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The Art of Easter Island

Some quirky secondhand finds.

The Art of Easter Island by Thor Heyerdahl ($75, HB)
This is the full, documented result of Ethnologist and Adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl’s explorations on Easter Island. Native name Rapa Nui, Easter Island is a volcanic island located halfway between Polynesia and South America. It is one of the remotest, inhabited islands anywhere. First discovered by Europeans in 1722, it is famed for archaeological sites, including nearly 900 moai (carved human figures with oversize heads)—monumental statues created by the island’s inhabitants during the 13th–16th centuries. In 1955, Thor Heyerdahl bought a team of American and Norwegian archaeologists to the Island and undertook a comprehensive, six-month archaeological survey. This book is the documented review of these discoveries. It includes: ‘The dramatic discovery of art treasures in secret caves. The mystery of the great stone men: why and how they were carved, transported and raised. The historical and religious meaning of the art of Easter Island revealed.’ New findings on the ancient and later history of the island and its people.
Heyerdahl (1914–2002) had gained worldwide fame eight years previously. He believed that ancient people from the Americas could have colonized Polynesia, rather than Polynesians from the western Pacific. His theory that the Pacific had been settled by accidental drift voyaging was based on the wind and current patterns in the Pacific. Academic specialists scoffed at the theory—so, in 1947 Heyerdahl, with five companions and a pet parrot, took a balsa-log raft named Kon-Tiki on a 6,900 km on a voyage from Peru to islands east of Tahiti—related in his classic account The Kon Tiki Expedition (1948).
POSTSCRIPT: Genetic analysis of Polynesians and Native South Americans, published in the British scientific journal, Nature in July 2020, has revealed that several eastern Polynesian populations have signs of an ancient genetic signature that originated from Native South American people. An initial admixture event between Native South Americans and Polynesians, discovered by statistical analysis, took place around AD 1150–1230. So, some 63 years after he risked his life to prove a widely derided theory, Thor Heyerdahl may be proven right.

Venice for Pleasure by J. G. Links ($15, PB)
‘[My] object is to guide the reader to places he might otherwise miss and, having reached them to tell him what he might wish to know and then leave him there to admire, to enjoy or, perhaps, to be disappointed. This 6th revised edition includes Venice for Children’s Pleasure & The Delights of the Brenta. A minor classic, ‘Not only the best guide-book to that city ever written, but the best guide-book to any city ever written.’—Bernard Levin The Times. The illustrations show the visitor, as he confronts a view, what his predecessors of 100, 200 or 500 years ago saw from the same point. The main part of the book describes four walks, each of which can be completed in one day, with points in each at which one can break off & return another day. Maps, old & new are provided for each walk

One River: Explorations & Discoveries in the Amazon Rainforest by Wade Davis ($15, PB)
In 1941, Richard Evans Schultes took a leave of absence from Harvard University & disappeared in to the Northern Amazon of Colombia (what a way to avoid a World War!). The world’s leading authority on the hallucinogens and medicinal plants of the region, Schultes returned after 12 years of travelling through South America in a dug-out canoe, mapping uncharted rivers, living among local tribes and documenting the knowledge of shamans. 30 years later, his student Wade Davis landed in Bogota to follow in his mentor’s footsteps—so creating an epic tale of undaunted adventure, a compelling work of natural history and testament to the spirit of scientific exploration.

Meetings with Remarkable Men by G. I. Gurdjieff ($15, PB)
Spiritual teacher G. I. Gurdjieff travelled through Central Asia & the Middle East—in this book he vividly describes his encounters with the people who aided his search for knowledge: his father, a bard, who handed down to him tales of wonder & magic; a Russian prince dedicated to the truth; a Persian dervish who taught him a new way of living; a woman who escaped slavery to become a trusted fellow seeker.