The Tahiti Traveler

The Hidden face of the Tiki

Tiki sculptÈ sur bois dans un dÈcor verdurÈ

It is impossible to miss this artistic and spiritual emblem during your stay in Tahiti and her islands … The tiki is everywhere. Yet, its silence is deafening! Nevertheless, listen…observe; it may be hiding one of the keys to the many Polynesian myths … A rich exhibition at the Musée de Tahiti and her islands will help you unlock its mystery.

For the common man, the tiki is primarily this anthropomorphic statue carved in stone or wood. Originally from the Marquesas, the tiki embodies the spirit of a deceased person, a deified ancestor. Even if all the tikis resemble each other more or less, their sculpture is highly codified: its meaning is meticulously engraved in each pose and each pattern, especially in terms of social hierarchy. On a more esoteric perspective, one attributes a certain “mana”, a virtuous divine charge conferred to the statue by the recitation of the divine genealogy. The tiki statue, quickly becomes a protective entity of a place and its hosts. It is venerated upon to bestow security and abundance…

Behind the mask, the demi-god

The tiki is so much more than the evocation of an ancestor, as respected as it is. We find this figure in countless themes in Marquesan art, each containing its share of Polynesian mythology. Because the tiki was, above all, one of the main figures of the founding Polynesian mythology. Half-man half-god, it is found in all the eastern Polynesia in the role of the demi-god, the creator deity of the world …

Behind every fiber of each tiki, unfolds a chapter of the mythological origins of Polynesia … the creative force embodied by the tiki, the father of all Polynesians.

Can you unlock its mysteries? Visit at the Musée de Tahiti & ses Iles to find out. More than 100 new artifacts, a beautiful tribute to this pillar of Polynesian culture.

Useful information:

Tiki exhibition, Musée de Tahiti & ses Iles – Te Fare Manaha
Until March 19, 2017
Open from 9am to 5pm, everyday except Monday.
Admission: 800 Fcfp for exhibition, 1000 Fcfp all access pass. Free for students and children under 18 years.