Rei Miro is a wooden pectoral Easter Island culture. It has a crescent- like shape, but it can be interpreted as a hull. Its exact meaning - cult object, jewelry or insignia - is not known. Rei Miro is a composite of the Polynesian words rei ( dt: pectoral, pectoral ) and miro ( dt: wood).


There are known Rei Miro various forms. The most common scheme is a crescent -like board of symmetrical shape, made ​​of finely carved and polished wood. Along the concave top runs a thin recessed groove whose meaning is unknown. One side is i.d.R. slightly rounded and smooth, the other ( the front? ) is provided with a crescent- shaped depression.

The two peaks are decorated in most specimens, mainly with a fully three-dimensional carved human head to that of the Moai Kavakava similar in profile, but without the characteristic elongated earlobes. The heads are inclined to constantly worked with the face inward and outward have rolled goatees. Some Rei Miro mussels or chicken heads are shown instead of the faces.

The existing copies have almost invariably two holes in the middle of the concave shaped top on, in a few the neck cord is obtained from human hair.

Only two Rei Miro, they are now in the British Museum in London, are decorated with Rongorongo characters. The copy has a only two characters between the two holes for the hanging cord, in the other a tape pulls with 46 elements along the convex bottom.

By way of derogation from the basic form there are some Rei Miro in the form of animal bodies, however, are not designed symmetrically. In Berenice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu a Rei Miro is issued from a bent chicken body and in the collection of Ethnology of the University of Göttingen such. , In the form of a curved fish Also, these specimens have the characteristic crescent- shaped indentation on the front and the holes for a hanging cord.

The dimensions are very different, the standard form with the two heads is 24-92 cm long, 7-35 cm high and about 3 cm thick.


The information presented in the collections Rei Miro are mostly carved from Toromiro - wood, more rarely, other materials. In Berenice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu is already a strongly weathered copy made ​​of whalebone, the ends of which are undecorated.


As secured may be that Rei Miro were worn by high-ranking people, possibly only on ritual occasions, on the chest. Lieutenant Geiseler, the head of the German South Seas Expedition of 1882, held the pectoral for rank insignia:

"These shields are provided in individual cases, even with such characters as on the wooden boards, which are supposed to have the proprietors and whose rank reference. At both ends thereof to deities found in half Habener carved work. "

Still controversial is the interpretation as a crescent or boat. Thor Heyerdahl prefers the boat shape and has corresponding representations of boats made of totora reeds on Easter Island through that have an obvious resemblance to the shape of the pectoral. Favor of this view, the settlement myths that are out there on almost all the islands of the South Pacific - Easter Island The Legend of Hotu Matua. The great mythical boat in which the settlers originally departed is, in one form or another design in almost all cultures represented Polynesia. It is always in profile, depicted as a stylized, horizontal crescent- like shape, the ends of which are bent upwards.

For the interpretation as a half-moon says the ethnological and ideological context. After Alfred Métraux Rei Miro were used during ceremonies for planting the kumara ( sweet potato ), which is still a major staple on Easter Island, worn. In many regions of Polynesia rongo was the god of sweet potato ( generally of agricultural products, on some islands but also the god of thunder, rain and rainbow ) and the male personification of the moon. On Easter Island, the creator god make make is associated with rites for planting the sweet potato. Rei Miro were worn on the occasion of festivals the time of planting the sweet potato. Father Zumbohm, one of the first missionaries on Easter Island, saw in make make the chief judge who punished with thunder and lightning. It is conceivable that rongo has changed over the centuries of isolation on the remote Easter Island to make make. This recourse to the Polynesian pantheon the interpretation of Rei - Miro - form is thought of as a crescent moon.

Ritual Use

Rei Miro were attributes of the special power and authority of the chiefs. Make reports of European explorers suggest that they were worn during festivals and other special occasions of senior women in the families of chiefs, to document that they were of high birth. Although associated with femininity, Rei Miro were also from the ariki mau, the chief of the mighty Miru clan, which played a prominent ritual significance in the island society, worn. He contributed a great feast no less than six Rei Miro around the neck and over the shoulder.

The Rei Miro is also a sign of Rongorongo scripture is often used. On stone chicken houses of Easter Island ( hare moa ) and on the bodies of Moai engravings and drawings have been found in the form of Rei Miro, but only as a secondary attachment in the late period of the Easter Island culture. This and the association with the feminine suggest that the symbols were used as fertility symbols.


The Rei Miro Easter Island are unique in their decor and its artistic perfection, but have parallels in other cultures of the South Pacific. A crescent-shaped, less elaborate ornate wooden chest jewelry was worn by the tribal chiefs in the Marquesas Islands. Similar objects were also in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Hawaii, the Society Islands and the Maori. Thor Heyerdahl also points to parallels in South America ( Tiahuanaco ).


In Germany Rei Miro can be seen in the following collections:

  • Diamond -Joest - Museum, Cologne
  • Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen
  • Ethnological Museum, Berlin- Dahlem