre-historic tales. In 1722, a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, sighted and visited the island on an Easter Sunday, and the name stuck: Easter Island (Isla de Páscua in Spanish). The Polynesian name of the island is Rapanui, which is a name given by a Tahitian visitor in the 19th century who says that the island looked like the Tahitian island Rapa, but bigger, nui.
Gustav Tracchia, 20 Aug 2003, quoted and resumed by António Martins

"Rapa Nui" is the Tahitian name for this island, given even after it was named Páscua (meaning Easter) by the Spanish; the local name is Te Pito o Te Henua (meaning the navel of the world). It is interestting that this xenonym, "Rapa Nui", is though used officially and locally as an autonym, which is even stranger considering that most ethnical “Rapanuans” are proficient in the language (3392/3500, as of 2000, according to
António Martins, 11 May 2006

The first Rapa Nui flag

The first flag-like object we have knowledge to be used by the natives was «the Te-reva, which means "to hang" in Polynesian,» writes Grant McCall. «Te-reva is the name used for such standards in Tahiti. One of such Te-reva is preserved on the Museum of Valparaiso in Chile. The banner has on it many devices of Polynesian origins, like the paoa (warriors paddle or club) on each side two facing Tangata Manu, or bird men, and two Reimiro
Gustav Tracchia, 20 Aug 2003, quoted and resumed by António Martins

The bird on the Easter Island Flag is the legendary Manu Tara Bird, the source of the Bird Man Cult on the island. It is still the most sacred animal and symbol on the island. The original colors may have been the same as those of today’s flag.
Volker Keith, 16 Jan 2001

Flag of “king” Ioane I (1869-1876)

Kingdom flag
image by Olivier Touzeau, 26 Dec 2000

Jean-Onésime Dutrou-Bornier was the king of Easter Island between 1869 and 1876. He was born in Montmorillon, France, in 1834. He leaved school at the age of 14, and entered the Navy. He took part in the conquest of Sebastopol, and became “master mariner” after the peace was signed. He arrived in Tahiti in 1866, where the Governor of the French Settlements of Oceania, Mr. de la Roncière, asked him to work for the mail office. He went for the service to Valparaiso, and stopped in Easter Island, where two missionaries he had taken on board wanted to go. The island impressed him very much.

He came back in 1867, bought lands on Easter Island, in Mataveri, near Rano Kao crater. He became a “blackbirder” (id est workforce dealer). Jean-Onséime Dutrou-Bornier married with a woman of Easter Island, named Koreto, who was the last heiress of the kings of Easter Island.

Dutrou-Bornier is recognized as a king by a part of the islanders, and hoisted his flag: orange, with an outline of a man-bird. But the missionaries and the christianized population of Easter Island did not accept his authority. There was a war from april to july 1870. Dutrou-Bornier even bombarded the mission’s buildings. The “christian party” left the island, and Ioane the 1st became the main chief of the island.

He imposed a feodal life to Pascuans (with “corvées”), put up a communitary fishery, and dispensed justice with Koreto before his palace, a colonial house imported from the USA. Koreto gave birth to a girl. In 1876, august 6th, while riding (drunk) on a horse, he falls and dies. Koreto asks for France to make a Protectorat of the Island, but gets no answer, and the island was anexed by Chile in 1888.

Olivier Touzeau, translating and resuming from [ful97], 26 Dec 2000

Why no Moai flags?

However the most striking symbol of the island, the famous Moai — monolithic statues carved from the island rock — is absent on the flags: Ron Fisher in his work Easter Island Brooding Sentinels of Stone says that «two classes of people, the-so-called Long Ears and Short Ears, lived on the island. The Short Ears were enslaved by the Long Ears, who forced the Short Ears to carve the Moai.» This writer believes this to be the reason as to why the Moai were not chosen as a symbol of Rapanui, since the Moai are a representation of oppression and slavery.
Gustav Tracchia, 20 Aug 2003, quoted and resumed by António Martins

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