Resumen / Abstract:
Rapanui culture, famous world-over for its stone statues and platforms, made another extraordinary achievement – it developed its own writing system, the rongorongo script. This is the only pre-contact writing attested in the entire Polynesia. With about two dozens of objects bearing rongorongo glyphs known today, the corpus of Rapanui texts is very small. Thus, despite a considerable scientific attention enjoyed by this script since its discovery in the late 19th century, no definitive translation of rongorongo tablets was achieved yet.
This book makes an attempt to improve documentation of rongorongo, placing the main emphasis on graphical and physical aspects of the problem. Shapes and surface features of the wooden objects themselves were analyzed, hoping to extract every detail that may possibly explain how these tablets were carved and used. According to the results of iconographic analysis, rongorongo signs are deeply rooted in the Rapanui aesthetics, representing the natural world surrounding the islanders and objects of their material culture.
This result points to the local development of the script without any external influence. Paleographic analysis revealed many scribal corrections, abbreviations, truncation of repetitive passages, and even a possible margin note. All these details are completely natural and expected to appear in written documents, stating boldly that rongorongo indeed represents writing.
The updated documentation offers a better look on the corpus, clearly showing that rongorongo phenomenon has far major depth and quality than it was previously thought. Much work remains to be done before the tablets could be actually read, but these temporary difficulties only multiply future joy of the day when the messages of the ancient Rapanui scribes will become finally understandable after over a century of silence.