Jean Hervé Daude    



Book Summary :

  Île de Pâques – L'Empreinte des Incas

 (Easter Island - Incan trace)


In his most recent book, Île de Pâques – L'Empreinte des Incas, Jean Hervé Daude uncovers the history of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) under a new perspective : from a detailed comparison of Easter Island oral tradition that with Incan oral tradition, together with a comparative study of the momumental structures built by both these cultures , the author clearly illistrates the significance of Incan culture over Easter Island.


Thus, many of the mysteries surrounding Easter Island such as its original culture and its fantastic achievements find, through this study, a logical explanation when put in the context of a significant Incan influence.


According to oral tradition, Hotu Matua, considered the first Rapanui king,  arrived on Easter Island with a hundred people.  The general consensus is that these Rapanui, originally Polynesian, prospered in long and extreme isolation on the island, for many hundred of years, which would explain the growth of a culture vastly different from the rest of Polynesia.


However, recent studies have shown that Easter Island was colonised by the  Polynesians earlier than was originally thought, c.1200.  In addition, we have  reason to believe that during this colonisation, Easter Island was, at least sporadically, in contact with inhabitants of some of the polynesian islands.  



Thus, it is hard to maintain that a perfectly original culture would have risen on the island, if it had never experienced the long and extreme isolation as suspected.  Therefore, a new explanation is needed.  The author believes that if this culture became so vastly different from that of the Polynesian’s, in such short time, it is due to an abrupt infuence from another culture, the Incan’s.


Incan culture would have been most likely introduced on the Island with the arrival of the Inca Tupac.  Having conquered numerous territories on the continent and wishing to explore new worlds, Inca Tupac would have navigated c.1465 on a fleet composed of balsa rafts. These boats, despite their appearance, were extremely manoeuvrable due to their veils and removable drift.  The Inca Tupac would have travelled with a significant part of his army together with, amongst others, some Orejones, an elite troop gathering members from numerous Andean tribes.  Ennobled by the great Inca, these Orejones had the privilege to wear turbans, the llautu, around their head like the Sapa Inca, whilst allowing their ear lobes to stretch. 


During this journey, which lasted less than a year, the Inca Tupac would have reached Mangareva, where he seems to have left traces of Incan culture as well.  Then, he would have gone to Easter Island and would have left a few Orejones there.


The Orejones, with their appearance, their clothes and their superiority of culture, must have impressed the Rapanui, most likely to the point where they seemed like supernatural beings in their presence.  In addition, being hardened and disciplined warriors, they certainly would not have had difficulty in imposing their culture and religious practices. Being part of a technologically and culturally advanced population, the Orejones had experienced rigorous training on a continent where a large population and a strong central power had allowed the accomplishment of  large-scale works in terms of buildings and infrasctructures.  Within the Incan empire, the Orejones, forced to follow teachings for many years, were current on all technical and cultural aspects that the Incan society had created over hundreds of years of civilization and conquests, notably in the fields of military, language, religion, history, achitecture, painting, farming, geometry, and astronomy.


Therefore, they would have arrived on the Island with sound expertise in, amongst other fields, monumental architecture.  They were also experienced in hard stone sculpture (andesite) and heavy weight movement.  Everything points to the fact that they were responsible for the vast majority of the monumental constructions on the Island.  Forming an alliance with the Polynesians on the Island, they would have been the master builders of the tupa, the ahu, the moaï and their pukao.  They would have also been behind the Obsidian work, the observation of the movements of the sun, moon and stars, the Bird Man and Makemake cults, the use of paint to colour the moaï and cave ceilings, the mask-like South American animals totem picturings, the cave paintings or the petroglyphs, etc. on the island.  All this can not be the result of just sporadic contact with South America.  These cultural contributions must have involved a south american settlement over a long  period of time.


So, the Orejones of the Inca Tupac and their offspring would be, according to Jean Hervé Daude, the instigators of the phenomenal development that occured on Easter Island, concerning a wide variety of cultural fields and in a very short space of time.  Consequently, it seems that most of the factors that are not typically Polynesian on the island are originally Incan.


Obviously, the Rapanui of polynesian origin had to accept the presence of the Incas on their Island.  Thus, two groups of people were living together, the 'Short Ears', from Polynesian origin, and the 'Long Ears', from Incan origin.  It also seems obvious that the Incas carried their religion, their rituals and their animal totems whilst present on the island.


Following this, Easter Island started an original developement.  On one side, the Polynesians who conolised the island, quickly distinguished themselves from the rest of Polynesia by modifying and adopting their cultural religious traditions after the contact of newcomers, the Makemake and Bird Man cults being typical examples.  And on the the other side, the Incan offspring, being far from the central power imposed by the Sapa Inca, had to adapt to the particular conditions on Easter Island.



Over the course of years, the Incas and their offspring, mixing with local population, gradually lost their Incan features.  In the same way, the Rapanui of Polynesian origin and their offspring, adopted, adapted and perpetuated a large part of the Incan culture even after the extermination of the 'Long Ears'.


The 'Long Ears', after being the leaders on the Island for a some time, saw their power  diminished by the cultural and political conflicts.  The Incan offspring lost their aura of superiority, until the fatal day when the Rapanui of Polynesian origin took back complete control of the Island, only leaving few Incan vestiges :  L’empreinte des Incas (The Inca Trace).



"... un livre surprenant et captivant du début à la fin !"


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L'empreinte des Incas