Americans sought tiki for comfort and amusement not too long ago—small reminders of the carefree life they found on their Hawaiian vacation, something to conjure up the memories of sunshine and mai tais. Sold in souvenir shops throughout Hawai’i as shrunken, watereddown deities tiki were, to some people, symbolic of the Islands. Most are quaint relics now.
But for Polynesians, tiki represent an ancient religion, a capricious one in which deities and nature war with each other and with man, and a time when commoners and ali’i alike would tremble with fear at their whims.
Tiki of Hawai’i: A History of Gods and Dreams reveals the real tiki. A few are benign, while others are terrifying sculptures twelve feet high, carved with exquisite care. You will learn how ancient Hawaiian civilization ordered itself around a life force called mana and prohibitions known as kapu, along with a rigid caste system, earthquakes, volcanoes and intrigue. And you will meet powerful Queen Ka’ahumanu, ahead of her time and weary of male domination, who risked their wrath by toppling the tiki.
You will also meet larger-than-life people—King Kamehameha, Captain Cook, Jack London, Trader Vic, Don the Beachcomber, Martin Denny, Don Ho, and Elvis Presley. And above all, the tiki to their present status today where Hawaiian traditions more alive and vibrant than ever have restored temple sites so visitors to the Islands can enjoy the real thing and come away richer in spirit.
With stunning photographs and illustrations, Sophia V. Schweitzer reveals a rich, colorful, and entertaining picture of tiki—the kind of history which, for visitor and kamaaina alike, will leave indelible memories and provide an understanding of Hawaii’s culture far deeper than anything bought in a souvenir shop.
Softcover, 96 pp
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