The History of Tiki Masks
You may think of tiki masks as a charming way to add a tropical flair to your home's décor, but these carved wooden masks actually have a long, rich history in Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures. We will briefly explore the history behind tiki masks so that you have a better idea of the rich cultural traditions that stand behind one of your favorite home or outdoor decorations! They are used for many purposes, from ancestor worship to guarding and protecting the borders of temples and homes.
What are Tiki Masks?
Tiki masks are hand-carved wooden masks that, in their original intent, were used to stand in for deities, protect their users from evil spirits or even increase the mask wearers' fertility and luck. They served many purposes, both in the privacy of people's homes and in everyday life.
They were often carved to take on the specific trait of a certain god, and the artist would shape their facial expressions to resemble that trait. A tiki mask was meant to infuse its wearer with strength and would look like a large, strong man. While one meant to increase fertility could be carved to look like a sensual woman. Contrary to popular belief, not all tiki masks represented gods in the Hawaiian and polynesian cultures. Some did of course, though they also served as a valuable form of folk art and artistic expression. If you thought your tiki mask didn't have a story you were wrong.
How are Tiki Masks Created?
Much care and attention to detail goes into the creation of each and every tiki mask. They are hand-carved, so you know that the artist's true vision is being painstakingly created. They're typically carved from very strong hardwood, and finished with a mixture of waxes, finishes and oils to provide a sturdy, lacquered look and feel.
When purchasing a tiki mask from KTC Hawaiian you can be rest assured that you will be receiving one that has had much care and attention put into it. No matter which one you select! Your only choice will be which tiki mask you want watching over you in your home? A strong man? A warrior? A fertility goddess? The choices are limitless, and depend only on your tastes and your home's décor!
How did Tiki Masks Reach Western Cultures?
Tiki masks have obviously been in existence for thousands of years, but they only achieved popularity in the west in the 1940s and 1930s. Many savvy entrepreneurs of the time used them to decorate their restaurants and bars to lend them a South Pacific, Polynesian décor, while many sailors returning from war in the Pacific brought home tiki masks as souvenirs.
The fad really took off after that, and hasn't really slowed down since. They have become a truly iconic part of many home, restaurant and hotel décor plans, and their image is virtually synonymous with the South Pacific.
These beautiful, often funny, often strange masks all represent a unique part of Hawaiian and polynesian cultures, and traditions that are still very much alive on the islands today!