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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Mai Kai - Tiki Archeology
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Mai Kai - Tiki Archeology
GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1773
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-12-11 08:21 am   Permalink

Here's the OA mask version of that spirit hook:



 
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wplugger
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Joined: Jul 09, 2006
Posts: 161
Posted: 2007-12-11 4:54 pm   Permalink

Here are a couple of the ones I have made from the molds. It was the first one I did from them.


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11270
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-12-11 7:52 pm   Permalink

Ha! Didn't even know they made that one, too! Great looking pieces, Will.

...I am REALLY getting anxious to get to the bottom of the mystery of WHO were "they"? ...and the exact WHEN, HOW, and WHY of this hoard. Were they maybe done out of country? Did Bob or Leroy ever hear of this specific job being done?


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11270
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-12-25 9:50 pm   Permalink

So in the spirit of Christmas (and Starbucks), I am passing the cheer to all T.C.ers with this extensive Tiki archeology post:



First, on a little humorous side note, totally unrelated to what will follow, here is my favorite misspelling of my (first) name on a Starbuck's cup so far !:



...rhymes with "fun"!
So after I got home from Africa, I pulled out "Oceanic Arts" (as mentioned on the first page of this thread) from my book shelf, and lo and behold, the PNG spirit hook that was freed from its rubber cocoon DID come from its pages:




But after thoroughly leafing through this influential tome again, I must admit I overstated some things, such as the fact that almost ALL of Will's discovered casts were taken from the books pages, and that MOST statues in the book are seen from two view...which in fact is rather the exception. But nevertheless, here is an example of a beautiful Tiki that WAS found as a cast (see previous page), and IS shown from two sides in the book:



So here is a treatise on the multitude of Polynesian (and Melanesian!) Pop objects that were inspired by this art book, whose cover looks like this:



It definitely had a major hand in decking the halls of the Mai Kai. Let's look at this shot of the atrium for example:



No, the PNG orator chair statue is NOT in the book (and the Easter Island paddle on the back wall is from "Arts of the South Seas")...but look at this cast of characters, all culled from its pages:





(Please note that the Cook Islands Tiki's EYES and TEETH in the garden photo were painted on later, ...oy vey)

And here is one of the entrances to the atrium (as can be seen in TIKI MODERN):



...and WHO do we have here:




But as I stated earlier, the Mai Kai was by far not the only mid-century Tiki temple whose decor was partially based on the book. Here are two examples from the Kahiki:



I always thought that this shield was too cartoony to be authentic, but apparently it was just that:



I included the carving on the opposite page, because I KNOW I have seen it in situ in some Polynesian posada, but cannot recall which, nor do I have a photo of it. Perhaps the Tonga Room?
Does anybody else here have a shot of it?



And here is Michael Tsao (R.I.P.) with a garishly painted Ku, who once looked closer to this:





This guy became headless at Aloha Jhoe's in Palm Springs:




Soooo.... how come all these places all over the states were pulling their pagan idols from this one source? Because Oceanic Arts in Whittier was their supplier, and they had the book! And they made good use of it, be it for lamps...




....or any kind of wall decor, like masks:

The original in the book


The O.A. version, available in three sizes, in the 1970 catalog



An "embellished" (ahem) version for the "Night of the Tiki" show in 2001


The classic stained design, still available at O.A., one of their best deals (this type also hangs at the Mai Kai since its beginnings!)

I could go on and on, but I think I made my point. Hopefully this has not been too de-mystifying, but rather enlightening. Archeology is about tracing things back to their origins, and this post hopefully proves again what an incredible variety of art forms and styles was employed in classic Tiki style, and might encourage today's Tiki artists to go beyond the ever-the-same toothy grinned pop Tiki that is so prevalent nowadays.

In closing, a classic image from the Mai Kai:



Mele Kalikimaka to all!



[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-12-25 21:55 ]


 
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mymotiki
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Joined: Sep 18, 2007
Posts: 555
From: Mount Vernon WA Via Seattle WA
Posted: 2007-12-26 12:05 am   Permalink

Thank you so much for sharing these great pictures with us. The carving are really beautiful.
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Fres-tiki
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Joined: Mar 11, 2007
Posts: 110
From: Fresno, CA
Posted: 2007-12-26 03:46 am   Permalink

I'm curious to see if any other encased figures will come to light!
The subject of Sepik spirit hooks peaked my interest - decided to post a pic of one I own.


[ This Message was edited by: Fres-tiki 2007-12-26 03:57 ]


 
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wplugger
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Joined: Jul 09, 2006
Posts: 161
Posted: 2007-12-26 04:34 am   Permalink

Here is the one on the cover of your O.A. book

and another

I've sorta lost count but I'm up to about 60 I've made for them now

[ This Message was edited by: wplugger 2007-12-26 04:37 ]


 
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GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1773
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-12-27 5:39 pm   Permalink

Good post Sven. And to add to it, let's not forget this Marquesan tiki:



Who can be found at the Mai-Kai here:



(EDIT: I completely missed that you posted a pic of the same Marquesan tiki above (next to the door and the shield). I looked right past it. It looks to be the same one, mounted on the pole, but has either changed locations over the years, or the area around it was remodeled.)

and here:



and today, unfortunately his right arm is missing (carvers, c'mon fix him!):




[ This Message was edited by: gatorrob 2007-12-28 05:02 ]


 
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GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1773
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-12-27 5:48 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-12-26 04:34, wplugger wrote:
Here is the one on the cover of your O.A. book



Hey Will, that Pele tiki is supposed to have a full head of human hair. Any volunteers?!



 
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pablus
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Joined: Jul 23, 2003
Posts: 2155
From: www.crazedmugs.com
Posted: 2007-12-28 05:02 am   Permalink

I volunteer Crazy Al.

 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5065
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2007-12-28 05:45 am   Permalink

That's very cool and funny Sven!

Getting back to the top spirit hook, you can see in the book, if you know what it is, that it indeed is a crocodile on his forehead, but the carver, looking at the picture, interpreted it as a bird or something. That makes total sense, and makes my thought more clear. That is a copy, and not an original Papua New Guinea piece, and that's why it looks the way it does. Very interesting!
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wplugger
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Joined: Jul 09, 2006
Posts: 161
Posted: 2007-12-28 05:53 am   Permalink

Think we could get this
in the gift shop by next year ?



 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11270
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-12-28 09:34 am   Permalink

Will, that is absolutely hilarious! I would buy one of those in a flash!

Rob, thanks for those great images. I did include that Marquesan guy above, the post that calendar gal is holding onto is pictured here:



That's why books are better than websites, no scrolling past images . (Then again, there is never enough space in books, like for all this, so the reproduction of the above photo in Tiki Modern [p.109] is quite small)

I did not include the big Tiki outside because I believed that as a reproduction he is not close enough to the original and as such not the best example for the book-to-carvings link (the tattooed forehead is not as prominent). BUT this (and Swanky's post) bring up another point that I was planning to make with this post:

That big Marquesan, and the other big Tikis at the Mai Kai were done by Barney West I believe, and his carvings were more interpretive than merely exact copies. Herein lies the division between what I would call classic or "authentic" mid-century Tiki Style and Tiki Modern. BOTH fall under the umbrella of Tiki Style (which falls under Polynesian Pop). The Mai Kai with its predominantly authentic Tiki art is a great example of CLASSIC Tiki, while on the other end of the spectrum the Hala Kahiki is all interpretive Tiki MODERN.

We have to go back to the heyday of Tiki to understand the difference. Not until the Tiki revival fueled by Tiki News and the BOT was the "interpretative" style of carvers like Milan Guanko and Andres Bumatay appreciated as an art form in its own right. Actually, Oceanic Arts as a supplier PRIDED itself to be able to deliver very-close-to-the-original carvings to its clients, the wacky Witco stuff was looked down upon. Not that they did not also sell it, they used the carvings of, and employed all the good modern carvers at the time, like Barney West, Milan Guanko, Richard Ellis, and Ed Crissman. Here is a catalog page that shows some of their not-so-authentic carvings:



But the fact that Tiki Modern was viewed as bad taste, and the genuine desire to employ "authentic" South Seas art made exact replicas often more desirable for sellers and buyers in the industry. Plus, as can be seen in the above examples like this shield on the right



...and this spirit hook's grinning face



...the actual original art sometimes was so cartoony and modern that it needed no embellishment. These carvings are in fact further (with the others in TIKI MODERN) excellent examples for the reason why primitvism and modernism gelled so well in the 50s/60s.

So, while not quite as creative, classic Tiki style is no less pop art than the more interpretive Tiki Modern, and a good Tiki environment should have samples of both.


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1773
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-12-28 2:37 pm   Permalink

While I tend to lean more toward classic style tiki for my personal tastes, I also like a few stylized or interpretive tikis thrown in the mix. That's why I have this big guy (who is a tribute to the Barney West stylized Moai in front of the Mai-Kai) looking in on my home bar to keep an eye on things! This was carved by Wayne Coombs. It's carved from cedar, so that's where it gets it's sunburned face. But the sun will eventually render it a beautiful silver.



And speaking of Barney West, I had an interesting conversation with Leroy Schmaltz once where he told me that he wasn't much impressed with Barney's carving skills. That came as a bit of a shock! I don't think he cared for Barney's carousing ways either, but it does make for good stories. Perhaps, as you said, with Leroy being more of a classic tiki carver, he didn't appreciate Barney's style. But I think that's one of the things that makes the Mai-Kai so great: the mixture of the two. Especially with Barney's carvings being on such a GRAND scale.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11270
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-12-28 3:17 pm   Permalink

He's a beaute! I agree, Barney's forte were the big ones, especially the Moais...but some of his mid-size work at some of the Trader Vic's all over the world contains some nice examples, too.

Leroy's assessment of Barney's style is another clue of how decades of demand for "authenticity" has shaped O.A. (This, curiously, was not reflected in their color choices in the 80s and 90s, though).


 
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