About Traditional Fijian Artifacts
Traditional Fijian artifacts provide glimpses of Fiji’s ancient culture and fascinating past.
Fans and baskets made from pandanus and coconut leaves, along with the fibre from coconut husks (sinnet) were some of the daily life necessities in the Fijian village.
Kava Ceremonial Wooden Bowl & Tabua
The tanoa is a four-legged wooden bowl carved from a single piece of Vesi (hardwood) and used to prepare the ritual drink of kava (yaqona), which is made from the dried roots of a pepper tree. Tanoas have a triangular lug with a hole through which woven coconut fibre cord (magimagi) is attached, allowing the bowl to be hung up while not in use. For ceremonial purposes, the cord is decorated with white cowrie shells (buli leka) and is laid out along the ground toward the guest of honour.
A tabua is a polished tooth of a sperm whale that is an important cultural item in Fijian society. They were traditionally given as gifts for atonement or esteem (called sevusevu), and were important in negotiations between rival chiefs. A woven coconut fibre cord is attached from each end for presentation and to be hung up with while not in use.
There are many coconut plantations in Fiji. Coconut oil was the preferred choice from the youngest of newborns to elders. It is common for coconut oil to replace creams, lotions, shampoo and conditioner, as it is has many uses to keep the skin protected, healthy and moisturized.
Uses of the coconut tree:
- The Flesh: food, milk, and flour
- The Water: a healthy and refreshing drink
- The Oil: for cooking, skin, and hair
- The Shells: to steam food and craft with
- The Husks: a natural scrubber and craft material
- The Husks: ropes
- Tree Leaves: thatching
- The Sticks: brooms.
Masi or Tapa
Bark cloth, or tapa, is not a woven material, but made from bark that has been softened through a process of soaking and beating. The inner bark is taken from several types of trees or shrubs, often mulberry and fig, and designs are applied with paints and vegetable dyes of light brown, red, and black.
Drua or Na Drua or Waqa Tabu (Sacred Canoe)
This double hulled sailing boat was the largest and finest sea-going vessel ever designed by natives of Oceania before contact with Europeans. It is built from resi loa (a type of hardwood, called Intsia Bijuga in English).
Na Drua or Waqa Tabu meaning Sacred Canoe is a double hulled sailing boat originating in the South Western Pacific Islands. Druas were usually up to 30 metres and could carry more than 200 people.
Fiji, a country in the South Pacific, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. It's famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture. The Fiji Museum, in the Victorian-era Thurston Gardens, has ethnographic exhibits.
From the moment you arrive in Fiji, you’ll notice that music and song are a big part of everyday life. You’ll also experience cultural ‘meke’, meaning all kinds of traditional song and dance, from graceful fan performances to athletic war dances that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The dancers are usually accompanied by a seated group who sing, chant and play percussion instruments. Men perform in warrior outfits, some bearing Fijian traditional tattoos, and the women wear traditional dress with their skin shining from scented coconut oil. Each performance usually tells a story of history, love or legend. Whenever you get the chance to experience a meke, grab it. Fijians take great pride in their performance and the quality is exceptionally high.
While Fiji's resorts and restaurants offer delicious cuisine from around the world, the traditional Fijian and authentic Indian food is not to be missed. Indigenous Fijian feasts are cooked in a 'lovo', an underground earth oven heated by hot stones. Usually taking a couple of hours, the slow cook technique produces beautifully tender food with great flavour retention and a light smokiness throughout. You’ll get to enjoy yam, taro, kumala (sweet potato) and cassava (tapioca), as well as pork, chicken fish or lamb.
Fijian Indian culture and traditions have evolved from the early days of labouring in the British-backed sugar industry. This includes the Indian cuisine, which has developed into a deliciously unique blend of traditional spices, fresh local ingredients and a hint of Pacific flavours. If you like Indian cuisine (and who doesn’t!), you’ll love the flavours of Fijian Indian dishes.