Object Record

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Title Birdman Effigy
Object ID SSM-11436
Description The Birdman from Easter Island is a half-man, half-bird image that represents the creator god, Makemake. It was used in rituals associated with the Cult of the Birdman which continued until the 1860's. The ceremonial center of the cult was located at a sacred site on the rim of an extinct volcano. The purpose of the ceremony was to compete to find the first egg of the season from an offshore island. Contestants descended the sheer cliffs of the volcano and swam to the island where they waited for birds. The first to find an egg became the winner. The contestant swam back and presented the egg to a member of the warrior class. The warrior was declared Birdman for the year, an important status position. According to David Stier, director of the Springfield Science Museum, "The Birdman was donated by Daniel Lester Harris, who was the mayor of Springfield in 1860. It is one of the earliest donations in the Museum's collection."
Dimensions H-13 W-2.5 inches
Credit line Gift of D. L. Harris
On Exhibit No