Chilean islanders want basalt-man home after prolonged London sojourn

‘Moai’ stand to attention on ‘Rapa Nui,’ or Easter Island, Chile. One of Moai has been a longtime resident of the British Museum, but now, the islanders want him back. (AP Photo)
Updated 07 August 2018
0

Chilean islanders want basalt-man home after prolonged London sojourn

  • Sculpture was allegedly pilfered illegally by Richard Powell aboard the Topaze and given to Queen Victoria as a gift
  • The Hoa Hakananai’a, which means the stolen or hidden friend in the island’s indigenous Rapa Nui language, is unique as it was made from basalt

SANTIAGO: Easter Island’s indigenous authorities have asked Chile’s government to help them recover a unique monumental Moai statue removed 150 years ago and now kept in the British Museum in London.
The 2.4-meter (seven feet) tall Hoa Hakananai’a sculpture was allegedly pilfered illegally by Richard Powell aboard the “Topaze” and given to Queen Victoria as a gift.
“It’s a unique piece, the only tangible link that accounts for two important stages in our ancestral history,” the island’s Rapa Nui authorities said on Tuesday.
Of the more than 900 giant humanoid sculptures on the island, most were carved from volcanic ash between the sixth and 17th centuries, but the Hoa Hakananai’a, which means “the stolen or hidden friend” in the island’s indigenous Rapa Nui language, is unique as it was made from basalt.
Figures associated with the Tangata Manu (bird man) cult were carved on its back.

This request “seems appropriate given the new coordination and conservation functions being carried out on the island with regards the Moai,” Chile’s National Treasures Minister Felipe Ward told AFP.
Since December, the indigenous Rapa Nui have taken over the conservation, preservation and management of their archaeological heritage.
And part of that involves the attempted recovery of priceless artefacts they say were illegally taken, including another Moai residing in the Quai Branly museum in Paris.
The Rapa Nui believe that the “mana” spiritual force that protects the tribe and is attributed to chiefs and community leaders, resides in Moai and other sacred objects.
Recovering stolen statues would also be “an important symbol in closing the sad chapter of violation of our rights by European navigators” that visited the island in the 19th century, local leaders said.
Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site lying around 3,700-kilometers (2,000 miles) from the coast of mainland Chile, and whose original inhabitants are a Polynesian people closely related to those in Tahiti.
The Pacific Ocean island was first recorded by European navigators in 1722 and visited several times, including by Briton James Cook, before it was annexed by Chile in 1888.
By then, much of its population had been decimated by European diseases such as smallpox, or carted off into slavery.
Chile recently announced measures to limit the time tourists can stay on the island and the number of non-Rapa Nui mainlanders allowed to settle there.


Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

Ithra takes visitors to the magical world of Manganiyar, an Indian folk music, in Dhahran on Wednesday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
0

Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

  • There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me”

DHAHRAN: The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran has been transporting its visitors to the magical world of the Manganiyar from Nov. 14-17. The Manganiyar is a timeless Indian orchestra originally born in the region of Rajasthan in north India, which has continued over many generations.
The basic song on which the show is based comes from a poem by the 17th-century Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah. The resulting folk music is an audio-visual feast that mixes light and voice and features more than 40 musicians in one performance.
The first Manganiyar show in Ithra was sold out.
“It was the first time in my life that inspiration dawned on me; it was like a heavenly gift,” Roysten Abel, the director of the musical show, told Arab News when he was asked how the band started their touring and performance journey.
“I was in Spain working as a street performer. One day I was resting and I heard wonderful music, which I thought was a dream. Then I realized that there were two musicians outside my room singing to wake me up. I then proposed the idea of forming this Manganiyar band,” Abel said.
Abel went to the Manganiyar’s hometown to create the band.
“I went to Rajasthan, auditioned almost 200 musicians and finally selected 50 to have our first show in 2006. Since then, if I ever listen to an old Manganiyar musician or a new one, I still weep because they haunt me with their singing.”
There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me.”
Creating the performance and the harmony between the band members and the director took time.
“The musicians needed to know what this guy who is coming from outside wants? What is he going to make us do? Building the relationship took around a year and a half, and so it took us year and a half to build up the show.”
“I always say the Manganiyar selection was God’s gift to us because it was actually given to us and it runs on its own.”
Abel said that the Manganiyar show always sells out anywhere it goes due the experience it offers. “There has not been one show where we have not received a standing ovation.”
“We even performed in Hyde Park, Sydney, where nobody knew what to expect,” Abel said. “There were a good 10,000 people in the park, and when the show was over these 10,000 started clapping and even stayed for the second performance!”
Abel shared the band’s insights about their first visit to Saudi Arabia: “We were very curious to see how it was going to be received, but it turned out to be one of the best performances and the audience was thrilled. So, there’s always a lot of surprises and I tend to never expect. I just love to see what happens.”
Abel urged everyone to turn up and have their own experience of the Manganiyar. “People should all come and tell their friends to come, and live the show, because at the end of the day the show is not like any other music concert; it’s an experience of its own.”
Abel said that people’s responses to the show varied; some left in tears while others “jumped with joy.”
What matters to him, he said, is that people get the essence behind the show, which is love.