The Hawaiian Tiki Statue
Although the true Hawaiian name for tiki is ki'i, most in Hawaii have adopted the more common Polynesian name. These skillfully carved statues represented the gods and ancestors of the Hawaiian people, and were most commonly seen at the entrance to temples among other sacred places. Since the advent of Christianity in the Islands, Idols no longer play a role in Hawaiian society aside from their historical significance. Ancient tikis, which can be seen today in such places as the Bishop Museum, remind us of Hawaii's rich cultural history.
Tikis in Pop Culture
Since people began travelling they have been bringing back trinkets and souvineers as reminders of far away and exotic locations. The appearance of in popular American culture began during Hawaii's golden age, the cruise ship era of the 1930s when many began visiting the Hawaiian islands. Servicemen discovered the tiki during World War II. As Hawaii entered statehood in 1959 popular culture had already embraced the Polynesian islands as paradise. During the 50s and 60s tiki themed bars and restaurants appeared across the globe.
In the late 60s and 70s, the allure of the tiki began to fade, Polynesian themed tiki bars were closed, the contents sold. As time passed the allure of tiki was again awakened, this time by collectors of tiki memorabalia. These new collectors scoured flea markets and thrift stores in search of tikis, matchbooks menus and other sought after items. Today, the tiki is recognized world-wide as a symbol of Hawaii and Polynesia.