Present in sacred or funerary places, scale models are used in religious ceremonies to give offerings to the gods. Those offerings are meant to favor various activities like war or fishing…contact with Europeans have contributed to develop the production because sailors were particularly fond of it. Marquesan scale models were composed of several assembled parts, including elegant little prows decorated with carved tiki.

Tiki Vaka

Tiki Vaka were composed of a sited tiki, slightly bent to the back and having an elongated head ending in a tiki head in bas-relief. The main figure had two perforations on both side. For a long time, they were identified as elements of canoe prows. Today we suppose that the tiki vaka were actual elements of real canoe, placed at the base of the stern. Indeed, the academy of science in San Francisco have a tiki vaka equipped with a triangular wooden device similar to the one we can find on the scale model of the Stuttgart Museum. Also, the record of the missionary Steward confirms the theory of the tiki vaka as an element of the stern. He notes that at the base of the stern, a tiki figure was kept in an inclined position by two wooden stems.

  1. Canoe scale model. Marquesas islands. Stuttgart Museum, Germany.
  2. Tiki vaka. Element of a Marquesan canoe conserved at the Academy of science of San Francisco, United States.
  3. Drawing of a tiki vaka. Academy of science of San Francisco, made by J. Edge Partington, 1898.