Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/65

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
41
GIGANTIC STATUES.

little isles anywhere within a radius of 1000 miles. It is a volcanic island, about 11 miles long by 4 wide. It is covered with extinct craters, in some of which are deep pools of water. The highest point is about 1000 feet above the sea-level. The hills are covered with hybiscus and other scrub. It is inhabited by a race of very fair natives, like the Tahitians, and very elaborately tattooed.

But the isle owes its interest to its mysterious relics of a forgotten race, who have utterly and completely died out, even from legendary lore; while their handiwork abides, written on the rocks, which are so covered with carving as to resemble the studio of some giant sculptor. Colossal stone images lie half buried beneath the creeping grass and encroaching scrub. At intervals all round the coast there are cyclopean platforms, from 200 to 300 feet in length, and about 30 feet high, all built of hewn stones 5 or 6 feet long, and accurately fitted, without cement. And above these, on the headlands, are artificially levelled platforms, paved with square blocks of black lava. On all these, stone pedestals remain, whereon were placed the great images, which, by some powerful force, have mostly been thrown to the ground and broken.

The average height of the figures is about 18 feet; some of those lying prostrate are 27 feet long, and measure 8 feet across the breast. You can infer the size of some of the upright ones from the fact that, so near noon as 2 p.m., they cast sufficient shadow to cover a party of thirty persons. Some have been found which measure 37 feet. They are all hewn of a close-grained grey lava, which is only found at Otouli, a crater on the east side of the island. On a platform near this quarry several gigantic images stand in perfect preservation. One of these measures 20 feet from the shoulder to the crown of the head.

They represent an unknown type. Very square face—short, thin upper lip, giving a somewhat scornful expression—broad nose and ears, with pendent lobes. All the faces look upward. The eyes are deeply sunken, and are supposed to have originally had eyeballs of obsidian.