True, Tiki Mugs Australia has featured some spectacularly strange Tiki Mugs since we hit the market (The Hypnotist, The Glutton, The Other and The Lost Tikis of Toro Toa Series come to mind); but in the grand scale of global Tiki Culture we’re really only tiny little baby Tikis. Today, because we’re sentimental and, more importantly, hold a deep respect for our Tiki elders, we want to take a moment to celebrate the five most iconic Tiki Mugs of all time.
Mr Bali Hi
Now, Mister Bali Hi is by no means a rare piece of Tiki Ceramic; but that doesn’t take away from his status as a true icon. Firstly, Mister Bali Hi pays true homage to the traditional carvings of indigenous Tiki culture, which is always cool. Secondly, this Tiki Mug marks, in a way, the birth of single venue promotional merchandising. The design is modelled on the massive Tiki carving that graced the lobby of the Bali Hi Lodge in San Diego in the 1950s. Affectionately nicknamed Mr Bali Hi, this head was so popular it warranted its own range of Tiki Mugs.
Tiki Bob is perhaps the most widely referenced and replicated Tiki Mug of all time – and also the one with the friendliest face. Tiki Mugs are often considered synonymous with borderline creepy facial features; but Tiki Bob is just here to have a good time. Even though Tiki Bob’s Bar in San Francisco is long gone, the statue of Tiki Bob’s smiling face still remains outside the venue and has in recent years been refurbished to its former glory by a group of passionate Tiki-philes.
Trader Vic’s is often hailed as the birthplace of American Tiki Culture and one of the showpieces in the long list of awesome Trader Vic’s Tiki designs is – drum roll – Captain Blackbeard’s Skull. This mug combines two classic Tiki themes, pirates and skulls, and turns them into a noir artwork that is bound to add some weirdness to any Tiki Collector’s prize shelf. Yes, it’s dark. Yes, your kids may not want to drink from it. But yes, it is also rad as hell.
Newsflash: Newcomers can be iconic, too, and this Star Wars inspired piece of Tiki Art has become an instant classic. Everyone loves Chewie, for a start; but more importantly he is the perfect character to recreate as a Tiki. From his trademark frown to his shaggy fur, Chewbacca looks cool as a carving; at first sight it’s actually a little hard to tell whether you are looking at a traditional or a novelty design.
The Hula Girl
Tiki Culture is heavily influenced by the artist of Polynesia and Hawaii, so it’s only fair to include the Hula Girl design into this list of iconic Tiki Mugs. The Hula Girls, aka the most laid back pin-ups of all time, embodied the mellow party spirit of the early Tiki days perfectly and have been immortalised by many esteemed makers of Tiki Mugs. Whether they are dancing on the beach or getting down with a ukulele, the Hula Girls make the perfect companion for your next Tiki party.