The Iconic Tattooed Man of Easter Island

Front cover image

Adrienne L. Kaeppler & Jo Anne Van Tilburg

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paperback, 32% prof discount, non-returnable
Mana Books, from Floating World Editions
Territory: USA & Canada
Size: 8 in x 10.25 in
Pages: 64
Illustrations: 21 color, 24 b&w
Name of series: Polynesian Arts & Culture Series

RRP $19.95

  • Reveals the heretofore unknown identity of this 19th-century Easter Island (Rapa Nui) man, and the secrets hidden in his impressive tattoos
  • Body art reveals amazing insights into Easter Island history

An impressively tattooed but unnamed Easter Island (Rapa Nui) man appears often in the pages of Pacific Island histories and museum catalogs. The Swedish ethnographer Dr. Knut Hjalmar Stolpe knew him only as Tepano, the Tahitian version of the Christian name Stephen. But what was his real Rapanui identity, and what can his life story tell us about the history of Easter Island?

This book reveals his identity, who illustrated him, and how he transcended the tragic events of 19th-century Rapa Nui to become one of the most iconic faces of the Polynesian past. The authors summarize the history of tattoo as practiced by Rapanui artisans, link that history to island geography, and present rare barkcloth sculptures as a visual record of tattoo patterns.

This title is the first in a new series on Polynesian Arts & Culture by Mana Press, in partnership with Floating World Editions.

For a list of future titles, visit: For more on Rapa Nui, the Mana Gallery and Mana Books, visit:

An Introduction; The Tattooed Man; The Tattooed Man and Hoa Hakananai a: Rapa Nui, November 1868; The Geography of Rapanui Tattoo: Early Illustrations, Locales, and Key People; Rapanui Tattoo and Colonialism; Rapanui Tattoo Designs and Motifs; Discovering the Tattooed Man: Mataveri, April 1877; Knut Hjalmar Stolpe and Oscar Elkholm: Tahiti, May 1884; The Tattooed Man and Madame Hoare: Tahiti, circa 1870; Madame Hoare and Julien Viaud [Pierre Loti]: Tahiti, 1872; C. B. Hoare, Charles D. Voy, and Thomas Croft: Tahiti, 1873; Alphonse Louis Pinart: 1877; Constance Frederika Gordon Cumming and Alphonse Louis Pinart: 1877; Drawings by Julien Viaud [Pierre Loti]; Identifying Julien Viaud's [Pierre Loti's] Rapanui Subjects; Identifying the Tattooed Man: Viable Candidates; Acknowledgments; Map of Rapa Nui; Glossary; Notes; References.

Adrienne L. Kaeppler is curator of Oceanic ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She has conducted field research throughout Polynesia, focusing on Tonga and Hawaii. Noted for her work on collections from Cook's voyages, she continues to focus on connections between social structure and the visual and performing arts. Jo Anne Van Tilburg is an archaeologist and director of the Rock Art Archive, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. She heads the Easter Island Statue Project, an inventory and analysis of over 900 Rapa Nui statues (moai).