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Moai kavakava, a wooden figure from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) – estimate €15,000 at Zemanek-Münster on April 24.

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Among the intriguing pieces is a so-called moai kavakava, a 17in (42cm) high wooden figure from Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

The name derives from the enigmatic monolithic stone figures (moai) on Easter Island and the word for ribs (kavakava).

Over the centuries, there has been much speculation about the origin and purpose of the ritual figures with their arching torsos and emaciated appearance.

According to the journals of the German Lieutenant-Captain Geiseler, who arrived at Rapa Nui in 1882, the leading male tribesmen carried one or more such figures when the population was harvesting or fishing.

They were thus possibly a figural reference to past famines, a common occurrence on the islands. Another theory suggests that they are representations of ancestral cadavers.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, modern artists began collecting such figures and other artefacts from Easter Island, inspiring many a piece of avant-garde sculpture.

This particular example comes from an old Welsh collection and is estimated at €15,000.

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