Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tiki, or Ki'i

I followed Lani's progress closely as he worked his carving every day. It was slow; he only worked on it during lunch for at most five minutes any given day. Some days he wouldn't work on it at all. He would appear to meditate on it. I eventually found out he wasn't working on it except at lunches. He wouldn't say why.

Lani's carving was a ki'i. That's Hawaiian for "tiki".

People think tiki are idols. Here are six tiki or ki'i:

Ki'i are images. They can be drawings, diagrams or sculptures. They can be visages or representations of visages. They can be accurate or schematic, abstract or concrete, realistic or symbolic. The word tiki, or ki'i means image, not idol.

By the way, the one above that looks like an idol, at the lower right, is a symbolic expressionistic image of a Maori ancestor, and is no more an idol than Michelangelo's realistic but equally imaginary portrayal of Adam at the upper left.

No comments: