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The History of Tikis February 11, 2020

Kalihi - Palama, Honolulu
The History of Tikis, Honolulu, Hawaii

The Polynesian carvings and statues known as tikis are wonderful souvenirs to bring home from a Hawaiian holiday or to give as a gift. Learn about the history of these cultural icons in the post below.

What to Know About Tikis

The Origins of the Tiki

The Hawaiian Islands were settled by the ancient Polynesians. They came across the sea from the South Pacific, bringing their art, culture, and spiritual beliefs with them. Tikis were traditionally carved of wood or stone in the form of masks or statues. Tikis often represented various Polynesian deities and tended to be serious or fierce-looking.

souvenirsThe tiki is still found among Polynesian cultures in traditional spiritual practices from New Zealand to Hawaii. Today, small tiki statues, masks, and jewelry charms are popular Polynesian souvenirs.

Tikis in Hawaii

Hawaiian tikis often represent the islands’ four great gods:

  • Ku: Known as the god of war.
  • Lono: The god of peace and agriculture.
  • Kanaloa: Ruler of the oceanic realms.
  • Kane: God of creation, including forests, sunlight, and freshwater sources.

The ancient Hawaiians had a close relationship with their gods and the land, believing that harmony and symbiosis were the right path for living. The Hawaiian chiefs, or alii nui, were responsible for making sure that their people lived in the right relationship with the gods and all life. 

When you take home a tiki souvenir, remember that these little statues were viewed respectfully as a physical embodiment of divine power.

Popular Tiki Culture

South Pacific style art, decor, and food became popular in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Tiki bars, modeled on the popular Los Angeles restaurant Trader Vic’s, served up exotic cocktails, Asian-American food, and relied heavily on bamboo, carved masks and statues, and thatching to deliver a relaxed island feel. Modern tiki bars and restaurants can be found everywhere, as people love to combat winter doldrums or modern-day stresses with the relaxing feel of the tropics. 

The tiki aesthetic may also include outdoor dining and island music featuring ukulele, steel drums, pedal steel guitars, as well as flaming tiki torches to provide warmth and ambiance. 



For authentic Hawaiian tiki souvenirs, shop Hoku Traders of Hawaii, based in Honolulu. Since the 1940s, they have been providing visitors and locals alike with unique and high-quality items that are representative of Hawaiian culture. From portable tiki souvenir statues to elaborate and beautiful wall carvings, Hoku Traders has something for every taste. Call (808) 597-1344 for customer service or shop online to see their full inventory.

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