Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tiki

Original image: Tiki image on Wikipedia Commons, by Jason Wehmhoener.
This is a larger than life tiki at a heiau or sanctuary on the Big Island of Hawaii.
I have adapted or remixed the original image. 

Tiki… that strange, almost classically kitschy Hawaiian souvenir that Uncle Bill brought home from his trip to Hawaii. It has funny eyes and a big open or clenched jaw, almost menacing but you can’t quite take it seriously.

Tikis are carved figurines, and are associated with various Polynesian creation myths. But to most people, they are stereotypical souvenirs one can buy from a souvenir stand or an ABC store.
Still yet, they are a symbol associated with Hawaii, even though the word tiki isn’t even Hawaiian. The letter T isn’t even in the Hawaiian alphabet! But the Hawaiians had their version of tiki sculptures, some of which are quite large.

Tiki souvenir stand at Maui Tropical Plantation.
As for smaller tikis, you can buy them all day long in Hawaii. The odd thing is, a lot of tikis sold in Hawaii are not made in Hawaii. I have a pet peeve about buying souvenirs that say Hawaii and are made on the other side of the world. So please, if you buy a tiki to sit next to the tiki from Uncle Bill, make it one that’s made in Hawaii. Ask the seller, although sometimes, ewww, the sellers don’t tell the truth, or buy it from someone who’s making it on the spot. 

A real tiki maker at work at Maui Tropical Plantation. 

Aloha and mahalo (thank you) for reading!

If you are commenting from the A to Z challenge, please include a link. 
I'm doing my best to keep up with commenting, but do sometimes get behind. Mahalo for understanding!


  1. Aloha! I love Hawaii. I've been several times and never want to come back. I have many tiki carved statues. I fell in love with Hawaii when I was a kid and spent my summers in college attending summer school at UH. I am a new follower from the challenge.

  2. Aloha and awesome post! I love it.

  3. I love tikis - I had a tiki bar made and must get some tikis for decorations. I have two 6 ft tiki masks on either side of the bar, not sure though where they were made. When I get to Hawaii, I will have to get some authentic ones.!

  4. Mahalo Melissa, and I'm going to look for your blog. Sounds like you have quite a tiki collection!

  5. Wow, Judi... a tiki bar at your house! Doing that tropical theme. I know people who have a room in their home dedicated to Hawaii! (Mahalo to everyone who's commented so far!) Doing my best to keep up. I still have to go back to P or Q or some other letter that got neglected last week.

  6. Mahalo Daniel, checked out your blog too. Wow, you are a busy reader. For my ease of reference: www.attackofthebooks.com

  7. By all means, buy local!

  8. Wasn't there a Brady Bunch episode where they went to Hawaii and had an encounter with a cursed tiki? My parents have a few tiki masks from their time in Hawaii that I find very creepy.


  9. Hi there- I was just visiting Maui and looked at many local artist carving beautiful Tiki's and now that I am back home- I am so sad that I didn't purchase one! Any ideas on local guys I could contact who can ship a 4' mask to the Mainland? I have the perfect wall for it but don't want to buy from someone only 'claiming' to be made in Hawaii. Monika

  10. Aloha Monika, I think your best bet is to call Maui Tropical Plantation and ask for the name of the tiki craftsman. I don't have it. He was there on Mondays. Their # is 808 244 7643


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