The Mysterious Birdman Competition of Easter Island
A rocky island near the coast of Easter Island is home to a huge colony of seabirds. This island was instrumental in the birdman competition done to determine the leader of Easter Island, who would be known as birdman. The birdman religion, or cult, is believed to have begun around 1600 AD. Every 12 months, a young warrior from each clan would race to the island to be the first to retrieve a seabird egg. The clan chief whose warrior won the contest would become a living god on the island for the next 12 months, and would become the birdman.
Check Out This Month's Most Popular Topic
from Smithsonian Channel
Key Facts In This Video
Easter Islanders in the 19th century provided details of what the birdman competition of the 1600s was like. (0:13)
The Easter Island birdman competition was a deadly way to determine the leader. (1:06)
The Easter Island birdman competitors would strap eggs onto headbands in order to bring it back ashore. (2:29)