Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Pages: 1 2 3 4 181 replies

I honestly can't recall when my obsession with the Cannibal Trio started, but it's difficult to immerse oneself in the world of Polynesian Pop without running across this group fairly frequently. These little guys really got around. They started in Bora Bora and got picked up by Don the Beachcomber, Steve Crane and several others.

I've always referred to them as Hunter, Catcher and Ingestor. I think I might have picked up those appellations from Bosko.

This weekend I purchased this set. It's one of those things that doesn't even make it onto your Holy Grail list because you can't imagine ever coming across something like this.

Sven asked for more pictures, so here you go.





Then, of course, I started thinking about my other cannibal collectibles.

The matchbooks. (The Harbor Hut in Morro Bay is missing the Hunter.)

The mystery swizzle.

The Doug Horne Mai Kai print.

The Oceanic Arts Bora Bora pole and Catcher statue.

Squid's pendant. Dave - Could you take care of those other two when you get a chance please? :D

The 2004 Hukilau Mug.

The 2007 Hukilau Mug.

The Thatch Mug.

I picked up this set of samples on ebay. I'm not sure if they were ever mass produced.

Here are a few images that I collected from the Mai Kai last year at Hukilau.

The Bora Bora lamp.

The Cannibal Trio from the old Mai Kai sign.

A few items from other collectors.

Kingstiedye has these salt & pepper shakers.

These Bosko mugs belong to TravelingJones.

This is Sven's dissection of the cannibals from a thread that was in Marketplace.

On 2009-08-24 23:06, bigbrotiki wrote:
I could write a whole chapter on the cannibals, but I am still on a shoot and don't have the time. There are four basic styles in carving:

1.) The original Don The Beachcomber style:

2.) The Steve Crane Luau and Kon Tiki style:

3.) The Tahitian tourist Tiki style (seen at O.A.):

4.) The "Asian eyes mistake" Bora Bora post style:

The last ones grew out of the sloppy rendering done of Don's Tikis done on the original Don the Beachcomber menu, which failed to recognize the Marquesan "wrap around eyes":

... a mistake which was perpetuated by the Luau:

The Mai Kai artist did more justice to the Don style cannibals:

But the graphic history of the cannibals is another story. Back to the CARVINGS:
The original Don cannibals were his only pet Tikis, he had them in his back bar in Hollywood..

in his home in Encino:

...and used them as POSTS in his bars in Chicago:

...and Waikiki:

Darn....sorry, gotta go to work, -to be continued

Kate is Rad.....
no two ways about it!

YAY Cannibals!

Wow! Now I feel like an expert on them, too. Thanks for the education and pics.

Here's a picture of the little ones at the Mai-Kai that I took during Hukilau 2008 ~

DZ

I always thought they were called "The Chase","The Capture", amd "Full Tummy".

Don't know where I got that from...

this is just a sick assumption,
but is it possible that its not a hunt,
but a birth, an eating, and a full tummy,?
as in eating ones young?

I know, I'm demented.
but you never know.

Jeff(btd)

Not as sick as you might think: Not having any other forms of birth control at their disposal, but being aware that the resources on an island were limited, infanticide was an accepted form of birth control on Tahiti. So much for paradise.

Though the squatting birth position was common in the islands, and the middle figure could be interpreted as pulling the baby out between the legs, the fact that the "catcher" is clearly sitting on his victim seems to make the Cannibal concept more likely.

BUT: Cannibalism was NOT a Tahitian custom (unlike in the Marquesas), only human sacrifice, meaning ritual killing, but not ingesting. I believe that the influx of Marquesan carvers in Tahiti led to these puppies being called Bora Bora or Tahitian Cannibal carvings, but that their tradition and style actually hails from the Marquesas. Since no ancient examples exist, it is unclear if the concept is based on ancient tradition, or was an early whimsical idea to appeal to the tourists.

On 2009-09-14 18:48, Tiki-Kate wrote:
I honestly can't recall when my obsession with the Cannibal Trio started...


...maybe with the BOT? :D

An early souvenir concept indeed, as the date 1923 now asserts. Fantastic, Kate, I never had any proof of first appearance. Now compare these to the fake repros that were up on T.C. a few weeks ago, and everyone will see the difference.

Now the question remains: Why, starting with Don, did everyone in Polynesian pop get the sequence wrong? Wasn't it obvious?

Here are some additional images of the original cannibals to illustrate their design -which has not been fully understood by many Tiki artists, since they were not privy to the originals.

the catcher:

the eater:

HOK

One for you Big Bro....:)



Mai Kai shirt

Another [email protected] Spence Weaver's granddaughters house

Aloha, Freddie

G

That's such a great find. And they're in remarkably good condition. Congratulations Kate!

I was wondering if those carvings inspired the Indiana Jones idol...

My personal favorites

WOW!
WHAT A LEARNIN HERE!
i always thought the Cannibals were arranged as thus...

Logically,it includes the WHOLE digestive process...

I had a Sophie’s Choice moment with this one when years ago the owner told me I could buy one of the set while the other two were promised to someone else. It was my first large tiki and I’d love complete the set, alias.

This is some fascinating stuff.

Is the Harvey's signature tiki logo one of these cannibals?

The little guy is right where the big guy's mouth would be. Is this a very stylized version of the Eater?

On 2009-09-15 11:37, cloudmonkey wrote:
This is some fascinating stuff.

Is the Harvey's signature tiki logo one of these cannibals?

The little guy is right where the big guy's mouth would be. Is this a very stylized version of the Eater?

I believe the Harvey's guy rather is an attempt at this classic Tahitian god:

...which Picasso liked so much he had a replica made of it:

(both pics from Tiki Modern, pages 35/ 36)

Nice Steve Crane style Cannibal, Tikinomad, here is one of the poles that stood in front of the Hanalei Hotel/ Islands Restaurant before it got renovated:

...and we all know where IT originally came from, right? :)

And House of Ku: You OWN that shirt? And you know Spence Weaver's granddaughter? He had the pick of all the top shelf tourist carvings in his day!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-09-15 12:56 ]

K
kirby posted on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 2:39 PM

This is a gear shifter i carved for my dunebuggy, with my interpretation of the tiki cannibal/headhunter, I particularly like when skulls are used in this way, I believe I have seen some examples in The book of tiki, as a polypop way of representing it but im not sure if the skulls were used in this way before that time.Sven?

[ Edited by: kirby 2009-09-15 14:40 ]

G

The Portland Kon-Tiki cannibals, now at Thatch in Portland:

From the Jardin Tiki, Montreal:

And the Kon-Tiki cannibals at La Mariana (pretty much identical to the Luau pole bigbro posted):

Here's Mr. Daumer...
He ain't in any Tiki bars
but he IS a real cannibal....
so i thought he needed to be here....

bigbrotiki, what's the name of that Tahitian god the Harvey's logo is based on? It's very cool looking and I'd like to find out more about it. Is it Ta'aroa, their creation god? I couldn't find any images to compare.

Thanks!

Quite funny...but please let's not let this thread deteriorate into a Cannibal joke or all-about-cannibalism thread, there is too much fun to be had with the Cannibal Carving subject in itself.

Thank you for the Crane Cannibal dokumentation, GatorRob!

Kirby, you probably mean this guy from The Tikis:

...and no, I don't think there is an ancient precedent, he is pure Polynesian pop.

The concept in modern Tikidom of a head or figure between the legs is not neccessarily connected with the Cannibal concept, but often might be inspired by another ancient Polynesian tradition, that of the Maori:

...where it was connected with ancestor myths about birth, creation, maybe subjugation, but never cannibalism.

On 2009-09-15 21:51, cloudmonkey wrote:
bigbrotiki, what's the name of that Tahitian god the Harvey's logo is based on? It's very cool looking and I'd like to find out more about it. Is it Ta'aroa, their creation god? I couldn't find any images to compare.
Thanks!

I am not at home with my archive, but I think his name was A'aa, or something funny like that, from Rurutu. You can find him in many Oceanic art books, he was hollow and had many more "children" carvings in his belly.

Here's a prize question: Which other children did he inspire in Polynesian pop that we all know? :D

Here's a prize question: Which other children did he inspire in Polynesian pop that we all know? :D

Could it be this fellow from Disneyland's Tiki Room?

And the Tangaroa Babies that descend from his limbs?

Since the Ruruturu God, A'a has sometimes been identified with Tangaroa (Ta'aroa), the creator god?

K

That helmet-like head and "children" made me think of:

Tangaroa Baby

On 2009-09-15 12:54, bigbrotiki wrote:

...which Picasso liked so much he had a replica made of it:

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-09-15 12:56 ]

I don't think he personally had a replica made because I went to an exhibition which featured items from the Roland Penrose Archive (an early but influential collector of surrealists/da da/cubists) and they had the very same "Tangora god of the sea" cast.

It just shows that the surrealists had the best shops to visit, where you could buy casts of amazing Tikis.

Also the Tangora Babies are exactly like the small figures on the big tiki.

there's a whole book on Picasso's Oceanic Arts collection
but it's expensive....

B

Picasso was a cannibal???

big fun thread! thanks for starting it Kate!!!

i feel a painting coming on!

[ Edited by: bigtoe 2009-09-16 13:12 ]

I too am enamored by the Tahitian cannibal trio. I love him so much I commissioned Flounder to do a burlap for me. I'm so glad we have these big carvings, ephemera, shirts & mugs, and folks who create new interpretations.

GREAT collection Kate! Thank you for sharing with us! I didn't know anyone else loved them as much as I do.



Great Minds Drink Alike

[ Edited by: Tikiwahine 2009-09-16 16:57 ]

On 2009-09-14 22:11, bigbrotiki wrote:

On 2009-09-14 18:48, Tiki-Kate wrote:
I honestly can't recall when my obsession with the Cannibal Trio started...


...maybe with the BOT? :D

I think you might be right, Sven. :)

I'm also quite taken with this image of the Kon Tiki menu from page 108 of Tiki Modern. It's on my list of things I'd like to carve. I need to finish about five other projects before I start anything new though.

And I'm so glad you posted the Flounder, TW. I came very close to including it in my original post, but I hoped that you would chime in here.

Congrats Kate...they are awesome. Thanks everyone for such great info and pix...really helps those of us that are still on the steep side of the learning curve.

Just to follow up and confirm:

You were right, folks, most of the Disney Tangaroa Babies were inspired by the mini figures on the body of the this unique Tiki from Rurutu. Here's the best photo of it I could find on the net, you can recognize the Tiki baby on the right on it:

He's one of the treasures of the British Museum, here's some more info:

"There is debate about which of the Rurutu gods the figure represents. John Williams identifies it as A'a. The god is depicted in the process of creating other gods and men: his creations cover the surface of his body as thirty small figures. The figure itself is hollow, a removable panel on its back reveals a cavity which originally contained twenty-four small figures. These were removed and destroyed in 1882. Contemporary Rurutuans explain that the exterior figures correspond to the kinship groups that make up their society, and propose a number of theories about the relationship between the figure and Christianity. It is carved from hardwood, probably from pua (Fagraea sp)."

Here's one more example showing another form of the head-holding type Tiki, a Solomon Islands canoe prow carving, this one being associated with head hunting:

But back to the "Tahitian Cannibal Carvings" at hand:
Here's a fine vintage rendering of the Eater, from a menu, really showing the "pulling out from between the legs" concept...

...and a circa 1940s illustration of the Trader Vic's Oakland store, showing the Catcher:

B

[ Edited by: boutiki 2009-09-17 11:50 ]

1

We still don't have the story behind the cannibals that Kate has acquired.
Where, how much etc. etc ? please spill .I know the cannibals I posted on TC
that were on ebay were never sold and auction was closed .Wonder if all the
comments from Sven killed the sale, since he thought they were Indo knock offs.
Kates say 1923 on the bottom...very old and very coooool!

1

On 2009-09-17 11:49, boutiki wrote:

[ Edited by: boutiki 2009-09-17 11:50 ]

Definite lathe marks on the bottoms of Dukes cannibals -Sven .
Does this mean that they were not hand carved, and turned on lathe ?

More of the Tahitan tourist cannibal as seen in the 1962 film "Tiara Tahiti"

1

Great shots Ron.

Great find, Ron. I remember seeing a big Crane style Cannibal in a movie with John Hurt...


Here's a picture of my Cannibals on my mantle piece, with a Mai Kai coaster ( hiding the missing leg of the "victim" which was chewed off by a previous owner's dog!) and a three piece Cannibal pendant by Purple Jade. And yes, mine do have lathe marks on them:

..so they must have been mass-produced fairly early on, mine look old. Kate's do NOT have lathe marks, they must be hand-carved, from Tahiti, from the 20s - in excellent condition for that age.

Here's another pic, versions of the Full Belly one (?) and the Catcher at Trader Vic's. I tried to lighten and sharpen it to see them better. These must be Tahitian tourist pieces, too.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-09-18 00:12 ]

HOK

On 2009-09-15 12:54, bigbrotiki wrote:

And House of Ku: You OWN that shirt? And you know Spence Weaver's granddaughter? He had the pick of all the top shelf tourist carvings in his day!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-09-15 12:56 ]

Yes and yes :) Actually his daughters, not grand daughter...had to verify :lol: Some of them picks...

LT

On 2009-09-18 03:03, HOUSE OF KU wrote:

Love this bowl!

S

Does the lathe mark have anything to do with th ecarving, or is it simply a remnant of the original piece of wood being turned to make it round?

On 2009-09-14 18:48, Tiki-Kate wrote:
This weekend I purchased this set. It's one of those things that doesn't even make it onto your Holy Grail list because you can't imagine ever coming across something like this.

I'm late to this party... but, Holy Cow! :o FABULOUS score Kate! AMAZING once-in-a-lifetime find!! :o YOU Go Girl!!! :D

Here is the back of a diner and drink menu combo I just got from the Luau in Beverly Hills.

The cannibals are thanking you for dining with them and hope you return soon!

DC

Congrats to a classic menu, DC.

Again, funny how the "Asian eyes" mistake by the Don the Beachcomber menu artist was continued thru the decades, and then even got transferred back onto carvings.

M

I just ran across this on ebay. I'm assuming it's not a TC member because of the Maori description. I'm curious if this is a realistic price?(can't afford anyway - better off trying my own carve)

Vintage Maori Tikis - The Luau Tiki Bar Beverly Hills
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Maori-Tikis-The-Luau-Tiki-Bar-Beverly-Hills_W0QQitemZ230405169319QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item35a537e0a7

4

On 2009-11-28 11:12, meega wrote:

FOUR cannibals!?!?! That throws a monkeywrench in the "catcher-eater-digester" sequence!
In the pic above, it looks to be "eater-catcher-taster-buttseks"! :o
But I'll bet it's actually two incomplete sets, cannibals 1 and 3 being eaters, and 2 and 4 being catchers.

M
meega posted on Sat, Nov 28, 2009 1:08 PM

You're right about being from different sets. Although the first two have different noses, the victims match, while the other two have different but matching style noses as well as different but matching victims.

On 2009-09-18 10:36, Swanky wrote:
Does the lathe mark have anything to do with the carving, or is it simply a remnant of the original piece of wood being turned to make it round?

I've done enough lathe work to know that a lathe can only make things that have "radial symmetry"; candlesticks, bowls, chair legs, etc. My guess is that they were chucked in a lathe to form the basic shape; the roundness of the top of the head, the narrowing of the neck. The rest of the carving was done off the lathe. Now these could be carved with a CNC (computer numerical controlled) router.

On 2009-11-28 11:12, meega wrote:
I just ran across this on ebay. I'm assuming it's not a TC member because of the Maori description. I'm curious if this is a realistic price?(can't afford anyway - better off trying my own carve)

Vintage Maori Tikis - The Luau Tiki Bar Beverly Hills
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Maori-Tikis-The-Luau-Tiki-Bar-Beverly-Hills_W0QQitemZ230405169319QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item35a537e0a7

This set has already been discussed on this thread:

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=33671&forum=12&hilite=cannibal

The experts all seem skeptical that these were ever at the Luau. The seller ended the previous auction early, possibly because folks began asking him too many questions that cast doubt on the authenticity? I wonder if he thinks enough time has passed to try selling them again.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 181 replies