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

Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Canlis', Honolulu, HI (restaurant)

Pages: 1 2 51 replies

Street:2100 King Kalakaua Ave.

Found a postcard for the Canlis in Honolulu. Shared items and info from the Seattle Canlis can here:


[ Edited by: Tiki Shaker 2009-12-09 17:28 ]

Tiki Shaker,

Glad you started a thread for this location. Here is an exterior postcard I have.

Some additional images found on the web.

The great menu from Mimi Payne's website.


Another graphic of the Honolulu restaurant that is from the inside of a menu I have from the Seattle Canlis.


Looking at that Tiki totem pole and trying to figure out its stylistic elements got me stumped. I wonder if the rendering is based on imagination, or if there was a sculpture like it in or around the outside of the Restaurant. It just seems so specific on one hand, but so pieced together on the other:

First of all, there was no totem-like Tiki stacking in old Hawaii as far as I know (in Maori-dom there was). But the MOUTH of the bottom Tiki is based on a famous Hawaiian idol -yet he has a little head between his legs (correction: on his belly), which is Maori ...!??

Buzzy, you know the Hawaiian carving tradition best, can you trace the influence on the top Tiki? And the rest?

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-02-10 17:37 ]


Cross-posted newspaper scan, from the old Tahitian Lanai thread where Canlis came into the discussion.

BTW, in those stacked tikis, the top one looks kinda Kanaloa to me, especially the zig-zaggy cuts. The bottom one looks like the offspring from another kanaloa variation mated with a maori tiki, and maybe something else in the mix too.


OK, now I wanna see what it looked like after it had become a police station. :)

Let me give the Canlis tiki a try, bigbro. You can tell me if my guesses hold any water.

  1. We know that Edward Brownlee was hired by Wimberly & Cook to do the Canlis. So I assume the tiki is his.

  2. In a 1958 interview, Brownlee said that his greatest inspiration for carving was the collection at the Bishop Musuem. This is wonderful, because the Bishop had the world's greatest collection ancient Hawaiian temple carvings in a large range of styles, plus tikis from other islands as well - what a treasure trove of source material for the young carver! I can imagine him walking past the display cases with his sketchbook, grabbing images here and there to incorporate into his carvings.

So let's look at the Canlis Carving, element by element and see what pieces on display in the Bishop Museum might have inspired it:

The top face looks to me like this fairly famous and enigmatic temple image from the Bishop:

It looks like Ed just reconstructed the face, giving it the chin-mouth-tongue feature that makes it look like it is whistling and is stylistically unique to Hawaii. (You can see it in the background tiki in the second image above.) This protruding mouth appears often and was thought to possibly represent the similarly carved lei niho palaoa which was worn as a sign of rank, or maybe just grimace of superiority and contempt worn by the warrior elite.

The crest on the top of the upper tiki looks like it was taken from this plank-image, also in the Bishop:

Looking at the lower tiki in the totem, bigbro, I wager we both immediately think of this famous temple post from the Bishop...

... with its closed-off double-opening mouth. In fact, Edward Brownlee carved a much more faithful representation of this tiki for the Waikikian, which you can see in "Sippin' Safari". By the time of the Canlis, he was getting more abstract and creative with the same imagery. In this case he only used the face of the two-mouth tiki. What you thought was a body with a face in the crotch was actually...

A Hawaiian support figure: :down:

These stocky little guys appear on all sorts of carved bowls, drums, tables, etc. and are there are also many examples at the Bishop.

But why carve it in a totem style, when, as you said, there are no example of stacked Hawaiian tikis from antiquity?

Not so hard to imagine when you realize that this tiki (from another island, I assume) is also on display at the Bishop:

Anyway, that's my crazy theory. We'll never really know without asking Ed Brownlee himself and that is Phil Roberts' department.

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-02-11 12:17 ]

Tiki Central - Exception

Oh no.

An error occurred. Site administrators have been notified of the error.