The Iconic Tattooed Man of Easter Island
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An impressively tattooed but unnamed Easter Island (Rapa Nui) man appears often in the pages of Pacific Island histories and museum catalogs. The Swedish ethnographer Dr. Knut Hjalmar Stolpe knew him only as Tepano, the Tahitian version of the Christian name Stephen. But what was his real Rapanui identity, and what can his life story tell us about the history of Easter Island? This book reveals his identity, who illustrated him, and how he transcended the tragic events of 19th-century Rapa Nui to become one of the most iconic faces of the Polynesian past. The authors summarize the history of tattoo as practiced by Rapanui artisans, link that history to island geography, and present rare barkcloth sculptures as a visual record of tattoo patterns.
Floating World Editions, 9781732495203, 64pp.
Publication Date: February 15, 2019
About the Author
Adrienne L. Kaeppler is curator of Oceanic ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She has conducted field research throughout Polynesia, focusing on Tonga and Hawaii. Noted for her work on collections from Cook's voyages, she continues to focus on connections between social structure and the visual and performing arts. Jo Anne Van Tilburg is an archaeologist and director of the Rock Art Archive, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. She heads the Easter Island Statue Project, an inventory and analysis of over 900 Rapa Nui statues (moai).
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