Tiki Masks – What They Mean to Polynesian and American Culture

Tiki Masks are hand carved wood, however once carved the wood takes on the spirit or god, the Tiki Mask then is transferred into a personification of Polynesian power and knowledge. Unlike African and other cultures that worshiped deities, the mask was not worn, but instead displayed and was always present.

The word Tiki is sometimes thought of a faux culture. The examples are the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tiki Bars, tropical drinks and other items created as a result of commercialization. Polynesia is a significant part of the Pacific Ocean; therefore most definitions on the web could not explain a Tiki Mask by using a broad term such as Polynesian. The Polynesian Culture refers to thousands of indigenous people, on hundreds of islands, that worshiped hundreds of different gods, with different belief systems, and which a few worshiped idols called Tikis since 1000 A.D. (Which includes Easter Island, Tonga, Fiji, and Hawaii).

The Polynesians carved their Tiki Masks with a common theme in the expressions in intrinsic detail. The masks would have large open mouths, hanging tongues, big nostrils, large head, frowning eyes, large teeth, anger, and most of all fearlessness. As a result, they can change the look and feel of a room, by making it mysterious, tropical and a conversation peace to the meaning.

In Polynesian Culture, most people write about the four main Tiki Gods. Ku is the god war and husband of Hina. Lono is fertility god and provider of peace. Kane is the leader or men of men. Kanaloa is the king of the sea, lakes, rivers and rain. In American Culture the four gods are not as popular. Americans look for Tiki Masks and Tiki Statues that have spirits which can help them in everyday life (examples in the next paragraph), they are not just for home décor.

Do you want to be a winner? Then there is an ancient Winner Tiki that blesses you with fortune in all that you do. Are you having financial troubles? Then there is a Tiki Mask and Tiki Statue called the God of Money and by keeping him in your presence it is thought money will come your way. Are you worried about your health? There is a Long Life Tiki that will help you stay strong and healthy. Are you happy? There is a Happiness Tiki that combines blessings, good health and happiness. Are you always defending yourself? There is the Amakua Tiki with real human hair which claims to protect and defend you from others. Are you stressed? There is the Temple Tiki, a replica from the British Museum that represents power and protection of your home. Are you unlucky? The Lucky Tiki is claimed to bring prosperity and is the most popular Tiki. Can’t have a baby? There is the Tiki of Fertility which claims that by rubbing his head you become more fertile by his command. In conclusion, the Polynesian Culture is still alive, however in American Culture the meaning is interpreted into our everyday lives.


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