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Tiki Central / General Tiki

1962 Seattle Worlds Fair and the Two-Mouthed Tikis

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Lately I've been fascinated with the Hawaiian Pavillion at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and the Tikis that were carved for it. Here is a postcard showing the Pavillion:

You can see a fairly large tiki near the front of the concession window,

but at the far left of the picture there are two truly enormous tikis.

I wish they showed up better on the postcard. Does anyone know who carved them or where they went after the Fair?

Later I acquired a promotional book printed by Century 21 (the sponsor of the Seattle World's Fair), printed in 1959, just after the land had been bought by the city, but before ground had been broken on the fair site itself. It shows many artists' conceptual drawings of what the Fair would look like. Here is an artist's idea for the Hawaiian Pavillion fully three years before it was built:

I love the weird alien tiki with double mouths filled sharp teeth. I wondered where the artist might have gotten his idea for such a bizarre tiki.

Then my collecting turned up another two-mouthed tiki postcard. This is the tiki which stood in front of the THE GREAT HALAU - The main building of the ROYAL LAHAINA BEACH HOTEL in Hawaii. It is eerily similar to the tiki in the World's Fair promotional book:

But where did the carver get his idea for this tiki? Was the two-mouthed tiki a traditional form? Was it just the snarling mouth of the typical Ku taken to it's extreme, where the two sides of the same mouth were actually closed off?

I got a little more insight when Jtiki posted pictures of his trip to Hawaii just two days ago. Here's the thread:


And here's his photo of the old tiki in the Bishop Museum that's supposed to be the last "original" tiki left from the old religion:

It looks almost exactly like the tiki in front of the Royal Lahaina. In fact, if the chin wrinkles weren't different on the two, I'd swear it was the same tiki.

I'm so grateful to jtiki for posting his pictures. Seeing that old two-mouthed tiki makes me wonder if perhaps the carver of the Royal Lahaina tiki and the artist who drew the tiki in the Seattle World's Fair promotional book both got their inspiration from the tiki in the Bishop Museum. It's just a guess. Any other suppositions? Can anyone fill in any of the history of these three tikis for me?


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2006-04-21 22:45 ]


Wow! I can't shed any light on this mystery - but once again, I nominate Sabu for the best historical posts on Tiki Central!

"Oh mystic powers - hear my call...
From my limbs, let new life fall..."

[ Edited by: Tangaroa on 2003-01-14 09:02 ]


The tiki in the Bishop Museum was found on Kauai. I picked up a nice carved tiki awhile back in the same style. Here's a photo:

Thanks Puamana!

That's definitely the same guy, isn't it. Same pug-nose, same diamond-shaped carvings on the head. That's a beautiful carving by the way. You really found a gem. Did you buy it in Hawaii?

Here's another ad for the Seattle World's Fair Hawaii Pavillion. I wish I could have seen it in person:


Nice stuff, kids! That Tiki is another example of WHY the moderns were inspired by primitive art:
Way before Western Europeans could conceive of it, the native artists exaggerated some feaures of the human likeness to the extent of abstraction.
His mouth is really just an exaggeration of the "growling" figure 8 shaped mouths of the classic Ku statues. In some of them the lips or teeth ALMOST meet in the middle, here they do.

Here are two more nice examples of the form, flanking the entrance to Don The Beachcomber in Maui. (thanks to sungod for posting the pic!)

Love this thread & the tikis, thanks for the bump Sabu

Yeah, cool post Sabu. When I look at that style of tiki I always saw it as one big bad mouth with an extreme lower lip. However, I like the idea of double mouthed tiki. 2x the terror and trauma. Very interesting post about old timey tiki.



sabu, i just walked by my jim beam decantur and it looks like it has two mouths. you can tell it's one, though. maybe that's the same.

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