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| The Santiago Staff was acquired in 1870 from the French colonist Dutrou-Bornier, who claimed that it had belonged to an ariki (king). It is entirely covered with signs, running along its length. Where the reading should start has not been determined, and Barthel's numbering of the lines is arbitrary. But notice how line 12 runs only three quarters of the length of the staff. Some see there evidence that it is where the reading should start.
Steven Fischer has claimed that it consists exclusively of records of such-and-such copulating with so-and-so to beget this-or-that. For instance: "all the birds copulated with the fish; there issued forth the sun".
Jacques Guy, who takes a dim view of Fischer's claim (1998: Easter Island - Does the Santiago Staff Bear a Cosmogonic Text? Anthropos, Vol.93, pp.552-555) has argued, on the evidence of Butinov and Knorozov's discovery of a probable genealogy on the Small Santiago Tablet, that it is more probably a ta'u, i.e. a list of warlike exploits and of their heroes and victims.