Orongo Ceremonial Village

Orongo Ceremonial Village

Orongo Ceremonial Village

Orongo is a ceremonial village on the southwestern tip of Rapa Nui, known as Easter Island, a remote island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean.

The village is situated on the rim of the Rano Kau volcanic crater, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Orongo is notable for its association with the Birdman cult, a religious and social system practised on Easter Island.

Orongo is synonymous with the annual Birdman Competition, a ritual where contestants vied for leadership through daring feats.

Orongo consists of a series of stone structures, including approximately 50 elliptical or rectangular stone houses called hare paenga. These houses were constructed using basalt slabs and served as temporary shelters for the contestants during the Birdman Competition.

The village also features intricate petroglyphs, carvings, and other artefacts that offer valuable insights into the daily lives, beliefs, and artistic expressions of the Rapa Nui people.

Birdman Cult

Birdman Cult
Dancing with Dragons – Easter Island

The Birdman cult emerged as a response to the decline of the Moai construction era and the depletion of natural resources on the island. The competition for leadership and resources led to the creation of the Birdman cult, which centred around a competition known as the “Birdman Competition” or “Tournament of Tangata Manu.”

During this annual event, representatives from different clans would descend the cliffs of Rano Kau, swim to the nearby islet of Motu Nui, and search for the first sooty tern (manutara) egg of the season. The person who successfully retrieved the egg and brought it back to Orongo would secure the title of Tangata Manu (Birdman) for his chief, who would then become the island’s ruler for the following year.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Orongo stands as a testament to the ingenuity and cultural richness of the Rapa Nui people.

Orongo Ceremonial Village
Orongo Ceremonial Village