A moai kavakava brought home by a Lieutenant of the Topaze is estimated € 700K for sale by Christie's in Paris on April 10, lot 63. Please watch the video prepared by the auction house. This figure 44 cm high was beautifully carved in a very hard wood that no longer exists today because of deforestation. The eyes made in bone and obsidian are mesmerizing.
The word Moai means image. It is also used for the highly famous anthropomorphic megaliths of the island. Kavakava refers to male figures with protruding ribs whose body is very elongated and emaciated, like a hybrid between a being and his skeleton.
Although these pieces respond to a canon, small variations demonstrate that they are not strictly anthropomorphic. The Rosenthal specimen, sold for $ 610K including premium by Sotheby's on November 14, 2008, has a small lizard tail. A kavakava preserved in the museum of La Rochelle has two heads.
The feet are not designed for standing. Compared with Mbole figures from Congo which have a similar characteristic, it may be supposed that the iconography of the kavakava symbolises the moment when the deceased becomes a spirit. Eyewitnesses observed that the dancers hung them to their neck or carried them in their hands.
SOLD for € 850K including premium