Before they were used to create a tropical ambiance in various tiki bars and restaurants, tiki masks were an integral part of island culture on both the Polynesian and Hawaiian Islands. Tiki masks have been found on many islands in the pacific, dating from 1000 A.D, making their true meaning a bit of a mystery. However, there is no doubt that their use has been widespread throughout American culture, starting in the 1950s and ebbing and flowing in popularity ever since.
Today’s tiki masks are most often hand-carved from all-natural wood and then finished in either oil or wax to give them a glossy sheen. Their menacing countenances are meant to ward off evil spirits while their likenesses can be symbols of just about anything from love and happiness, to strength and fertility.
Many believe that the tikis were originally carved to pay homage to different gods and goddesses; masks created in their image would protect a household from earthly dangers. However, since these masks have been found over such a wide geographic and historical range, it is difficult to surmise their true origins and meanings.
Today, tiki masks are used in the United States to evoke tropical landscapes and vacation mindsets. Ever since tiki culture was brought to America after World War 2, the tiki mask can been seen all over the country in bars, resorts, hotels and even at the ever-popular Hawaiian-themed party. So whether you need a threatening demeanor to protect your home from evil, a symbol of luck to bring prosperity or simply a fantastic conversation piece in your home or backyard, the tiki mask is beautiful, classic and versatile.