In the South Pacific Ocean, within the French part of Polynesia, lies a cluster of volcanic islands known as the Marquesas Islands. The largest among them is Nuku Hiva, with a relatively modest area of about 1,000 square kilometers and a total population of approximately 8,000 inhabitants.
Although it constitutes a small community, it boasts a distinctive culture of its own. Concealed amidst the lush jungles and mountainous terrain of the Marquesas Islands are numerous ancient stone sculptures, meticulously crafted from red volcanic tuff, their origins shrouded in the mists of time.
The figures portrayed in these sculptures possess humanoid or human-like features, albeit with an extraordinary grotesqueness: their eyes are notably large, resembling those of frogs, their mouths thick and wide, reminiscent of frogs as well, and they exhibit wholly human arms, legs, and genitals.
These sculptures are referred to by archaeologists as “tiki,” a term broadly encompassing ancient stone sculptures across Polynesia. The word itself hails from the Maori language, which is spoken in Hawaii, where it designates the first man and a demigod in their mythology.
While Hawaiian tiki statues also hold their own intrigue, those from the Marquesas Islands are considerably more unsettling and, to some, even “alien” in appearance. It comes as no surprise that adherents of the paleocontact theory have long been captivated by them.
These proponents postulate that ancient extraterrestrial beings visited Earth in its early history, instructing humans in various disciplines like agriculture, science, mathematics, and more.
Contrarily, historians contend that the Polynesian statues depict a range of deities, priests, or shamans. Proponents of paleocontact propose that the ancient Polynesians endeavored to depict the extraterrestrials they encountered in the likeness of gods, thereby establishing a curious intersection of viewpoints.
Some of the Marquesan tikis have been relocated to museums, while others remain in their original, undiscovered locations on uninhabited parts of the islands.
Most Marquesas tikis stand at approximately one meter or less in height, although there are some colossal specimens towering up to 2.5 meters. They can be found as both individual statues and grouped configurations.
Determining the age of these statues poses a substantial challenge, as dating stone objects is markedly more complex than dating organic materials.
Similar difficulties in dating exist for ancient megalithic structures like Stonehenge. Scientists can only surmise that these stone tikis may range from several hundred to several thousand years old.
Within the folklore of the Marquesas Islands’ inhabitants, an enthralling legend about tiki prevails. According to this lore, ancient gods descended from the heavens, bestowing knowledge and skills upon the islanders.
In honor of these divine beings, people carved tikis from stone. Such legends, recounting celestial visitors and gifts of wisdom, are recurrent in folklore from diverse corners of the world. Nevertheless, contemporary scholars often regard them as myths and imaginative narratives.
Regrettably, after France’s colonization of the Marquesas Islands and a substantial portion of Polynesia in the 19th century, indigenous knowledge began to fade among the local population.
Today, approximately 90% of the residents identify as Christians and possess limited awareness of their ancestors’ religion and culture. Some retain faint recollections of a time when tikis played a significant role in their society, each sculpture bearing its own distinct name, and little else.
Most frequently, tiki statues were positioned in sacred locations termed “meae,” often encircled by stone formations or walls. Occasionally, sacred rituals were performed, wherein individuals adorned themselves in ceremonial attire and presented offerings of food to these statues.
In rare instances, peculiar entities were carved not as freestanding tiki statues but as bas-reliefs on walls. The image below depicts a group of these enigmatic beings with oversized heads, donning what appear to be helmets or headgear.
The function and symbolism of these stone tikis are also unclear. Some experts believe that they were religious or ceremonial objects, used to worship gods, ancestors, or spirits. Others argue that they were political or social markers, used to display status, power, or affiliation.
Some interpret them as artistic or aesthetic expressions, used to decorate the landscape or convey emotions. Others speculate that they were astronomical or navigational devices, used to observe the stars or orient themselves on the sea.
Besides tiki statues and bas-reliefs, depictions of strange, bug-eyed humanoids from the Marquesas Islands could also be found on a variety of everyday items, including clay bowls, boats, oars, and hair combs. People frequently wore amulets to ward off the evil eye, oftentimes adorning their chests with them.
The mystery of these alien-like stone tikis on the Marquesas Islands is not easily solved. They pose many questions and offer few answers.