Tangata Manu

(redirected from Birdman Ceremony)

Tangata Manu (Birdman Ceremony)

Spring
Sometime around the 14th century, different groups on Easter Island, also known as Rapanui, were at war with each other, perhaps over a lack of food caused by a mini ice age. Some scholars theorize that the islanders began the Tangata Manu, or Manutara, as a way of resolving their conflicts.
Each tribal chief would select a young man to compete with representatives from other tribes in an egg hunt. Each man swam to a nearby island in search of the first egg laid by a seabird known as a tern. This process could take as long as a month. The chief of the first one to swim back with the egg was called the "birdman" for the year.
Carvings of the Birdman—represented as a bird-headed man whose hand grasps an egg—can be found all over Easter Island.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of Chile
1732 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-785-1746; fax: 202-887-5579
www.chile-usa.org
SOURCES:
FestWrld: Chile-1998, p. 12