Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/66

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All the principal images have the top of the head cut flat and crowned with a cylindrical mass of red lava, hewn perfectly round. Some of these crowns are 66 inches in diameter and 52 in height. The only place on the island where this red lava is found, is the crater of Terano Hau, which is fully eight miles from Otouli; and how these ponderous crowns were conveyed to their position on the heads of the grey rock-kings, is one of the mysteries of the isle. About thirty of them still lie in the quarry where they were hewn, ready for the heads which they were never destined to adorn. Some of these are 30 feet in circumference.

Well may we marvel by what means those unknown sculptors transported their ponderous works of art from one distant point to another on this lonely volcanic isle. The statues are literally lying about in hundreds, and the very rocks on the sea-beach are carved into strange forms—tortoises or human faces.

Besides these, all along the coast, there are cairns of small stones, and on the top of each pile are laid a few white pebbles. These have probably been burial-cairns.

Unless the face of the island has undergone some wondrous change, those mysterious workmen cannot even have possessed wooden rollers to aid them in the toil of transport, for there are literally no trees—nothing but small scrub. When Captain Cook discovered the isle, he only saw three or four little canoes, which were built of many small pieces of wood, sewed together with fibre, the largest piece being 6 feet long and 14 inches wide at one end, 8 inches at the other; and this, he thought, was probably drift-wood. These canoes were from 18 to 20 feet long, and could barely hold four people. He found that the most acceptable gift he could bestow on the people was cocoa-nut shells, to be used as cups, since the island produced no palms, and but few gourds. Their only drink is brackish water, obtained by digging wells on the stony beach, through which the salt water filters.

Wooden tablets, covered with hieroglyphics, have been found, which might perhaps reveal something of the old history of the race, but as yet no one has been able to decipher them. There are also stone slabs, covered with geometric figures, curious birds,