Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tiki Love
By Michael

This is the tiki I was given by
the artist, the husband of the daughter
of the late Chief Hekua (see previous
post). It's about 2 inches tall, intended
as a necklace. The eyes wrap around
the sides, chameleon-like.
I saw a pretty cool hand-drawn map in the tiny museum in Vaitahu on Tahuata. But first… 

All these South Pacific island groups, hundreds or thousands of miles apart from one another, all have pretty distinct cultures, even though many are today linked politically, such as is the case for French Polynesia. Yet all of Polynesia (which includes the North Pacific island group of Hawaii) and even some island groups outside of Polynesia, celebrate tikis, humanlike statues that were a part of their ancestral history.

Tikis were carved into stone and wood and are still discovered by archeologists on the islands. Some are huge, some are tiny. Originally, tikis were representations of deified ancestors, men who had mana (spiritual power). Accordingly, the tikis themselves were thought to possess mana and were used to mark sacred places, or places that were tapu (taboo) or to defend a village against evil.

Today--though some tikis are widely still thought to have mana--tikis are largely downgraded, displaced by the Catholicism that now has a monopolistic presence when it comes to island faith. Yet, tikis have retained an important place in the various  cultures, still celebrated and carved, not just for tourists, but for locals too. The tiki is a part of celebrations and festivals, like other traditional art.

So anyway, this map I saw depicts the stylistic differences between the different tikis in different parts of the Pacific. For the past several weeks, we’ve been immersed in the Marquesan tiki style, characterized by big round eyes and wide, rectangular mouths, with little hands that rest on a Budda-like belly or at the chin. Following is the map I saw and beneath it, enlargements of each tiki style depicted.


This is the map, see the tip of Baja in the upper right corner?
Fenua Enata is Marquesan for the Marquesas. Rarotonga is
a part of what we call the Cook Islands (New Zealand
territory). Rapa Nui is the local name for Easter Island.
Ao Te Roa is the Polynesian name for New Zealand.
Not female.
This one might be

So familiar to us now.
The most human-like head, but
with strange hands.
Seen these Gerard Depardieu-looking
guys a million times.

Not so fierce looking.
Reminds me of what Greg found
during the Hawaii trip that cursed
the entire Brady family.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting Michael! Was just thinking of that Brady Bunch hawaii show the other day when talking about big spiders with someone! :)


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