Sculpture craft from Marquesas Islands
Tiki carved in wood of Tou - Approximate size: Height 12.5 cm - Width: 5 cm - Weight: about 100 to 130 g.
This marquisian statuette is carved from Tou* wood (walnut tree). It represents a Tiki* which is traditional from Marquesas Islands, with flat head.
Marquesan handicrafts are popular with tourists seeking a souvenir from French Polynesia, but also by collectors of Oceanian art or wooden objects.
Patterns representing tiki are omnipresents in the Polynesian culture.
What is a Tiki?
The tiki is an emblematic figure of Polynesian culture. These figures with human forms are called tikis (tiki in marquisian language and ti'i in Tahitian language). They represent gods and deified ancestors. The word tiki designates both the anthropomorphic statue and the motif derived from the human figure. According to Polynesian mythology, Ti'i represents the first man.
How is he represented?
Sculpted Tiki are typically depicted. They look forward, knees slightly bent, arms close to the body. The hands are placed on the belly, considered as the center of emotions. All facial features are broad and stretched: nose, mouth, eyes, eyebrows, ears. The top of the head is sometimes flat or may have a crown.
About Tou wood:
The tiki are often carved out of Oceania Walnut tree - or Tau in Tahitian language - or Cordia subcordata from its botanical name. It is one of the most popular species in cabinetmaking and craftsmanship because the wood is very hard and easy to work with (sculptures, objects, drums, furnitures, etc.). Its brown color is particularly appreciated, with a veining that varies from beige to dark brown.
Formerly the tou leaves were also used for dyeing (tapa, face, monoi). Its bark, leaves and fresh fruits serve as ingredients in many medicinal preparations.