Easter Island and Its Mysteries
Since a quirk of fate led to the appearance of this book (most of which had already been printed several months previously) after publication of his journal by Mr. Lavachery, I must acknowledge its existence on the one hand and, on the other, I must add some objections here since I was unable to include and discuss them in the relevant chapters.
When he set out, Lavachery understood the nature of the various mysteries associated with Easter Island: the interval between the two groups of invading settlers; the origin of the great stone statues; the alphabet, etc. On his return, he now says that these mysteries have been resolved: there was only one race of islanders and the problem of the alphabet has been solved because, as his collaborator Mr. Métraux says, we are dealing only with “rudimentary pictograms that serve a mnemonic purpose exclusively, just like the knots in the cords of the Marquis Islanders etc.”
However, we must ask on what previously unpublished evidence does he base his most recent opinions since he failed to find, on the island, any tablets, any new bones, or any previously unknown historic documents. We do not need opinions; we need proof, either positive or negative. And what about the fact that a) it is astonishing to make an analogy between signs that appear frequently and always with the same shape in all the extant texts, having, thus, always the same meaning, and bits of knotted string, which serve the same function as beads on a rosary; b) even if such an analogy were appropriate, that is not the problem! Alphabet or mnemonic aid — we still have to ask what idea each character evoked. And, furthermore, to what other signs in other lands might these characters be related? Mr. Lavachery, who was only educated in the humanities and not in the sciences 421, should, for these very reasons, rely all the more on objective proof because it is clear that he has not submitted his ideas to rigorous scientific analysis. Does he not, for example, state the following....
1. That the ancient wooden statues represent dead bodies. I have shown that all the evidence proves quite the opposite, including the fact that the eyes are meticulously carved wide open.
3) That the protrusion above the buttocks of the wooden moai was due to perforation by the large trochanter and that the nature of the feet is due to the turning of the toes under the sole of the foot. We have shown that these statements are absolutely false.
4) That the representation of the tangata manu is similar to that of the Maké Maké — but without any supporting evidence.
5) That all the wooden statuettes of women are flat-chested and, as a result are called “moai papa”. Among the Figures in this book, Figure 142 shows a statuette of a woman who is not flat-chested and, by contrast, Figures 145 and 146 show statuettes of men that are flat-chested!
6) That “the discovery of Easter Island is not exactly ours since others have been here before us”, which seems to imply that very few people were there before him (and those that were there count, moreover, for so little that he did not bother to list them). In fact, more than 73 groups of people visited the island before he did.
7) As another example of the absence of rigorous documentation, did he not, as leader of the Franco-Belgian expedition, draw a map of the island that includes Cape O’Higgins and Rosalia, Roggeveen, Cook and Banquedano points but omits ... La Pérouse Bay!
8) Does he not say, several times over, that “Nobody, apart from Thomson (and only very vaguely and only at Orongo) has even mentioned the petroglyphs on Easter Island”. In fact, A. Pinart described them and drew them too (see Figure 36), while Thomson and Bienvenido de Estella outlined them in chalk and photographed them quite a few years ago (Figures 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, and 68).
9) And to complete these few examples, did he not reproduce an English map with the comment, “There are no others”, while this book includes those of d’Aguera (1770), O’Higgins (1870) and A. Pinart (1877), all of which appeared well before the English map and are included in this book as Figures 2, 3, and 4!
|421. Editorís note: Chauvet seems intent on dismissing Lavachery and Mťtraux; perhaps this is because they were not French? Actually, both Mťtraux and Lavachery conducted excellent research on Easter Island and at least actually worked on the island before writing about it.|