If you’ve seen one tiki bar, you’ve seen ‘em all, right? Not by a long shot. One of the big differences between a Trader Vic’s and many other Polynesian/tiki establishments is that the decor, art and artifacts found inside each of our restaurants and lounges are the genuine article. Moreover, no two Trader Vic’s locations are alike, which is why many of our die-hard fans take such pleasure in scouring the Earth to check out as many as they can.
Many of the pieces that adorn Trader Vic’s Portland are well-traveled and have come from other Trader Vic’s locations around the globe — including the original. Several are recent purchases from New Gunea in the southwest Pacific where our buyer was able to score a few museum-quality pieces that can no longer be exported.
A few, such as the large tikis located on either side of the front doors, were carved specially for us by a Tongan artist living in CA. These tikis are made out of naturally-fallen Redwood. The tiki on the left (with the almond eyes) is a Rarotongan design and the other is Marquesan. At the restaurant, the Rarotongan tiki is on the right as you walk in. It’s also the one that the first limited edition Munktiki mug was based upon. Both tikis are male.
BELOW: On the back of the water feature in the entrance is an Angoran gable mask from New Guinea. These are hung on the outside of homes at the point of the roof.
BELOW: In the corner of the large booth near the kitchen is an Angoran Yamah Lintol from New Guinea. These go above doorways and protect against evil spirits.
RIGHT: The “Mud man” is a ceremonial dancing mask from the Nongusap village on the Middle Sepic river in New Guinea. Dancers would cover their bodies with mud to blend in better with the mask. This piece is from the late 1800s or early 1900s.
ABOVE: In the dining room near the entrance is a ceremonial canoe from the Swagup village on the Upper Sepic river in New Guinea. These are most often used standing up and propelled with poles. Yes, it’s tiny. Apparently so are the people who made it.
ABOVE: This is the crab trap in the dining room. These have been used throughout Southeast Asia and Hawaii for decades (and still are used today in many places). There are also a number of fish traps at Trader Vic’s Portland (not pictured). These are the more oblong contraptions hanging primarily in the bar.
On the bamboo trellis that separates the dining room from the lunge are an assortment of masks from New Guinea. TOP LEFT: Ceremonial mask that comes from the lower Sepic River. MIDDLE LEFT: Ceremonial mask from the Yamok village. BOTTOM LEFT: Angoran gable masks. RIGHT: Ceremonial mask from the Korogo village.
LEFT: This tiki, located in the dining room along 12th Ave is a Marquesan style tiki carved in Indonesia out of Cocoa Palm. RIGHT: The tiki in the entrance is a Britewell tiki, named after the famous carver, Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, whose carvings are primarily New Zealand style.
ABOVE: This outrigger canoe came to Portland by way of Oakland, Dusseldorf, and Berlin. The original struts for the outrigger were broken and these replacements were built in the Oakland warehouse from the backs of the original Trader Vic’s “shield chairs.”
ABOVE: At the rear of the dining room near the Chinese Oven is an Asmat dancing mask from New Guinea.
ABOVE: These Chambri Lake spears and house plaque from New Guinea are located in the lounge at the back wall of the bar.
ABOVE: This Orchid Island canoe came from the Emeryville Trader Vic’s. This style of canoe is still in use today. Each family paints their own. It is located in the lounge near the private dining area.
BELOW LEFT: This Samoan fertility god (female) is originally from Emeryville and seems appropriately placed at the end of the hallway leading to the rest rooms. BELOW RIGHT: Cocoa Palm mask carved in Bali. The prints on either side of the mask (not shown) are reproductions of the original chalk drawings from the first Trader Vic’s.
BELOW: Hawaiian Ku originally from Emeryville.
LEFT: This mask hangs on the back wall of the lounge. It comes from the Nongusap village on the Middle Sepic in New Guinea.
These are just a few many of the pieces on display at Trader Vic’s Portland. No matter how many times you visit, chances are you’ll discover something new. There’s simply too much to take in all at once. To learn more about Tiki art and history, find yourself a copy of The Book of Tiki, by Sven Kirsten. It’s out of print, but copies are out there and worth finding.