Orongo is a ceremonial village comprised by 54 houses, related to Make Make cult and the tangata -manu competition. Orongo village was used a few weeks during the year only at the beginning of spring. Here developed a unique kind of dwellings based on stone slabs, although their design clearly evokes that of hare-vaka (boat houses), common in the rest of the island. Orongo is also the main rock art site of Rapa Nui with thousands of varied petroglyphs accounting of the importance achieved by this place in ancient times. It is estimated that the village began to be used from the end of the XVI century, although it seems that Make-Make cult acquired relevance in later centuries.
Which is its importance?
Ancestor worship, represented in the great quantity of carvings of megalithic statues or moai, was one of the most outstanding aspects of the Rapa Nui prehistoric culture, and its manifestaions are spread all over the island. However, from the XVI century, island society was leaving megalithism as political and religious expression, and replaced it for the cult to Make-Make god, closely related to fertility, spring and migratory seabirds. Orongo became the focus of this emerging order, representing thus a new phase in the island history and culture, where a different religion and political system – compared to previous ones – gradually imposed in society and marked its destination up to the end of the XIX century. The small village of Orongo represent such a new historic stage.
Source: Conaf Brochure