Friday, January 05, 2007

Tiki tour

Two recent contacts with Pacific culture. The first is in the de Young Art Museum, San Francisco where a number of Maori carvings are on display as part of the permanent collection. The label includes the acknowledgement that “taonga are inalienably attached to the Maori community,” adding “even though a taonga may be separated from the tribal group it is always closely attached to it spiritually.” The fact that the carvings remain as part of the museum’s collection probably suggests these curatorial musings are more rational than emotional. The second, is the tiki carvings that decorate the Caliente Tropics, our Palm Springs motel. A dash of Easter Island with Maori flourishes.
Left: Gable figure. Central North Island Maori people. twentieth century, wood. Museum purchase M H de Young Art Trust Fund 71.19.1 (museum label). Right: Tiki c.1964 manufactured by Oceanic Arts, Whittier, California who are also global suppliers for Disney worldwide. The carving pictured was most likely carved by the fabulously named Leroy Schmalz. You can check out his carving style and influences in Douglas A Nason’s book Night of the tiki.