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Eugène Eyraud (1820, Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur1868 August 23 Easter Island) was a lay friar of the Congrégation de Picpus and the first Westerner to live on Easter Island. He was a mechanic by profession.

Arrival Editar

Eyraud entered the Holy Ghost Fathers as a novice. Influenced by his brother, a missionary in China, he left Chili for Tahiti in 1862 and arrived at Hanga Roa on 1864 January 2. He was harassed by the islanders, and only stayed nine months before being repatriated to Chile on 1864 October 11. A year and a half later, on 1866 March 27, he settled on the island as a full priest, accompanied by Hippolyte Roussel and three Mangarevan converts.

Activities Editar

Although fiercely opposed at first, Eyraud eventually came to be highly popular and influential among the islanders. In October 1866, Gaspar Zumbohm and Théodule Escolan joined Eyraud and Roussel in their mission, and set up schools at Hanga Roa and Vaihū.

On 1866 December 22 Eyraud wrote,


He assisted that year in what would be the last ceremony of the Birdman cult.

Eyraud had contracted tuberculosis during his first visit to the island, and died of it on 1868 August 23, nine days after the last islanders had been baptized.

Rongorongo Editar

During his first stay, Eyraud remarked that in each house there were wooden tablets covered with "hieroglyphs", now known as rongorongo, but that the islanders no longer knew how to read them and paid them scant attention. He didn't think to inform Roussel or Zumbohm, and never wrote of them again. In wasn't until 1869, when Zumbohm presented a gift which unknown to him included a tablet to Bishop Jaussen in Tahiti, that rongorongo was noticed by the outside world.

Traditional beliefsEditar

Eyraud wrote of the islanders and their carved wooden statues, known as mo‘ai kavakava, that


Bibliography Editar

  • L'île de Paques: des dieux regardent les étoiles. Michel & Catherine Orliac. Gallimard, 2004. ISBN 2-07-053063-9
  • E. Eyraud, « Lettres au T.R.P, Congrégation du sacré-cœur de Jésus et de Marie », Annales Association de la propagation de la foi, vol.38, Lyon 1866 : 52-61 et 124-138.

External links Editar

fi:Eugène Eyraud

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