Part mid-century mod decor, part ancient religious icons. Beautiful wooden carving or ceramic mai tai-filled mug. A little bit Shag painting, and a little bit scary. The thought of Tiki conjures up all kinds of images in my mind, from giant Polynesian statues to animatronic Disneyland show, and I am fascinated by them all.
My fascination with Tiki began as a small kid inside the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disney World. Of course, there is a much deeper meaning to the world of Tiki than amusement park attraction.
What was turned into a caricature of tropical fun a half-century ago are actually ancient Polynesian deities. Tiki statues, or ki’i, of these gods were created to capture divine powers and connect with the spiritual realm.
On a recent visit to the Hawaiian islands, we visited a beautiful historic park on the Big Island. Pou’uhonua o Honaunau, or Place of Refuge, is a sacred site where law breakers in ancient Hawaii could come to be saved from their penalty of death. Visitors can see temples, ruins, and a number of Tiki statues.
While the ki’i are recreations of the original statues, their craftsmanship is incredible, and I will always be impressed by the imagination and creativity of the ancient Polynesian people who originally created these figures.
I will admit that while I love retro Tiki collectibles more than the average gal, and the Tiki Room will always have a place in my heart, seeing Tikis as they were meant to be seen is the most fascinating and best of the many portrayals of Tiki.
“All the birds sing words and the flowers croon, in the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room.”
- Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room