The History of Tiki Masks

By | July 28, 2017

If you trace back the lines of history long enough, you will soon discover the actual origin of the Tiki mask. Although one can see the history of these masks at almost any Hawaiian or tropical restaurant, cafe, or music venue as a form of decoration and entertainment, the mask is rooted in an ancient and historical civilization. Furthermore, the mask is a depiction of ancient Polynesian culture that is used by this culture today to signify remembrance, worship and celebration.

These masks are significant because they pay homage to an ancient Polynesian god, Tiki, who was considered by many as the first man. Moreover, the symbolic nature of wearing these masks or erecting Tiki poles is designed to capture the power of Tiki. Tiki statues are designed to protect or secure the boundaries of a tribe and these masks were designed to capture the power of the ancient Polynesian god Tiki.

Modern Use

However, today many cafes, restaurants and clubs use these masks and other Polynesian signs and symbols for mere aesthetic decoration. Club and restaurant owners alike, use these masks and statues to create a vibe or ambience in their establishment. To be sure, this application of the masks and statues does not have the same laws and meaning attached to it as the Polynesian people do. Unfortunately, the Polynesian culture has been appropriated for capitalist and entertainment value, which is not unlike many Asian and foreign cultures when seen in a Western setting.

The Design

There are many different formations and characteristics of these masks. Unlike, the cross in Christianity, for example, this mask comes in many different forms, colors, sizes and shapes. Further, some hold meanings or interpretations for different events or times of worship. In addition, there are masks for women, men and children and some for holiday times and others for funeral processions and child birth ceremonies. The history of Tiki masks has a rich history with many different meanings applied to each mask. Furthermore, each mask holds a sacred type of significance determined by the creator of the mask. You can see these types of sacred masks across the hundreds of museums in the world. There are many different spiritual beliefs attached to the Tiki mask, which holds a greater power than as a mere decorative item which is used on Halloween, for example in Western culture. To conclude, the history of the Tiki mask is a rich and complex one that has influenced and shaped the culture of Polynesian history.


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