Artist and investigator. She has lived and worked in Easter Island for more than two decades. She is committed to the conservation of the patrimonial memory of the Rapa Nui culture. Author of five books, all of cultural interest, her research has been carried out together with the greatest teachers and scholars of this ethnic group. Beyond the formal analysis of music or art, Sofia Abarca manages to collect valuable information that has remained hidden for hundreds of years, offering an alternative interpretation to the intangible heritage of the Rapa Nui culture.
More than seven years of research on oral tradition and ancient chants of Easter Island are reflected in this text, which emphasize its contents by going beyond the formal analysis of musical structure. Information hidden between the lines which offers an alternative interpretation to the intangible heritage of the Rapa Nui culture. Researched material that came directly from the mouth and heart of a Rapa Nui native woman and teacher, María Elena Hotus, a wise heiress of a tradition that had never been translated before. In other words, a historical and social musical compilation dedicated to the formalization of ancestral songs, which are vestiges of the musical memory of the original inhabitants of this territory.
The willingness of María Elena to give and spread her memories through Sofia's knowledge is something very exceptional and makes this book a unique contribution to Rapa Nui's culture. This is much more profound than the rescue of a heritage from the past, it is the greatest contribution to the safeguarding of a legacy that remains alive as it is shared and recreated in each generation, including the inevitable transformations through time.
In this book, oral tradition meets the typing exercise to confirm the urgency of its recovery. The origins and uses of each expression are neatly told in order to highlight their socio-cultural meaning and the relevance of the music to the definition of Rapa Nui's rituality.
With pages in b/w and color, Sofía Abarca introduces the history of sculptural art and the traditional Rapa Nui handcrafts from the hands of the renowned sculpturist, Tomás Tuki Tepano. From this viewpoint, this project is one of the best acknowledgements of a culture recognized for its efforts to develop in total isolation —but with the power to manage, adapt and survive—an exceptional case in the history of humankind.
After more than 30 years of hard work, research and acknowledgements, Tomás Tuki Tepano opens new routes for the development of the island’s sculptural art craft and replication, re-signifying the symbolism of his trade through the provision of certain emotional and spiritual character to his creations. As an inspired sculptor and a perfectionist artisan, his effort us on the promotion and enhancement of rapa nui art, in the conservation and transmission of these expressions, which constitute the essence of his culture. Since we know that the Rapa Nui sculptures expression and carving craft only exists in this territory, everything that happens here is a heterotopic equivalent.
Hands of the Soul received the support of the Chilean Ministry of Culture in 2013 “because of the quality of its proposal, for both the research and the edition of this book”.