Souvenir shops and street vendors all over Hawai’i carry them as shrunken and watered-down deities, and for some, they symbolize Hawai’i as much as beaches and lava lamps. Most are quaint relics now, like the bobbing hula girls in the rear window of a Chevy. But for Polynesians, they represented an ancient religion, one in which deities and nature warred with each other and with man, and commoners and kings alike would tremble with fear at their capriciousness and whims. Sophia Schweitzer draws on images from the late 1700s through today, dividing her narrative into three distinctive parts. Tiki of Hawai’i: A History of Gods and Dreams reveals a rich, colorful and entertaining picture of tiki–the kind of history which, for visitor and kama’aina alike, will leave memories and an understanding of our culture far deeper than that provided in souvenir shops.

Author: Sophia V. Schweitzer