Skip to main content

Full text of "Fijian society; or, The sociology and psychology of the Fijians"

See other formats


; - - rn 

00 \ 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 












Rev. W. DEANE, M.A. (Syd.), B.D. (Lond.) 

Late Principal of the Teachers' Training College, 
Ndavuilevu, Fiji. 



i 921 




1 o a 6 4 5 8 



The work entitled " Fijian Society " was undertaken 
in the first place at the instance of Professor Anderson 
of Sydney University, in whose Philosophy class the 
author was a student. When the latter went as a 
Missionary to the Fiji Group, the Professor was good 
enough to take an interest in his preparation for the 
Master of Arts' examination, and suggested as a 
thesis an anthropological study of the Fijian people. 
That thesis formed the foundation of the following 
chapters. The necessity for such a study is great . 
because the old men who have an intelligent knowledge 
of the past are dying out. Very few remain with 
sufficient vigour of memory to relate accurately what 
they have seen. 

In his examination of Fijian Society the author was 
aided by a knowledge of the vernacular, and by 
experiences which brought him into daily contact with 
the Fijians. But he recognises that the present work 
is very incomplete, and that there is much information 
still in Fiji to be collected and recorded. 

It is the wish of the author to recognise the valuable 
advice received from the late C. Etheridge, Esq., Curator 
of the Sydney Museum, and the Rev. B. Danks, 


Honorary Secretary of the Methodist Missionary 
Society of Australasia, also his debt to the staff of the 
Mitchell Library for their courtesy in placing at his 
disposal the resources of the Library, and to Mr. 
P. S. Allen for allowing the inclusion in this volume 
of the very valuable Bibliography on Fiji prepared 
by him for the " Handbook of the Pacific ." 

M.vthurst, N.S.W., 
October, 1920. 

Note on Spelling and Pronunciation. 

In the spelling of Fijian words the Author has used the Anglicised 
form adopted by Mr. Basil Thomson, Dr. Rivers, and others. The 
reader will pronounce a as in path, e as in net, i as ee, as in not, 
u as 00, au as ow in cow, oil as oh. ai as i in sight. e'< as ay in way, 
oi as oy in boy. 

The author is under obligation, for comparative and corroborative 
references, to the following works, which are arranged as nearly as 
possible according to date of publication: — 

William I. Thomas, " Social Origins," 1916. 

A. M. Hocart. Several papers in Man, 1913, 1914, 1915. 

A. M. Hocart. Several papers in American Anthropologist, 1913, 

A. M. Hocart. Several papers in Journal of the Anthropological 
J 'nstitntt of Great Britain, 1912, 1913. 

W. If. R. River-,, F.R.S., "The History of Melanesian Society," 

cal Journal of Australia, 19] \ 
Transactions oj the Fijian Society, 191 1. 
I lorence Coombe. " [glands of Enchantment," 191 1. 
i 1 ■ . actions of K.Z. Institution, 1911. 
I >r. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Polynesians," 1910. 
R*^ B Danks, in Journal of Anthropological Institute, 1910. 
Su. J (.. 1 r.i/.er, " Totemism and Exogamy," 1910. 
Basal Thomson, "The Fijians," 1908. 
J- E Harrison, " Prolegomena to Greek Religion," 1908. 
Prof. M;u inillun Brown, " Maori and Polynesian," 1907. 
L. T. Hobhouse, " Morals in Evolution," 1906. 


Edward Westerrnarck, " Origin of the Moral Ideas," 1906. 

F. B. Jevons, " Introduction to Religion," 1904. 

Dr. L. Fison, " Tales of Old Fiji," 1904. 

E. B. Tylor, D.C.L., " Primitive Culture," 1903. 

R. H. Nassau, " Fetishism in West Africa," 1904. 

" Science of Man," 1898. 

Journal of Polynesian Society, 1894. 

Dr. R. H. Codrington, " Melanesian Anthropology and Folklore," 

Rev. A. J. Webb, ,: Hill Tribes of Viti Levu." In Australian 
Association for the Advancement of Science, 1890. 

Rev. Thos. Williams, " Fiji, and the Fijians," 1884. 

E. B. Tylor, D.C.L., " Anthropology," 1881. 

Dr. L. Fison, " Land Tenure in Fiji," Journal of Anthropological 
Institute, 1881. 

Government Reports of Meetings of Chiefs in Fiji, 1874, 1879, 1880. 

W. T. Pritchard, " Polynesian Reminiscences," 1866. 

Rev. J. Waterhouse, " Kings and People of Fiji," 1866. 

Mrs. Smythe, " Ten Months in Fiji," 1864. 

Dr. Seemann, " Viti," 1862. 

W. Ellis, " Polynesian Researches," 1853. 

J. R. Erskine, " Western Pacific Islands," 1853. 

W. Mariner, " Tonga Islands," 1827. 

Dr. G. Brown, " East and West." 

Alexander, " Islands of the Pacific." 












ancestor-worship — continued. tan6vu, the kalou vu 


the kalou vu — continued 58 

sacred stones and images 65 

symbolism 72 




symbolism— continued, the r^^^.OR whale's tooth . 77 


i m. clan versus individualism x . 98 






moral character — continued. TABOO, AND THE GROWTH 

















cannibalism 223 

bibliography of fiji 243 

Index 249 


A Fijian Frontispiece 

Facing- page 

A Fijian Woman n 

A Village Scene 73 

Drying MAsi 73 

Fijian Girls 80 

Turtle Fishers 176 

Rock Fish Fence 176 

Girl with Virgin Plaits 195 

Beating a Small Lali 199 

A Warrior with Necklace 227 

Map of the Fiji Group End of Volume 



It is generally accepted that Fiji is the meeting-place of 
the Polynesian and Melanesian races. 1 If, in earlier 
times, any section of the Aryan megalithic peoples 
arrived by way of Japan, no traces of their workmanship 
can be found, nor is there any tradition which refers 
to them. 2 That the dominant elements of Fijian life 
and character are Polynesian 3 and Melanesian, is 
supported by the observations of all who have studied 
the question. 

Every shade of colour, from light brown passing 
through copper colour to dark brown, appears among 
the people. Judging from the variations in their 
complexion, it would seem that the union of the two 
races is not fully completed. 

The foregoing statement is borne out by the many 

1 Vid. Mr. Basil Thomson's " The Fijians," pp. 6, 15, 70. 

2 Except, perhaps, the Nangga stones as described by Dr. L. Fison. 

3 The very name " Viti " (Anglicised as Fiji) is purely Polynesian. 
Vid. a paper by Horatius Hale, F.R.S.C, Journal of the Polynesian 

Society, Sept., 1894, P- J 46. The name appears constantly in 
Maori poetry and in Eastern Polynesian nomenclature. 



types of faces to be seen in the Group. One is 
curiously aware of features among the Fijians which 
correspond to the Aryan, Mongolian, Egyptian, Negroid 
and Papuan physiognomies. It might be true also that 
the races which met in Fiji had, before they arrived 
in their island home, blended at divers times with 
divers peoples. The racial strains thus taken up by the 
Fijians in their progress to the Pacific Ocean reappear 
in these later days. 

The admixture has produced in the Fijian a certain 
ingenuity which distinguishes him, in some respects, 
from most of the Pacific islanders. These people 
became great house and canoe-builders. It is said 
that, in former days, they supplied Tonga with war- 
vessels. They were also adept potters, net-makers, and 

The character of the people of the Fijian Group is 
simple ; yet, owing to their natural reserve, it is 
difficult to understand. No people could be more 
complete masters of their emotions when occasion 
requires self-control. They will reveal their minds only 
to those whom they know well, or who, by some means, 
have ingratiated themselves into their favour. 

Fijian legends respecting the immigration of the 
race vary considerably, but they have two things in 
common, viz., a general vagueness as to the land 
from which they originally came, and a definite belief 
that they arrived from the north-west. 

The inhabitants of the island called Vanua LeVu 
have no traditions of the kind above-mentioned. To 


them their land is " ke'ndra vanua " — their very own 
land. The absence of a story describing immigration 
to Vanua Levu is important when compared with the 
general absence of such tradition amongst the Melane- 
sian peoples. 1 The fact indicates an exceedingly long 
settlement in the islands, and brings the people of 
Vanua Levu into line with the Melanesian aborigines 
of the Pacific. 2 

Another point of interest should be noted. Vanua 
Levu has many distinct signs of the matriarchate. 
Descent is through the mother, and the natives can 
trace their pedigree back for thirteen generations. 
Women also have land in their own right. They take 
a certain precedence, and may even become heads of 
phratries. Thus, while degraded enough in many 
ways, the feminine portion of the population have 
rights to which the women on Viti Levu are strangers. 3 

In the latter island the patriarchate is dominant. 
The power of the father is not much inferior to the 
" potestas patria " of the Romans, except that, in some 
cases, when there has been a plurality of wives, descent 
was traced through the mother. This variation has 
been known to occur in Mbau. 

1 Dr. R. H. Codrington, " Melanesian Anthropology and Folklore," 
1891, p. 47. Vid. also Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Polynesians," 
regarding New Britain, p. 353. 

2 Dr. Brown believes in a Negrito substratum throughout Melanesia 
ibid., pp. 16-17. Dr. Rivers hints at an ancient Melanesian sub- 
stratum in Fiji. " Hist, of Melan. Soc," vol. ii, p. 232. Prof. 
Macmillan Brown argues for a fundamental negroid race throughout 
the Pacific. Transactions of New Zealand Inst., 191 1, p. 192. 

3 On the general subject, A. M. Hocart's paper is most important. 
Man, 1915, p. 5 ff. 

B 2 


Vanua Levu is apparently linked, therefore, to 
Melanesia, since the latter is distinctly matriarchate. 
Viti Levu, on the other hand, is connected with 
Polynesia, for the Polynesians are strongly patri- 
archate. 1 

Viti Levu is the scene of the landing of the Fijian 
" Pilgrim Fathers," the descendants of whom, judging 
from their marriage customs, and the extraordinary 
respect in which many of their chiefs are held, 
became strongly Polynesian in their ideas. 2 

Vanua Levu, as will be shown later, is also the home 
of spirit-veneration, as distinct from ancestor-worship. 
The worship of multitudinous spirits is the correlative 
of the matriarchate, while ancestor- worship is th 
offspring of the patriarchate. A parallel to the spirit- 
worship on Vanua Levu is found in the New Hebrides 
where spirit cults are strong, and everything that has 
11 mdna " (potens) is worthy of respect and worship. 

There is one institution which is more or less preva- 
lent throughout Fiji, viz., the " Vdsu." The " Vdsu " 
appears to point to the influence of the matriarchate 
society even upon the more distinctly Polynesian 
section of the community. When a woman marries 
out of her tribe, her child has the privilege of returning 
to her people and assuming ownership of anything 

1 Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Polynesians," 1910, p. 39. 
Macmillan Brown, " Maori and Polynesian," 1907, p. 37. 

* Mr. Basil Thomson's " marriage " theory (" The Fijians," p. 15) 
is hardly a complete explanation of this strong Polynesian tendency 
in Viti Levu. I see no objection to the theory of direct immigration 
from the east. 


portable which he may desire. A young boy will lead 
a party of his friends to his mother's native town for 
the purpose of making good his Vdsu right. Upon 
such an occasion, if the lad were to lay his hands 
on an article, his companions would immediately 
take possession of it and transport it to the Vdsu's 

In earlier days the custom was regularly observed ; 
and it was so deeply rooted that, when certain white 
men visited the islands and took women to sin, their 
crime was condoned on the plea that they were " Vdsu 
of Heaven," 1 — that is, they were the children of 
Heaven. It was, therefore, almost impossible to 
withhold the women from them. 

The ceremonies of the " Vdsu/' however, were not 
all on one side. For when the child (the Vdsu) was 
three or four days old the father made presents to his 
wife's relations, which took the form of tambuas 
(whales' teeth), sulus (clothing), and kumi (printed 
native cloth). The gift was called in some parts the 
! Vakambutumbutui ni ngone." A similar offering is 
made on the tenth day after birth in Araga, Pentecost 
Island, with the difference that it is the relatives of 
the father, who, as substitutes for him, are the donors. 
Dr. R. H. Codrington says, with regard to this 
Melanesian custom, that the relatives of the father 
11 lay upon the infant's head mats, and the strings 
with which pigs are tied, and the father tells them 

x Mrs. Smythe, "Ten Months in Fiji," 1864, p. 68. Also Dr. 
Seemann, " Viti," p. 305. 


that he accepts this as a sign that, hereafter, they will 
feed and help his son. There is clearly in this a 
movement towards the patriarchal system." 1 

The latter statement might very well be applied to the 
" Vdsu " of Fiji. The institution is probably the result 
of the clash between the patriarchate and the matri- 
archate. Dr. L. Fison incidentally shows that the 
conflict between the two systems did take place even 
in modern times in the history of the Wainimala 
tribes and those called Kai Muaira. 2 With regard to 
the "Vdsu" any Melanesian portion of the community 
would have held, like the people of Araga, that the 
children of a woman were the heirs of their maternal 
uncle's property. The right does not seem to be 
drastic in Fiji owing, probably, to a compromise with the 
Polynesian immigrants, which took place as the two 
races intermingled in marriage. The consequence was 
that the mother's children retained only a right to 

1 Codrington, " Melanesian Anth. and Folklore," p. 230 /. 

2 Fison, "The Nanga," 1884, p. 4. 

Mr. Hocart's well-reasoned article, p. 631, American Anthrop., 
Oct. -Dec, 1915, does not seem to disprove this. If the food offered 
to " the deceased kinsmen of his mother " can only be taken by the 
" sister's son," the explanation given that he is the only one that 
can take it without harm from his kinsman's spirit leads one still to 
think a remnant of matriarchal dignity and influence to be present. 
Why did the sister's son claim this as his right, as against any other 
man of his mother's clan ? 

My theory that the Vdsu right is a clash between the matriarchate 
and patriarchate as a corollary of marriage between two clans 
representing these two types explains the features of the custom 
of " Vdsu" as given by Mr. Hocart in the American Anthropologist, 
pp. 641-2. Nevertheless, the emphasis laid by this authority on 
B probable religious association accounts for the persistence of the 


commandeer goods in the manner above-mentioned, 
while the father maintained his position by sending 
a present to compensate any supposed loss sustained 
by the maternal relatives of his son. 

As further proof we may quote a tradition on Viti 
Levu of a time when the first Vdsu was known in 
Verata. If the story be true, then the nephew- 
right was non-existent before, and was really an 
accommodation to the matriarchal sentiment of the 
aborigines. 1 

Other indications of the union of Polynesian and 
Melanesian in Fiji are to be found in the language of 
the country. It is not proposed to deal at length with 
this branch of the question. There are some very 
common words, however, used in Fiji which are 
distinctly Melanesian, while others equally common 
are Polynesian, and clearly recognisable in varying forms 
of orthography. Of the former we may mention a 
few : — mdna, Una, tdma, lima, wdngga, meaning magical 
power, mother, father, hand, and boat, respectively ; 
while rongo, kumdla, nddlo, rardma, are Polynesian, 
meaning report, sweet potato, taro, light, respectively. 

The high hereditary standing of the chiefs in parts 
of Fiji demands notice in this connection. As we shall 
need to go fully into this subject later, we only 
treat it briefly here. The chiefly class have in Mbau, 
Rewa, and Dhakaundrove, attained such a position 
that they are accustomed to treat their underlings and 

1 Dr. G. Brown thinks Vdsu rights to be a remnant of the 
matriarchate. " Melanesians and Polynesians," pp. 40-42, 96. 


men of no importance with contempt. Such a manifest 
sense of superiority attaches to their bearing that it 
would be difficult to mistake them. 

In these days, the attitude of chiefs towards their 
people has been considerably modified by the inter- 
position of the British Government. But the pride of 
descent is still plainly in evidence. 

I myself had a novel experience in which I had a 
good opportunity of observing the inflated pride to 
which reference has just been made. A high chief 
was sitting in his house with some inferiors near him. 
Being new in the country, I inquired of him the 
meaning of the term " kaisi " (common herd). The 
old man almost screamed his answer. " There," he 
cried, at the same time raising his bony old finger 
and pointing in scorn at the commoners beside him. 
They in their subservience did their utmost to bear 
the insulting action with composure, but it was evident 
that they felt the public humiliation keenly. 

It is remarkable that the people on the coast, as a 
class, likewise despise the people of the interior, 
especially those of darker skin, holding themselves to 
be of more chiefly origin. It is common for a man with 
a dark skin to be called by the humiliating name of 
" Kai Dholo." 1 Students of this question generally 

1 Inhabitant of the interior. 

In his book quoted above, Dr. Brown says the inhabitants of 
interior Samoa are darker than those on the coast, p. 56. The 
difference between the coastal and the inland natives in respect to 
family usages (terms of address) is noted by W. H. R. Rivers. " Hist. 
of Melan. Soc," vol. ii, p. 10. Also p. 488. This anthropologist 
sees, likewise, in the grating of yanggdna (instead of the Polynesian 


agree that the darker people of the interior have in 
them the blood of a lower type of humanity, viz., the 
Melanesians ; while the lighter class have in their 
veins the blood of the superior Polynesians. And when 
a more intelligent class of people are thus placed by 
circumstances over their inferiors, we have just the 
soil in which the pride of the Fijian chieftain could 
thrive and flourish. 

method) in Dh61o an indication of an ancient Melanesian culture, 
vol. ii, p. 247. 

Generally, coastal natives in Oceania are lighter than the interior 
people, and of a superior race. G. A. Peat quoted in Sci. of Man, 
March, 1898, p. 41. Pritchard, in his " Polynesian Reminiscences," 
1866, Appendix, p. 418. 



The advent of a child in Fijian Society is a fairly 
important occurrence, especially if the new arrival be 
a boy. There is a strong desire in the native mind 
for male offspring, which is a direct result of the 
despised position of women in the barbarous days of 
old. Happily, under the influence of Christianity, 
the status of the girl and woman is being made more 
tolerable. For example, the inveterate opposition to 
the better education of the girls is gradually giving 
way before the efforts of the missionaries and the 
advancing light of Christian civilisation. 

The first ten days are the most important period of 
infantile life, and the greatest care, especially of the 
children of chiefs, was taken by the nurse. If the 
mortality is great amongst the Fijian children, it is 
largely due to ignorance of proper method rather than 
to dilator iness on the part of the nurses. The children 
of the Mbauan chiefs were nursed day and night during 
the period mentioned, the nurses taking over their 
tiresome duty in turns. The nursing is done with the 
aid of a stiff wicker mat, and the infant is never held in 
the arms as is a European child. Further, the Fijian 


baby is placed on its back, and it stays there till it 
finds strength sufficient to turn itself — an occa- 
sion of great rejoicing on the part of parents and 

An old woman of the tribe, often the grandmother, 
is usually requisitioned as midwife. Such an old 
woman follows strictly all the customs of her people, 
and, incidentally, refuses to allow a man near the house 
at the time of birth. 1 

The mother is well cared for in the sense that she 
is not expected to do any work for a long period after 
confinement, an advantage of which every Fijian 
woman avails herself, if circumstances permit. For 
the full space of those months a Kandavuan woman 
will not wash her hair, a filthy habit which European 
and other missionary workers oppose most strongly. 

In the feeding of the children during the first two and 
a half years there is no rule. Whenever the child cries, 
the natural sustenance is forthcoming, a practice which 
cannot promote the well-being of the baby. If the 
natural sustenance fail, water from boiled taro and 
other vegetables is given as a substitute. The use of 
condensed milk is rapidly growing, as the article is 
becoming easily procurable and better appreciated. 
Old Fijians abominated the milk of the cow in every 
shape or form. 

The most highly-valued birthday gift for a child is 

1 So in New Georgia and New Britain, Vid. Dr. G. Brown, 
" Melanesians and Polynesians," pp. 34, 36. 

This is in harmony with the general rule throughout the world. 
William I. Thomas in his " Social Origins," 1916, p. 526. 


the lambua. 1 Other articles were, and are, gladly 
accepted. In Mba, when a new-born baby is taken for 
the first time to a house, a present is expected from the 

A relic of the matriarchate is to be found in the 
island of Kandavu. The maternal grandmother has, 
in some clans, the privilege of adopting the first off- 
spring of her daughter — a kind of compensation for the 
loss incurred by the clan when the mother of the 
child was given away in marriage. 

As on all other important occasions of native society, 
the progress of the infant-life is marked by feasts. 
The two most important festivities are the " Mbon- 
gitini " (ten nights), and that which celebrates the self- 
turning of the child upon its mat. 

A detailed account of the feasts attendant upon the 
birth of a child has been written by a Fijian. 

" On the day of the birth, the father makes a feast 
for the relatives of the woman. The name of that 
feast is the ' Tunundrd.' After the feast certain women 
are appointed from among the relatives of the child's 
father and mother to carry the child in their arms 
constantly for ten days, that it may not be put down. 
This custom is called the ' Kevekeve* {i.e., the 
carrying in arms). Some are appointed also to boil 
taro-tops for the mother. Then all the old women, 
and adult women in general, go to the house where 
the child is born, to sleep there until the tenth day ; 
the name of this custom is the ■ Modhemodhe ' {i.e. 

1 See Chapter IX. 


the sleeping). After the child is born, he is given to 
drink the juice of candle-nut fruit that he may 
vomit. . . . After vomiting, fully ripe cocoanut is 
chewed and the milk squeezed out of it, then a piece of 
mast {i.e., fine native cloth) is soaked in this and given 
to the child to suck. After this, a wet-nurse is sent 
for to suckle the child for four days, then it is put to 
drink to its mother ; if, at four days, the mother's 
breasts are still dry, the other will continue to suckle 
it till they are supplied. 

" After two days from the birth of the child, a dish 
of water is brought and a stone to be put in the water 
to warm it, to wash the flesh of the child ; a feast is 
then made for his washing, and it is called the 
1 Tdvundeki.' On the day the child is born, the 
relations begin preparing food by day and night, to 
be brought to the house where the child was born, as 
food for the ' modhemodhe' and the * kevekeve' until 
ten days and then the food-making ceases. ... By 
day and night, the house is crowded with the sleeping 
women, and they sing songs and play games of throwing 
water over each other or other comicalities, during the 
ten days, a rejoicing for the new child which has been 
born. First-born children like this are called generally 
new children. 

" The women appointed to nurse are prohibited from 
taking up their own food. Another person puts their 
food into their mouths up to the end of the ten days. 
The mother of the child remains lying down and is 
wrapped up in a ' Ngdtu ' {i.e., a large kind of native 


cloth) during the ten days. Her food must not be 
prepared with sea-water, but simply boiled in fresh- 
water, and the relish with it is taro-tops (that is, the 
stems of the taro leaves cut up and wrapped in the 
flower sheath of the banana and then boiled). It falls 
to the share of the taro-top-boiling women to make the 
food for the mother. She continues to ' drink ' taro- 
tops for eight days, and then fish is baked for her. No 
man may enter at random into the house where the 
child has been born until after the ten days. If a man 
should enter carelessly, he will be fined, he will have to 
go and make a feast for the sleepers, to be his fine, or 
his totongi. . . . When the tenth day arrives, the 
relations of both the father and mother prepare a 
feast called a feast of the tenth night. Some food is 
also prepared for the mother, the relish of which is 
fish. The relatives then spread mats and ngdtu on 
the couch of the mother and spread others in the place 
for her to eat in. Then a ngdtu is opened up tent 
fashion for the mother to be ornamented privately 
within. When she is dressed all the doors are opened, 
and all the food of the tenth day feast is taken into the 
house. When the relations are all inside the house, 
that is, the women, the ngdtu is raised up and the mother 
of the child comes forth, and those in the house salute 
her, calling ' A sesevura' The mother then repai 
to the place for her to eat in. When she has eaten, the 
food of the feast is apportioned out, and the sleepers, 
the nurses, and the taro-top boilers then take their 
departure. Then some of the relatives remain to sleep 


till the full hundredth day. A reed is stuck in the wall 
each day, or a knot tied in a string, to keep count of the 
days, so that there be no mistake in the count. When 
the hundredth day arrives, the father of the child 
prepares another feast called the feast of the hundred 
days. The mother then goes to bathe in the river, 
and when she returns from bathing, the feast is dis- 
tributed and the relatives who have been sleeping in 
the house of the child take their departure. It is then 
permissible for the mother to stroll and go about, and to 
do light work about her house. The child is also 
allowed to be carried outside. And if a new child like 
this is taken into another house, the owner of that 
house will present a whale's tooth as his present on 
entering, as it has entered for the first time into the 
house. If he has not a whale's tooth he will promise 
a piece of land or a house site to be the property of 
the child. . . . The birth customs which I have told 
are only done for a new child, that is a first-born. If 
a brother is born the customs I have told will not be 
done, nor the feasts made, nor the property ; he will 
be attended to by his father and mother and his 
grandmother." 1 



The great national game of Fiji was the casting of 

the reed spear. Undoubtedly, the original idea of 

the game was to develop the muscles necessary to 

1 Transactions of the Fijian Society, 191 1. 


drive with force the spear when the Fijians were 
fighting or fishing. Both acquisitions were equally 
indispensable in former days. The spear (tingga or sat) 
is a reed three or four feet long, on the end of which 
is attached a rounded piece of hard wood called the 
toa, which is shaped somewhat like a thick cigar, 
and polished. A specially-cleared thro wing-ground is 
usually to be found near any large town, and is perhaps 
one hundred and fifty yards long. The amount of 
accuracy required to make the improvised dart cover 
a hundred yards is amazing. Novices cause it to drop 
a dozen yards away at best, and then athwart the 
course, the reason being that the spear-head is greatly 
heavier than the reed to which it is attached, so that 
the slightest deviation from the right direction will 
cause failure. An expert holds the spear in his 
right hand with the index finger firmly pressed 
on the end of the reed. It is the index finger which 
gives the final impetus in the direction required. He 
who drives the sai farthest wins the game. 1 


I have seen a game played on a mat folded length- 
wise. Each player has a number of the fruit of the 
Wdldi (Entada Scandens, Bth), which are like round 
bean seeds with flattened sides. In the game these 

1 Pahe, a Sandwich Island game, is very similar to Veitingga. 
Vid. Ellis, " Polynesian Researches," vol. iv, 197. 

Mr. Hocart states that the clans or tribes were pitted against one 
another, Man, 1914, p. 6. 


are called "At dhimbi" and the object of the game 
seems to be to knock the opponent's at dhimbi off the 
mat while keeping your own. Each time this is done 
counts one. The game requires more skill than at 
first appears, as one only of the bean seeds is placed 
at a time on the mat. For a good description of the 
Lafdnga tupe\ the Samoan facsimile, see Dr. G. Brown, 
" Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 341. There, 
polished pieces of cocoanut shell were used as at dhimbi. 

Drawing the Reed. 

An interesting game is played at Kandavu, with a 
large number of reeds about a foot long. These are 
heaped promiscuously, and, as all the leaves are care- 
fully taken off, it is most difficult to draw the pieces 
separately from the heap without causing a rattle or a 
collapse. Two players sit one on either side of the 
heap, and each has his turn when the other by clumsi- 
ness makes a noise, or brings about a fall of the reeds. 
The player who has most reeds wins the game. Much 
hilarity accompanies any careful attempt which results 
in the reeds tumbling down like a house of cards. 

Hiding the Shell. 

This pastime is often the amusement of the girls. 
Two girls will sit on the sand of the beach. Between 
them seven small holes are scooped with the hand. 
The player takes up a double handful of sand, in which 
is hidden a tiny shell chosen beforehand, and throws 



a little into each hole consecutively. At the same time 
her task is to cover the shell from view as it falls into 
one of the holes. Shrieks of laughter are heard if 
through bad play or bad luck the shell appears on top 
of the falling sand. 

If the shell be properly hidden in one of the holes, 
the opponent must guess in which it has been 
placed. Should she guess aright, it then becomes her 
turn to throw. 

A Dhe're. 

When a new boat visits a village for the first time, 
it is the custom in Kandavu for the children (usually 
the boys) to tie gifts to the ends of long poles. With the 
gifts, streamers are attached. As the new boat ap- 
proaches the shore, one of their number comes to meet 
it and blows a conch shell as if in defiance. With 
that the crew shout, "A dhe're, a dhe're," and leaping 
out, give chase. Everything tied to the end of the 
poles is their property when they capture it. 

Initiation Ceremonies. 

The initiation ceremonies of the Fijian youth, 
given in this chapter, are those of the Waimarou clan, 
which is said to be the parent stock of the Fijian tribal 
tree. The ceremonies are now discontinued, but in 
former days they were a most important part of the 
life of the Waimarou clan. A male was not reckoned 
a man until he passed through them ; a woman, 


similarly, was nothing more than a young thing running 
about in the village until she had complied with the 
requirements of her people. 

The " Vdkamdsi" 

This ceremony is the occasion on which the youth 
is clothed in mdsi, or native cloth. As a boy he was 
quite nude, and therefore of no consequence in the clan. 

The ceremony of Vdkamdsi took place at the age of 
puberty, the parents, with the help of the members of 
the tribe, deciding the day. At the appointed time, the 
relations of the mother came into the village-square. 
Then the relations of the father, clothed in mdsi in 
lengths of ten fathoms apiece, appeared leading the 
youth (also clothed) to his maternal relatives. The 
process of " Luva mdsi " (taking off the mast) was then 
proceeded with, which meant to unwind the cloth from 
their waists, and piling it up as a present before the 
maternal relatives. As the unwinding continued, the 
long piece of native cloth on each man was cut at a 
section which left sufficient decent covering for the 
body. Then, in the case of chiefs, a gift of a feast, 
with presents of pigs, was made, continuing for ten 
days. In pre-Christian days a high chief would 
initiate a war, in order to get a dead man as " Kenai 
Dhoi " (relish). 

The Circumcision. 
Two or three months after the mdsi had been 
assumed, a personage in the tribe, called the " Vuni- 

c 2 


kalou" whose duty it was, took several boys to a stream, 
or to the sea, and after cleansing, performed the 
operation of circumcision with a piece of sharpened 
bamboo. Then the incision was bound with the 
soft bast of the " Lolo " (native fig), and mast. 
The boys were taken afterwards to a " Mbure " (boys' 
native house) 1 specially set apart, and the word was 
passed round the village that the boys were " in mbure." 
The message was immediately understood, and on the 
fourth night the parents set about offering presents to 
the Vunikalou, who made quite a good living out of the 
business. Every day, until they healed, the wounds 
were dressed by him. 

It was a great day of rejoicing when the boys were 
released, for then they could do many things which 
were taboo before. For instance, they were not 
allowed previously to chew yanggona for the chiefs' 
drink, or to make " Vdkalolo " (Fijian pudding), or to 
marry. It was a custom, if an uncircumcised youth 
was called on to chew yanggona, for him to say, " Au 
sa se'nga ni vuluvidu" which means, " I have not washed 
my hands." This statement would at once be recognised 
in its hidden meaning by the chiefs, and he would be 
driven from their presence. 

On the day of rejoicing the boys first bathed, and 
a feast was prepared, called the " Mangiti ni yavdu " 
(the feast of renewal ?). Games were indulged in, 

1 In Malekula (N. Hebrides) the boys were secluded in the " amil " 
for ten days after the operation. W. H. R. Rivers, " Hist, of Melan. 
Soc," vol. ii, p. 435." 


much like tournaments, between the old and the young 
warriors. They were called the games of men, for 
spears were used freely in the combats, and sometimes 
caused the death of one or more of the new-made 
clansmen. This, it is said, was done in order to try 
the mettle of the initiated. 

The Vdkatokayddha. (The giving of the name). 

At night, when the new clansmen were to receive 
their names, an exchange of gifts was made, and the 
Vunikaldu arranged the gathering in which the cere- 
mony was to take place. Before this auspicious time 
they had each borne a sobriquet by which they were 
known and called. The meeting for the giving of the 
true name was held in a house. The proceedings 
were as follow : — 

Towards the end farthest from the door, two 
Vunikaldu took up their stations on either side of the 
main post of the house, and with their backs against 
it, one looking in the direction of the door, and the 
other squeezed into the small space between the post 
and the wall-thatching. From them was spread a 
long piece of native cloth reaching as far as the 
doorway ; and, on the other side of this, the clan- 
members sat in their places, a man and a woman 

In the meantime, the youths who were to receive 
their names had gone out into the woods, where they 
passed the time chanting some wild refrain. When 


everything was ready in the house, the occupants loudly 
chanted the following : — 

" Ndrau ni ngasdu, nda vesavesdu. 

A (long-drawn Ah). 

Ndrau ni lolo, nda tiko lo." 

Leaves of the reeds, vesavesdu, 
Leaves of the fig-tree, we keep silent. 1 

With that, all bowed down and lights were put out. 
A youth approached and was reported. He was told 
by all to finish the task before him. He thereupon 
walked down between the two rows of people, and 
according to the custom, struck the chest of the first 
Vunikalou. The latter asked — 

" Who is there ? " 

Am.— " I." 

" What is your name ? " 

Am.— " Ko Ravula." 

The first Vunikalou called to his companion who 
was standing behind the post — ■ 

" He says his name is Ravula." 

Second Vunikalou. — " Let his name be Ravula." 

The Company. — " His name is Ravula. 
His name is Ravula." 

Each youth passed through the ceremony until the 
whole party of them had received their names. The 

1 The couplet was commonly used by the young people of Fiji in 
a certain game. Two parties of children would call to one another. 
The first would chant, " Ndrau ni ngasdu, nda visavesdu," imitating 
in the last word the sound of the reed when rustling. Then the other 
party would respond, at the same time pointing to the native fig-tree, 
" Ndrau ni lolo, nda tiko lo," referring to the fact that those leaves 
make little noise in the wind. 


young men were allowed to marry within a few months 
of this initiation. 1 

Initiation of Women. 

The corresponding ceremonies amongst the women 
were tattooing and the giving of the name. 

At the age of puberty the fleshy parts of the thighs 
were tattooed by old female nurses. For this painful 
operation a thorn of the orange tree was used to 
puncture the skin, 2 and powdered charcoal moistened 
with water was rubbed into the wounds. A female 
was not considered a woman until she was tattooed. 
At the same time she began to wear the " Liku " 
(native loin-covering) fastened at the waist. 

The name of the woman was given in exactly the 
same way as in the case of the young men, except that 
the two Vunikalou were replaced by two old female 

The curious part about the ceremony of name- 
giving was that the recipient chose his or her own 

1 On entry to the secret society " Igiet," in New Britain, a new 
name is given. Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Polynesians," 

P- 77- 

1 In San Cristoval the operation is performed with the sharpened 
bone of a bat's wing. Florence Coombe, " Islands of Enchantment," 
p. 232. "Tattooing of women is Melanesian." Rivers, "Hist, of 
Melan. Soc," vol. ii, p. 437. 



In " Sartor Resartus," Carlyle makes Teufelsdrockh 
to say — ■" Wonder is the basis of Worship : the reign 
of Wonder is perennial, indestructible in man." 
Carlyle himself would be astonished, if he were 
alive, at the great lack of wonder in the Fijian mind. 
" Of admiring emotion, produced by the contemplation 
of beauty, these people seem incapable." 1 On a 
certain beautiful moonlight night I made reference to 
the sublimity of the scene to a native. His laconic 
reply was : " In what respect is it beautiful ? " If one 
were to go into raptures over the glories of the unsur- 
passed Fijian sunset as seen from some of the outlying 
islets, the Fijians would look with an amused and half- 
pitying expression upon their faces at such a curious 
specimen of humanity. The native will indeed admire 
cleverness and will click his tongue with surprise if he 
sees anything unusual or abnormal. His curiosity, too, is 
unbounded. He will notice, for instance, an uncommon 
species of butterfly if it happens to cross his path. But 
when all this is said of him, it is still true that the 

1 Rev. Thos. Williams, " Fiji and the Fijians," Ed. 1884, p. 97. 

ch. in RELIGION 25 

Fijian is sadly deficient in the more complex emotion 
of wonder. 

What particular emotion, then, became predominant 
in the religion of the Fijian people ? To quote the 
Rev. Thomas Williams again : "A principle of fear 
seems the only motive to religious observances." 1 His 
beautiful land, set like an emerald in the Pacific, has 
been and is a land teeming with spirits, with evil 
powers capable of withholding good and doing harm. 

But why should the Fijian thus develop along the 
line of fear ? The answer is to be found in his history 
and past social life. If we follow Professor Macmillan 
Brown's theory of his origin, the Fijian's departure for 
his island home was compulsory. He knew what 
invasion meant, and he was a victim to the war- terror 
by night and day. Not mere love of adventure drove 
him in his canoe to seek new lands ; but rather the 
advance of hostile and conquering hosts. That was 
long ago. Since then he has scarcely ever rested. 
Compelled by enemies, and daring and risking all, he 
came from island to island till he settled in these 
dangerous coasts. Fear was " bred in his bone." It 
is not wonderful, therefore, that fear came out in his 
religious life. 

His social life, likewise, was never truly safe or happy. 
The raising of his chief's hand was death to him. The 
will of his lord might mean the ruin of his family, and 
he never knew when he was safe from assassination. 

Scenes of the most horrible nature were daily enacted 

1 " Fiji and the Fijians," Ed. 1884, p. 97. 


before his eyes ; in many such he took a prominent 
part. Similarly, the tribe to which he belonged could 
not know what rest or security was, and every sense 
was constantly on the alert to detect treachery on the 
part of hostile or even friendly tribes. The whole 
environment in which he moved, the whole system 
which governed his career, gave little guarantee foi 
the preservation of either life or property. 

All the circumstances which have been described, 
and others besides, have so acted upon the nervous 
constitution of the Fiji Islander that it has irresistibl] 
developed along the line of fear. An old resident oi 
these islands showed me a list of the different kinds oi 
fear which was prepared for him by an intelligent native. 
There were no fewer than eleven kinds in all. Clearly, 
fear bulks largely in the Fijian life and character. 

To satisfy myself I prepared some small statistics 
which vividly prove the true nature of the Fijian ii 
this respect. I requested a body of native converts t( 
Christianity, twenty-eight in number, to write down 
on paper the reason of their conversion. The following 
was the result. One was converted through reading 
Matth. xxv, 46, " These shall go away into everlasting 
punishment." One was changed by the influence of 
a fearsome dream ; three through being put in jail ; 
another was frightened by a policeman ; eleven gave 
as their reason a serious illness ; one was shipwrecked ; 
eight became Christians under the preaching of the 
Gospel. Five of the latter heard sermons preached 
from the above-quoted text, Matth. xxv, 46. One of 


them listened to a discourse on the text, " The wrath 
of God abideth on him." Yet another was converted 
by the passage, " Behold, your house is left unto you 
desolate." Only two grew up in the calmer knowledge 
of Christianity, and even they were largely under the 
dominion of fear in their religious experience. Since 
that inquiry made about ten years ago, I have come upon 
innumerable cases of a similar kind. One of the pro- 
blems of Christian work amongst the people is to induce 
them to be governed by the higher motives and 
impulses of Christianity. 

From these facts it should be clear that, at the present 
time, fear is inseparable from the Fijian nature, and 
that this fear is the result of his history and past 
social environment. 

It is but natural, therefore, that he should project 
the same emotion into the unseen world. He cannot 
possibly conceive it (apart from tuition) as being 
peopled with spirits less terrible in their acts than his 
own chiefs. Indeed, they must, from the very mystery 
that enshrouds them, be even more terrible than the 
Fijian's earthly superiors. In addition, the constant 
attitude of his subliminal self towards the unknown 
causes the unseen to be filled with vague terrors that 
are the more fearful because they are undefined. 
Professor W. M. Davis speaks of an old plateau in 
British Guiana, two thousand feet high. The natives 
of the forested sides have never ascended the mountain, 
and they believe it to be peopled with fearful spirits. 1 

1 Prof . W. M. Davis, " Physical Geography," 1901, p. 152. 


So it is in Fiji. Unfrequented spots are filled with 
denizens of a spiritual nature. They are all objects 
of dread to the native. 

If a twig crackled in the woods, the Fijian would 
cast a leaf over his shoulder as an offering to placate 
the unearthly being which was supposed to be the un- 
seen cause of the sound. On a voyage, omens were 
carefully noted, and nothing was trivial. " Their 
food is not more important," says the Rev. J. Carey. 
One man informed me that if he met a friendly spirit, 
his hair would stand up on end, 1 but if he met an 
unfriendly one he was sure that he would die of fright. 

It has been shown that the Fijians are a mixture of 
the Melanesian and Polynesian races. We might 
expect, therefore that the peculiarities of the worship of 
either class would be found in the group. At the same 
time we should not anticipate that, after intermingling 
so long, the boundary lines of the two classes of religion 
would be very clearly marked. On a closer study of 
the Fijians, we shall find that our prognostications are 

But first, let us notice that there is no solar cult, 
except such as survives in myth. The Oceanic World 
is one in this respect. 2 It is even less so in Fiji than 
in the eastern Polynesian groups. Neither the sun 

1 Also referred to in A. M. Hocart's article, Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 
1912, p. 439. 

•Prof. Macm. Brown, "Maori and Polynesian," p. 127. This 
author refers to " relics " of sun-worship as continuing obscurely in 
" unobserved corners of Polynesia." 

Dr. Rivers connects the megaliths of Oceania with a sun-cult, 
" Hist, of Melan. Soc," vol. ii, pp. 540, 579. 


nor the moon strongly appeals to the Fijians. The 
starry heavens attract their attention to the extent that 
the principal constellations are noted, because of their 
likeness to familiar native objects. For instance, 
Orion's Belt and the adjacent stars of the same con- 
stellation are called " Na In (the fan). The likeness 
to a four-cornered Fijian fan is certainly striking. The 
Southern Cross is " Na Nga " (the duck), flying away 
from two hunters, the similarity being again clear. 
The Pleiades are likened to the fruit of the tree called 
the " Tdrawdu " (Dracontomelon sylvestre), which 
hangs in clusters. The name of the Pleiades with some 
is the " Sosotdrawdu" in which word the name of the 
tree is embodied. Another group of stars, the Hyades, 
is called " Na Lddha " (the sail) owing to its exact 
similarity to a Fijian canoe-sail. Aldebaran would 
shine in the right upper corner of such a sail. What 
is commonly called the " Lovo " (the oven) corresponds 
to Corona Australis. The Fijian oven is a hole in the 
ground in which hot stones are laid with the food, on 
top of which a mound of earth is raised to keep in the 

There is nothing in all this of a religious character. 
The constellations were simply the chief guides to 
the ancient Fijian mariner when out of sight of land. 

The Rev. T. Williams, in his book already quoted, 
says that large shooting stars are thought to be gods, 
and the smaller ones are the departing souls of men. 1 
But it is probable that the idea is merely fanciful, and 

l " Fiji and the Fijians," p. 74. 


that no principle of worship or religion is involved 
therein. For the same reason, the Milky Way is 
sometimes called the " Pathway of the Spirits." 
Similarly, North-European myths treat it as the 
pathway of souls to Valhalla. 

Connection with sun-worship may possibly be traced 
through another source, viz., the titles of the chiefs ; 
but this will be mentioned later in another place. 

Of totem-worship there is also little trace. Several 
animals are looked upon with superstition, as among 
the natives of the New Hebrides. The shark, the 
turtle, and many of the larger fish were believed to be 
the homes of gods. The chief god of Mbengga is a 
shark. In common with many other peoples, the 
Fijians give a good deal of superstitious reverence to 
the snake, and many spirits of the departed are sup- 
posed to appear as serpents. The men of Madhuata 
(Vanua Levu) have been known even in the present 
day when drinking yanggona (kava drink), to take a bowl 
of the liquid and walk towards the end of the building, 
and there pour out a libation, at the same time uttering 
these words of address to a sacred shark — " This for 
thee." It is quite like a recrudescence of some old 
Greek libation of 500 B.C. 

The names of some animals and fish as " Nggio " 
(shark) are favourite surnames for children ; also, when 
a child is born, in some places, a fowl or a pig is given 
to him to be his property, and to grow up with him. 
Clans, however, were not always distinguished by 
totem names, as they were often formed on another 


principle. 1 Men were known as belonging to a certain 
clan without being possessed of a clan surname. 

The owl is a very sacred bird at Mbatiki. The 
inhabitants believe that, if an owl comes into the 
village and alights on a house, it is a sure sign of the 
approaching death of a chief. 

On Tailevu, all young men about twenty or twenty- 
five years of age used to be called in some tribes 
" Vudka ni Veikdu" meaning " pigs of the woods," 
but not from any totemistic tendency. It was a term 
given to them in warlike days exactly in the same sense 
as when we speak of " lions in the fray." 

Taking the evidence on the whole, we see that the 
totem was never developed in Fiji as, for example, in 
Australia or North America. Traces only of tote- 
mistic worship can be found in Fiji at the present time. 

The religious life of the Fijian people is thus narrowed 
down to two departments, viz., Spirit- worship and 
Ancestor- worship. Of these two, let us first take 
Spirit- worship. 

Fiji literally swarms with miscellaneous spirits. The 
tops of the hills, the gloom of the forests, the running 
streams and waterfalls, stones, capes, bays, and the 
ocean are crowded with them. The Fijian has perfect 
belief in Spirit-land, and he is in more or less constant 
rapport with it. 

Some of the spirits believed in by the natives are 

1 De Marzan is quoted by Rivers as giving two groups of totems, 
one consisting of trees, and the other of animals, "Hist, of Melan. 
Soc," vol. ii, p. 341. Dr. Rivers himself looks on totemism in Fiji as 
"greatly modified," "Hist, of Melanesian Society," vol. ii., p. 369. 


tiny, e.g., the " Luve ni wai" or " Children of the 
Waters " (water kelpies). They are supposed to be 
good dancers, which belief is probably a poetic refer- 
ence to the long lines of breakers that move forward 
and recede as Fijian men do in a native dance. The 
music of the breaking waves on reef or shore would 
add to the reality of the conception. 

Other spirits are so large that, when they stand in the 
forests, they overlook the tops of the trees ; or, if they 
tread on the bed of the ocean, are head and shoulders 
above the waves, like Orion the mighty hunter of 
Aryan mythology. 

Then there are others again, like Nddkuwdngga the 
god of Mbengga, who can change themselves into any 
shape imaginable. 

Ndaudhina is a generic name, possibly for the Will-o'- 
the Wisp, who appears as a fiery face, after the manner 
of the Afiti witches or fire-carriers in Central Africa. 
This spirit is generally known throughout Fiji and has 
been classed by the Rev. J. Waterhouse as a god. 1 
There is a similar belief in fiery spirits at Santa Cruz, 
New Hebrides, where men say they see ghosts like 
fire in the woods. The number of Ndaudhina is legion, 
and the name means " always shining." 

Winds are called princesses in some parts, and they 
are given the title of a Fijian woman of rank. In 
other localities they are looked upon as caused by 
large birds flying through the air. For instance, the 
east wind (dhdngi tokaldu) is supposed in Kandavu to be 

1 " Kings and People of Fiji," 1866, p. 362. 


the pulsing of the air as the great " Mdnumdnu ni 
Singalevu " (creature of the midday) passes by. In 
these days this belief has become a poetical personifica- 
tion of nature powers, but formerly had a superstitious 
belief in wind spirits as its basis. 

Some of the spirits in Fiji are widely known, others 
are parochial. Some are male and some female. 
Crude, horrible stories are told of some, whilst of 
others we hear pretty, romantic tales, as for instance of a 
goddess, who with her retinue of maidens bathes daily 
in the waterfall at Vuya. 1 Or it may be that a tree or 
a rock is the usual abiding place of the spirit, and woe 
be to him who should desecrate the sacred spot. One 
of my boys dared to cut off a branch of a haunted tree 
some time ago. On the following morning two of his 
fowls lay dead near by. The boy is not to be convinced 
that the spirit inhabiting the tree had nothing to do 
with the death of the poultry. 

It is most important to note that in few cases has 
this spirit-cult developed into anything like a fixed 
ritual, and seldom has there arisen a priest who should 
regularly mediate between spirit and people. The 
cult is consequently intermittent, and is suggested to 
the individual by danger or some other special 

One class of spirits deserves careful notice, viz., the 
Luve ni wai, because the cult (if we may call it so) is 
somewhat better organised than the others. We have 
incidentally noticed the numerous Luve ni wai on 

J Mbiia. The name of the goddess is " Uwatangau." 



page 32. They have, in addition to their dancing 
powers, the special property of making a man in- 
vincible in battle, besides being able to bestow many 
other advantages. The Vutu, the man whose duty 
it is to carry on the ceremony, generally comes from 
Madhuata, which is a province of Vanua Levu, the 
stronghold of spirit-worship in Fiji. 

The Vutu received gifts as a reward for causing a 
man to be invulnerable in battle. He was also the 
chief figure in connection with the Luve ni zuai guild, 
or secret society, whose members met together for 
mutual help and advantage. 1 The society assembled 
at night, a fact which suggests the remnants of 
an old cult that was relegated to the lower regions 
in the days of Polynesian immigration. The fol- 
lowing is a description of one of their meetings 
told to me by an old Fijian. It is the nearest 
approach to ordinary spirit-rapping that one could 
well find. 

First an offering of yanggona, the national drink, 
is made to the Vutu ; after which the whole company 
sit down in perfect darkness. The Vutu beats here 
and there upon the floor or wall with a native axe. 
A voice is heard saying " The spirit is coming," and 
then another voice, presumably that of the approaching 
spirit, says, " I have your knives and money." The 
company ask, " Where ? " The place being indicated, 

1 Apparently the organisation is less complex, and less beneficial 
to Society in general, than either the Tamate or the Sukwe societies 
of Banks'Isl. River;, "Hist, oi Melan. Soc," 1914, vol. i, p. 128. 
It is a parasite society. 


an edge of a mat is lifted, and lo ! there lies the money 
or the knife. 

If one is being initiated into the guild a hand is 
stretched out in the darkness and grasps the candidate. 
It is supposed to be the hand of the spirit appearing. 
Variations of the above ceremony are, of course, to be 
found in the group. It may be said that detailed 
information of the inner organisation of the society is 
most difficult to obtain. Secrecy is one of its most 
characteristic features. 

The innocent are beguiled into the society of the 
Liim ni wai in hope of wealth ; but often they are 
disappointed, for the leader uses the organisation to 
promote his own personal ambitions. Still, the osten- 
sible object of the craft is mutual and material progress, 
the imparting of knowledge, etc. Of late it has 
developed into a secret patriotic society which opposes 
the presence of all foreigners in Fiji. The guild is not 
so highly organised as the Duk Duk society 1 of New 
Britain, neither does it use intimidation to so great 
an extent to gain its ends. Priestcraft and super- 
stition form the two main weapons of its devotees. 

Members are said to be " Tamdta ndina " (true 
men). A curious fact should be noted that members 
guilty of lying are punished by the society which 
is itself the very mother of lies. 

When a man is obsessed, or rather possessed, by the 
Luve ni wai, he can, so it is said, be struck in the 

1 An interesting account of this is given by Dr. Brown, 
" Melanesians and Polynesians.' pp. 60 ff. 

D 2 


abdomen with an axe and yet remain invulnerable. 
I myself have spoken to a man who, in his heathen 
days, was believed to have been proof against the 
bullets of the Government troops. 

In the Banks' Island, men possessed of spirits eat 
fire, lift enormous weights, and execute feats of agility. 1 
Similarly in Fiji, so complete is the belief that it is 
necessary to have the aid of water kelpies to do won- 
derful things, that, even at the present time, numbers 
of the natives think, and actually assert, that circus 
acrobats 2 in European countries are in league with the 
spirits of the waters. 

In respect of spirit- land in Melanesia, Dr. Codrington 
states in his book that " there does not appear to be 
anywhere in Melanesia a belief which animates any 
natural object, a tree, a waterfall, stone, or rock, so as to 
be to it what the soul is believed to be to the body of 
man." 3 Fiji and Melanesia are alike on this point. 
Spirit-land is in a continual state of change, and definite 
features are hard to delineate. Spirits wander, fly, 
frequent, or haunt, as their caprice suggests, or rather 
as the imagination or superstitions of men run riot. 

Altogether we should probably do right to couple, 
as being related, the belief in multitudinous spirits 
in Fiji with the spirit-cult of Melanesia. The difference 
is that, in the latter, the whole religious life of the people 

1 Codrington, " Melanesian Anth. and Folklore," p. 219. 

1 Since writing this I find that Mr. A. M. Hocart has made the 
same observation. Paper on " Kaldu," Journ. Anth. Inst., 1912, 
p. 447. 

8 Codrington, ibid., p. 123. 


is practically confined to spirit-worship, 1 whereas, in 
Fiji, as we shall find, another cult has been super- 
imposed by immigration, viz., that of organised 
ancestor- worship . 

The origin of the great mass of spirit-life is difficult 
to trace, but two sources may be safely suggested, (i) 
The effect of the animistic tendency of the native mind 
towards nature is a very real source. Dr. L. Fison is 
quoted by Dr. R. H. Codrington as saying that all 
Fijian gods are ghosts, that is, spirits of the dead. But 
there are whole classes of spiritual beings, such as 
water kelpies, for instance, which are generally under- 
stood to be nature-spirits throughout the world ; and 
there are likewise in Fiji legions of woodland beings 
and tree-spirits which could not possibly come under 
the category of ghosts. They are the offspring of the 
native imagination. (2) Also we may safely say that 
many spirits owe their existence to the unusual appear- 
ance of rock or tree. Sir A. Lyail's words are important 
in this connection. He says that the primitive worship 
of stones in India is due to that " simple awe of the 
unusual which belongs to no particular region." The 
emotion indicated by him has not reached the point 
of wonder. Many cases of this branch of animism 
might be cited in Fiji. The following illustrations will 
suffice. Two large rocks standing together at Lakemba, 

1 " It is thoroughly in accordance with my scheme of Melanesian 
history that in Southern Melanesia it should be the cult of ghosts 
which requires looking for, while the cult of spirits is the prominent 
and obvious feature of the magical and religious rites." — Rivers, 
"Hist, of Melan. Soc," vol. ii, p. 419. 


are said to be a god and goddess who have done wrong 
and are, therefore, changed to stone. At Kandavu, 
there is a huge mushroom-shaped rock called Soloremba 
which is said to be the home of a spirit. 

Nature-worship, however, does not account for all 
spirits. There are regular additions to the spirit- 
throng by deterioration of ancestor- worship. When a 
man dies leaving children behind him, they remember 
him and make him offerings. If there are no children 
the clan cannot take up the children's duty, but it 
recognises the place of burial. The sanction of 
" Tdmbu " (taboo) keeps it inviolate. No man will 
wantonly desecrate the place, nor cut down trees 
growing there. If anyone were to intrude carelessly, 
and his child, for example, were to become ill soon 
after, the Fijians would argue concerning his mis- 
fortune according to the logic of post hoc, 
propter hoc, and say that the child sickened because 
of his father's sacrilege. The only course open to the 
father would be to " Sdro " or make amends by giving 
yanggdna to the elders of the tribe. Gradually the 
remembrance of the dead would fade as his immediate 
friends passed away, but the sanctity of the spot would, 
to some extent, cling to it. It would be a haunted 
place. Thus the soul of a man may tend to deteriorate 
into an ordinary spirit frequenting a woodland copse. 
This was a retribution all too terrible for a Fijian to 
contemplate ; hence his dread lest he should leave no 
family behind him to save his name from passing into 
swift oblivion. 



In turning to ancestor worship we must refer to the 
classification of gods made by the Rev. Thos. Williams. 
He says there are two classes — the Kalou Vu (real 
gods) and Kalou (ghosts). But, in truth, there is no 
difference of kind between the two classes mentioned 
by him. There is a difference only of degree. Let 
us take, for instance, Ndengei, the so-called chief god 
of Fiji. He is a real god in the sense in which 
Mr. Williams uses the term. Yet there is nothing 
surer, if we may follow tradition, than that he is a 
" Ydlo " or ghost ; and that he was once a chief, 
who, in company with Lutunasombusombu, was an 
early immigrant to Fiji. This is stated definitely and 
generally in the legends of the people. 

As another illustration let us refer to Tanovu, the 
god of Ono. Tanovu is expressly asserted by his own 
devotees to have been a man 1 ; and at the same time 

1 So A. M. Hocart with respect to all Kalou Vu. Journ. Anthrop. 
Inst. 1912, p. 445. I heartily agree with Mr. Hocart that Kalou 
in general are the " dead." Vid. ibid., p. 448. That nature spirits 
have coalesced with them is the result of the weakness of the native 
mind in discrimination. 



they call him their " Kalou Vu " (lit., God-Origin). 
The name Kalou Vu gives the clue to the solution of 
the question, and this will be made clearer in a later 

But it should be well noted here that, in Fijian 
ancestor- worship, there is a general and special aspect, 
which latter becomes a cult of particular and superior 
ghosts. (For the latter see below, p. 25 ff-) 

With regard to the ordinary nature-spirits, offerings 
made to them were widespread, yet were only presented 
by individual men, or parties of men, on special 
occasions. The usage, therefore, depended upon whim 
or caprice, and consequently was desultory. This 
does not mean that the offerings were seldom made. 
On the contrary, gifts were fairly frequent. One writer 
informs us that, in a certain place, a large heap of leaves 
had collected, being thrown there by travellers who 
feared the spirits residing in the place. There was 
no fixed rule, however, by which the offering 
was determined. 

In ancestor-worship, on the other hand, there is 
rather more order maintained. It is the bounden 
duty of the children to supply the departed relative 
with food and to present him with offerings of various 
kinds. In former days, food was placed in the grave 
itself ; and, even at the present time, so I am informed, 
a grave has been supplied with biscuits, as at Yauravu, 
or with cooked bananas, as at Ngau. Amongst the 
Wainimala tribes (Viti Levu), a special enclosure, called 
" The Nangga," was often used for presenting these 


gifts to the ancestral ghosts. 1 Wives considered it 
their right and duty to visit the grave and commune 
there with the spirit of the departed husband, weeping 
and appealing to him to reveal the cause of death. 
Witchcraft was supposed to be detected in this manner. 
Ancestor-worship of this simple type is also found in 
Melanesia. 2 

As to the origin of ancestor-worship, it is usually 
contended that dreams are the cause of the belief in 
the future existence of relatives. A man who sees 
the form of the dead in a dream is said to be prepared 
to accept the existence and reality of the departed soul. 
And again, he who himself travels in his dream is 
quite ready to believe the statement that he actually 
left his body, and experienced, for the time being, 
the life of the spirit. This is true of the Fijian. 

Further, every Fijian has come to think that he will 
live beyond the grave. A very human custom has 
arisen therefrom and is practised constantly among 
the islanders when a man is about to die ; it is the 
" Tatdu " or bidding farewell. 3 To omit this solemn 
little ceremony in olden days was considered a calamity. 
During the procedure the dying man gave directions 
as to what should be done with his personal effects ; 
he then usually added as a kind of warning to his 
relatives the words : " And I will be with you." 
Since the Fijians have become Christianised they still 

1 Dr. L. Fison, " The Nanga," p. 13. 
* Codrington, " Melanesian Anth. and Folklore," p. 121. 
'The same farewell is customary in Tahiti, and was known as 
the " tutu " Ellis, " Polynesian Researches," vol. iii, 115. 


think it a bad sign if a person dies without a proper 

It is narrated of Ndengei, the chief god, that when 
he was about to die, he turned the farewell phrase 
into a threat of oppression. " I will be with you to 
trouble you," said he. Threats and curses were 
common enough on death-beds. A comparatively 
recent case of cursing occurred to my knowledge at 
Nambukelevu, Kandavu. 

All this tended to confirm in the religious practices 
of the natives what is known to us as ancestor- worship. 
The memory of a solemn vow, request, or curse 
would be exceedingly vivid in the Fijians' imagination, 
and, indeed, would become almost a voice to intimidate 
them, sounding from the other world. A very real 
conviction sprang up in their minds that, if they did 
not attend to the will of the dead man, the latter would 
assuredly be able to make the survivors suffer for their 

Gradually the system of ancestor-worship became 
elaborate. To-day there are mysterious paths along 
the tops of the highest ranges in Fiji, all leading 
backwards to the place from which, according to legend, 
the people drifted in days gone by. The Fijian of the 
present period believes that the spirits made the 
paths. It is patent, however, that the larger trees 
were cut down in ancient times for the benefit of the 
dead, and, perhaps, for the more practical purposes 
of warfare. Thus the home-sickness of the Fijian 
" Pilgrim Fathers " has wrought itself into the super- 


stition of the race. The pathway is called the "Sdla 
ni Ydlo" that is, the pathway of the spirits. 1 

The ghosts of men climb from their villages along 
the nearest spur until they reach the top of the range, 
whence they speed away to the place from which they 
leap into the sea. At one point in Kandavu, called in 
Fijian Nainggoro, there is a rock which is supposed 
to be the canoe that ferries the dead on their way. 
In former times it was a custom for young cocoa- 
nuts to be placed two and two for chiefly souls to 
drink while en route. Food also was prepared for 
them as they passed to the lands of the blessed. 

But here we meet with a difficulty. The souls 
speed away to the blessed abode, yet they remain. 
The problem is not to be solved by saying the native 
believed that the reflection of the man goes to heaven 
and that his shadow remains. Such an explanation 
would be an afterthought in primitive philosophy. 
We must go further back in the mental experience of 
the natives and discover more simple elements in their 
ideas. The true explanation is to be found in the law 
of association. After the body has been buried, the 
mental make-up of the survivor forces him to believe 
that the dead man is still there. Hence, as we have 
seen, the spot becomes sacred. But, again, the 
survivor sits in his house and hears the tropical hurri- 
cane raging without, 2 he sees his house rocking with the 

1 For a good account vid. Thomson's, " The Fijians," p. 119. 

* The thought of the weather as affecting the dead caused the 
natives to build houses over the graves. A. M. Hocart, Journ. Anth. 
Inst. (1912), p. 448. 


force of the tempest, and he cannot believe that the 
soul of his father is out there near the grave, exposed 
to the fury of the elements. He, therefore, almost 
unconsciously, constructs a heavenly home for him 
where he will be safe and at ease. Thus probably 
arose a belief in the two souls. The barbarian then 
explains this conception of two souls by saying that the 
reflection of the dead has gone to the spirit-land, and 
the shadow remains at the place of burial. A similar 
idea is to be found in Santa Cruz, where the souls go 
to the great volcano Tamami, are burnt, renewed, and 
stay there ; yet they are most certainly seen in the 
bush at Santa Cruz by night. 1 

Souls liberated from the bondage of the body are 
not the same as they were in life ; for they are endued 
with higher powers. They come to have a special 
capacity for doing either good or evil. Thus, if relatives 
wanted a favour from their dead, they were accustomed 
to visit the grave, and, after proffering gifts in Fijian 
fashion, make the request. 

Likewise, it was customary for a man to go to the 
place of burial and sit there for a time offering presents, 
after which he would return to the village obsessed 
by his sire, and would challenge anyone to slash him 
with a knife or an axe. He believed himself invulner- 
able. After such an exhibition, it was generally easy 
to get from his fellow-natives what he coveted in the 
way of food, clothes, etc. In this case, spirit-worship 
and ghost-worship are not far from one another. 

1 Codrington, " Melanesian Anth. and Folklore," p. 264 


From the foregoing, we infer that filial affection is 
not the root principle of ancestor-worship in Fiji. 
There is more of "Do ut des " in religious devotion 
paid to dead forbears, just as " Do ut abeas " is more 
dominant in ordinary spirit-worship. Whatever of 
filial affection may linger in the heart of the survivor, 
it tends to be submerged in the fear of a supernatural 
being who is looked upon as being more and more 
potent to wield supernatural instruments. Departed 
souls become more and more identified with that 
fearful other world, and they take on the character of 
dispensers of evil to all who thwart their wishes. In 
short, they become gods ; and, as a clue to the general 
conception in Fiji of their character as gods, it may 
be cited that the chiefs in Dhakaundrove were deified 
before they were dead, their principal claim to 
apotheosis being their most inhuman cruelty. The 
cruel man was the prospective god. 

The key-stone of Fijian ancestor- worship is found in 
the Kalou Vu. The Kalou Vu is the Abraham of the 
clan or tribe, and tends to become its official deity. 1 

The Kalou Vu, being the originator of the clan, was 
always a chief. When he died, he was revered as the 
Vu or beginning of the clan, and corresponded very 
closely to the Semitic patriarch. Later, his memory 
became so reverenced that he was constituted the 
patron god of the clan. His deeds were lauded and 

1 Compare Thomson, " The Fijians," p. 5, also A. M. Hocart, 
American Anthropologist, Oct.-Dec., 1915, p. 638. Also Journ. 
Antk. Inst. (1913), p. 102 

46 FIJIAN SOCIETY . ch. iv 

magnified, and recorded in song, and the fear of his 
power daily increased. Men gathered in after years 
on the village green or on the war canoes, to talk of days 
when the clan-hero lived. Myths and legends clustered 
around his name until he became a true culture- 
champion. New material was found and readily 
fitted into the story. The Kaldu Vu gradually became 
the central figure of a world of myth, legend, and 
miracle, which position an ordinary spirit of the woods 
or sea could never achieve. 

When the clans became too numerous to live in 
one place, new clans formed and broke off the parent 
stock, each with its own chiefly leader. This leader, 
in his turn, might become the deity of his people. 
But in the creation of many such minor Vu, the 
honour of the original Kaldu Vu increased, and he 
was raised in dignity (if the separate clans cohered in 
policy and interest) to be the god of a composite 
tribe. As an excellent illustration of this development 
from cfan-Vu to tribe- Vu we quote the case of Tanovu 
at Ono, whose story we give in the next chapter. 


ancestor-worship — continued 

Tanovu, the Kalou Vu of Ono, Kandavu 

On the face of a cliff in the Island of Ono, there is 
a gigantic footprint four feet long and more than a 
foot wide. The indent of the great toe is almost 
perfect, and the whole appearance is suspiciously like 
the handiwork of man. 

On the face of a cliff upon the opposite shore in 
Kandavu there is another footprint, also gigantic in 

These two marks were said in olden times to have 
been made by Tanovu, a clan-leader in the days of 
immigration. The legend goes that the strait between 
the islands of Ono and Kandavu was not wide enough 
to suit Tanovu, for it was too narrow to allow of his 
dipping the great " Kitu " (water-pot) into the sea. 
He, therefore, placed one foot on Ono and another on 
Kandavu, pushing them apart till the passage became 
three or four miles in width. The object of Tanovu 's 
herculean task was that he might with ease dip his 
enormous " Kitu " into the water. As was his custom, 
one day he was filling his water- vessel, and so mighty 
was the stream which rushed in that a huge canoe 


filled with warriors from Naidhombodhombo in Vanua 
Levu, was sucked in. But, strange to say, the god 
knew not that anything untoward had happened until 
the owner of the canoe, anxious on account of its long 
absence, came searching for his property. Then the 
giant was fain to confess that he had seen some little 
rubbish floating into his kitu when he went to dip 
water. In a most accommodating fashion, he opened 
the bottle or pot, and lo ! there was heard the hum 
of voices, there too was seen the canoe tacking back- 
wards and forwards on the surface of the water. 

The foregoing is a story which the natives of Ono 
never tire of telling. It is like " Jack and the Bean- 
stalk " to their vivid imagination. While they delight 
in these fantastic legends, they pride themselves that 
Tanovu was not only big and wonderful, but that he 
was able also to do, and actually accomplished, some 
very useful public works. 

The old story has it that the central part of Ono 
was too low, much lower by contrast than Nambukelevu 
(Mt. Washington), which was situated on the opposite 
island of Kandavu. There dwelt on Nambukelevu a 
veritable spirit of Vesuvius, called Tautaumolau. 
Tanovu, being jealous of the high mountain in which 
the rival spirit resided, resolved to build up a mountain 
fort in the centre of his own island. He did so, and 
the mountain is now named " Nggilai Tangane." The 
manner in which he accomplished this tremendous 
task is as follows : — 

Tan6vu had two wives who, in a spirit ot rivalry, 


dug great masses of earth from deep gullies (still to be 
seen near Nambouwalu), and raised their fort called 
" Nggilai Yalewa " to a height somewhat above 
" Nggilai Tangane." The pride displayed on this 
occasion by his own wives was very humiliating to 
the stern old Kalou Vu, and roused his anger to such 
an extent that, with one kick of his mighty foot, he 
knocked the top off the mountain which his wives 
had been raising. He, thereupon, set himself to build 
up his own mountain at the expense of the rival 
spirit in Nambukelevu. So then, having placed his 
warriors on a hill thirty minutes' walk from Vambea 
to watch for his return, he made a furtive descent upon 
his enemy's mountain. Once there, he began to dig 
out the earth from the crest of it, and to fill his 
huge wicker basket. 

While thus engaged, Tautaumolau saw him and 
made all haste to save his ancient home. Upon which 
Tanovu muttered : " Sa vura mai ko ka," in the 
dialect of Ono, which being interpreted means, 
11 Here he comes." Now this saying was highly taboo 
in Ono until recent times. He was counted an evil 
character who should report a coming visitor by the 
words " Here he comes." 

The god, having taken the alarm, snatched his basket 
of earth and fled before his foe. The chase went 
sometimes along . the great southern reef, and some- 
times along the spirit path of Kandavu. 

Tautaumolau was joined in the pursuit of Tanovu 
by the god of Tavuki, and also by the god of Yale. 



And in the zigzag running which resulted from such an 
unequal struggle much earth fell out of Tanovu 's 
basket, forming the many islands now to be seen 
dotting the lagoon within the reef on the ocean side 
of Kandavu. 

The chase continued even unto Nainggoro. Tanovu 
had, perforce, to speed thence as far as Solo. From 
Nainggoro, there was only one pursuer, however, for 
the spirits of Yale and Tavuki grew aweary in the 
race, and desisted. 

The dropping of earth continued as Tanovu fran- 
tically jerked his basket along. Hence we have the 
pretty island of Ndravuni, and the rest of those 
romantic little islets to the north-east of Ono, celebrated 
amongst the Fijians as the home of the turtle. 

But there must come an end to all things, and 
Tanovu arrived at last at the end of the reef. At 
Solo he began to descend into the deep, and terror 
of the Kandavu Channel gat hold of him. He be- 
thought himself that it was time to change his tactics. 
Therefore, retaliating upon the pursuing deity, he 
cried out in stentorian tones : " Turn, ye sons of Ono.' 
And the battle turned once more towards Kandavu, 
Tanovu this time being the pursuer, but not before 
Tanovu had dropped his basket at Solo ; and so we 
have the circular reef and the rock in that place to 
this day. 

It is at this juncture that the Ono minstrel waxes 
warm and enthusiastic as he tells the story ; for does 
not their champion show himself true flint at the 


crisis of the conflict ? The battle having turned to 
Kandavu, Tautaumolau was there brought to bay 
below Tiliva and above Nakasaleka. It must have 
been an awesome sight when the giant of the extinct 
volcano actually hid himself behind the headland 
from his unrelenting foe. The latter stood on a 
ledge of rock which the writer has visited. There 
are to be seen distinctly the footprints of Tanovu 's 
feet (much smaller than those on the cliffs) and 
the mark of his spear, as he held it on end 
before him in challenge to Tautaumolau. Tanovu 
then made his great and renowned thrust, and the 
proof of his godlike prowess is, that the headland 
behind which Tautaumolau lay hid was pierced 
through by the spear of Ono's hero. The denouement 
of the duel seems to be that Tanovu was victorious, 
and a " Mangiti " (gift of food) was sent to him from 
Nambukelevu in token of the fact. The mangiti 
took the form of " Mandrdi vundi " (plantain bread) 
and a pig. This particular kind of native bread was 
made exceptionally well by the people of Nambukelevu, 
and, when ready, was cut up into large pieces almost 
the size of kerosene cases. When presented to a 
chief it was the custom to pile it up in heaps like 
stacks of boxes. Part of the mangiti in question never 
reached Ono, but was delayed half-way up near 
Malowai, where it now stands petrified. On top may 
be seen the pig in the form of a rounded rock of larger 
size. The place is called "Sdlomandrdi Vundi " (rock 
alantain bread). From this circumstance there is a 

e 2 


Fijian joke. For, when no " Kenai dhoi " (flesh food) 
is forthcoming at a feast the youths gibe each other by 
saying : " Go to Solomandrai Vundi for the ' Kenai 
dhoi. 1 " One portion of the gift actually arrived at 
Ono, and it may be seen in the shape of rocky strata 
near Nukuloa. 

Such then is the story of Tanovu in which 
s recorded the many serviceable acts rendered 
by him on behalf of posterity. If we now turn to 
more local legends we may find other traces of this 
grand old personality of Ono. His army is still to 
be seen and wondered at, as it crowns the height 
thirty minutes' walk from Vambea. The men-at-arms 
are rocks like the boulders in glacial deposits. From 
a distance they look somewhat like an army on watch. 
Until ten years ago, a single boulder was caught in 
the fork of a " Nokonoko " (Casuarina equisetifolid) 
tree on the summit of the ridge. It was the sentinel 
who was set to look for the approaching battle between 
Tanovu and Tautaumolau. At the time already 
mentioned, the tree was blown down by a strong wind. 
But the adamantine watchman has not perished with 
the lapse of years. He lies amongst his fellows. 

Near to the army, are two conical mounds. I 
climbed to the top of one and found that, though very 
large, it was of a symmetrical shape ; and the 
other was flattened somewhat on one side. These 
are the ground-ovens which were in the process of 
baking while the army kept watch. The legend is 
that one had been opened ; for, in that oven which 


was flat on one side, the food was properly cooked. 
But, before the second was ready, the fight came swiftly 
and intercepted the culinary operations. There is an 
interesting addition to the story. It is asserted by 
* some that the oven in which the food was cooked was 
filled with " Uvi " (yams), " Nddlo " (taro), and the 
rest of the edible roots and fruits of Kandavu and Ono. 
Wherefore they are edible at the present time. The 
other " Ldvo " (ground-oven) was filled with many 
kinds of roots and fruits which, being uncooked, have 
become the poisonous roots and fruits in the island 
unto this day. In the locality of the ovens, is a large 
leafed plant called " At tutuvi i Tanovu " (oven cover). 
It grows in no other place in Ono and is supposed to 
be the shrub, the leaf of which was used in the packing 
of the ovens before mentioned. 

There is the oven, and there is the shrub used in 
the oven. Where is the " Sanggd" (pot) of Tanovu ? 
It is a rock near Leweti, and is peculiarly like a Fijian 
sanggd. It was intact until recently, when some 
Ndravuni women broke off the mouth of it. Where- 
fore the Ndravuni women are much to be blamed. 

But a more wonderful stone lies in the bay not far 
from Narikoso. It is a rock with a curious hole in it, 
and the legend is that if you point at this hole, Tanovu 
will send fierce storms upon the land. Consequently, 
if any town in Ono had an especially welcome visitor, 
the inhabitants were accustomed to point at this rock 
in order to bring a strong wind and so prevent the 
visitor's departure. I have undoubted proof that there 


are men in Ono to-day who very much respect this 
potent stone. 1 

Proceeding inland, we find that Tanovu was not always 
surefooted, for at Ndawani do we not find his slide ? 
It is an unusual formation. A deep mark is scored 
in the side of a ridge, and, passing down the slope, 
cuts through the top of the adjacent ridge. I find 
no evidence that Tanovu was playful, so I presume that 
he accidentally stumbled and fell. The name of the 
slide is " Ai titinddra net Tanovu " (the slide of 

While we are inland, we notice that part of the island 
is bare of forest trees. Now who else could have caused 
the phenomenon but Tanovu ? And, according to 
the native version, it is very clear that he was the cause 
of it. If anyone disbelieves this, the very place is 
pointed out, called " Re'vu ni masdwi" where Tanovu 
had been baking " Vasili," a kind of colouring for 
native puddings. Tanovu went to bathe, carelessly 

1 The following observation made by Mr. A. M. Hocart in the 
Revue Internationale d'Ethnologie, 191 1, p. 727, describes a very 
similar practice of the natives of Lakemba with regard to a stone 
situated between Yanrana and Vakano. 

" Emosi n'est qu'un homme d'age mur, mais il est dote d'une 
memoire formidable, ou sont accumulees une masse de traditions. 
II accuse le seigneur de Tumbou d 'ignorance crasse et raconte ce 
qui suit : Cette pierre a deux esprits (tevoro), l'un nomme Tui 
Tarukua (Seigneur de Tarukua) est male et hante le recif au passage 
de Vunikau ; l'esprit femelle, Dhakausunggeva, habite au passage 
de Lotoi de l'autre cot6 de Tumbou. Si des jeunes filles venaient 
en visite de l'etranger, et que les jeunes gens voulaient prolonger 
leur sejour, ils allaient f rapper la pierre et prier l'esprit femelle de 
produire une crue qui retarda leur depart ; si d'autre part des jeunes 
hommes venaient passer quelque temps a Lakemba et plaisaient aux 
jeunes filles, celles-ci allaient faire la m6me requete a l'esprit male. 


leaving the " Revu " (word for ground-oven in Ono). 
Some of the " Nggildiso " (coals) started a fire which 
spread far and wide, and was only stopped by the hero 
himself. Wherever the fire went, there did the forest 
trees cease to grow. 

The most interesting relic of all remains to be dis- 
cussed. Tanovu was an ancient axe-grinder. That is, 
he was in the habit of grinding stone-axes, many of 
which can still be found in the villages. And we have 
Tanovu 's sharpening-stone with which he did his work. 
I have seen it for myself, and can vouch for the implicit 
belief of the natives that it is actually the sharpening 
stone of their tribal god. It is a huge rock, several 
tons in weight, lying overturned near a stream in a 
gully ten minutes' walk from Vambea. As one 
approaches it, one finds nothing remarkable in its 
appearance. But, on looking underneath, one sees that 
it was a veritable sharpening-stone, ground out in huge 
scallops, defying a master mason to do them better. 
The spaces between the scallops were grooved very 
nicely, and the whole surface appeared as if it were 
the work of one man. In earlier days, great " Mangiti " 
(feasts) used to be brought to the stone, especially in 
war-time, in order that the help of the great spirit of 
Tanovu might be invoked on behalf of his posterity. 
Religious axe-grinders in very truth ! 

Tanovu also was a slinger, and his slingstone, most 
beautifully rounded, still lies in the town of Vambea 
to be admired by lovers of anthropology. 

And now, before I introduce Tanovu himself, I will 


relate how he acted towards the " Kakd " (a parrot), 
and the tree called the " Nddlinddli." x 

The parrot named above annoyed the god with his 
raucous screech. In a fit of rage the latter took upon 
him his mighty strength, and, tearing up a nddlinddli 
tree, flung it after the kakd. Consequently Tanovu 
did for Ono in respect of the nddlinddli trees what 
St. Patrick did for Ireland in respect of the snakes • 
he exterminated them. And if you take kakd or 
nddlinddli to Ono to-day, they will without exception 
die away. 

On the ocean-side of Ono, high upon a mountain, 
stands a hoary rock. It is Tanovu. In some way or 
other the ancient Kalou Vu had come to be identified 
with the rock. In days of war he had often been 
propitiated in his rock-form by plentiful feasts and 
offerings. Beneath, in the water of the ocean, lie 
submerged two other rocks. They are the wives of 
the male god. Legend asserts that, between him and 
them, shall grow no tree so high as to intercept Tanovu 's 
watchful, stony gaze. But his time has gone by. Also 
the power he once wielded over his wives is waning ; 
and the proof is that some trees are at last beginning 
to grow up between him and them. 

The influence of Tanovu has been very great. 
First he appeared as clan-hero, and gradually, as the 
original clan broke up into others, its clan-god evolved 
into a tribal god honoured by most of the people in 

1 This tree is named " Nddninddm " in the Mbauan dialect. 
There arc several kinds. 


One The stories concerning him gradually increased 
in number ' and incredibility. The deeds of an 
ordinary man were magnified again and again by his 
ardent followers. Nothing was denied him. Peculi- 
arities of the fauna and flora, and of geology, even 
to the formation of the islands themselves, were 
readily believed to have been caused by him. 1 The fogs 
of the ages made him loom in fantastic greatness ; 
and so the belief grew that " there were giants in those 

1 Oat of Banks' Islands is another hero who has the same powers 
in Melanesian mythology. He, however, is more like a sprite than 
a giant such as Tanovu. Maui and his brothers of New Zealand 
folk-lore are Maori culture heroes, who are responsible for curious 
geological formation. Vid. Sir George Grey, " Polynesian Myth- 
ology," p. 11 ff. 


the KALdu vu — continued 

We have seen that spirit-worship and general 
ancestor- worship differ in that the former was less 
orderly than the latter, and yet, in Fiji, neither was 
looked upon as official. But the reverence and ser- 
vice paid to the Kalou Vu (which is a special form of 
ancestor- worship) were official, as will be readily 
perceived from the following considerations : — 

(i) A priest was appointed as soon as the cult of the 
clan was established, and his business was to see that 
the tribal devotions and offerings were carried out 

(2) The gradual development of a priestly family in 
the clan shows that the official character of the cult 
had a tendency to become firm. In some cases, the 
hereditary nature of the priestly office was so strong 
that even a woman might succeed to it. 

(3) Land disputes are occasionally settled at the 
present time and boundaries adjusted by appeal to the 
residence of the Kalou Vu ; this is not only a proof 
of the official nature of the cult, but also of the 
fact that the Vu was the first to claim ownership of 



ch. vi THE KALdU VU 


(4) Tribes and clans far distant from each other 
often claim relationship, upon the ground that they are 
" Kalou Vu Vdta" that is, recognising the same 
Kalou Vu. 

(5) The claim which the descendants of the Kalou 
Vu had upon each other clearly confirms the view we 
are now taking. If a stranger had the same Vu as 
the residents of a particular town, he had the privilege, 
when passing through, of taking anything of which 
he had need. The understanding was, in most cases, 
that his friends might return the compliment at some 
future time. 

In illustration of the above custom, there is an 
account given in the Government Report 1 of the 
meeting of chiefs at Mbau, of a difficulty created by 
the practice referred to. Some people from Ngau, 
under cover of this custom, killed and ate a pig which 
they found at Mbatiki, with which place they were 
" Kalou vu vdta." In the discussion which followed 
on the case, Ratu Osea, one of the chiefs, said that the 
custom was a right and good thing. 

As examples of No. (4), we might put on record 
innumerable instances of common origin. The system 
has spread like a network all over Fiji, until scarcely 
a town is without its " common origin " relatives. 
The following instances will suffice : — 

The residents of Nasavu (Vanua Levu) and of Ono 
(Lau) are " Tduvu vdta." The same is true of Mbau, 
Namiika (Madhuata) and Navatu (Dhakaundrove) : — 

1 Official Report, 17th Dec, 1879. 


Yanudha (Dhakaundrove), Mbenau (Taviune), Dhau- 
tata (Mbau), Levuka (Ngau), Somosomo (Ngau), 
and Ngasau (Koro) : — Soso (Kandavu) and Muaira 
(Yasawa) : — Vutia (Rewa) and Tavuki (Kandavu) : — 
Lasakau (Clan Nambou at Mbau) and Nawaisomo 
(Mbengga) : — Nawaisomo (clan Vatuvia) and Mokani 
(Mbau) : — Malambi (Mbengga) and Namboualu 
(Ono) : — Ndakuni (Mbengga, clan Vangandra) and 
Lakemba : — Natauloa (Nairai) and Somosomo : — 
Nadhiila (Yasawa) and Wailevu (Dhakaundrove) : — 
Yanawai (Wailevu) and Vatulele (Koro) : — Nodho and 
Nayau (Lau) : — Muanaidhake (Lau) and Ketei : — 
Mundu (Koro) and Ketei (Totoya) : — Viiniwaiwai 
(Dholo), Nakumbuna (Ngau), Ravitaki (Kandavu), 
Nasoki (Moala) and Ndravuni (Kandavu) — The list 
of towns thus linked up might be lengthened inter- 

There are three convertible terms by which the 
" common origin " of the clan might be described, 
viz. : — Tduvu vdta (same origin), Veitduvii (mutual 
origin), and Kalou Vu vdta (same god-origin). The 
first two relate only to similar origin. The last indicates 
that the origin was looked upon as divine, or that the 
progenitor had been raised, by the course of circum- 
stances, to the state of divinity. The case of the four 
towns, Navuniwaiwai, Ravitaki, Nakumbuna and 
Nasoki, which have the same Kalou Vu, shows this 
very clearly. The Kalou Vu in those towns is 
Ngauniika, and the god had a " Ydvu " or sacred 
foundation in each of them. Hence, the four villages 



are connected by a divine pedigree, and the god 
himself is honoured by religious worship. 1 

The story in connection with the relationship 
between the districts of Nodho and Nayau (Lau) is 
one which includes both the human and the divine 
elements. It runs as follows : — The fishermen of 
Nodho went to Nasilai (Rewa) to fish, and discovered 

1 On the whole subject of Kalou Vu vdta, Mr. A. M. Hocart has a 
most informative article in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute 
of Great Britain, 1913, p. 102. He points out that he has found 
no instance where the Kalou Vu is identical in clans which are 
Kalou Vu vdta. With rare insight, he suggests that Kalou Vu vdta 
refers to the Kalou Vu of various tribes being associated together by 
marriage, at the same time keeping their individual identity. In 
the face of the evidence he adduces, we are compelled to widen 
at least the accepted meaning of the phrase. That we need not 
give up entirely the old translation is supported by the example 
I give above of Navuniwaiwai, Ravitaki, Nakumbuna, and Nasoki, 
all of which were Kalou Vu vdta, and the Kalou Vu through whom 
they were connected was Ngauniika. Further, this god had a ydvu 
or sacred foundation in each town. All the clans paid him religious 

In such cases where the Kalou Vu are not identical, there is a 
subtle meaning of the word vdta which should not be overlooked, 
that is, the reference to an equality of status. The word excludes 
superiority in the one or the other, and also the possibility of serfdom 
in either clan. " Tauvu may not meet in battle : so at least in 
Namuka, Vanua Levu." (A. M. Hocart, Man, p. 6, note.) 

When two clans are united by the marriage tie, it may be said 
further, though the Kalou Vu may be associated only, and not 
identical, it will follow of course that the associated Kalou Vu 
will be held in mutual respect. The fact that the clan-members 
have " common ghosts " (as Mr. Hocart calls them), amongst their 
forefathers would be a religious tie of first-rate importance, and 
the outstanding feature of this kind of clan-connection. Mr. 
Hocart says in another article that the tie between tauvu and tauvu 
is religious. (Man, 1914, p. 193.) 

Kalou Vu vdta may have a further meaning. The clans con- 
cerned may retain their own individual Kalou Vu, and, at the same 
time, come by marriage to give to a third origin ghost a respect and 
reverence which raise it to the position of a real Kalou Vu. 


there a shark stranded on the beach. When they 
opened the fish they found a girl still alive. Full of 
astonishment, they asked the maiden whence she came. 
T.o which she answered, " from Nayau," but the 
whereabouts of the town she did not know. The 
chief herald of Nodho claimed her as his wife and 
subsequently she bore him a son whose name was Viivu. 
This son became the Kalou Vu of Nodho. From the 
foregoing circumstances Nodho and Nayau have 
become related. 1 

It is remarkable that the majority of these clan- 
relationships are based on marriages. Either a woman 
flies to another town and is married there, or 
she has been stolen, or has been wrecked at 
the place, and subsequently has become the mother 
of a chiefly race. The fact is important when we 
consider carefully the case of No. (4) mentioned 
above. The relationship of clan with clan is nothing 
more than a development of the Vdsn right. 2 
And, although the connection usually takes place far 
back in the history of the people, the clan considers 
itself, like the Vdsii-chiXd, to be at liberty to commandeer 
property belonging to the related clans. As stated by 
Governor Thurston in Commodore Goodenough's 
report, 3 " Veitauvu are descended from the same 

1 Mr. Basil Thomson records independently this story. 

2 It was a source of gratification to me after having made these 
observations to find that Mr. A. M. Hocart had taken the same 
aspect of the tduvii relationship on which to build his theory that 
tduvu originated in exogamy. Journ. Anth. Inst., 1913, p. 104. 
The whole tendency of the inquiry is to support his theory. 

3 July, 1874. 

vi THE KALdU VU 63 

communal family ; they have the same fathers, or in 
other words, the same gods ; they may take each 
other's property," etc. 1 In confirmation of the close 
likeness between the individual Vdsu and the clan 
which is tduvu vdta with another clan, it is definitely 
asserted that Vuvu, the Kaldu Vu of Nodho, was Vdsu 
to Nayau, and his mother (the girl who came from the 
shark) was Vdsu to Vanua Levu because her mother 
had gone from the latter place in former times to 
Nayau, and had married there. Thus, there were 
amongst the Kaldu Vu individuals who were Vdsu, 
just as, at the present time, we find them amongst the 
ordinary people. It is more than likely, however, that 
the Vdsu right, as found amongst the Kalous, is really 
a modern development of their mythical history. 

Passing from the subject of Ve'itauvii, the question 
now arises, was there ever an Olympus in Fiji ? The 
answer may be given very simply — There were tribal 
gods because there were tribes ; but there were no 
national gods because there was no nation. The 
Rev. J. Waterhouse's division of " gods most widely 
known " means just what it says and no more. A 
" god most widely known " was not necessarily a god 
higher in the scale of divinity. There was no hierarchy 
of gods or spirits in Fiji. 

The truth is that the Fijian never got beyond the 
tribal god. Ndengei is said to be the chief god of 
Fiji, but the Rev. Thos. Williams admits that only a 

1 Dhakaundr6ve must first present a whale's tooth before taking 
goods from Namuka or Moala. A. M. Hocart, Man, (1914), p. 194. 


very small number paid any worship or reverence to 
him. His priests have no power whatever over priests 
of other gods. The inhabitants of the Group (other 
than those living around Kauvandra, Viti Levu) made 
no offerings to him, and his power is nothing to them 
as compared with their own Kalou Vu or their 
parochial spirits 

How then does Ndengei come to be classed as the 
chief god of Fiji ? Simply and only because he was 
first in time amongst Kalou Vu, and because he was 
nearest to the root of the dominant race in Fiji. As 
the various new tribes were formed, they slowly broke 
away from their interest in the parent tribe, and made 
new interests often antagonistic to it ; and so Ndengei 
correspondingly lost his power over them. 

Ndengei might have been the Zeus of a Fijian 
Olympiad if further integration had taken place under 
some Fijian Napoleon. No such personality had 
arisen up to the time of the introduction of Christianity. 
Dhakombau was the nearest approach to such a 
conqueror, and even he exercised a merely nominal 
authority over those tribes that were immediately 
near him. 

In some respects, Ndengei was like Zeus, for he was 
the god of thunder and earthquake ; also he was 
embodied in a snake like the Greek divinity. He had, 
however, none of the strong activity or force of Zeus. 
If he had been the chief god in a hierarchy, his character 
would, doubtless, have become more virile. 



By sacred stones, I mean those which have been 
regarded by the natives, at some time or other, as gods. 
There are no true idols in Fiji. 1 Nor did the Fijian 
attempt to carve his god to any form. It was sufficient 
for him if something mysterious were to happen in 
connection with a rock or tree in order to constitute 
it as divine. 

Of such sacred stones there are not a few in the 
various islands of the Group. 2 At Mbau, for instance, 
there is lying near the Mission House a rounded stone 
which was once a fish-god. I have already men- 
tioned a rock of the kind in the story of Tanovu, 
p. 55. The prominent rock on the brow of a hill in 
Ono overlooking the broad Pacific is supposed to be 
intimately connected with that august deity. Though 
he himself was easily thought of as dwelling in other 
places, he was regarded as being particularly present 
in the stone referred to. We easily recognise here the 
incipient idea of omnipresence. 

1 Erskine, " Western Pacific Islands," p. 252. 

2 Rev. A. J. Webb mentions water-worn stones as being gods 
in the hill -country. They were called Nakalouvdtu. A list. Assoc, 
for Adv. of Sci. (1890), p. 622. 

65 p 


There is a remarkable stone in Soso, Kandavu, which 
is very ancient, and still commands the fearful awe of 
the people in the village. It is called the " Vdtu 
Vuka " (flying stone), and is probably meteoric in its 
origin. It is closely related to the Kalou Vu of the 
place, in so much as they say that it is the god himself, 
and that it flew from the Yasawa Islands to Soso. 

In former times nothing of importance would have 
been undertaken by the tribe without consulting this 
oracle, and the people were in the habit of bringing 
large feasts to it. 

At present the stone lies half-buried at the rear of a 
disused house-foundation belonging to the old line of 
chiefs. Christianity has shorn off much of its ancient 
power. But the residue of its potency is by no means 
despicable. The spirits of the ancient line of chiefly 
personages are still supposed to be its faithful guardians, 
and to be engaged on its behalf. 

Hoping to acquire it, I asked that I might take it 
away. One would think that a mere stone, disused at 
that, would be given at once. But, though it lay 
neglected and overgrown with grass, I suddenly found 
myself resisted. " Not so," said the head man of the 
town, " I cannot give it. Some time ago I gave away 
a club belonging to our chiefly ancestors, and I was 
subsequently brought to the edge of the grave, where 
I lay for the space of three months. I know that I 
should die if I were to give you the stone. Take it 
away yourself, sir." But I knew enough of native 
character to refuse such an offer. For, assuredly, if 


any evil or affliction were to follow my appropriation 
of the stone, I would be directly blamed for it. 

The following extract from Mrs. Smythe's book is 
interesting, referring as it does to the Rewa god, 
Wairiia : — 

" In the afternoon we left Namusi, and ascended the 
secluded and lovely valley in which it lies. On 
reaching the sacred place whence the Rewa god, 
Wairua, was said to have drifted, we stopped to 
examine it more carefully, and asked the guides to 
point out the exact spot. They indicated a hole in a 
small tree by the side of the stream, a few yards from 
the path. Manoah put his hand into the hole and 
brought out an oval stone of very regular form, about 
the size of a swan's egg. The guide said that was the 
god. Manoah again put in his hand and brought out 
some small stones of a similar shape, which they said 
were the god's children. We then began to question 
them about the god, on which they looked very grave, 
and pressed us to move on. Manoah wanted to throw 
the stones away, but as the act would only have irritated 
the natives, without doing any good, we desired him 
to restore them as he had found them." 1 

In the town of Nakorosule in Dholo, Viti Levu, lies 
another noteworthy stone-god, called Mboseyawa. I 
was fortunate enough to see and photograph it. The 
rock stands in the thick bush near the town, half- 
buried in the earth. The story of the god is unique 
in every way. Fijian deities are almost invariably cruel 

1 Mrs. Smythe, " Ten Months in Fiji " (1864), pp. 77, 78. 

F 2 


and fierce, and such gods are the embodiment of what 
might be termed the most characteristic feature of the 
Fijian race in ancient days. But the god of which 
I speak is an expression of another marked trait of 
the native mind, viz., that of delaying matters of 
business and policy as long as possible. There is 
with the Fijian, as all those who are acquainted with 
him know, a decided objection to haste, especially in 
decision. He was not accustomed to be guided so 
much by his judgment as by his feelings. Usually, 
judgment issues in a conclusion less quickly than feeling, 
and the Fijian mind was largely under the domination 
of his emotions. In any crises, his mental experience 
was like a racecourse where all the feelings inherited 
from the clan ran riot. Consequently, he himself felt 
implicitly the danger that threatened him of making 
hasty decisions. This was often his salvation. It was 
his custom to let the feelings and impressions of his 
mind come to the bursting point before he could be 
persuaded to action, and to postpone definite decision 
as long as he could. 

Now the name of the god at Nakorosule is Mboseyawa 
which in the local dialect means " to delay final 
decisions." The people of the town think very highly 
of him still for this trait, and also for his potency 
during former times in bringing peace between opposing 
clans. Since they learned the tenets of Christianity 
they have endeavoured to find some parallel between 
Christian love and the peace-promoting nature and 
efforts of their ancient god. 


The chief man of the village told me of various ways 
in which the god's influence tended to peace and good- 
will. If the clansmen were discussing in council 
how they should slay a certain man, it was the special 
prerogative of Mboseyawa to prevent the execution, 
by moving their minds for a postponement, with a 
view to promoting mercy. Or, should the enemy be 
meditating mischief, or conspiring for war against them, 
anyone might take a bowl of yanggona to Mboseyawa, 
and ask his aid. That good divinity would im- 
mediately confound the evil counsels of the adversaries 
by unconsciously influencing them towards delay. 
When the Rev. Fred. Langham first took the Gospel 
to this town, the chief, whose name was Rotavisoro, 
was living up on the hill-fort. Mr. Langham sent a 
message to him, therefore, requesting that he should 
come down and hear the story of Christianity. The 
chief answered, " Maliia" or " Wait, I will come down 
in the morning." This answer was attributed by the 
people to the wise influence of the god Mboseyawa. 

Sometimes the work of the village proceeded very 
slowly, and it was customary for the natives to use the 
proverbial saying, " Mboseyawa has entered into the 

At the present time, no worship is tendered to the 
rock, and, unlike the god at Soso, he exerts no malign 
or fearsome power over his quondam worshippers. 

We noticed at the beginning of this chapter that the 
Fijians, though ingenious in many ways, did not 
employ their skill in the making of images. Hence we 


have no worship of idols, as such. I happened to 
discover, however, one very curious exception to the 
rule. There are, at the present time, in the keeping 
of the Waimarou tribe in Dholo, Viti Levu, two ivory 
images, male and female. They are about nine inches 
in height, and are made of carved whale's teeth, no 
fewer than six teeth being used in the construction of 
each. It is doubtful whether the Fijians made them. 
They were probably executed by sailors from the 
whalers which used to ply in these waters, for the 
pieces of ivory are held together by pins of lead very 
carefully inserted. The figures are exquisitely polished, 
and, though grotesque, are wonderfully well carved. 
The expression on the woman's face is almost tragic. 

These figures are not so much in the category of the 
idol as in that of the mascot. For they are believed 
at the present time to hold in themselves the welfare 
of the clan, and especially of the high-born line. 

Visitors are not welcomed who wish to see the 
curious little ivory chief and chieftainess of the 
Waimarou tribe, as the couple are ostentatiously called. 
Whether this reticence on the part of the owners is 
due to the fear that the presence of strangers detracts 
from the virtue of the mascot, or whether it arises 
from an inordinate desire to extort money from the 
inquisitive, I cannot say. Probably, both these 
reasons are in the native mind. At any rate, ordinary 
folk are not allowed to view the ivory pair unless some 
gift is made to the chiefs. 

A friend and I were fortunate in being allowed 


to see, and actually photograph, the female. We 
entered the house where it was kept, and the doors 
were carefully closed behind us. The chief then 
went to a hiding-place near the mat-bed, and, after a 
little rummaging, he drew the image forth. But, before 
he showed it to us, he anointed it gently and tenderly 
with the oil of the cocoa-nut tree, as if it were alive, 
and decorously bound a silk handkerchief about its 
loins. Then we were allowed to examine it at our 

The chief told us that it had been brought from 
Rewa to Soloira, and thence to the chiefs of Waimarou, 
who had retained it ever since. The custom sub- 
sequently grew up of eating some chiefly food before 
viewing it. He also informed us (and the man evinced 
every sign of credence in his statement) that, if a stranger 
touches the image, he will have no more children, and, 
if a boy as much as looks upon it, he forfeits his power 
to propagate offspring. 

The Audi ni Waimarou (Chieftainess of Waimarou), 
as the image is called, is still preserved as a sacred thing. 
A gift of twenty pounds was offered some time ago 
for it, but the chief would not hear of selling his 
treasure. The figure appeared to be a godlet, fetish, 
and symbol combined. (See photo.) 



The people of the Fiji Islands, though they have no 
system of idol- worship, have a large number of symbols. 
The Fijians are a most ceremonious race, and no 
important function takes place without its corresponding 
sign. Nothing informal seems to have any weight 
with them. 

If one tribe were conquered by another, the van- 
quished usually brought to the victors a basketful of 
earth, with the addition perhaps of a bunch of cocoa- 
nuts. The meaning of this symbol was, that the land 
in which they dwelt and the produce of the land were 
surrendered to the victorious tribe. When Mba was 
worsted in battle by Mbau on one occasion, the 
inhabitants of the former district brought to the latter 
a basket of earth stuck with reeds. 

Native cloth, or " Mdsi" to give the native name, 
was also a regular symbol. Three different uses may 
be mentioned : — 

(a) When a young man assumed the full status of a 
clansman he was dressed in mdsi. It was a sign, to 
him and to others, that he had attained his majority, 


A Village Scene. 

Drying Masi. 

( To Jn. . 

ch. viii SYMBOLISM 


and it corresponds almost exactly to the toga virilis 
of the Romans. 

(b) The material was used as a turban, and so became 
the symbol of chieftainship. No ordinary man dare 
wear a masi-turhzn in the presence of a chief. The 
chiefs themselves wore it with studious dignity ; they 
never, for instance, doffed it to anyone except to the 
representative of the British Crown. 

Roko Tui Mba, in the meeting of chiefs, at Lau 1 
said, " When the Governor comes to open a meeting, 
it would be much more respectful and becoming of 
us chiefs if everyone present had turbans on, and as 
soon as the yanggona is ready, then for every chief to 
uncover, as a mark of the very highest respect that can be 
possibly paid to the Queen and her representative." 

(c) Mdsi was employed by some tribes in a very 
important way during the investiture of chiefs. When 
a head chief died, the virtue of his chieftainship was 
supposed to remain some time in his body. The 
11 Mdta ni vanua " (face of the land), the clan-herald, 
an official whose duty it was, took a long piece of mdsi, 
and waved it in a ceremonious fashion over the corpse. 
After this, it was wound around a piece of wood and 
hung up in the house of the mdta ni vanua. On the 
day of installation, it was taken down, placed on the 
head of the succeeding chief, or around his waist, until 
the function was* completed. Then it was thrown 
away as being of no further value. Thus the virtue 
of the chieftain's office was effectually transmitted. 

x Government Blue Book, 20th Nov., 1880. 


The foregoing custom was frequent more especially in 
Kandavu during earlier times. 

Certain shells had recognised symbolic meaning 
and value in the Fijian marriage ceremony. The 
" Sduwdngga " (Javan Murex) is very much used for 
this purpose in Madhuata. The same shell was often 
given as a " Koroi " or decoration to the brave in 
battle. Cowries, both large and small, were highly 
prized. Another shell, called the Vitro (Conus tnar- 
morens), takes the place of the Victoria Cross in the 
estimation of the Fijian warrior. 1 

The Vuro is the shell which was much in demand 
for scraping away the bark of the paper-mulberry, in 
order to lay bare the fibrous substance used in making 
the chiefly mdsi. The mode of decoration of a valiant 
fighter was as follows : If a man had been conspicuously 
valorous in battle, and had slain ten men, the reward 
was one Viiro, which he wore upon his arm ; it was called 
his first " Tora." If he slew twenty men he received 
two tora ; if he accounted for thirty, he was decorated 
with a third tora, and so on. A brave man indeed 
would that Fijian be who had slain his thirty foes in 
war. The standard of courage is thus very different in 
Fiji from what it is in European countries. The 
slaughter of men is not a necessary proof of the bravery 
of the man who wins, for instance, the Victoria Cross. 

The " Rot " (mosquito-swisher) is considered a 

1 It is interesting to contrast this symbolic use of shells with the 
very practical shell-money in New Britain. Danks, Journ. Anth. 
Inst. (1888), p. 305. 


most aristocratic thing, and it is still a high honour to 
receive one of them as a gift from a chief. In early 
days no one but the chief was allowed to make use of 
the roi in public ; and the gift of one implied the 
recognition of a noble rank in the person to whom it 
was presented. A peculiar custom is said to exist in 
Vanua Levu. If a man of high rank died in a certain 
portion of that district, a roi was sent to a clan in the 
west of the island, who took charge of it and sent it by 
courier to the island of Dhikombia. The tribe living in 
Dhikombia appropriated the swisher as their property. 
No one seems to know the meaning of the usage. 

Clubs enclosed in various ways were ominous 
symbols. The symbolic virtue of clubs varied accord- 
ing to their age and history. Some of these heavy 
wooden weapons have been quite celebrated ; many 
of them are notched, the signification being that a man 
of high rank had been slain by the club in previous 
times. It was also thought that a certain amount of 
the chiefly virtue of the dead man entered the club. 
Most of these clubs received names, and were almost 
personified. It is easy to see, therefore, how one such 
weapon of war might thus become a very powerful 
symbol of challenge, or of request for help, in times of 
difficulty or tribal conflict. Other weapons, as spears, 
for instance, may be used in like manner, though on 
account of their length they are not so convenient. 

Another well-known honoured symbol was, and still 
is, the Kdva root (Macropiper methysticum), from which 
the drink known as Kdva or Yanggona is prepared. 

76 FIJIAN SOCIETY ch. viii 

The root takes rank with the sacred Soma of India, 
and the Haoma of Persia. In ceremonies and feasts, 
the plant is placed on top of a heap of food about to 
be presented ; and the man who officiates, taking hold 
of it, pushes it a little towards the recipient, at the 
same time uttering some accepted formula. All the 
food goes with the Kdva root. In passing, one might 
add that the liquid made from the Kdva plant is 
sometimes devoted to the gods as a libation, 1 and it is 
also used as a lustration 2 when a youth is initiated 
into the clan called Wainimala. 

In times of extremity, ashes often had great signi- 
ficance. They betokened that the person who offered 
them was reduced to despair. 

The " Dhiva " is perhaps more of a charm than a 
symbol. It is composed of the pearl-oyster shell with 
the rough back thereof cleaned away so as to reveal 
the mother of pearl. Around this are affixed carved 
pieces of ivory, the whole being of a circular shape 
about six or eight inches in diameter. The Dhiva 
is not unfrequently seen hanging on the breasts of 
male dancers in Fijian " Meke" (dance) entertainments. 
In former days, the Dhiva was highly valued by warriors, 
who declared that the ornament made its wearer 

But the symbol par excellence is the whale's tooth 
or " Tambua," and all other Fijian symbols and signs 
will be thoroughly explained in it. The next chapter 
will deal with the tambua. 

1 Dr. L. Fison, " The Nanga," p. 4. : Ibid., p. 5. 


symbolism — continued 
The Tambua or Whale's Tooth 

As to the origin of the name " Tambua'' the follow- 
ing will be interesting, since it is an extract from a 
paper written by an intelligent Fijian named Pita E. 
Talawangga, and read before the Fijian Society in 
Suva : — 

" Our people, who lived right away up in the 
middle of the land (the hill country) such as at Navosa, 
and the tribes near to them used to cut down a certain 
tree to be their precious property : the name of that 
tree was the ' Mbiia ' (prob. Fagraea berteriana) -, 1 
they pared it down well so as to be narrow-pointed 
at both ends, and curved somewhat like a banana 
branch (or leaf stalk) ; after that, it was thoroughly 
rubbed till the surface was well polished, and then 
it was anointed with candle-nuts to become reddish 
coloured, and then they attached a string to it, as is 
done to whale's teeth, and it was then taken care 
of as their valuable property. It is very truly 
this, the name of which was the ' Mbua-ta ' (cut 
Mbiia) or ' Ta-mMa,' from which originated that 

1 Dr. B. Seemann, " Viti " (1862), p. 439. 


name ' Tambua.'' The ' Mbiia-ta ' or ' Ta-mbiia ' 
was used by those living in the hill country for every- 
thing for which the ' Tambua ' (whale's tooth) is 
used ; as, the ' Tambua ' of war, the ' Tambua - of 
feasts, or the ' Tambua ' for obtaining a girl in 
marriage, etc." x 

The tambua is essentially a Fijian symbol. The 
Tongans never used it except for the purpose of 
getting canoes, or timber for canoes, from Fiji, and 
it was manifestly borrowed from the latter place. 
Nothing quite like it can be found in Melanesia. In 
the New Hebrides, sharks' teeth are used as money. 
The whale's tooth is much in demand as an ornament 
in Tahiti, Hawaii, and Tonga. 2 Sharks' teeth, again, 
are ornaments in the Marquesas Islands. In no case 
does either the shark's tooth or the whale's tooth 
approach the Fijian tambua for power or meaning. It 
has reached the zenith of its potency in the Fiji Group. 

There are symbols in other lands which embody 
some of its virtues, such as the Fiery Cross of Scotland, 
and the powerful talismanic ring of Persia. 

But a tambua includes the virtues of these and 
much more besides. Its value extends from the 
ordinary medium of exchange to the highest and 
most effective symbol of the fiercest feelings of the 
human race. The truth of the foregoing statement 
will be recognised after some of its uses are described. 
To that description we now proceed. 

1 Fijian Society Records, Aug. nth, 1913. 
'Mariner's " Tonga Islands " (1827), vol. i, p. 250. 


(1) It is effectual as the means of acquiring property, 
as, for instance, a pig. With a good tambua it is 
quite easy to buy a monster porker from £5 up to 
£10 in value. The curious point about it is, that the 
very same whale's tooth may be purchased for 155. 
or £1 in the stores, and then may be used in a cere- 
monious way to acquire an article or animal ten times 
its own price. Thus, we must infer that, while it is 
used as a means of barter or exchange, it is evidently 
something more. A few other instances will make this 
fact still more vivid. About five years ago 4,500 
large yams were bought with the aid of only three 
whales' teeth valued at £1 apiece. A fine area 
of land was sold to white men about fifty years ago 
for a few teeth and the sum of £10. It is related 
that a chief in Mbengga some few years since, not 
knowing the value of money, gave freely £300 when 
asked for it by a man who brought with him some 
tambuas to enforce his request. 

There is no fixed value for the whale's tooth ; its 
purchasing power varies according to circumstances. 
It may be said that its worth depends in any given 
instance upon the tacit understanding that the privilege 
of making a request is thereby transferred to the 
recipient of it. The status of the individual presenting 
it also affects it considerably. Likewise, the im- 
portance of the tambua is enhanced according to the 
chiefliness of the ceremony of presentation. As a 
Fijian says, a tambua is a " Ka vdkaturdnga " (a 
chiefly thing). 


(2) To win the hand of a pretty bride of high birth, 
twenty or thirty of these pieces of ivory are deemed 
necessary. They are not looked upon as the price 
of the bride in the sense of a commercial consideration, 
yet such a number would generally soften the heart 
of the most obdurate parent. It would be certainly a 
most difficult thing for a Fijian father to withhold his 
daughter from a suitor who could display such a 
magnificent bride-price. A show of treasure so large 
would be sufficient in the old days to constitute an 
elite wedding. In the case where a young man could 
not find a respectable number of whales' teeth, he 
would beg from his relatives and fellow clansmen the 
required wealth, and the tambua were usually forth- 
coming at once. On the day of the wedding the 
collection of tambua is distributed amongst the friends 
of the bride, her father receiving the lion's share of 
the offering. 

(3) At the birth of a child a similar present of a 
whale's tooth is made to the friends of the mother, and 
it is then called " At rdnggoronggo," literally, " the 
taking in arms." 

(4) Upon the death of a woman, the husband proffers 
a tambua to the father-in-law. This tambua bears 
the name of " Ai rengurengu " (the kissing). When a 
high chief dies, large quantities of teeth are brought 
as a token of respect, and given to the bereaved rela- 
tives ; in this custom the tambua does duty for the 
wreath used at funerals in European countries. The 
reception of so fine a gift is not only a mark of respect, 


but also tends by its value to moderate the grief of 
the mourners. 

(5) If a clan build a house for a man, it is customary 
for him to offer as a sign of his gratitude a whale's 
tooth, which is presented with a particular ceremony 
to the chief or leader of the workmen. Roko Tui 
Mbua is reported to have said in a council of chiefs 1 
that the tambua was the only property which exchanges 
hands in house-building. 

(6) No diplomat ever goes to another person with 
any large request without a whale's tooth ; and this 
was especially the case in time of war. No sooner 
were hostile proceedings likely to begin than messengers 
were sent with the symbol here and there to the various 
villages, as a means by which wavering peoples might 
be strengthened in their allegiance, and enemies 

(7) When a man is discovered in some crime or 
misdeed he will take a tambua as an atoning symbol 
to his chief, and will make an earnest request that the 
crime shall be " covered." A significant case, and 
one well worthy to be remembered, is that of Navosa. 
About five years ago the people of that district 
brought and presented to the head of the Methodist 
Mission three teeth to cover the crime of their fathers, 
who had slain the Rev. Thos. Baker some decades 

The name of this particular tambua is " At 
mbulu-mbulu " (the burial). The effort to obtain 

1 Government Blue Book, 1879. 



forgiveness in the foregoing manner is often success- 
ful, to the detriment of ethical practice, and so of 

(8) A higher honour could not be shown to a 
visiting official or notability than by presenting him 
with a number of tambua. On such an occasion the 
address uttered in the ceremony is always studiously 
meek and self-humbling, is generally eulogistic of the 
visitor, and concludes, as a rule, with a petition for 
favours, or for mutual goodwill. 

Under this head comes the ancient custom of the 
" Nggdlofiggalovi." Mr. H. Berkeley, who is recognised 
as an authority upon this point, wrote on one occasion 
to the Fiji Times giving the following description and 
explanation : — 

" The Nggdlonggalovi (literally ' the swimming across 
to the canoe ') is one of the oldest ceremonies in Fiji, 
and was performed when the High Chief or his 
immediate representative visited one of his depen- 
dencies or provinces. It was performed by the Mdta ni 
vanua of the dependency or province visited, accom- 
panied, by some of his followers, who presented to the 
chief a tambua (in latter days, a whale's tooth). He 
was then requested in most ceremonious terms to land. 
If the chief accepted the tambua, all was well. The 
tambua as a rule was accepted on board, but on other 
occasions the chief decided to accept it on shore. 
The tambua might be refused when presented by a 
province or dependency for several reasons, e.g., on 
account of disloyalty, in which event, as the chief was 


generally accompanied by several hundreds of warriors, 
the effect was as a rule disastrous. 

" The primary idea of Nggdlonggalovi is clear ; it was 
an act of propitiation made by the inhabitants of a State 
who owed suzerainty to their High Chief. ... At 
the present moment the only persons entitled as of 
right to the Nggdlonggalovi are (1) the Sovereign ; (2) 
the Admiral of the Fleet on duty in Fiji ; (3) possibly 
one delegated by the Governor or Admiral for the 
performance of special work." 

(9) The same sign is a most excellent gift to assuage 
the fiery temper of an irate Fijian chief. It is some- 
times quite amusing to see how swiftly the fury of a 
man of rank dissolves before the magical action of the 

(10) The tooth was often sent on a mission of death. 
The Rev. Thos. Baker, mentioned above, lost his life 
through the fateful power of the whale's tooth. The 
Rev. Thos. Williams gives in his book on " Fiji and 
the Fijians " an account of the dispatching of a tambua 
to purchase the death of a Fijian named Koroi Tamana. 
The dt2Xh.-tam.bua might be placed in a pudding or 
in a native basket, or in the mouth of a dead pig, in 
each of which cases the significance of the symbol 
becomes more ominous. No chief could touch it, so 
encased, without placing himself under a most solemn 
obligation to meet the wishes of the sender. 

(11) Fortunately, the tambua is not always used for 
purposes of evil. The authority referred to above 
vividly describes the classic case where the influence 

G 2 


of the whale's tooth saved the lives of several unfor- 
tunate women at Mbau. The incident was as follows : 
Two brave ladies, Mrs. Lyth and Mrs. Calvert, hearing 
that women were being strangled at Mbau, took each 
of them a tambua decorated with ribbons, and entered 
boldly into the terrible chief Tanoa's presence, with the 
request that the fated ones might be saved. Their 
noble petition was granted. 

(12) Sometimes, in the installation " of chiefs, the 
symbols were decorated with streamers and used as a 
curious coronet. But this particular practice was a 
local one. 

(13) A weird custom in vogue in former days 
was to place the ivory upon the breast of a dead 
man. His soul was supposed to take with it the 
spiritual part of the symbol, and, thus provided for, 
would travel to a tree " hard by Heaven's gate," into 
which tree he was to throw it as a passport on his 
journey to the happy land. The custom is similar to 
the penny laid in the hand of the corpse at an Irish 
wake, the obolus placed upon the mouth of a dead 
Greek, and many Egyptian symbols described by 
Dr. Budge. The tree (a Tdrawdn) into which the 
Fijian dead are supposed to cast the tambua is still to 
be seen on Vanua Levu, near Naidhombodhombo. 1 

(14) One more specific use of the tambua should be 
mentioned in order that we may thoroughly under- 

1 Some say the tree is at Kauvandra in Viti Levu as well, and that 
it is the " Vdndra " or scrcwpine. Dr. Seemann refers to the 
Tdrawdu at Naidh6mbodh6mbo ; see " Viti," p. 322. 


stand it. We have noticed that, if a person receives the 
whale's tooth, he is laid under a debt of gratitude or 
solemn obligation, which he is bound to discharge when 
called upon to do so. It may be that the recipient is 
for some reason unable to do this ; if that be the case 
only one way is open to him, viz., to send a larger 
tambua in return, begging therewith to be relieved of 
his obligation. The practice of returning the whale's 
tooth is called " pressing down." 1 The Mission 
authorities make use of the custom of " pressing down " 
to neutralise any unreasonable request upon the part 
of the natives. 

The uses of the tambua enumerated above are not 
all that might be given. But sufficient has been said 
to show how important a factor symbolism has been in 
the history of the Fijian people. The fates of men, 
clans, and tribes have often depended upon the way 
in which the whale's tooth has been presented or 

The tremendous power of the emblem which we 
are discussing is probably of quite modern growth ; 
but its varied application is a heritage of earlier years. 
When there were no teeth available, their place was 
taken by mdsi y mosquito swishers, clubs, shells, cocoa- 
nuts with sprays, baskets of earth, etc. But the sphere 
of each was much more limited than that of the tambua. 
The club, for instance, would only be used naturally 
in war, while the basket of earth could scarcely be 
bartered for a pig. When the tambua came, it gathered 

1 Rev. Thos. Williams, " Fiji and the Fijians," p. 35. 


into itself all the earlier symbolic and emblematic 
conceptions of these rudimentary peoples. 

How the first tambua came to Fiji is a question 
difficult of solution. There is a legend of a whale 
which grounded in the Yasawas earlier than the 
sixteenth century. The teeth were knocked out and 
worn as ornaments, or curiosities, and then were used 
in sacred ceremonies, becoming sacred themselves in 
their meaning and influence. It is certain, however, 
that early whalers discovered the value placed upon the 
teeth in Fiji. Ivory was found to command a better 
price in the South Seas than in London. Besides, it 
was a convenient method of bartering for supplies both 
of wood and food during the whaling season. It is 
probable that whalers deliberately exaggerated the magic 
qualities of the tooth, and so the covetousness of the 
Fijian was greatly increased. Ivory literally poured 
into the country, therefore, until whaling ceased in 
those waters. 

The tooth gradually superseded certain chiefly 
symbols, as we have already seen. As time passed 
on, the inhabitants of the islands became more 
particular in their preference for some ivories. 
Big tambua were considered better than small 
ones ; dark-coloured ivories (made so by constant 
use and the application of turmeric powder) were 
preferred to those light-coloured ; 1 old teeth were 
valued more than those newly acquired ; and finally 

1 On this, see Capt. J. R. Erskine's " Western Pacific Islands " 
(1853), p. 439. 


the teeth which had been used on important occasions 
gained a pre-eminence over those with a more humble 
history. The process of discrimination continued till 
some tambua acquired a reputation like the old clubs 
mentioned in the last chapter. The sacrificial knife 
of an Aztec priest could not have been prized more 
highly. To those who knew the history of an in- 
dividual tambua, the spirits of the past seemed to hover 
around it. It is not wonderful, then, that some 
tambua were never sold, but were handed on as heir- 
looms from generation to generation. 

When a tambua is being presented, or " led," as 
the Fijians say, it becomes the central feature of the 
ceremony. It is greeted with a curious cry of honour, 
and all eyes are intently fixed upon it. The task of 
" leading " a tambua is allotted to a special officer. It 
would mar the function if another should interfere. 
The late Mr. D. Wilkinson told me that he had seen 
a man laden with whales' teeth staggering into the 
circle of spectators ; and one who attempted to aid 
him was promptly knocked down, as if, like Uzziah, 
he had touched a sacred thing. 

After the ceremony of presentation the supporters 
of the man leading the tambua all cry out in unison, 
" Mdna." This word is important, since it is a 
Melanesian term, and represents the inner principle 
of the religious beliefs amongst the people in the New 
Hebrides. 1 The Melanesian had no power apart from 
it, and the chiefs held their position by the power of 

1 Dr. Codrington, " Melanesian Anth. and Folklore," p. 52. 


the mdna which was thought to reside within them. 
As to the source of the power, the idea of the Melanesian 
was that it arose as a result of direct communication 
with ghosts (Tindalo) ; and the chiefs especially re- 
ceived from spirits the virtue whereby they were able 
to bring their evil influences to bear upon others. 
Dr. Codrington relates that Mairuru, chief of Walurigi, 
sent his son to be educated in a Christian school at 
Norfolk Island. " It was at once understood that a 
Christian education, which shut out belief in, and of, 
' Mdna,' excluded him from succession as a chief." x 

The word " Mdna " appears in Hazlewood's dic- 
tionary as a term used in addressing a heathen deity ; 
or it may be a sign, omen, wonder, and, by trans- 
mission of meaning, potent, effectual or efficient. 
Thus in Fiji the word may be applied to medicine 
(magical or otherwise) which is followed by good 
results. Missionaries have used the term in the 
compound word " dhdkadhdka-mdna " (miracle), and 
it is also applied to the divine name of Jehovah. The 
meaning of the word may be so attenuated as to 
approach the sense of confirmation in the word 
" Amen " of our own form of prayer. 

Considering that the word "fetish " originates from 
facere (Portuguese, feitifo) potent, and that "fetish" 
was applied to objects supposed to be permeated by a 
virtue not very different from " mdna" it is reasonable 
to think that, in some of its uses at least, the tambua 
comes very near to the fetish. At all events, Prof. 

1 Dr. Codrington, "Melanesian Anth. and Folklore," p. 57. 


Tylor mentions that a Fijian priest, preparing himself 
for spirit-possession, was accustomed to look steadily 
at a whale's tooth, amid dead silence. 1 And if it were 
not a fetish before such a ceremony, constant use in 
this way, by a priest, would certainly tend to impart 
to it magical efficacy. 

1 " Primitive Culture," vol. ii, p. 133. 



In order to understand the nature of the tambua 
and Fijian symbolism generally, we should not overlook 
an important factor in native life, to be seen in the 
power of chieftainship. 

In Fiji the symbol, whatever it may be, reaches its 
highest importance when used by chiefs, or presented 
to chiefs, in the accepted way. The three conditions 
just mentioned are of the utmost significance to the 
native mind. Thus it may be inferred that symbolism 
will be effectual according to the amount of power 
or virtue popularly supposed to be invested in the 
chieftain caste. 

Now it is to be recognised that, in common with the 
whole of Polynesia, the nobility in Fiji have a peculiarly 
high social status ; so high that it probably resulted 
from a semi-divine character bequeathed to them from 
ancient times. 

Some light may be thrown upon this question by 
comparing the titles of men of rank in these islands 
with those in other countries. The coincidence is 
very striking. 



Male titles of chiefs in Fiji are Rdtu, Ro (in Vamia 
Levu), Ra, Rdko, and Rdturdnga. 1 Female titles are 
Randndiy Mardma, and Rdmardma. All these titles 
have a constant syllable, namely, Ra or Ro. Although 
it is rather a far leap, let us now turn to West Africa. 
Dr. Nassau, in his book on " Fetishism," says that 
Ra, meaning lord or master, exists amongst the 
West African tribes. Kings, wizards, and gods had 
the titles prefixed to their names ; for instance, Ra 
Nyambe is the divine name. 2 

Again, Dr. Nassau says it is the Egyptian word Ra 
which had filtered through into the Western languages ; 
and we are thus led to look to the land of the Pyramids 
for further information. In J. E. Harrison's " Pro- 
legomena to Greek Religion " we read that, " In so far 
as Osiris was a Sun-God, the well became a well of 
light in which the Sun- God Ra was wont to wash 
his face." 3 Isis controlled Ra by stealing his name. 4 
and in the same book there is a hymn to Amen-Ra as 
follows : "He riseth on the horizon of the east, he 
is laid to rest on the west." 5 

It is clear that the Ra of West Africa is the same 
title as that given to the Sun-God of Egypt ; and, 
moreover, the name is supposed to have magical 

1 Mr. A. M. Hocart argues that the word turdnga when traced 
to its original meaning leads us to gerontocracy. Man, 191 3. 
p. 143. But the facts given in this chapter, as viewed from the 
Polynesian standpoint, should have due weight. 

2 Dr. R. H. Nassau, " Fetishism " (1904). P- 33 1 - 

* J. E. Harrison, " Prolegomena to Greek Religion " (1908), p. 576. 
4 Hobhouse, " Morals in Evolution," 1906, vol. ii., p. 39- 

* Ibid., p. 42. 


quality. But this is not all. The ancient dynasty of 
Rameses means " born of the Sun." All this has a 
deep significance when we turn to the question of the 
Fijian chief, because it is generally understood that 
one branch of the Polynesian race came from the 
direction of Egypt, and perhaps settled in, or at any 
rate called at, India. 

In the latter country, princes are called Rajahs ; and 
Raj means reign. Princesses received the title of 
Ranee ; and Rajan is king in Sanscrit. Rahu is the 
demon in the Hindu myth who has to do with the 
eclipse of the sun and moon. 1 The Indian word also 
for fire is " Rama." Rajah is the same word as the 
Latin Rex, and our Royal, Prerogative, and Regal are 
from the same root. 

Coming nearer to Fiji, princes are called Rajah 
Rajah or simply Rajah in Sumatra ; and we are 
told that, when the Dyaks of Borneo kill an 
alligator, they call him grandfather and Rajah, 
which is the term they apply to their chiefs and 

In all the words given above, there is the common 
syllable Ra with its variations. These words are, 
without exception, applied to men of rank, or 
to gods (especially the Sun-God), or to fire, which 
is the glory of the sun. The coincidence in 
meaning and application with the Fijian titles is 
too striking to be ignored ; and the more so when 
we consider that the general name of the sun and of 

1 Tylor, " Primitive Culture," vol. I, p. 331. 


the moon throughout Polynesia is Ra and Mardma 
respectively. 1 

The accumulative evidence seems to prove that the 
titles of the Fijian chiefs have had a wider and higher 
application in their root-connotation than at the 
present time, and that, in the narrowing down of 
meaning, the semi-divine flavour has clung to the 
titles and the chiefly office. Undoubtedly a relic 
of that early divine character is still left in the 
word Roko, which really has the significance of 
" divine person " ; and Roko is the expression which 
the missionaries have taken up into the Bible 
to convey the idea of " hallowed " in the Lord's 

We know, too, that the chiefs of Fiji expected to 
become divine when they arrived in the unseen world, 
and some, like the Dhakaundrove men of rank, received 
their apotheosis before they died. 2 

There is good evidence that the position of chiefs in 
this Group has become what it is through Polynesian 
influence. In New Britain, the Solomon Islands, the 
New Hebrides and other Melanesian groups, hereditary 
rank is at a very low premium. But, in the islands 
to the east of Fiji, it is vastly different. In Tonga, 
for instance, the chiefs alone were believed to enter 
Heaven. The commoners died, body and soul. 
Further east in Tahiti, if the chief's foot touched the 

1 Prof . Brown, "Maori and Polynesian," pp. 127, 130. William 
Ellis, " Polynesian Researches " (1853), vol. iii, p. 170. 

2 Vid. in corroboration, A. M. Hocart in American Anthropologist, 
1915. P- 638. 


ground, or if he entered the house, the place became 
taboo. Accordingly, he must needs be carried wher- 
ever he goes. 1 It was fatal in New Zealand to touch 
any article which the noble had used. If a drop of 
his blood happened to fall on anything, it would 
become his property. 2 The glance of a Tongan chief 
would make an upper garment useless, so that it 
became the custom to remove it in his presence. 3 The 
names of chiefs throughout Polynesia were taboo. 4 
Likewise, in olden days, if a Fijian aristocrat touched 
food, it became too sacred to be taken as sustenance by 
the commoners. 5 There is a peculiar belief in Fiji 
which was related to me by an old native, and is 
similar to the ideas revealed in the above practices, 
that, if an underling happened to eat food which 
had been left from the chieftain's meal, he would 
become " Mbukete vdtu " or " pregnant with 

As still further evidence of the close relationship 

existing between the high rank of the Polynesian and 
Fijian chiefs, it will perhaps be interesting to give a 
list of special words applied to the latter by their 
subordinates in the Lau Group, and on no occasion 
addressed to others. The Lau Group is nearest to 
Tonga of all the Fijian Islands, and the people there 
have a close kinship with the Tongan nation. The 
following is the list of words : — 

1 Jevons, " Introduction to Religion " (1904), p. 62. 

2 Ibid., p. 62. 3 Ibid., p. 64. * Ibid., p. 61. 
8 Ibid., p. 69. 



Chiefly Words of the Lan Group. 




Chiefly Fijian. 




vanua i dhake 

upper part. 



ai serau 

the glory. 



ai rengu 

the kisser. 



tamba ni manumanu 




ndraka ni kula 

parrot's mouth. 



ai kata 

the biter. 



nd6mo ni v6nu. 

turtle throat. 



ai dhaka 

that which ac- 







ndaku ni v£si 

back of vesi 



ai turatura. 

that with which 
he stands. 



kuli tambua 

ivory skin. 

voice \ 
word / 

J that which 

\ makes taboo. 






as the flower of 
the mbua. 




the decree that 
comes to pass. 



t6ka wale 

by himself, no 
one to go near 









house of 


loma ni k6ro 

centre of the 




aim6dhem6dhe ai tatavo 








ai mbal6ta 

that which he 
falls against. 





to be 




1 For comparative usages in the Eastern Polynesian Islands, see 
Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 380 ff. (Samoa). 
W. Mariner, " Tonga Islands," vol. ii, p. 86. W. Ellis, " Polynesian 
Researches," vol. iii, p. 113 (Tahiti). Erskine, "Western Pacific 
Islands," p. 243. 





Chiefly Fijian. 




nd6ko seru 

garden made 





something high 
as a shelf. 









The explanation of the Lauan custom in so addressing 
these words to their chiefs seems to be, that it is a kind 
of euphemism, or flattery of the chief, calculated to 
win his favour. The words in the third column are 
never used with regard to the person or property 
of a common man. In Lau, there are also special 
words and phrases which are applied to the property 
of the ladies as well as to their consorts. Many of the 
above terms may be used to either chiefs or their 

The high honour thus paid to the chiefs by their 
obsequious followers has a direct bearing on symbolism. 
A symbol used in the conventional manner, and by a 
chief, would be much more important and efficient 
than if it were in the hands of a man of low caste. 

Concerning the object of symbolism it may be said, 
that it is the struggle to make clearer certain sacred 
ideas of obligation, and certain revered principles, 
which were too inchoate or abstruse to be lucidly 
expressed in words by the primitive Fijian mind. 
Similarly, in other countries, an idol is the result of an 
effort of the human mind to make more explicit to 
itself its own vague conceptions of the deity. 

So a tambiia, when presented, means more than a 


medium of exchange, even in a purely commercial 
transaction ; and on some occasions its purport is, 
on the other extreme, to express the strongest passions 
and emotions of the Fijian nature. A Fijian who tried 
to explain the rationale of the symbol said it was a 
" Ka ndokdi " (a thing honoured) when presented in 
ceremony. Whatever conception of honour a Fijian 
is capable of, it is closely connected with his symbolism. 
The best, as well as the worst, that is in the Fijian 
character, is sealed by the emblems and symbols which 
he uses. Contracts, bargains, promises, forgiveness, 
pleas, treaties, were all confirmed by symbols as 
honoured tokens ; and woe be to the man who continu- 
ally disregarded the obligations thus laid upon him. 
His life would be a misery ; in fact, he could not live 
in a Fijian community. 




So far we have examined the Fijian character as 
expressed in certain religious beliefs, social customs, 
and ceremonial symbols. We shall now study it more 
directly as the outcome of particular social institutions. 

It will be recognised by all who know the Fijian 
that he is a remarkable witness to the power of environ- 
ment. In this chapter we are to find out how the 
growth, or otherwise, of individuality in the native is 
a direct consequence of the society in which he 

There is no nation in the world whose units 
have not a certain degree of individuality. The 
everyday life of even a barbarous village never 
ceases to demand of the lowest members of it those 
actions which, accompanied by pain or pleasure, 
developed the personal sense. Every sane man comes 
at last to be able to say " I," and to fill the word with 
some content. But everyone does not utter the pro- 
noun with the same force or meaning. The clause 
" I am," for instance, implies something vastly different, 
when uttered by the Supreme Deity, from its denotation 
when used by even a really great man. For the 


Former, the phrase indicates purpose, will, knowledge, 
and cause, in infinite plenitude within Himself, and 
for Himself. No mere man, however cultured, could 
put the same intensity into the statement of personal 

And, similarly, the forces of individuality differ 
within the sphere of human experience. People at the 
bottom of the human ladder cannot be expected, 
except by some miracle, to have as much individuality 
as the more highly cultured members of the nation. 
The beliefs, states, and actions of men result from their 
social systems. This is true in our own advanced 
nation. Fortunately, our constitution is elective and 
free, and the ultra-conservatism of barbarous peoples 
is largely obviated. An Englishman is not only acted 
upon by his social environment, but he reacts upon it 
as a voter, and as being free to express publicly his 
views on any subject. He is, in short, able to separate 
himself in thought from surrounding influences, and 
from the standpoint of a spectator, may approve, 
criticise, and judge, to the best of his ability. But 
the like privilege is denied to peoples less advantageously 
situated, and the upshot is that their characters are 
made for them while they themselves do not con- 
sciously create the social life in which they are 

The Fijians are such a people. They do in no way 
take an individual or active part in the formation of 
their society or social institutions. Like all barbarous 
nations they are ardent conservatives. No barrister 

H 2 


ever looked so assiduously for precedents as does the 
Fijian ; and, when he finds them, he clings to them 
most tenaciously. Therefore, progress is slow and 
practically unconscious, as far as his social relationships 
are concerned. He is what his father was. 

It has been noted before in this book that the 
native is born into a social system, the kernel of which 
is the " Mdtanggdli " or clan. The Fijian clan is a 
kind of enlarged family, where all elders are fathers, 
and all juniors are children. Family relationships are 
not very clearly differentiated (so far as authority is 
concerned), from clan relationship. It is no un- 
common occurrence for a distant aunt to beat her 
nephew ; so long as they are of the same mdtanggdli, 
it is considered legitimate enough. Such a thing would 
not be tolerated in an English family. If one of the 
clan be ill, the members of the clan will travel twenty 
or thirty miles on foot to see him, though the sick man 
suffer merely from a mild attack of influenza ; so 
strong are the ties which bind the members together. 

The chief bond of the clan is the memory and cult 
of the Kalou Vn, together with such customs dedicated 
to, or originated by, him. As a rule, the members of a 
clan claim proudly a connection by blood with the 
Kalou Vu. But there are exceptions which are becom- 
ing more numerous at the present time. Men may 
be adopted into the community from another tribe. 
If a man's life should, for any reason, become unpleasant 
in his own clan, he may flee to another, on the condition 
that he shall be naturalised ; that is, he shall accept 


the customs, beliefs, and usages of the people with 
whom he takes refuge, and shall work and fight with 
them. Needless to say, the practice of desertion is 
not very common, because the clan-life is the Fijian's 
chief joy. The most difficult thing in the world 
for him is to separate himself from his own people, 
and live as an exile from them. A Fijian without a 
mdtanggdli is a very rare specimen ; and, if such a 
man could be found, it is usually because all his 
relatives have passed away, and he has become the last 
of his tribe. 

We now pass to the inner life of the mdtanggdli. 
All larger works are carried out by clan-labour. There 
was no such thing in early days as an individual trade. 
Differentiation took place, indeed, to the extent that 
there were evolved both a fisherman-clan and a 
carpenter-clan. These two phratries had great pres- 
tige owing to the secret knowledge and skill which, 
as a body of men, they undoubtedly possessed. But 
a single carpenter living unto himself was a rara avis. 
The carpenter and fisher classes were guilds or cor- 
porate bodies, absolutely exclusive, having their own 
gods and religious usages. Their knowledge was a 
common possession amongst them, and it was taboo 
to reveal it to outsiders. Hence the statement remains 
good, even in respect of them, that all larger works are 
carried out by clan-labour. 

Turning again to the general question, we find that, 
if a house had to be built, the clan did it ; if a large 
canal had to be made, the members of the mdtanggdli, 


or several mdtanggdli, excavated it. And so with 
every other undertaking of importance. 1 

Certain consequences arose from the above-men- 
tioned custom : 

(i) The individual Fijian developed a predilection 
for working in numbers. If he is set to work by 
himself he quickly loses heart, and becomes lackadaisical 
and without interest in his task. But his manner 
becomes immediately enthusiastic and energetic if he 
be allowed to throw in his lot with his fellows. The 
Rev. T. Williams has described very accurately the 
building of a house, and the shouting and leaping, the 
bustle and chatter, which continue without a moment's 
interruption until the work is finished. When the 
house is completed, the builders usually sit down in 
a company and give vent to their feelings of joy and 
satisfaction in one of their native chants accompanied 
by much rhythmic clapping of hands. 

(2) There is produced also in the Fijian charac- 
ter an interdependent spirit. Self-reliance is a very 
evanescent quality amongst the native clansmen. On 
may notice again and again how the individual will be 
influenced now this way, now that, according to the 
opinions he hears expressed by his companions. A 
suggestion made quite casually by one of their number 
will sway the attitude of the whole company, while 
another inadvertent proposition will turn them like 
sheep in the opposite direction. 

1 Throughout Melanesia the people accomplished their tasks 
together. Florence Coombe, " Islands of Enchantment," p. 7. 


Interdependence is most clearly proven by the 
conduct of a Fijian in the face of ridicule or the 
condemnation of his fellows. Mr. J. Stewart (late 
Colonial Secretary of Fiji) gave an instance, in a lecture 
delivered by him in Glasgow, of a man in Viti Levu 
who tried to follow English methods of trading and 
thrifty living. His mdtanggdli turned upon him in 
the most merciless fashion. They boycotted him, and 
so pestered him, that he died from the intensity of his 
humiliation. Mr. Stewart also related, as an instance 
of the strong clan-feeling at the time, that a preacher 
stated on the following Sunday that the culprit was 
squirming in hell for his misdeeds. 

The interdependence of the Fijian is often a source 
of danger in a crisis. For instance, if a sailing vessel 
were to get into difficulties during a gale, it is most 
uncertain what the crew would do unless a chief were 
present. In such a case, everyone speaks, and contrary 
orders are obeyed one by one, or perhaps together, 
until confusion reigns. 

(3) Absolute dependence upon those above him in 
rank plays a large part in the formation of the native's 
character. The chiefs and elders are most powerful, 
and their command, in the early barbarous days, was 
strictly carried out. The Rev. T. Williams states 
that a Fijian is implicitly submissive to the will of 
his chief. 1 This submissiveness was not only bred by 
the constitution of the clan, but was enforced by the 

1 " Fiji and the Fijians," p. 23. 


Of the chiefs, the highest only were exempt from 
the " Vdkarordngo " (submission). The minor ranks 
might be more correctly termed transmitters of 
authoritative commands than originators of them. 

The high chiefs alone, therefore, had an adequate 
opportunity of developing personality or individuality. 
Everything of importance was remitted to them, as 
leaders of the mdtanggdli, for appraisement, judgment, 
or direction ; and the people respectfully accepted and 
approved the final decision. In a meeting of chiefs 
at Bau, R6ko Tiii Mbua stated, " Our people love and 
esteem a strong hand." 1 

The power vested in the chiefs is apparent in the 
right of " Ldla." The land was divided amongst 
the clans or phratries, and it was administered 
within the clan according to the needs of the unit. 
Amongst the clansmen no one could therefore be 
designated " Lackland." No man could be called a 
" Capitalist." 

But the chiefs had no land. King Dhakombau is 
credited by Lord Stanmore with the following, " The 
land and the people are one. We rule both — we own 
neither." The chiefs, in return for services rendered 
in the leadership of the people, receive not land, but 
certain rights and privileges. Amongst these was the 
very ancient right of "Ldla" This custom is the 
privilege extended to the chief, by which he may call 
the clansmen together at a moment's notice, for the 
purpose of carrying out any large undertaking. The 

1 Government Official Report, 26th Nov., 1880. 


right is somewhat like the feudal claims of our own 
early kings and barons. 

Ldla is said to be subdivided into (a) clan ldla ; 
(b) personal ldla. The former was exercised by the 
chief in his position as head of the tribe, generally 
after discussion with his executive. The latter mode 
of ldla is a fungus growth of the legitimate clan-rights 
of the chief, and was enforced by club-law if disobeyed. 

Personal ldla has been the fruitful cause of great 
trouble amongst the people of these islands. The 
population are just beginning to distinguish more 
clearly works that are for the benefit of the community, 
such as roads, bridges, etc., from arbitrary service to 
the chief, and they are consequently claiming their 
rights from the British Government. It is no un- 
common thing to hear in the district councils strong 
protests against the acquirement of wealth and man- 
power by unreasonable and oppressive demands on 
the part of the chiefs. 

When Fiji was ceded to England several councils 
were held in the 'seventies and 'eighties, and the 
representatives of the British Government met the 
chiefs for the purpose of adjusting the relationship of 
the new colony to the Empire. The proceedings of 
these meetings have been printed in an official blue- 
book, and are therefore accurate. The following 
extracts are taken from these reports in order to throw 
some light on the true nature of ldla. When the 
custom of ldla came up for discussion, there was some 
disposition to abolish it. The proposal met with strong 


opposition on the part of the chiefs. Roko Tui Mbiia 
said, " Individuality of house-building is a mistake 
altogether ; no one can build his own house, and the 
responsibility of it is too much for him." x Such is 
the chief's idea of the capacity of his people. He goes 
on to say, " If a man has no more food than is sufficient 
for himself, it is impossible to provide food for those 
engaged to build the house." 

Speaking in the council at Ndraimba, Tui Lakemba, 
a high notability, argued as follows, " Who of himself 
can build a good house ? And who desires to see a 
town with nothing but small and bad houses in it ? 
Whoever heard of a man who plants a garden by 
himself, and whose family always has plenty to eat ? 
Do not we Fijians do things in companies ? How 
could one man build his house, and plant his garden, 
and build his canoe, and sail it all alone ? " Then 
followed the strong assertion, " To do this we must 
cease to be Fijians." 2 From his standpoint he was 
perfectly correct. 

A hot discussion followed. Roko Tui TaileVu 
remarked, " Now, if British custom is to be substituted 
for a respectful obedience to chiefs, as we have heard 
it is done in some places, can a greater evil happen ? 
Does good ever come of an impudent, disobedient 
child ? It will be the same with the people of the 
land if disobedience and disrespect to chiefs be 
allowed." He went on to say, " Chiefs ! There will 

1 Government Official Report, 23rd Dec, 1875. 
'Government Official Report, Sept. 1875. 


soon be none of them, and our people will soon be 
in the most deplorable and pitiable condition, as 
children without parents." 

One more quotation may be given. Roko Tui Lau 
said, " But should it become law that all men are to 
be free to follow their own minds and pleasures, then 
chieftain's authority and position come to an end, and 
' Vdka-Piritania ' (British custom) commences." x 

The preceding quotations give an insight into the 
actual relationship existing between chiefs and people. 
They also make very clear that the people were like 
" dumb, driven cattle." A remark of the Roko Tui 
Nam6si is very apt in this connection, " Our people 
still wait for the chiefs' bidding in all that they do." 

These discussions took place over forty years ago ; 
and so strongly entrenched was the chiefly authority 
that the ancient power is still exercised. Under 
British rule there are signs, however, of the growth of 
individuality in the native character. As we have 
already noted, they are beginning to bring charges 
of injustice and oppression against their chiefs in the 
annual councils. 

The old custom of lala is a sign of immaturity. 
Yet it brings with it certain advantages. It ensures 
celerity in the execution of any work that may be 
taken in hand. A private individual in Fiji would 
have to wait an indefinite time for the opportunity of 
engaging men. This would cause him very great 
inconvenience. Again, the swiftness of house-building 

1 Ibid. 

108 FIJIAN SOCIETY ch. xi 

was undoubtedly a great benefit to ordinary native 
folk, especially in the rainy season, since a house could 
be erected by a clan in a few days. Also, in a land where 
lifting appliances were scarcely known, the old regime 
was perhaps the only effectual way in which lightness 
of labour could be achieved. Another advantage 
secured was that the best wisdom of the tribe was 
placed at the disposal of the humblest member of the 
community. Great cohesion also resulted, for the 
clan worked as a unit. The Fijian clan is, so to speak, 
a single cell. 



From the previous chapter it can be inferred that 
the clan tends to create a dull uniformity within itself. 
The sparkling vivacity of a more civilised community 
is markedly absent. Any attempt on the part of a 
single individual to be different from the other mem- 
bers of the tribe meets with universal disfavour. No 
man must be better housed than his fellows, except, of 
course, the chiefs, who usually have fairly well-built 
places of residence. It is just at this point where the 
fallacy of the chiefs' arguments in favour of the old 
order appears. Nothing is more certain than that, 
if greater freedom were allowed for individual initiative, 
there would be more rapid development in the mental 
calibre of the Fijian ; and mental growth is a most 
important condition of social success. 

Individualism has had to fight for its existence in 
Fiji, as, perhaps, in no other community. Under the 
ancient system of communism there was no room for 
personal initiative. Want of time was one main 
obstacle, and public opinion another. Were a man 
to begin a scheme on his own account, his services 
would soon be required elsewhere by the programme 


of communal work. At the present time he is required 
by that programme (fixed now by the Government) 
to work upon all sorts of undertakings. The Fijian 
is a " Jack of all trades " : specialists are a rarity. 

The development of individual perseverance has a 
heavy embargo placed upon it, because there is no 
inducement or reward for industry in any one direction. 
That which the native acquires by toil or personal 
venture is liable at any moment to be taken from him 
by an unscrupulous chief or covetous relatives. At 
the present moment, the man who has been paid off 
after having finished some work will be given no rest 
(unless he resolutely hides his pay) until the money 
is expended. Money and the most movable goods are, 
to a certain extent, looked upon as common property. 
A pair of trousers, for instance, have been known to 
go the round of a village, until they were worn out. 

Proceeding with the discussion, we discover not only 
the absence of inducement to individual enterprise in 
a Fijian community, but also that the Fijian has not 
yet risen to the point when he can realise the possi- 
bility of a noble personal idea to be approached by 
and through his own endeavour. A man who wishes 
to progress may forgo monetary consideration as a 
stimulus to perseverance, but he may not ignore the 
impetus to be gained by setting up the ideal of high 
character. For a Fijian to conceive such a goal of 
character, and to attempt to realise it in daily life, 
would be to bring him into such isolation that only 
the very few have been found to make it their aim. 


The words of Mr. L. T. Hobhouse are remarkably 
applicable to the case of the Fijian. " Individual 
conduct is often determined by compulsion of law or 
custom, not conception of good." x This is not to 
say that the South Sea Islander is barren of plans 
and schemes. On the other hand, it may be truly 
said that he is rather an adept in both. What is 
becoming more and more necessary to him, if he 
is to grow in individuality, perseverance and purpose, is 
an ideal of life which would act as a binding and 
governing principle, as well as an inspiration, in all 
his attempts to progress. Unfortunately, obedience, 
not purpose, seems to be the distinguishing trait of the 
Fijians' character. 

In the case of the chieftains, who have had, as a 
rule, everything their own way, and who have been 
for so many centuries the brains of the clan, one would 
have expected of them something like individuality. 
And indeed, many of them have strong personalities ; 
but, on account of the fact that they found little 
opposition from their people, they have produced in 
their temperament much of arrogance, pride, and 
childish vanity. 

Therefore, though a change from the communal 
system would apparently be a loss in authority to these 
island chiefs, they would have, in the introduction of 
a freer social organisation, a better opportunity for the 
development of both their own characters and the 
characters of the people who live under their rule. 

1 " Morals in Evolution," vol. i, p. 22. 


As a matter of fact, a newer state is being quickly 
ushered in. In the march of events nothing will pre- 
vent this. If it were advisable to keep the native in his 
unsophisticated state, it would be impossible. He is 
even now in a state of transition, and, in many cases, 
is showing an adaptability altogether admirable. Native 
captains of cutters, Government officials, mission 
teachers, medical practitioners, and others travel over 
the Group to their various appointments, thus causing 
an interchange of thought and a breakdown of local 
and artificial barriers between towns and communities, 
to which experience they themselves were formerly 
strangers. Hitherto the people, like the Tongans, 
were intensely tribal, and intercourse between them 
was largely restricted by jealousy, mistrust, or lack 
of psychological affinity. 

But now, men are sent away from their own tribe, 
away from the interdependent life of the phratry, 
and are so forced to act according to their personal 
knowledge and capacity. The result is that some very 
good types of manly character have been developed 
and they are a proof that the Fijians would probably 
survive the dangers of a complete transition from their 
present social system to one more in keeping with a 
scientific conception of what is needed to produce a 
strong individuality. 

Those chiefs who have come much in contact with 
white people have received with the evils of civilisation 
certain mental benefits. Dhakombau was a powerful 
individual, capable and ready to execute both good and 


bad deeds of the extreme order. His capacity for 
thought was exceptionally good, and he is credited with 
uttering some fine things which could not altogether 
be the product of a purely barbarous training. On 
one occasion he was discussing electricity. " Ah, yes," 
he said, " you white men are great in your discoveries. 
There is a screen between this world and the land of 
all knowledge, and you have scratched it so thin that 
you can almost see through. I should have thought 
you were immortal gods, but — you die." 

Those chiefs, on the other hand, who have been led 
into the evils of our own civilisation without assimilating 
its great educational and social advantages, quickly 
become wrecks on the sands of time. And there are 
many pathetic instances where men, who might have 
been notable leaders of their people, have prostituted 
their opportunities by foolish and criminal self- 
indulgence. Freedom without self-control caused 
their utter ruin. Those, therefore, who seek the good 
of the people of the Fiji Islands, will not advocate 
sudden and drastic changes at the present time. In 
the solution of this problem, the more hurry, the less 
speed. On the other hand, it would be equally foolish 
to refuse to support any reform which had a reasonable 
ground of success. 

The peculiar character resulting from his institutions 
is no more plainly seen than in the way the Fijian's 
conversion to Christianity took place. The writer has 
seen them converted by scores and hundreds. As 
they work in companies, so also they tend to keep 



together in their religious life and custom. One feels, 
however, that intensity of purpose is in an inverse 
ratio to the numbers who accept the Gospel. Intensity 
of conviction will never increase until education and a 
change of social organisation bring about more in- 
dependent belief and action. The denouement will be 
far more satisfactory in that case, even though it should 
result in a decrease in the number of conversions. 
One specific good, however, results from mass- 
conversion ; that is, the people become voluntary 
pupils in a religious school, where they gain teaching 
well-calculated to inspire in them an ideal of life worthy 
of the name. Hence it would appear that the sanest 
course of procedure for those whose business it is 
must lie in the direction of careful, painstaking tuition 
of the native mind. 

The religious psychology of the Fijians after con- 
version to Christianity reveals the peculiar features to 
which we have so constantly referred. All have 
volubility in preaching. As all can join in the building 
of a house, so each seems to think that he is able to 
preach. It is doubtful whether one male Christian 
could be found who could not fill in ten minutes or a 
quarter of an hour with a sermonette. There are 
certain ideas which seem to have become the common 
property of the clan-mind on which he can always 
fall back with the certainty of getting an attentive 
hearing. In view of this, there is a remarkable same- 
ness in the native preachers' public addresses. 

Words and phrases fall into grooves, as is natural 


where there is a paucity of ideas and a multitude of 
words. In the training of preachers, the greatest 
difficulty is found in bestirring them to think for 
themselves. By dint of perseverance and careful 
tuition, some impression is made, and there is every 
reason to believe that, in the future, volubility will 
decrease, and originality of thought and utterance will 
increase. Thus a superior type of oratory will gradually 
evolve, and a more effective class of public speaker 
will be differentiated from the inferior example which 
occupies the village churches at the present time. 

As to style in public utterances, it may be said that 
the native is, almost without exception, an adept in 
drawing analogies and interpreting allegory. Philo- 
sophical thought, which presupposes differentiation in 
mental experience and activity, is absent. 

The conclusions we arrive at are that a communal 
system such as that which obtains in Fiji induces 
monotony in the subjects' life and character, and also 
in /their mental and religious outlook, and that, so 
long as the constitution of society continues as it is, 
so long will the growth of individuality and personality 
be slow. The absence of conflict of any kind what- 
soever is seriously detrimental to the best interests of 
the race. Finally, we infer that if a free social life 
could be gradually instituted, the dangers of incidental 
catastrophes resulting from transition would probably 
be outbalanced by the gain in depth of character and 
intensity of personality. 

I 2 



Pursuing the method used in the study of in- 
dividuality in the islander, we shall examine the 
morality of the Fijian as a consequence of his environ- 
ment. Many people are led by erroneous or narrow 
conceptions of social life in general to forget that the 
Fijian's past is crystallised in his present social 
surroundings, and they proceed forthwith to pronounce 
judgment upon him as if he had had the same history 
as a European. The diagnoses of such people are, 
therefore, often unjust, caustic, and unscientific. For 
they take single threads of his character, and judge 
therefrom the warp and woof and all. But mercy 
comes with knowledge, and knowledge results from 
scientific study of the race in question. 

It is not proposed to seek Fijian ethics in his 
barbarous religion ; for his religious experiences were 
peculiarly unethical. In the after-life of the soul, he 
saw no irresistible law of retribution working out man's 
destiny. The nearest to such a law that he could 
realise was the unpardonable sin of being a bachelor. 

ch. xiii MORAL CHARACTER 117 

A bachelor was slain at the river of death by Nangga- 
nangga. " This was the second death." From some 
tribes, as in Kandavu, there are hints of certain tests 
being applied to those suspected of meanness and lying. 
The soul of the dead man was supposed to pass at 
one place through two great rocks which ground 
closely one against the other. He who passed through 
scathless was thereby proven to be a brave man. At 
another place the soul was tossed by four people, from 
a sheet, high in the air. If he were not carried away 
by strong winds he would be accounted a truly generous 
man, and would be allowed to pass on his way. 

Compensation certainly accrued to valour, but valour 
itself was interpreted in terms of cruelty. The better 
land was open to all who obeyed the customs of their 
people here on earth. In fact, the heavenly country 
was merely a kinematographic view of the social life 
surrounding the native while living, photographed on 
the mind by usage, and vivified by imagination and 
emotion. Indeed, a moral retribution theory which 
was to take effect in an after-life would have little 
influence upon these people, because events far in the 
future were misty and unreal to them. The heavenly 
country was not a fact far away, but a present existence. 
It was a continuation of the present, earthly life. 
Generally, social status remained the same in the here- 
after as now. It was not possible for a commoner to 
join the ranks of the aristocracy in that other land. A 
high chief had every prospect of a noble apotheosis, 
while a commoner had to put up with the best position 


he could find. There is nothing ethical, therefore, in 
the relationship existing between the native and his 

The beginnings of morality may, however, be dimly 
traced by examining certain aspects of his social life, 
and by noting some definite results which are to be 
seen by the close observer. 

One of these aspects is the system of " Kerekere " 
(Fijian begging). 

The clan is a commune in which real and personal 
property are clearly distinguished. Land, for instance, 
is, as in all countries, real estate, but is looked upon 
as fundamentally the property of the clan. Each man 
has his allotment and he is supposed to use it. If he 
neglects to do so, another individual, by the consent 
of the mdtanggdlt, puts it to some good purpose. No 
man is at liberty to alienate his portion. Should he 
die without issue, the land reverts to the clan to be 
again apportioned as they think best. Houses, like- 
wise, cannot be sold, as the clan works in the construc- 
tion of them. Some high chiefs claim that they have 
the right to sell land, but in some cases recently, when 
the chief has done so on his own authority, the people 
have taken the law into their own hands, and have 
caused a considerable amount of unrest. 

Personal property is respected to a limited extent. 
By personal property is meant those goods which the 
member of a clan has made or produced in his spare 
time ; such goods include mats, pottery, nets, salt, and 
the like. These possessions may be alienated, and are 



often bartered away at what is called the " Solevu" 
On such an occasion, one town will arrange with another 
for an exchange of goods. The people from one 
community will bring, for example, pigs or mats, which 
they will exchange for pottery or salt made by the 
inhabitants of the other town. At an appointed place, 
the exchange is made without hurry, with much 
preparatory ceremony, and amidst unlimited feasting, 
rejoicing, and hilarity. 

Within the clan, personal property is not held by 
any individual in the same sense as we understand 
ownership. All the members of the clan have a certain 
lien upon the goods belonging to any one of their 
number. Clearly the Fijian has made but one step 
from absolute communism of goods. 1 

The chiefs, aided by their quasi -feudal powers, have 
a perfect right to confiscate a pig or a mat, if the 
transaction be ostensibly for the good of the tribe. 
The owner may show his disapproval by keeping 
silence, but he dare not refuse the chief if he would 
keep his good character of being a kindly-spirited and 
generous man. Such a demand on the part of the chief 
implies a certain compensatory privilege of the owner 
of the property to come to his superior at some later 
time with a petition for a return boon. Amongst the 
members of a tribe or clan a man may, if he should 
desire something belonging to another, lay a request 

1 In New Britain private property is much more clearly recognised. 
See a paper by Rev. B. Danks, Aust. Assoc, for the Advancement of 
Science (1910), p. 456. 


for it ; and, just as in the instance above, the owner 
of the article is bound by the customs of his people 
to give it to the one who wants it. The custom is 
called " Kereke're." This system is the chief means 
of exchange within the tribe, and it is of such a nature 
that it has not reached the form of barter. " The 
Kereke're" says Mr. J. Stewart, " is like the borrowing 
of jewellery from the Egyptians when the Israelites 
were preparing to depart." x He adds, "It is the 
first stage of evolution in which the proprietary unit 
was the tribe." So then, when a Fijian says of an 
article, "It is mine," he has far less meaning in the 
phrase than we usually put into it. We understand 
by the first personal possessive pronoun that no man 
has legal right to appropriate, claim, or use our pro- 
perty without our consent. When a Fijian uses the 
phrase, he cannot mean by it any more than that an 
article is his until someone, whose influence he dares 
not disregard, begs it. This is far from being a 
distinction without a difference. 

Mr. Stewart called the Kereke're " a terrible weapon 
in the hands of the idle or indolent." The latter class 
know that their fellows cannot very well refuse their 
petitions if they would maintain their good character. 
The same gentleman further says, " if he (the Fijian) 
does refuse, he becomes the victim of an organised 

The truth of these words must be accentuated here. 
The whole tendency of Ke'rike're is to create an idle 

1 Glasgow Lecture, 1898. 


class. And not only so, but the general temperamental 
attitude of the Fijian people is, that they lean too much 
to one another, and lose therein that peculiar upright- 
ness belonging to a man who depends primarily on his 
own resources. A man in Fiji may be so negligent 
that his garden becomes overgrown ; yet this need 
not trouble him very much, as he can always have 
recourse to the Kerekere ; that is, he can beg in the 
customary and approved manner. From the ease 
with which their exhausted stock is thus replenished, 
many men yield to the temptation to habitual idleness 
and improvidence. 

Moreover, the system opens the door to all kinds 
of schemes for over-reaching one's neighbour. 1 
Covetousness becomes a bugbear of native society. 
I asked a superior Fijian the following questions 
dealing with the matter. His answers were naive 
enough to satisfy the most critical examiner. 

" Do people, as a rule, beg large things ? ' ; 

Ans. — " Such goods as cups, plates, tables, food, 
are convenient things to ask for." 

" If a man ke'rekeres from you, do you make a point of 
remembering that he has done so ? " 

Ans—" That I do. Just wait a little while, and I 
will go straight to that man who keeps asking things 
from me." 

" Do you ever forget ? " 

Ans.— " Never." 

1 Sir Everard Im Thurn states that Kirtkdrl brings with it no 
shame to the Fijians. Med. Journ. of A 11st., Sept. 26th, 1914, p. 299. 


" Suppose you go to him and he refuses to give, 
what then ? " 

Ans. — " The friendship is over." 

" When you ask for an article do you know that it 
means you are placed under a debt to that man ? " 

Ans.— " Yes." 

" Do you try to get the better of the other man ? " 

Ans. — " Yes, I always try to get the better of him." 

We are prepared, by the answers given, to accept 
as true the following statement from Mr. Stewart's lec- 
ture : " The wealth of the Fijian consists in the number 
of persons from whom he can beg." It is also manifest 
that a rogue could very simply over-reach his more 
ingenuous fellow, because there is no accepted standard 
of valuation. The circumstances in which a man is 
placed determine very often the willingness with which 
he parts with an article. The absence of a recognised 
standard of values has an important bearing, therefore, 
on the moral character of the native. Just as it is 
difficult for him to value an article of commerce, so he is 
unfitted to appreciate accurately the difference between 
moral values. 

While there are some men in Fiji who are really 
generous and will ofttimes seal friendship with gifts, 
many, on the other hand, make friendship a means 
by which they impose upon the more industrious. 

Some amusing illustrations may be given of the 
Kerekere. A man received a loin-cloth as a present 
from a European. Some little time had elapsed when 
he came back to the donor and asked for a second 


cloth, giving as his reason that his relative had come 
and taken the first one. Naturally, the donor inquired 
why he had given it to his relative. " Oh," said he, 
" I had already got his coat." 

A Fijian carpenter was working for me, and having 
finished his task, received the money and departed. 
A youth belonging to the same clan came to me a 
short time afterwards, and asked, " Has Ratu Tavua 
gone ? " I replied in the affirmative, and queried, " Do 
you want him ? " " Indeed I do," answered he, 
" I want to get his money." The answer from his 
point of view had no humour in it, and was quite in 
harmony with the accepted system of Kerekere. 

The Kerekere takes away the wholesome fear of 
debt, a fact which has a detrimental effect upon the 
native character. A Fijian will never exert himself 
to discharge obligations which are due to fellow- 
members of his clan. 

It is not indeed surprising that the people cling to 
the custom. By its use they know that they can never 
become absolutely destitute, and are loth to give it 
up for another system which they cannot properly 
understand. They see in it, too, a safeguard against 
the rise of rich men, which, in the opinion of the 
native, is no small gain. A rich man is an irresistible 
challenge to their natural covetousness. The chiefs, 
when questioned about its abolition, said, " Why should 
one man be richer than another ? " The suspicion 
arises immediately in our minds that the chiefs were 
not so altruistic as their words make them to appear. 

124 FIJIAN SOCIETY ch. xiii 

Enough has been said to show that here is a key to the 
present moral character of the Fijian. It has been 
stated by some that the native is lax in his dealings. 
How could it be otherwise ? Is he not the result of 
his past ? It would be strange indeed if he did not 
tend to limpness in his principles, or if he were not 
easily led into deceit. The Fijian is kindly enough, 
affectionate also after his own manner. But one of 
the greatest difficulties which the missionary faces is 
the task of stiffening the natives' moral backbone, and 
inculcating the bracing principles of commercial 
uprightness which the best Europeans hold so dear. 


moral character — continued 

Taboo, and the Growth of Conscience 

The early custom of Taboo was exceptionally com- 
plete in Fiji. The multiplicity of its ramifications 
may be read at leisure in the Rev. Thos. Williams's 
book. 1 

There were two kinds of taboo, (a) things which 
were taboo in themselves and were always so ; (b) things 
which were made taboo by chiefs or owners of property. 

In the taboo itself there is nothing ethical. A man 
desires to save his cocoa-nuts or yams for a special 
purpose, and fixes up a taboo-symbol, which is supposed 
to be endued with supernatural or magical power. 
Evidently no moral principle is embodied in it. The 
owner acts from a purely egoistic motive, and en- 
deavours to attain his end by acting upon the super- 
stitious and personal fears of his fellows. 

But the taboo in its outward effects upon society 
becomes a splendid preparation for the building up of 
a good character in a later stage of development. 
F. B. Jevons states that the present-day moral senti- 

1 " Fiji and the Fijians," pp. 196-199. 



ments get their strength from taboo. 1 The question 
therefore arises how taboo becomes, in the process of 
time, the basis of morality. 

One of the necessary conditions of moral growth is 
that a society shall be formed with common interests. 
But this truth has another side to it, for common 
interests imply that the members of the society shall, 
to a certain extent, think of the interests of others. 
It is only thus that morality is revealed in its noblest 
beauty. Given a company of men who distinguish 
themselves as personalities from the society in which 
they dwell, and from the persons who go to compose 
that society, feelings of mutual obligation tend to arise 
as a natural means by which the existence of the 
social organisation is secured. The moral " ought " 
has no reference to one's private instincts or passions 
as the ultimate rule of conduct, but rather to a law 
which is observable only in a society of men who have 
learned to distinguish themselves from each other, 
and yet who feel that their own safety depends upon 
their interdependence within the society, and upon the 
way in which their common interests are established. 
In a word, the moral " ought " is practically born in 
society, and is a generalisation from primitive and 
unethical obligations which have been imposed 
upon the members of the clan in such a system as 

In the custom of taboo there grows up irresistibly 
a general sense of obligation to others. If a man 

1 " Introduction to Hist, of Religion," p. 85. 


should place a taboo on an article, he must feel a need 
of that article. His motive in trying to save it may be 
entirely selfish. But, without examining critically the 
quality of his motive, his fellows within the clan 
would tend to respect it, if it were for no other reason 
than that they themselves had needs, which they, in 
their turn, desired to be supplied. Consequently, a 
dim respect for the need of the person setting the taboo 
mingles in their minds with the more powerful fear 
of evil accruing to them if they were to break the 
magical sanction. 

When such a taboo is placed on the fruits of a crop 
or upon the honest product of labour, it comes to be 
looked upon as reasonable. The producer grew the 
vegetables, therefore he has a greater right to them 
than to articles upon which he bestowed no time or 
labour. In this way a discussion occurs in the bar- 
barian mind which begins to have a truly moral 

Differentiation takes place in taboo. For instance, 
the sense of obligation is more intense when the man 
who sets the taboo has a natural right, or has established 
a right, to property by bestowing labour upon it, than 
in the case where a man has arbitrarily laid claim to the 
article in question. The extent of differentiation 
depends, therefore, on the amount of original labour 
bestowed upon the property. The sense of justice 
begins to make itself felt. A conception of injustice 
would develop where a taboo was unreasonably placed 
on anything ; that is, where it was laid upon an article 


having no customary or visible connection with the 
author of the taboo. 

But, again, if a taboo be broken, the offender is 
affected psychologically by his fear, so that he suffers 
bodily and mentally on account of it. In his ignorance 
he immediately thinks that he is the subject of an 
invisible influence which is magical and irresistible 
in its work. 

Consequently the taboo has a religious aspect as 
well, especially when a taboo is set by a priest. There is 
then unconsciously inculcated a fearful reverence for 
supernatural sanctions, which reverence, in its better 
form, is eminently useful when religion becomes more 
ethical. So the missionary finds that when he taboos 
anything it is looked upon as religiously sacred. The 
Bible becomes taboo and likewise the Sabbath Day, 
and both the Book and the Day are held in greater 
respect in Fiji than either in Europe or Australia. The 
apocalyptic Mount Sion is sacred in the same way. 
The sanctity of this religious taboo is broken when 
either the people disobey the precepts of the Bible, 
desecrate the Sabbath, or ignore the claims of the 
Better Land. 

Unfortunately, that which is an aid to morality in 
some respects becomes a hindrance in others. For it 
is most difficult to get the Fijians to change the old, 
absolute idea of the taboo, for something which is 
more rational and adaptable. There is attaching to 
the Sabbath and the Bible something of a magical 
character, which gives rise to many unnecessary small 


questions of casuistry. The missionary needs to be a 
master in the art of deciding so-called questions of 

Still it is in Fiji that one can enjoy the Sabbath, for 
on that day scarce a sail is seen on the blue-green 
waters, nor does a spade touch soil ; the sound of the 
axe is not heard in the deep woods. If the native 
Christian is pharisaical to the point of refusing to pull 
a fruit from the tree, or eat a fish caught on Sunday, 
he does not, on the other hand, make the sacred season 
hideous with carousal, or secularise it until it loses 
altogether its religious significance. It is taboo. 



The Fijian is a model of good manners. It has 
been mentioned that he is ceremonious to a fault. 
As a supplement to that phase of his mental make-up 
we may say that he is amongst the most courteous of 
the South Sea Island peoples. 

Fijian courtesy, however, is shown most carefully 
to those of high rank, and but indifferently to those of 
lower station. Good manners are the Fijians' ex- 
pression of their reverence for the chieftains. The 
more we examine the ways in which etiquette shows 
itself, the more accurate does the foregoing statement 

It would be well-nigh impossible to exhaust the list 
of good manners, but the following will give a good 
idea of what it means to be " gentlemanly " in the 
Fiji Group. 

The native deems it bad manners to intrude upon the 
sleep of a chief or white man. I have had the greatest 
difficulty in inducing him to awaken me in the early 
morning, even when it was necessary. When he did 
so it was with a soft, low call, which was scarcely 
calculated to awaken a heavy sleeper. 

ch. xv ETIQUETTE 131 

When two men meet in the pathway, the inferior 
stands on one side till the other passes. In addition, 
if the chief be very high in rank, the commoner will 
crouch to the ground, and utter a curious cry called 
the " tdma." The same practice is observed when a 
superior overtakes an inferior. In case of necessity, 
the inferior will apologise in words such as the follow- 
ing, " Au sa vdsale'vu, sdka " (I am impudent, sir), 
while he proceeds ahead. The peculiar Fijian greeting 
of chiefs called the " tdma " is almost a cry. A Fijian 
authority thus describes it : — 

" The ' tdma ' was different in different lands. At 
Mbau the ' tdma ' of the men was thus — ' Mundiio-O.' 
But the women, if there were many together and 
Rdndi ni Mbau 1 or Rdndi Levuka 2 approached, they 
would ' tdma ' thus : ' Mdinavdkandu-A.' But if any 
woman were going alone, and met a lady, she would 
1 tdma * thus : ' Vita.' The meaning of the ' tdma ' 
is the morning salutation ; it is impossible for the 
commoners to say ' Sa ydndra ' to the chief, they 
1 tdma ' instead. But should they meet after sunset or 
when it is night, they say thus : ' Sa mbdngi, sdka ' 
(it is night, sir). No man may ' tdma ' twice, it 
would be the same as deriding the chief. Chiefs do 
not ' tdma ' to chiefs. The women do not ' tdma ' 
to chiefs, and men do not ' tdma * to ladies." 3 

The greeting of a commoner to a chief in Lau 
when night approaches is the very essence of courtliness. 

1 Chief lady of Mbau. "Chief lady of Levuka. 

8 Transactions of the Fijian Society, 1911. 

K 2 

i 3 2 FIJIAN SOCIETY chap 

A man would not say " Sa modhe " (sleep), as he 
would greet his equal, but would make use of the 
phrase, " Sa dhiri na vesi." Literally this would mean, 
" the vesi 1 drifts away." 

In Kandavu, if a chief is sitting down, no one 
should pass behind him, or step over his legs when 
they are stretched out before him. 2 A commoner will 
not pass him in the pathway, or in a canoe at sea, 
without apologising. To impede the chief's progress 
is considered the height of ill-breeding. 

The Rewa chiefs have a special kind of respect paid 
to them. A commoner must not on any account carry 
anything on the shoulder past their houses, nor is he 
allowed to go by the chief's residence with an umbrella 
open, or with any kind of sunshade. It is taboo also 
for a canoe to approach the chiefly town with the 
outrigger inshore, nor is it any less taboo for a man 
to appear in the presence of his superiors with a 
towel or any garment about his shoulders. Probably 
the latter custom is breaking down now that European 
singlets are being worn by the natives. 

Mbau, which is the residence of the highest chiefs 
in Fiji, is naturally full of Fijian scruples with regard 
to etiquette. Should a chief be sitting upon the mats 
in his house, no one may pass him without uttering 
the word " tilou." If his back be towards the entrance, 
a stranger would not dream of proceeding into the 

1 The greenheart tree (Afzelia bijuga, A. Gray), the most highly- 
valued wood in the Fijian forest. 

* In Samoa no one dares to step over the legs of a chief. Capt. 
J. R. Erskine, " Western Pacific Islands," p. 49. 


midst of the house, neither would anyone touch an 
article in the house, without afterwards sitting down 
and clapping his hands. The name of this practice 
is " Dhombo." In some places the underlings clap 
their hips. The origin of the latter custom is said to 
be that it proved in more savage times the absence 
of weapons. The same clapping of hands goes on 
when the superior has finished eating. An equal 
would not feel the necessity of clapping. Sitting on 
the door-step would not be tolerated a moment by 
anyone of chiefly rank. 

Corroborative evidence from a native of Mbau is 
worth inserting here. Ndeve Tonganivalu, in an 
article written for the Fijian Society in Suva, says : — 

" Certain customs were unlawful (tdmbu) to be done 
at Mbau. (a) Having empty bows. If a canoe were 
being poled to Mbau it was ' tdmbu ' for the bows to 
be empty : if there were no one in the bows it would 
be stoned out to sea. (b) Being outrigger towards. 
It was ' tdmbu ' for the outrigger of canoes to be 
turned towards the land when being poled by the 
town, (c) It was ' tdmbu ' for the ' uluvuso ' (the 
foaming bow) to be presented towards the land when 
a sailing canoe arrived at Mbau. (d) It was ' tdmbu ' 
for any canoe to have a flag, unless there was a chief 
on board, (e) It was ' tdmbu ' to wear a train. 
(/) It was ' tdmbu ' to use the fan palm frond as an 
umbrella, (g) It was ' tdmbu ' to wear a shoulder 
scarf. All these things were unlawful to be done at 
Mbau ; they were lawful (tdra) to be done only by 


the high chiefs, and by those who were great ' vdsu * 
to Mbau." 1 

The drinking of the yanggona has given rise to 
certain customs of etiquette. No man is allowed to 
lie down while the chief drinks the liquor. During 
the ceremony, when one of the number assembled 
desires to cross to the other side of the house, he must 
first of all touch the rim of the dish which holds the 
yanggona, or the rope by which the dish is usually 
hung up, and then pass over. 

Many of the above customs are to be found in other 

parts of Fiji ; and generally throughout the Group 

the natives give honour wherever it is due. In their 

ordinary conversation one will hear the Fijian equivalent 

of " sir " constantly used. Strong language is not 

heard except when a man is very angry. Men count 

it a great shame to be insulted in conversation, and 

they would sooner receive a blow than be called by 

any one o^ the vile epithets which an angry Fijian 

knows so well how to use. Another great insult is 

to be pointed at with the index finger. I have been in a 

house when a man, who was usually mild in his manner, 

spoke most angrily to another who had treated him so. 

Men speak little with married women. If they were 

to do so, probably a scandal would immediately arise. 

An additional phase of Fijian courtesy is their great 

unwillingness to break news which might be unwelcome. 

And, if one were to report to another good news, the 

latter would assume an air of innocence so as to give 

1 Transactions of the Fijian Society, 191 1. 


the former the pleasure of conveying the pleasant 
information. It is reported that when the Rev. J. 
Carey went to the chief Tuiniyau with pleasant news, 
the latter, though he had heard it six days beforehand, 
would not think of telling this to the missionary, 
11 Because," said he, " I would not be so disrespectful." 
He thought it would not please Mr. Carey if that 
gentleman found he was the bearer of second-hand 
reports. It is an integral part of their courtesy that 
the Fijians shall not tell to one another, face to face, 
what would be likely either to give pain or lessen joy. 

Now the fact just mentioned has wide-reaching results, 
since the native is often led thereby to sacrifice truth to 
courtesy. Prof. Macmillan Brown, in a lecture on the 
Chinese, said that they were a raceof liars. 1 The following 
sentence is an extract from the newspaper report of his 
lecture : " The Orientals, even the most intellectual 
and wisest, were satisfied with illusions. They found no 
shame in lying, and, in fact, found it rather meritorious." 
Mr. Hobhouse reports the same of the Yahgans of 
Tierra del Fuego. The like character is attributed 
to the ancient Greeks, who considered a lie to be 
rather clever, provided it was not found out. Many 
people have said the same of the Fijians. It is perhaps 
true that they are an explicit example of the doctrine 
of extreme mental reservation. 

They lie, yet it may be doubted whether they lie 
always in our sense of the term ; that is, it is to be 
questioned if they deliberately lie from an immoral 

1 Lecture delivered in Sydney, 1908. 


motive. I am convinced that their inordinate love of 
courtesy, and their diplomatic form of etiquette, are 
at the root of many of their evasions and misstatements, 
and the fact that they consider it no shame to sacrifice 
truth to good manners may be attributed to their love 
of standing well with their fellow-men. 

D plomacy was demonstrated in clever cock-and- 
bull stories which the chief's messengers were in the 
habit of inventing. Suppose a message is to be 
delivered to a chief ; if there be others in the room the 
messenger will concoct a most plausible tale with not 
an atom of truth in it, really for the consumption of 
those whose business it was not, lest his master should 
be brought to shame, or be injured politically. 
" Adroitness in lying is attained by the constant use 
made of it to conceal the schemes and plots of the chiefs, 
to whom a really clever liar is a valuable acquisition." * 
It was virtue for a messenger thus to hide the truth ; 
and he was reckoned the cleverest who could dissemble 
the best. 

Fijians will not divulge one another's private business. 
To do so would be very bad manners. An amusing 
illustration of this fact occurred some time ago at the 
Mission station in Kandavu. One of my boys wished 
to go to his town, and another lad told me of it. When 
I questioned my informant as to the reason, he said 
he did not know, at the same time assuming a most 
unin tlligent aspect. I then called the boy in, and 
inquired of him personally the reason of his desire to 

1 Rev. Thos. Williams, " Fiji and the Fijians," p. 107. 


return home. But he remained silent. Thereupon 
his companion, who had already said he did not know, 
took a kind of tacit permission from the silence of his 
friend and said, " Allow me to explain, sir. He 
wants to get married." He could not have told me this 
piece of news until it was obvious that his friend was 
in a dilemma. The foregoing characteristic is not 
exclusively Fij'an. Dr. Nassau, speaking of the Mi 
Amie people in Africa, states that where they say 
" I don't know," when they do know, it is not with 
them a lie in the strongest sense of the term. It 
means simply, " I am not at liberty to tell." The 
illustration given above shows that no great sense of 
condemnation attaches to a negative answer advanced 
in place of a positive one, if diplomacy or courtesy 
countenance the action. 

If a stranger is asking Fijians for information, it is 
necessary for him to be full of guile in order to hide his 
purpose. Were one's predilections not so hidden, the 
Fijian would quickly discern them and answer in 
harmony with them His standard of good manners 
would lead him to say exactly what would please the 
interrogator. This, again, is not peculiarly Fijian. 
Prof. Max Muller refers to the huge Sanscrit frauds 
perpetrated on Lieutenant Willcox in India, simply 
because his desires for a particular class of information 
were all too obvious. 

In the same way, a native will not contradict his 
superior when the latter makes a mistake ; but he will 
respond with the words, " True, sir." He is not 


concerned as to whether the chief is correctly informed 
or not, but he is very much concerned that his words 
shall please the chief. Over and over again I have 
been allowed to find out with trouble and weariness 
to myself things that could have been made clear to 
me by a word. A similar statement is made by 
Mrs. Smythe in her book, " Ten Months in Fiji." 
" A Fijian will not correct you when you make a 
mistake ; so long as he is polite, his end is served." 
Also the Rev. J. Carey asserts that " one must pretend 
ignorance in a chief's presence to please him." * The 
following statement supports the quotations already 
given. " Politeness is a great deceiver. Custom may 
compel to praise another for form's sake, when he 
deserves no praise ; and to thank him when he deserves 
no thanks." 2 

How easy it is, then, for the Fijian people to learn 
the art of lying ! Fijian children quickly acquire the 
fatal gift, and are adepts in telling falsehoods without 
stirring a muscle of their faces. The longer they live 
the cleverer they become, unless they are brought 
strongly under the influence of religion. 

Only too often do they find that lying is successful 
in achieving selfish ends, so that they are encouraged 
to lie even when it is not to the real advantage of the 

The process then is, that the barrier between truth 
and falsehood is broken down by the system of 

1 Rev. J. Carey, " Kings of the Reef," p. 164. 

1 Westermarck, " Origin of the Moral Ideas," p. 160. 


courtesy and diplomacy existent in Fijian society ; 
after which the practice of lying is aggravated by its 
extension to every part of life. 

It is a great triumph for Christianity when a man 
is produced who will not under any circumstances 
utter that which he knows to be false. It is a miracle 
of modern times. As an instance of what has been 
accomplished, a native minister was subpoenaed to 
give evidence in a court of law. While in the witness- 
box he kissed the Bible, and promised to tell the truth, 
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To his 
credit be it said, he gave his evidence without the 
slightest equivocation, even when some of the highest 
chiefs in the land used all their powerful influence to 
make him commit perjury. This was a very severe 
trial to such a man under the best of circumstances. 
Undeterred, however, by his natural respect and fear 
of his superiors, he answered boldly, " I am here not 
to please man, but God. I am here to tell what I 
know according to the truth that is in me." 

Men after this type are not few in Fiji, though the 
circumstances which reveal their integrity do not often 



That the Fijian has comparatively confused ideas 
of what truth is, we may gather from his vague con- 
ceptions of the nature of falsehood. The word, 
" Ldsu " is the term he uses for "lie." But this same 
term has a most varied and wide application. It is 
ldsu to tell a deliberate untruth, to carry a false story, 
to make a wrong statement even when it is believed to 
be true, to break a promise wittingly or unwittingly, 
to be inaccurate in ordinary conversation, to miss a 
mark, as when a boy throwing a spear misses his aim. 
Obviously the idea of gross falsity is not so powerful 
as to demand a special term. 

The difference between a cool, unblushing lie and an 
innocent misstatement of truth is not clearly perceived ; 
and this probably arises because the Fijians, like most 
simple-minded peoples, take into account the explicit 
action more than the hidden motive ; and, secondly, 
because untruth, whether intentional or not, carries 
with it a kind of infection like taboo. The difficulty 
that the native finds in appreciating the difference 
between a lie and a misstatement is similar to that which 


the primitive mind meets in its endeavour to dis- 
tinguish accidental homicide from deliberate murder. 

It is quite doubtful whether an abstraction of truth 
is possible to the Fijian. In mental calibre he is but a 
child, who looks at the world as an aggregate of little 
pieces. He has negligible power of unification, and 
less gift for abstraction. On one occasion I asked a 
class to give me a definition of love. The answers 
given were in the form of concrete examples as, 
for instance, (a) " If a man comes to me and I help 
him " ; (b) " God loved us and gave His Son for us." 

The universe is called by these Pacific Islanders 
" all the things." There is apparently no idea of 
uniting " all the things " in a single system. The 
abstraction of truth is a still more difficult generalisa- 
tion which comes after moral training, and after a 
system of morality has become objective. 

The native has a rough idea of what is true in concrete 
cases, when he is able to compare the question under 
immediate observation with concrete standards. An 
English farmer, in former times, knew when his wooden 
tally corresponded with that of his debtor or creditor, 
and yet, perhaps, a theory of commerce or bookkeeping 
was far beyond him. So it is with the Fijian in the 
moral sphere. Consequently, there could be no 
development of a noble idea of truth in his mind. The 
reference was never made to any law within, or to any 
guiding principle ; but to expediency, to outward 
contingencies, to a taboo, a command, threat, or 
promise of a chief, or to a precedent of some kind. 


At the present time the natives of the Group are in the 
moral school, learning the difficult task of judging 
according to principles, as well as to concrete codes or 
decrees ; and he finds the process irksome in the 
extreme. In earlier days " out of sight " of the code 
meant " away with the necessity of abiding by it." 
If he could do a wrong thing without being seen, or 
without meeting with any resultant evil, all was 

As a consequence of his moral deficiency, there is 
no word for conscience in the Fijian's vocabulary. 
The word used in the Bible to express the idea of an 
inward monitor is, " Na lewa e loma " (judgment 
within). But this phrase only confuses the native who 
has not been developed under Christian teaching, for 
to him, in his native state, there is no standard whereby 
the wrongness or otherwise of an action can be decided 
within his spirit. And there are very few to-day who 
can give a clear definition of what the " Lewa e loma " 
is. For most natives, the phrase is a very wide term 
embracing all their decisions, however unimportant they 
may be from the standpoint of ethics. That is to say, 
the words referred to have no specific reference to the 
moral quality of an action. The same objection may be 
made to another phrase which, I discovered, was also 
used for " conscience," viz., " At vakavuvuli e loma " 
(the teacher within). 

We are not surprised to find, therefore, that there 
is not in the native's mind that abhorrence of wrong 
which depends not upon public opinion, but on an 


inner concept of truth. Incarceration within a jail 
has not for him the shame that it has for a member of 
a higher race. Prisoners and criminals, when they are 
met by their fellows, are treated without shrinking ; 
there is no cleavage of common interests, or straining 
of friendship's ties. Those who obey the law have not 
even yet come to the point when they debar from their 
society those who are admittedly open law-breakers. 

The sense of shame is deepest after the discovery of 
wrong-doing. This fact alone proves that conscience, 
as the ethicist understands it, has only been partially 
developed. The deep consciousness of shame which 
we generally expect to find in a man of mature character 
who falls into wrong-doing, is dependent for its intensity 
first of all, upon the recognition of a worthy ideal, and 
the conception of truth as an abstract principle, or as 
identified with the will of God ; secondly, the subject 
should be in the habit of contrasting himself and his 
character with his ideal. Now the Fijian's ideal is not 
high, and, as he has not yet learned to realise or con- 
ceive the principle of truth as an abstraction, his con- 
science, being without a suitable or sufficient sphere, is 
necessarily immature in its development. Instead of a 
high moral standard within the soul which would be 
worthy of the name of conscience, the Fijian has had 
a substitute in the will of some other person superior 
to himself either in rank or age. When a delinquent 
is brought before his chief, he trembles, and is at the 
moment sincere in his repentance. If he is able to 
pass through the ordeal without severe punishment, 


he becomes blithe and gay, evidently considering his 
misdeed no greater than the penalty meted out. 

Confession is seldom made unless in sickness, or 
through fear of imminent discovery. Times of sick- 
ness are the occasions when a native of Fiji feels most 
keenly a sense of his wrong course of life. He begins 
immediately to cross-question himself as to whether 
or not he is guilty of some sin which is, in the hands 
of God, the cause of his misfortune. Mr. Jevons 
notices a similar phenomenon in Tahiti. " Sickness 
was the occasion for making reparation for past sins, 
e.g., by restoring stolen property." * 

A very remarkable case occurred in the year 191 6 
which illustrates the truth of the foregoing remarks. 
The wife of a native missionary was returning home 
to Fiji from New Guinea, where her husband had died 
while performing his missionary duties. Her people 
lived in Kandavu, some sixty miles from the capital. 
The woman, together with her little son, embarked at 
Suva in a cutter, for the purpose of returning to her 
relatives. Some time after they had left the anchorage 
in the harbour, a storm arose, and the waves began to 
dash over the vessel. One wave larger than usual 
caught the boy and swept him overboard. The 
captain very bravely leaped into the boiling sea to 
rescue the lad. He succeeded in reaching him, but, 
unfortunately, the men on the cutter were unable, 
on account of the strong wind, to bring the cutter 
about. The captain clung to his charge for some 

1 " Introduction to Religion," p. 111. 


time, until a huge ocean shark came and snatched 
the boy from his grasp. Horrified by the event, 
and every moment that other sharks would 
seize him, the man struggled on in the midst of 
the waves. It was three hours before the vessel 
returned to the spot, and by good fortune the crew 
were able to save the captain. No sooner, however, 
had he got on board than he looked round on the crew 
and passengers with almost the air of a judge, as he 
asked, " Who is responsible for this ? " Forthwith 
the mother of the lad that was drowned fell upon her 
face on the deck, and confessed her wrong-doing in 
New Guinea before she left that country. All the 
people on the cutter were immediately at rest in their 
minds, accepting the occurrence as fully explained, 
and as inevitable under the circumstances. 

The following instance is an additional evidence of 
the readiness of the Fijian to confess when broken by 
sickness or trouble : 

A member of one of the mission churches in the 
Group was stricken down by sickness. She had 
almost come to her last gasp. Feeling that death was 
upon her, she confessed to having sinned some months 
before. Up to that time she bore a good character. 
Such cases might be multiplied indefinitely. 

Considering how prevalent is the tendency or trait 
of the Fijian people to look on the chiefly authority 
as their standard of life, it is little short of a marvel 
that we can find men such as the native minister whom 
I introduced towards the end of the last chapter. Yet 



he is not alone, for, throughout the Group, there are 
to be found men of outstanding righteousness, men 
who have won not only respect amongst their own 
kind, but from white people who have no particular 
interest in missions. There have been constantly 
found those who have been patient in tribulation, 
enduring hardships without a murmur, living long 
lives of usefulness and ardent devotion to their religion, 
finally passing away, wearing, we might almost say, 
" the white flower of a blameless life." 

In a more general way also, there has been a marked 
improvement in the morality of the Fijian people. 
Let anyone read the Rev. T. Williams's account of 
early native life, and he will discover that these islanders 
were characterised by the worst of crimes. Murder, 
fornication, suicide, parricide, matricide, and infanti- 
cide were quite common. Religious ceremonies of a 
vile nature were rife. Unbridled cruelty was thrown 
into dark relief only by the occasional games and 
sports of various kinds. Since the British Govern- 
ment took control of the colony, and since British 
missionaries began to work amongst the people, 
most of these horrible crimes have been abolished. 
Murder, suicide, and burglary are comparatively un- 
known. Petty larceny of food and small articles is 
found, especially amongst those who come in contact 
with the lower class of whites in the centres of popula- 
tion. Apart from immorality, no very serious crimes 
are committed. The majority of prisoners in the jails 
are Indians. Those Fijians who have been put in 


prison are there for petty breaches of the law involving 
no strictly moral principle. They are incarcerated 
for not paying taxes, disobedience to orders, careless- 
ness in the use of fire, omission to pay dog-licences, 
etc. The absence of serious crime is striking. A 
magistrate who had under him more than 6,000 people, 
often could not find enough prisoners to keep his 
compound clean. Considering the easy-going nature 
of the native, one would expect that there would be 
many serious breaches of the moral law. The pheno- 
menon may be accounted for by (a) a lack of courage to 
take the great risks involved in evil-doing ; (b) the 
institution of a just government ; (c) his long training 
in submission to the powers that be ; (d) his reverential 
respect for a religion which has been the most potent 
factor in delivering him from the bondage of barbarism. 

Of all the great crimes that the Fijian was in the 
habit of committing, there remains in full strengih the 
sin of immorality. Sin of the sexual type appeals to 
a character weakened by a luxurious climate and by a 
poor social environment. In former times, the chiefs 
kept it down by club-law, because it infringed upon their 
chiefly right to numbers of concubines. Now that 
marriage with one wife has become the rule, and 
club-law has been abolished, there seems no bar to the 
growth of the evil except in the condemnation of it 
by religious teachers. 

The sex question is one of the most serious problems 
that have to be dealt with at the present time. The 
Fijian's animal nature is like his summer days, hot, 

l 2 

148 FIJIAN SOCIETY ch. xvi 

passionate, and over-mastering. The amount of sexual 
immorality and promiscuous intercourse during the 
past forty years is appalling. Some of the chiefs have 
been the principal offenders in this direction. One 
chief made a vow that he would not rest until he had 
despoiled all the girls in his town ; and he pretty nearly 
accomplished his fell purpose. 

With regard to the rank and file, the custom of the 
sexes living together in one house accounts, in these 
days, for a great deal of impurity, especially as Fijian 
houses rarely have more than one compartment. If 
we also take into consideration that the people have 
the smallest amount of clothing upon them, par- 
ticularly when they go to work in the gardens, we can 
scarcely be surprised at the evil results. Until the 
conditions of the houses are made better, and until 
the clothing of the native becomes less scanty, we 
cannot hope for much diminution in this great vice. 
The wonder is that so many are enabled, by their belief 
in religion, to keep clear of the vile octopus that has 
seized the race. The sanctity of the marriage bond 
has been respected in a most remarkable way by 
hundreds and thousands of these tyros in the laws of 
morality. It is an outstanding testimony to the power 
of a great religion that the best of the Fijian race are 
making these successful attempts to stem the flood of 
evil that sweeps daily over them. 

All such cases of successful moral achievement 
warrant us in hoping that the peculiar character of the 
Fijian has the po?sibility of rising to an estimable 
moral height. 



Wherever the scientific mind is absent, there super- 
stition abounds. It gradually grows into a chain that 
holds the people in dire bondage. So exacting do the 
superstitions of the people become that even their 
daily pursuits are dominated by them from beginning 
to end. To those who look upon the Fijian from 
without, the signs and omens by which he is wont to 
govern himself do not appear. But to those who 
know the language and who take the trouble to inquire, 
a mass of curious beliefs is revealed which well repays 
the labour involved. 

It has usually been thought that superstition is full 
of terror to those who are in bondage to it. And to 
a certain extent that is true. But, with respect to the 
Fijian, it would be erroneous to say that all his 
superstitious practices bring nothing but fear. On the 
contrary, some afford him a large amount of lively 
pleasure as well as peace of mind. To leave these 
practices undone would place the Fijian in a state 
which would be intolerable. His fixed idea is that 
he would be the victim of unnumbered evils leaping 
from the unseen, were he to neglect the ordinary 


precautions which his fathers had handed down to 
him. When he has done all that custom requires, his 
mind is at rest. On the other hand, some of his 
beliefs bring him much mental suffering ; and, in 
the case where sympathetic magic is brought into 
operation, he often falls into sickness and death. 

Superstitions regarding Planting. 

In the description of the Fijians' superstitious 
beliefs and practices, we shall begin with those con- 
nected with planting. Throughout Fiji there can easily 
be found, even in these days, natives who believe that 
the welfare of plants, trees, and vegetables depends upon 
conditions which have no real connection with plant- 
life. Rain and sunshine are not under-estimated, but 
it is thought that magical conditions may be set up 
which will ensure success in gardening. And just as 
many of our own race throw a pinch of salt over their 
shoulder when the salt-cellar is capsized, and are ill 
at ease if they omit this, or turn over their money when 
the new moon appears, so the native feels he must 
take certain precautions for his plants and trees if he 
would avoid disaster in his garden. With the Fijian, 
however, the position is more accentuated than with 
us, because his belief is more intense. 

In Rewa and other parts, the " uto " (breadfruit) 
is treated thus : — When the male flower catkin falls 
to the ground for the first time in the season, it is thrown 
about in sport, after which the owner takes an empty 
cocoa-nut and hangs it on the branch of the breadfruit 


tree. The name given to the cocoa-nut used is At 
vdkadhoa." Its virtue is supposed to be effective in 
causing the tree to be very fruitful. 

At Mba the old men say that when a breadfruit 
tree is planted, the one who plants it in the ground 
must on no account drink boiled water, whether in 
the form of soups, broths, or other decoctions. If he 
does so, the tree will surely die. 

Another practice in connection with the breadfruit 
tree is found at Verata, where the first fruit, when it 
appears on the branch, is carefully covered, so that it 
will not fall to the ground. When that particular 
fruit is ripe, they boil it whole, and then break it into 
small pieces so that everybody in the house may eat 
of it. The people think that in this way the tree will 
become fruitful. A similar practice is followed by the 
inhabitants of Rewa with regard to a cocoa-nut tree 
which fruits for the first time. 

Some natives in Rewa, Yasawas, and Mba hold the 
plantain in great estimation as food ; and, when they 
plant one, they throw a stick at it to make it fructify. 

In Madhuata, corn is supposed to be better planted 
after the gardener has had a large meal. The connec- 
tion between the ideas of plenty and a large meal is 
apparent. So with sugar-cane in some districts ; and 
the natives used to think it better to set it in the ground 
at the full moon, or when the tide was full. 

The people of Nausori say that an unfruitful cocoa- 
nut may be made fruitful by entwining around it a 
vine called " Mbulimbuli-sivdro " (Hoy a bicarinata), 


which does not die when taken from the parent stem. 
The same community, and many others besides, had 
a curious custom which they followed in former 
times with the object of making the yams bear well. 
They first of all cut up the yams for planting and 
put them in a heap. Then they went into the woods 
and brought the leaves of the " Lata " (Plectranthus 
Forsteri), " Waldi " (Entada scandens), and the " Mbua" 
(Fagraea Berteriana), and crushed these up in water. 
They then sprinkled the water over the heap of yams 
preparatory to planting. Subsequently, when they 
had placed the seed-yam in the earth, they stuck two 
pieces of lata in the corners of the garden, to windward 
of it, which they imagined to be a fine preventive of a 
bad season. The name of the sticks so set up is 
" i ndraniimi" 

A hungry man in the woods of Viti Levu will pluck 
the leaves of the tree called " Nggdvildwa " and throw 
them in the air. Should they scatter, the food is 
cooked at home, and the man will repair thither. 

A curious superstition holds good with some in- 
habitants of the Lau district. If a plantain breaks 
off of itself, there will be a death at sea. 

Celestial Signs. 

Celestial omens are numerous. A large ring around 
the moon prognosticates the death of a high chief. 
At Lau and Kandavu a broken rainbow in the after- 
noon is sure to be the precursor of wind, rain, or 


Nothing more definie in meaning could appear 
than a comet. When Halley's comet shone over the 
Group in 1910, everybody was of the opinion that 
something important would happen on account of it. 
Nor were they greatly surprised to hear that King 
Edward VII had passed away. The comet was the 
harbinger of his death. 

December, 19 14, was marked by a very brilliant 
meteor, which broke over the main island of Fiji 
with a loud report. The whole landscape was lit up 
as by a gigantic arc lamp. Natives shouted out in 
astonishment. One came running to me shortly after- 
wards, and, with pallid countenance, asked the reason. 
Old wiseacres prophesied the death of a chief. Strangely 
enough, within a week or two, Ratu Kandavu Levu, 
their highest chief, a man in the prime of life, died 
suddenly. In the Fijian mind the explanation was 
quite clear. 

That same year brought also to Fiji an extraordinary 
rainfall. For weeks at a time the sun would scarcely 
shine on the earth. Many natives were quite con- 
fident that the great European War had magically 
caused the excessive downpour. 

Travelling Signs. 

Travelling carries with it many little yet strange ideas 
which maintain a resolute hold on the native mind. 
The creaking of a rudder is a bad sign, and some old 
men will shake their heads ominously when they hear 
it. The black crane does duty as a bird of ill omen 


to sailors. Its appearance is certain to provoke the 
alarmist to dark forebodings. If one should appear 
on the setting out of a boat or canoe, the crew would 
cry out, " Mai kitnuri " (Come behind). They think 
that if it were to cross the bow of the boat, a bad 
voyage would be their lot. Nothing pleases them 
better than to see it fly swiftly ahead without crossing 
the vessel's course. In that case the crane becomes 
a bird of good omen. 

There are certain local travelling signs in Vaniia 
Levu, which have their counterparts in nearly every 
district in Fiji. For instance, a snake lying across the 
pathway is a trustworthy hint of trouble ahead. The 
same remark equally applies to a bad stumble, or a 
rat running athwart the track. These point to some 
evil in the village to which the travellers are journeying. 

Lauans also fear the rat. They say that, if one should 
run across the pathway from the left to the right, 
it is a sign of death. Also, should a water-snake 
swim in front of a vessel when sailing, evil will result. 1 

Throughout Fiji, sailors used to point sticks or 
oars at a rain-storm, in the belief that they could so 
disperse it ; even to-day the old men will do this. It 
is a most amusing sight when a grey-haired individual 
will solemnly take up a piece of wood and aim it at a 
dark cloud on the horizon. 

When a chief travelled by sea, there was usually an 
old retainer who made it his business to call the wind, 

1 The counterparts of all these omens are found in Samoa. Dr. 
G. Brown, " Mela nesians and Polynesians," pp. 174-5 


if there were not sufficient to drive the boat. He used 
a curiously monotonous cry, which he repeated at 
intervals with slight variations. It ran as follows : — 
" Mai vondo, mat vondo, vondo mat na mardma mai 
Ono." (Come aboard, come aboard, come aboard 
the lady from Ono). 

Superstitions about Children. 

The souls and lives of children have been always 
the centre around which a good deal of superstitious 
belief was wont to cling. A few cases will be sufficient. 

In Talaulia, Kandavu, a woman gave birth to a child. 
When the infant was ten days old, the women of the 
village, together with the relations of the mother, 
anointed themselves profusely with cocoa-nut oil. 
Then they entered the house, and all sat down for some 
time. Meanwhile, a fire had been lit outside. When 
a sufficient period had elapsed, the women took the 
mother and child into the open air, and began to go 
round and round the fire, and sometimes to step over 
it. The custom is called " Kaldwa mbuka " (Stepping 
the fire), and is probably a purification ceremony. 
The women thought that they were taking the best 
precautions to make the child strong. 

What might be termed a development of the fore- 
going practice used to be followed in Yakita, Kandavu, 
a town not far from Talaulia. When the child was 
ten days old, a Fijian earthenware vessel was brought 
into the house, and a fire lit within it. Then one of 
the relations took the baby in her arms and waved it 


towards the fire several times. When this operation 
was completed, a man in full war-dress smote the vessel 
with a club, breaking it to atoms. 

It is always reckoned a risky thing to take children 
into the woods for the first time. In Ra, on one 
occasion, when ten women, accompanied by a young 
boy, took a woodland path, five of them went before 
him and five in the rear. All of them plucked leaves 
of reeds, and, after tying them in knots, scattered them 
in the pathway. When asked the reason, they said it 
was to preserve the soul of the child. A quantity of 
these knotted reeds was recently noticed in Ono by 
one whose word I can trust. He stated that they were 
thrown there for the same purpose. 

A striking illustration of a similar superstition 
happened in connection with our own household. My 
wife and our Fijian nurse-girl took our baby daughter 
into the woods for an outing. In the evening, when, 
on their return, they had just left the edge of the 
trees, the girl turned round and called out loudly into 
the wood the name of the baby. This she did again 
and again. She explained her action afterwards, when 
interrogated as to the reason, by saying that she was 
calling back the soul of the child. 

Superstitions referring to Sneezing. 

Sneezing has always been ominous amongst most 
primitive peoples. 1 It is especially so in Fiji. Whether 

1 Compare the Samoans. Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Poly- 
nesians," pp. 240, 250 


or not the soul is thought to escape through the 
nostrils with the violent expulsion of breath cannot 
be certainly known. The probability is that such is 
the case. In Fiji, a sneeze at a graveside is an un- 
pardonable offence, and invariably the natives believe 
that a death will follow. Hence, in former times, 
children were not taken to the graveside. In Lau, 
sneezing in one's sleep was a sign of death, and, if a 
person sneezed at the right hand of a warrior, war 
was imminent. 

There is a local idea in some parts of Fiji that 
should a man sneeze when a fish is being cut up, he 
must flick his nose to obviate the mischief accruing. 

When a chief indulges in a sneeze, an inferior will 
always say " Mbula " (life, or live), to which the chief 
will graciously answer " Molt " (thanks). 

Yanggona Superstitions. 

The Yanggona ceremony is one of the most intense 
of all Fijian functions. While it is being performed 
there is no thought for anything but the right conduct 
of it. The man appointed to make and strain the 
drink is, for the time being, transformed into a different 
person, and it would be a great shame to him, and 
indeed to all present, if anything were to go wrong. 
Everyone assembled would be shocked if a man were 
to sneeze accidentally when the cup was being handed 
to the chief. The only way to avoid subsequent 
evil in that case would be for the unlucky delinquent to 
leave the house immediately. 


Similarly, the yanggona chant must proceed correctly. 
A mistake in the chanting would indicate some mischief 
approaching. The liquid, when being poured from 
one cup to another, must on no account be spilled on 
the ground. It is the auspice of good for the con- 
coction to flow safely from one vessel to another. 

In the Transactions of the Fijian Society, Ratu 
Ravulo, a prominent Fijian, describes the drinking 
ceremony for a chief who is to be received into the 
position of Vunivdlu 1 of Mbau in the clan of Tuikamba. 
The vein of superstition is seen running right through 
the account : — 

" Those who prepare and serve the yanggona wear 
ornamental bandages (called ' ve'sa ') below the knees 
and above the elbows made of a vine called ' wdkalou ' 
(Lygodictyon Forsteri). 2 The mouth of the water-jar 
has also a ' ve'sa.' The meaning of the ' wdkalou ' 
ornaments is that the government may not become 
loosened or separated, and that the land be not divided, 
as that vine, the ' wdkalou/ was used in the heathen 
temples, being plaited along the top of the house. 
In preparing the yanggona the rootlets must not be 
split, the reason of this prohibition being lest the 
government be split up. It was also forbidden for 
the solid root of the yanggona to be split, the reason 
of this ' tdmbu ' also being lest there should arise 
divisions in the land. The yanggona had to be all 
cut crosswise. 

1 War Lord. 

2 The botanical name was not in the original account. 


" When the yanggdna straining was finished, the 
heathen priest stood up to present the cup. When 
the hand-clapping (' dhdmbo ') for the yanggdna was 
over, then the priest stood up and took the cup and 
went and stood at the edge of the yanggdna bowl, 
and he who strained the yanggdna took another cup 
to use as a ladle ; he ladled three times, lifting very 
small quantities and holding the cup in both hands, 
and poured it into the cup held by the priest. When 
the cup was emptied once into the cup held by the 
priest, the priest stood upright to offer the dedicatory 
prayer, in which he mentioned all the names of all 
the devils or original gods of the various lands. The 
priest dedicated thrice as the yanggdna was ladled. 
On the third occasion the cup which was used as ladle 
was turned right over, so as to be emptied completely, 
and then allowed to drop between the priest's arms, 
as he was holding his cup by both edges. The reason 
for this dropping the cup was to typify that the whole 
government of the land was handed over. When 
the cup fell they made the supreme obeisance or 
salutation (tdtna), thus : ' E ndina y ie, ia tu> a tu ydni 
ki dhdke le, ie ia. y l He then stood up and went 
and poured the yanggdna into the cup of the chief for 
whom the drinking ceremony was made, and having 
poured it he dropped the cup between the arms of the 
chief and caught it again below, that it might not fall 
right down. The meaning of the cup being dropped 
between the arms of the chief and then being caught 

1 " True it is that he stands above there." Approx. meaning. 


below is this : That the government of the land was now 
given once for all to him, and that no decision proceed- 
ing from him might fall to the ground or be neglected. 
Having poured the yanggdna and dropped the cup 
and caught it below, he then waited facing the chief 
until he took the cup from his mouth. Then the 
second cup was presented to Tu-ni-T6nga, the principal 
1 mdta-ni-vanua,' by some young man, the priest's 
duty having terminated with his presenting the 
yanggdna to the chief for whom the ceremony was 

" Then when the chief had drunk they all ' dhdmbo * 
(that is, clapped hands in a certain way), the significance 
of which was that they had given to him to be the head 
of all councils concerning great matters of war and all 
great matters about which they consult together, that 
the decision might come from him as to whether the 
things would take place or not, according to their having 
made him head or leader. And from that day he was 
called by the name of the ' Vunivdlu.* " * 

Superstitions concerning Animals. 

The independent actions of certain animals have 
always been the forerunners of trouble. For example, 
the cry of the owl at night, the loud mewing of the 
wild cat, the crowing hen, are all calculated to send 
quaking fear into a superstitious Fijian mind. 

Should a cat by chance lap yanggdna in a house 

1 Transactions of the Fijian Society, 191 2-13. 


while rain is falling without, there will be a drought. 
So the people think in parts of Lomaivfti. 

When a bird flies low along the ground, it betokens 
death drawing near to someone in the village. 

Miscellaneous Superstitions. 

There are several ways of knowing when people 
are talking against one. An itchy nose, the biting 
of the tongue at meals, a burning ear, show clearly that 
a man's enemy is maligning him. 

The Fijian housewife says she believes harm is near 
when a pot breaks, or the string round its neck snaps, 
of its own accord. 

A native will tell you that to step on a stone when 
your foot is asleep will free your future from threatening 

A gravedigger would be greatly concerned were his 
spade or knife to break while he was digging a grave. 

A golden sunset foretells very dry weather. 

Very many more curious beliefs might be added 
to these. It will be enough, however, to describe the 
great " Ndrdunikdu " superstition which holds Fiji in 
its fearful grasp even at the present time. 

The Ndrdunikdu Superstition. 1 
The practice is that of sympathetic magic, and 
similar beliefs may be found all over the world. Those 
who make use of it in Fiji are amongst the darkest- 

1 In New Britain a practice almost exactly similar is found, called 
agagara. Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 233. 



minded of the race. It is their usage to take the 
remains of food, clothing, or tobacco which have been 
left by their enemy. With these they mix certain 
leaves, and slugs from the sea. The manner of treat- 
ment varies with the locality and with the character 
of the men who give themselves to work evil magic. 
Sometimes they boil the mixture, or they use it just 
as it is. At any rate, they carry the mixture to the 
woods, and there put it in empty cocoa-nuts, pieces 
of bamboo, or native jars. Then, dressed in native 
cloth, they bury the vessel or vessels, at the same time 
muttering curses and incantations, so that, as the 
mixture ferments, their enemies may become ill and 
die. There is supposed to be a close correspondence 
between the fermentation and the progress of the 

A simpler form of magic is to bury the leaf near 
a man's house or garden, where its very proximity is 
supposed to bring him evil. 

Doubtless, it is part of the plan to let the fated one 
know somehow what is going on. In many cases the 
effect is swift and fearful. There can be no doubt, 
therefore, that the pernicious result is, at first, purely 
mental, though it quickly brings on bodily disorders. 

It is surprising to note that many of the best of the 
Fijian race cannot tear themselves away from the 
fear engendered by this remarkable magic. It is 
sufficient even for them to know that magic has been 
practised against them, and they will succumb to it, 
though it may be a sheer fiction of the imagination 


Even Christians, who would on no account indulge 
themselves in ndrdunikdu practices, and who regularly 
preach against them, are yet afraid of them. 

One of my native ministers lay on his back for 
six weeks because he imagined that the enmity of 
another Fijian had taken this form. I paid him a special 
visit and reprimanded him kindly, pointing out that 
the religion of Christianity gave freedom from such 
ignoble fear. The little interview had the desired 
effect, and, in a short while, he resumed his duties. 

Another native assistant, an eloquent preacher and 
a man of fine sensibilities, confessed that he believed 
fully in the fatal influences of ndrdunikdu. 

On one occasion I urged a student to get someone 
to try the sorcerer's devices on me, so that I might 
disprove to him the whole thing. Whereupon he 
answered that white men are different from the Fijian. 
" The native mind," said he, " cannot resist it." 

A girl who worked in the kitchen of the mission house 
suddenly got the idea into her mind that she was 
stricken down by ndrdunikdu. On no account would 
she get up, though we used every argument we could 
think of. Then my wife and I knelt beside her bed 
and prayed for her, and the effect was instantaneous. 
In a short time she was back at her work. 

As against these cases, it should be mentioned that 
there are many natives who, through the virtue of 
Christianity, are quite delivered from the thraldom of 
the superstition. Like an evil bird of prey, it has 
for ages gripped the nation with its talons, and now, 

M 2 


at last, the talons are beginning to unclasp. One very 
striking instance was that of Mataiasi Vavi, a native 
minister, whose record is of a high order. It happened 
that he was visiting a certain town in which was an 
unused house-foundation that had been the place 
where a sorcerer lived. The wizard was now dead, 
and the villagers, in deadly fear of his spirit, neglected 
the foundation-site of the house, for they believed it 
to be haunted. Mataiasi, on inquiry, discovered the 
reason of their neglect. Forthwith he made as if to 
go to the mound. " Stop," said they, " he will kill 
you." Without deigning to reply, Mataiasi showed 
his complete emancipation from the ancient dread by 
deliberately climbing on to the site ; and he stood 
there smiling down upon them, with his arms folded § 

The Government of Fiji have made it an offence 
against the State to engage in any wizardry which has 
nocuous effects on the native mind. 

There is a curious application of ndrdunikdu in the 
province of Mba. The natives engage young men, 
who claim to have the powers of the Fijian witch- 
doctor, to bury leaves around their yam gardens. In 
one case, ten young men were proffered feasts for their 
services in this direction. On this occasion, no action 
was taken by the Government because no human life 
was threatened. 

It will naturally be asked whether the Fijians have 
any charm by which the evil influences of the ndrdunikdu 
can be warded off. Such a mascot they have selected 
in the leaves of certain trees, amongst them being the 


" Sinungdnga " (Excoecaria Agallocha), the " Mdtamera 
ngginggh" tne " Kdlambudhi" and the " Sdsanggilu." 
Without exception, the leaves of these trees are 
pungent, acrid, or bitter. The native belief is that, if 
they chew these leaves, they can suffer no harm, and, by 
preserving some in their houses, they will be immune. 



To say that the waters of Fiji teem with fish is a 
commonplace. Yet few people realise how plentiful 
the scaly denizens of the deep really are in that beautiful 
group of islands. Every little nook and cranny ol 
the never-ending coral reef affords a home for some 
kind of life. It is marvellous what wonders they can 
reveal to him who knows how and where to look. A 
little effort will yield much even to the uninitiated. I 
have sometimes taken up a piece of broken coral out 
of the shallows, and found clinging to it numbers of 
dainty creatures of every conceivable hue. Amongst 
them are to be seen the most brilliant green, and 
blue, and yellow fish ; it almost seems a pity to call 
them by their common name. On the other hand, 
one suddenly happens on the most awful monstrosities 
that could be imagined. And between these two ex- 
tremes may be placed all those piscatorial species which 
the Fijian knows so well, and which he is so skilful in 

Fishing in Fiji was at one time carried on by pro- 
fessional clans, who were well plied by their chiefs 
with food and yanggona as a reward for their labours. 



In Mbau, the ancient clan still follows its pursuit, but in 
these days the occupation has fallen principally into 
the hands of the women ; probably because, under the 
Government regime, they have more daily leisure than 
the men. 

Hand-line fishing in deep water is still the occupation 
of the men, and, in connection therewith, there are some 
interesting superstitions. If a man is preparing his 
bait (cuttle-fish, 1 cockles, young mullet, etc.), and 
has it lying in a heap before him, no other person 
may carelessly step over it. If he should do so, 
the owner of the bait would be justifiably angry, for 
no fish would take an infected lure. In the same 
category is the belief that no stranger should walk over 
the fishing-line. A poor catch inevitably follows. 
Likewise, when a man is setting out on an excursion 
he desires nothing so earnestly as that you shall not 
wish him good luck. For were you to do so, that 
invaluable quality (to fishermen) would at once leave 
him for that occasion at least. Neither may any 
thoughtless person call out after him, " Bring me a 
fish too." Failure is sure to be the outcome. 

But the most fatal obstacle to successful angling is 
when an individual engaged in the sport is being 
mentioned by name on shore. And it usually happens 
that, if the angler is catching nothing, he attributes 
his failure to some malicious person on land. To turn 
his luck he uses the following charm. He ties a knot 

1 The cuttle-fish is valued by the Fijians as the best fish-bait to 
be had. 


in a short piece of cord, and, while drawing it tight, 
mutters with savage energy, " A nddmo i Jdni onggo " 
(this is the throat of Joni). The fisherman then ex- 
pectorates on the knot and casts the string into the 
sea. This charm is supposed to check Joni's tongue. 
Truly if Joni were garotted as fiercely as the 
knot is tied, then would Joni undoubtedly die the 

Spearing fish is the clever acquirement of the men. 
From boyhood the Fijian is trained to this difficult 
sport. It is no unusual occurrence to see a lad 
walking along the beach with his spear of reed and 
parachute wire, ready-poised to transfix the unwary 
" nggidwa " (a fish). In the early days of youth he 
learns to allow for the refraction of the water as he 
strikes at the tiny fish darting by. Old fishermen 
say that they always aim a little nearer than the fish 
appears to be, in order to hit the mark. The distance 
from the object is only learned by long practice. Yet, 
with all this practice, it is still a puzzle to us how the 
Fijian becomes so adept in piercing the slippery bodies 
of his scaly prey from different angles and at various 
depths. Naturally such large fish as the " Nggio " 
(shark), " Sdngga," and the " Ongo " (kingfish), fall 
easy victims to the native spearmen. The giant 
octopus he finds lying on the top of the reef. Many 
Fijians esteem this gruesome creature as good food. 

On the ocean side of the great reef, the Fijian seeks 
the large lobster, and he captures it by diving through 
the green roller as it breaks upon the coral, and, in the 


brief respite which follows, he drags the fish cleverly 
from its hole in the reef. 

Both men and women make a practice of diving 
for edible shell-fish on the coral patches. When they 
do so, sometimes the ripple of the water makes it 
difficult for them to locate anything in the depths 
below. To obviate this difficulty, the divers have a 
very ingenious device of literally pouring oil on the 
troubled waters. Another method is to scatter chewed 
cocoa-nut on the surface of the wavelets until the 
exuded oil forms a film. The oil is called " At 
vdkamardvu ni wai " (water smoother). Objects below, 
which before were invisible, become quite plain by 
its use. 

Netting usually falls to the lot of the women. 
Around this industry, superstitions cling in crowds. 
Women have always been more superstitious than 
men, and also more conservative. They, therefore, 
relinquish more slowly their ancient beliefs. Some 
of the women's superstitions we shall now consider. 

There are two kinds of nets commonly used by the 
women, one large enough to be handled by two persons, 
and another small enough for one. The former net 
is about fourteen feet long, and six or eight feet wide, 
with an inch and a half mesh. On either end, a pole 
is affixed by which the net is slung, and which enables 
the women to handle the net conveniently. Usually, 
six or eight pairs of women work together, but there 
may be as many as twenty or thirty pairs. They wade 
waist-deep in the shallows, each pair holding their 

i 7 o FIJIAN SOCIETY chap. 

net horizontally between them. As they stand in 
line no one net should overlap or touch another. And 
so, holding the nets somewhat below the surface of the 
water, the women gradually sweep the sea, enclosing 
in the operation a circular piece of water, and, of course, 
the fish which happen to be swimming there. The 
fish caught in this way are those the habit of which is to 
swim near the surface, and which, to escape, must 
pass over the outspread nets. But the women are 
too quick for them, and as soon as they appear darting 
above the meshes, the net is swiftly raised and the 
haul tumbles and splashes into the centre as it sags 
down. The sides of the net are quickly closed above 
the leaping fish to prevent a possible escape. The rest 
is easy ; for the women take them out one by one, 
and bite their heads to kill them. Sometimes this 
operation is done so carelessly that, in the process, 
the fish slips down the woman's throat. A few years 
ago a case of the sort was operated on successfully by 
Dr. de Boissiere at Nasowale, Kandavu. 

The nets are very carefully looked after by the 
women, and it is taboo for any person, other than the 
owner, to touch the pole whilst fishing is proceeding. 
An exchange of nets is at all times taboo. Every 
precaution is taken to make the expedition a success # 
No one must know that a fishing excursion is planned 
except those engaged in it. In olden days the women 
blackened their faces to a certain extent — " nggisa ' 
as it is called. They must not eat the flesh of the pig 
prior to the expedition. If, after everybody has 


agreed to go, one of the number should not desire to 
join with her companions, the whole fishing jaunt is off. 
When they start they should on no account be recalled. 
If two lag behind, they are pelted in order to bring 
them up with the others. Leaves of various trees and 
vines, as, for instance, the " Sinn " (Leucosmia Bur- 
nettiana), the " Soni " {Guilandina Bonduc), the " Me'na 
vundi na yalewa kalou " (Heritiera littoralis ?), and the 

Tdvotdvo" are mixed together in some localities, 
as in Kandavu and Tailevu, and are thrown into 
the centre of the net as a mascot. The first fish 
taken is flung back into the same place from which 
it was caught, in order to complete the charm. 
Sometimes, with all these precautions, a fish is too 
quick for the netters, and, when the net is raised, the 
prey has unaccountably disappeared. In such a case 
the women attribute their want of success to the fact 
that the fish had a spirit. They thereupon kick 
backwards with their feet in the water as a counter- 
charm to exorcise the uncanny presence. The same 
thing is done when they suppose that people are 
thinking about them on shore. 

Should a woman die and leave a net, the property 
is looked upon in Kandavu with superstitious awe. 
Before they can eat with impunity the fish caught in 
it, they have the curious custom of throwing into the 
sea the first one taken. 

There is an almost universal custom observed 
throughout the Group when women are engaged in 
the occupation which we are discussing. It is called 


the " Vdkatundrekeniwdi " or " Silimdki." It has to 
do with the place where the fishing is to begin. After 
it has been decided where the women are to net on 
the coming day, if it should leak out as to where 
that place is, it is taboo for any person outside the 
select circle to appear on the scene. 

Women who use the smaller net mentioned above 
do not, when going out in the morning, partake of any 
fish, nor do they drink fresh water, or chew sugar-cane. 
If they have thoughtlessly transgressed any of the 
above rules, they must go forthwith to the beach, 
where they touch their cheeks with sand. Thus are 
the evil effects of the broken taboo supposed to be 

The " Kdwa " (a fish-trap, called " Susu " in Mbau) 
is recognised in Kandavu as the property of the women. 
The kdwa is made from a round strong vine called, in 
Kandavu, the " Rusa." The susu of Mbau is manu- 
factured from the downward shoots of the mangrove, 
which are split with a knife so that they can be more 
easily manipulated. The kdwa differs a little from the 
susu in shape, being spheroid, with the entrance on 
top, while the latter is the shape of a barrel with an 
entrance at either end. The principle is the same in 
each. The entrance of the kdwa leads straight down- 
ward from the top, and the pieces of vine which compose 
the passage point inwards, so that it is easy for a fish 
to swim in but difficult for it to get out. The bait 
for the kdwa is " Vundi " (a plantain), charcoal, 
" Sivisivi " (a bivalve), " Basdnga " (a sucking fish), 


" Valikir " Villa " (beche de mer), or " Sdmur As 
in the case of hand-line fishing, these baits must not 
be stepped over by any stranger ; moreover, if a 
woman is going out to the kdwa and sees any one of 
them lying in her way she is bound to walk round and 
not over it. 

In connection with the fish-trap, the rules used to 
be very stringent. In the early morning the owner 
might not expectorate nor eat before she went to the 
trap. At no time should she partake of prawns, 
crabs, or anything that turns red when boiled. Were 
she to overlook this latter rule the inside of the kdwa 
would appear red, and terrify the fish so that they would 
not venture near it. Another regulation with much 
more sense in it demands that, when many traps are 
lying together in the sea, all the owners must go out 
at the same time lest the finny tribes be disturbed. 
Evidently, in days gone by, individuals were not 
above purloining the contents of their neighbour's 

To ballast a kdwa, so that it will not drift in the 
currents and waves, is no easy task, but the work is 
achieved by surrounding it with stones. It is an 
amusing sight when a woman is putting the ballast 
around a trap in water four or five feet deep. One 
moment the shock head of hair over a good-humoured 
face is visible ; the next instant the head disappears 
and up come the feet all a-waggling as the woman 
endeavours to reach down to where the trap is 

i 7 4 FIJIAN SOCIETY chap. 

Mammoth hauls of fish are made chiefly in three 
ways. The first is the fence, made of reeds intertwined 
with " Mindri" a curious vine which is tougher 
in the water than out of it. The fence is made 
in sections and is then attached to poles fixed 
firmly in the sand on the tidal flats. It is either 
J or U-shaped, and is generally placed with the bend 
towards the sea. When the tide flows, the fence may 
have from six to twelve feet of water in it, and it is 
practically bare when the tide ebbs. The fish enter 
the enclosed space with the water, and, in the en- 
deavour to go out with the tide, are caught in rough 
traps made in the bend of the fence. Such an en- 
closure may have within it from half an acre to an 
acre of space. 

One superstition may be noticed in regard to the 
fish-fence. No married woman is supposed to enter 
it. It is possible to catch thousands of fish in a good 
fence before it is destroyed by the waves and tide, 
but none will enter it after a married woman, and 
especially after one who is enceinte. 

A simpler method of making a good haul is to watch 
the small creeks. Occasionally shoals, such as grey 
mullet, find their way into a natural trap of this sort. 
Then real fun begins. The women from the neigh- 
bouring villages come with their nets ; they block 
up the entrance of the stream, and, with much scream- 
ing and shouting, they will capture as many as two 
thousand fish in a few hours. 

Of all huge catches, the most interesting is made 


by means of a long rope of vines and leaves. 1 Such 
a rope may be over three hundred yards long, and needs 
at least eighty or a hundred men to handle it. With 
the rope, a large space of circular shape is enclosed at 
high tide. The men, half-swimming and half- wading, 
draw the ends until they overlap, and continue to do so 
until a close spiral is formed, which gradually grows 
smaller and smaller. At last the area within the rope 
is not more than twelve yards in diameter. Meanwhile 
the surplus rope has been piled up around the space 
to a height of about four feet, in order to prevent the 
escape of the fish. Within this small yard the denizens 
of the deep await capture. All manner of fish from 
every conceivable nook are shoaled together, and may 
number from a hundred to a thousand. 

One other device, to which the Fijian has recourse, 
is the " Sara." It is a small house made of mangrove, 
and is shaped like a diminutive Hottentot hut. The 
house is built upon the sand-flats. When it is well- 
washed by the sea- water, fish of various kinds make 
their home in it, much as they seek the holes of the 
coral reef. After a sufficient time has elapsed, a fence 
is placed around the little domicile, and the house 
itself is destroyed by those who built it, and the fish 
may then be taken within the yard by means of a 
net or spear. A hundred fish are sometimes caught 
in this simple manner. 

The turtle, or vonu y is the king of the sea in the 

1 Used also in Samoa. Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and Poly- 
nesians," p. 336. 


estimation of the natives. In Kandavu it is called 
" Ika mbula " (living fish), or " Ika tamdta." The 
meaning of the latter name is obscure. " Ika " is the 
equivalent for " fish," and " tamdta " has various 
meanings, amongst them being " a creature that 
breathes," and " human being." The name might 
have been given to the turtle on account of the simi- 
larity of its breathing to that of a man. Most of us 
who have gone out to sea at night in Fiji have been 
startled at the resemblance of the puffing of a turtle 
as it rises near the boat, to the panting of a man after 
exertion. Or the name may have its origin in the well- 
known tenacity with which the creature holds to life. 
Or again, the amphibious habits of the turtle, or the 
fact that the reptile bleeds like an animal when killed, 
may have something to do with it. Turtles grow to 
an immense size, being measured or weighed by the 
hundredweight. There are two common kinds, one 
of which, the " Tdku " (Caretta imbricata), may bring 
£5, because of the value of its shell. 

There are four principal ways of catching turtle. 
First, with the net. The following is a description 
of turtle-netting prepared by a Fijian chief (N. Tongani- 
valu) for the Fijian Society. 

" The Tuninddu (chief fishermen) are in command 
of the turtle fishing. Each tribe has its own Tuninddu 
and they are called gods of the turtle. After the 
yanggdna has been drunk, they all return to their tribes 
and there decide upon a day on which to embark the 
net. Before going fishing, they have a feast which 

Turtle Fishers. 

Rock Fish Fen< I 



has only puddings for its concomitant or :eiish, as an 
offering for the turtle fishing, and, after the feast, they 
meet again in tribes to draw lots ; and only when 
everybody has assembled are the lots drawn, because, 
if a single person is absent, the turtles will escape and 
will not be caught in their nets. When all are assembled, 
the net and a turtle club are brought to the place, and 
the Tuninddu then brings ripe nuts to act as lots, the 
number of which must be equivalent to the number of 
their gods. It is the duty of the Tuninddu to draw lots, 
and he takes a nut and mentions a god and then spins 
it as a lot. In the event of it pointing directly towards 
the net, ' Mdna e ndina ' 1 is called out. The lot 
for another god is then taken and spun until all the 
gods have their lots spun for them. 2 If several nuts, 
the representative of a god, point towards the net, 
they can expect to catch some turtle. 

" After this has been done, the food offering is 
brought and eaten. They then prepare the provisions 
for the canoe, the women making the bread ; the chief 
woman of the tribe's duty is to make the bread for the 
Tuninddu, which is to be made in large loaves and 
then stowed in a basket to be hung on the end of the 
frame of the deckhouse to be always near to where 
the Tuninddu stands aft. This basket is called ' Kdto 
tdmbu ' (sacred basket) and nobody must touch it 
without leave ; and should an unprivileged person 

1 " The virtue is true, or manifest." 

2 The spinning nut as a means of divination was used in Tonga. 
Mariner, "Tonga Islands," vol. ii (1827), p. 191. 


i 7 8 FIJIAN SOCIETY chap. 

so touch it, the fishermen will not succeed in catching 
a turtle until the net has been brought to land again # 
" When the Tuninddu has embarked on the canoe 
to go fishing he must remain at the end where the basket 
is hanging. No member of the crew is allowed to 
eat his food at random, their eating is under the control 
of the Tuninddu. When the reef, where the fishing 
is to take place, is reached and the tide is on the rise, 
lots are again cast in the same way as was done on 
shore to find out the wishes of the gods ; when this has 
been done, they weigh anchor and go fishing. One 
of the largest poling-sticks is picked for the Tuninddu, 
who holds it at the stern. The members of the crew 
can help each other in the poling, but no one may 
help \htTuninddu ; even if they are poling from high 
to low tide they cannot help him. When the first 
turtle has been caught in their net, the Tuninddu is 
decorated by putting on the ' mdsi ' and a skirt dress, 
and being anointed with oil, he then dives in for the 
turtle in their net. When the turtle is put on board 
the Tuninddu takes three or four large pieces of bread 
out of the basket and after having broken them up 
he shares them with the crews. Having eaten, the sail 
is hoisted and they proceed to the land in order to 
take their first turtle to the town. When the town 
is reached and night has fallen the Tuninddu is painted 
red and goes and sleeps alongside the turtle in the 
open till the morning. When it is heard or reported 
at the chief town that a turtle has been caught they 
collect ten or twenty whales' teeth, which are taken 


and presented to the fishermen. This is called ' Nat 
dhokavdki ni mbi ' (reward for filling the turtle fence). 
After this ceremony has taken place the Tuninddu goes 
and bathes himself ; in the meantime yanggdna is 
being chewed that he may drink immediately after he 
has finished bathing." l 

The foregoing is a very detailed account of what 
used to be done in the old barbaric days. Only a 
semblance of these elaborate preparations takes place 
to-day. In the account given, the translator has 
preserved very well the naive manner of the original. 

The turtle is also captured by spearing. Some say 
that spearing turtle is a modern mode and was not 
known by the early Fijian. 

In order to attract the animal to a convenient place 
the natives cut away the linear leaves of the " Vutia" 
a sea- weed growing profusely on the sand-flats, 
and which is the natural food of the turtle. The 
outgoing tide carries it out into the bays, where 
the men go to spear the vonu. The spear is 
heavy, having a barbed iron point, and a rope attached 
to draw it back. The turtle must not be much more 
than twenty feet away if the throw is to be successful. 
The spear may be used at night, when a torch of dried 
cocoa-nut leaves makes an excellent decoy to attract 
the animal towards the boat or canoe. It used to 
be strictly taboo to point at a turtle with the index 
finger. To do this was the surest way to make the 
quarry dive. The only safe manner of pointing was 

1 Transactions of the Fijian Society, 191 2-1 3. 

N 2 


to bend the joints of the first finger, or to indicate the 
turtle with the shut fist. When a vonu is captured, 
the fact is communicated to those on shore by blowing 
the " Ndavui " (conch shell). 

Another way of catching turtle is to wait for them 
in the breeding season. There are several pretty 
islands near Kandavu where this is regularly done. 
Two or more men are told off in the season to remain 
on these uninhabited islets, and when the vonu come 
on shore to lay their eggs, the scouts very easily 
outflank the lumbering animals and turn them upon 
their backs, the perfect symbols of helplessness. 
Turtles caught in this manner may be kept for months 
awaiting some approaching festival. Most towns 
situated near the sea have turtle fences where the 
captured animals are confined and fed until the day 
of the feast. 

More interesting is the method adopted by the 
people living at Talaulia, Kandavu. The ocean at this 
place is shallow enough for the bottom to be dimly 
seen, yet not so shallow as to make it possible to 
frighten the turtle lying upon the ocean floor beneath, 
if a boat or canoe appears overhead. The natives 
go out in canoes well supplied with pebbles. The 
moment they see the shadowy form of a vonu in the 
dim depths below, they quietly drop a stone upon it. 
This causes it to move just a little, but not so fast 
or far that the men cannot follow its movements. 
The action is repeated again and again until the turtle 
rises like a whale to the top of the water for air. The 


opportunity has come for which the fishermen have 
been waiting, and the instant the turtle rises to the 
surface, before it has time to look round, a man dives out 
of the boat, seizes the prey with both hands, and 
most dexterously turns the animal on its back, splashing 
helplessly. A noose is thrown and the prize is dragged 
on board. It is marvellous how enduring the Fijians 
are in their struggles with some of these big turtles, 
some of which are over six feet long. I saw two 
Fijians fighting for half an hour in a rough sea with 
a turtle which, if weighed, would have been quite 
two hundredweight. 

When the turtle is to be prepared for the oven, one 
man is appointed to kill it. He does so by severing 
the blood-vessels at the root of the back flippers and 
the throat. There is an ancient superstition that if 
the blood of the dying turtle bespatters any other 
person than the man who is appointed to slay it, he 
will become leprous in the parts stained by the blood. 

In former times the flesh of the turtle belonged to 
the chiefs only. But now, much to the chiefs' chagrin, 
anybody who catches a turtle may eat it. 



The practice of netting fish is universal. It is 
likewise one of the most ancient of industries known 
to man. The making of nets was familiar to the 
earliest races, and has changed little in method up to 
the present time. Even modern machinery, though 
rapid in its operation, has caused but little difference 
in the construction of the fishing-net. In Fiji the 
work of making nets fell largely to the lot of the 
women, and we may therefore justly infer that the 
process is practically the same as that in vogue through- 
out bygone centuries. 

The Fijian has shown himself ingenious in adapting 
himself to his surroundings in this as in other 
directions. He has sought out from his ample woods a 
fibre suitable for the manufacture of a sufficiently 
strong twine, without which nets would be impossible, 
or at best inefficient. This fibre is the bast or the 
inside tissue of the bark of a vine called " Ydka " 
(Pachyrhizus angulatus). Thus it is in the same 
category as the fibre of hemp, jute, and flax. The 
ydka creeper is small in circumference, and is covered 

ch. xix NET-MAKING 183 

with a bark having a furry epidermis. The process 
of preparing the fib e is as follows : — 

The ydka is cut into pieces of about nine inches in 
length, and is boiled for an hour. When the bark is 
sufficiently softened, it is split by means of the finger- 
nail, the wood is discarded and the bark laid by in 
a convenient place. After a sufficient quantity of the 
latter is collected, the operator takes a " Kuka " 
shell and scrapes the epidermis and the true bark 
away, leaving the bast or fibre. For the sake of con- 
venience, the tissue is then tied up in bunches and is 
hung up until needed. 

Fijian cord is simply made ; and one is strongly 
reminded, when watching the process, of the manner 
in which a saddler makes his sewing-twine out of 
hemp. Three twisted strands are intertwined by 
rolling them with the open hand upon the upper 
part of the leg, until they become a single line. Instead 
of wax, saliva is the adhesive substance used. The 
string is regular and often wonderfully neat, parts 
of it being equal in appearance to the best English 
fishing-line. It is also very durable in water. 

When a sufficient quantity of twine is completed, 
it is strung upon a needle called the " Sika ni lazva." 
The needle, which is the wing-bone of the vampire 
bat, is mo=t suitable for the purpose. Its small 
knuckles effectually prevent the loops from slipping 
off, while they are not so large as to prevent the passing 
of the needle through the meshes. The only other 
instrument used is a piece of bamboo called " Ydva 


ni lawa" which is the gauge determining the size of 
the mesh. Upon this gauge, a full row of meshes is 
knotted, after which the bamboo is withdrawn and 
the process begins with a fresh row. 

The form of nets in Fiji has been governed by the 
nature of the sea-board, and of the sea-floor adjacent 
to the shores. There are eight principal kinds of 
net, which may be described in the following order : — 

(a) The " Ldwa ni mbalolo " is used to catch the 
" mbalolo " when it rises to the surface of the water. 
The mbalolo is a species of annelid which rises up 
from the coral reefs in the months of October and 
November. It is much prized by the Fijians as an 
article of diet. As the worm is very slender a small 
mesh is necessary to strain it from the water. The 
mbalolo net, therefore, has a mesh scarcely half an inch 
in length, and the bamboo gauge used in its manufac- 
ture is a quarter of an inch wide. The net itself is 
much like those in which butterflies are caught, 
having a handle, though the shape and size of the 
whole thing vary according to the caprice or taste of 
the individual fisherman. 

(b) The " Sdki " is a scoop-net having generally the 
same mesh as the mbalolo net, but lacks the handle. 
It is usually about eighteen inches or two feet in length. 
This net is manipulated by the women as they scoop 
up small fish that hide amongst the seaweed which 
grows profu:ely on the sand-flats. 

(c) A third kind is the " Tardki" a net with a mesh 
slightly bigger than that of the mbalolo. The length 

xix NET-MAKING 185 

of the tardki is four feet approximately, while its 
breadth is about two feet. It is attached to two small 
sticks, and both sinkers and floats are necessary. A 
Fijian woman's equipment is not complete without 
the tardki. It is the more convenient, as it requires 
only one woman to work it. The tardki is placed 
around loose rocks where fish may be in hiding ; the 
stone is then removed, whereupon the fish are caught 
in the net as they try to escape. 

(d) An enlargement of the tardki is the " Mambuke " 
(called in the Mbauan dialect, Ldwa mbuke). It has 
the same mesh and shape as the tardki, but is eight 
feet long by six feet broad. It is used to skim the top 
of the water where small fish swim in shoals. The 
mambuke has the reputation of catching everything 
eatable on the surface of the sea. 

(e) Another and better type of net is the " Ldwa 
Dhe'le " (Mbauan, Ldwa Dhere), perhaps more service- 
able than any other Fijian net. The mesh is one and 
a half inches long, and it is made of strong cord. 
The method of its use has already been described in 
the previous chapter. Its length varies from fourteen 
feet to eighteen feet, and its breadth may be six or eight 
feet. A net such as this is light and strong, covers 
a good expanse of water, and, in the hands of two 
women, is easily manipulated by means of the poles 
attached to the ends. 

(/) The " Saulele" a narrower net about a yard in 
width and from four to six yards long, has the same 
mesh as the preceding. It is valuable when used in 


numbers to encircle a small patch of coral or rock. 
The women penetrate the holes of the reef with sticks, 
or disturb the water by bombarding it with stones 
in order to frighten the fish that might have taken 
refuge there. The fish swim into the nets already 
laid, and are easily taken by skilled fisherwomen. 

The four nets last named all have floats and sinkers. 
Light woods make excellent substitutes for cork, and 
have the general name of " Utoiito." Dr. Seemann 
mentions as floats the square fruits of the " Vutu 
rdkardka " {Barringtonia speciosa, Linn.). 1 Shells are 
invariably attached for sinkers. The necessary weight 
is attained by increasing or reducing the number of 
shells. To prevent these four nets from collapsing, 
sticks are joined to the ends in each case. 

(g) I have seen in use at Mbau an immense seine 
net, called the " Ldwa Sukdu," so heavy that scores 
of men were needed to manage it. In the centre 
part there is a portion, 2 the meshes of which are 
composed of sinnet, and which bellies out like a great 
bag as the net is drawn through the water. Gradually 
the fish are driven into this receptacle, sometimes in 
thousands. The grunting noises of the captured fish 
can be heard quite distinctly above the surface of the 
water. At the last moment, the Fijians rush into the 
water and force the catch into the sinnet bag. 

(h) There remains to be described the turtle-net 

1 " Viti " (1862), p. 356. 

8 The other portion is made from the fibres of the Vau (Paritium 
liliaceum, Juss.). 

xix NET-MAKING 187 

with which the men of the tribe captured the chiefly 
dainty. Perhaps no better description could be given 
than that prepared for the Fijian Society by Ndeve 
Tonganivalu. 1 He gives not only the mode of manu- 
facture but also adds certain ancient customs which 
have largely ceased to exist : — 

" Turtle nets are usually made from sinnet. If a 
tribe of fishermen intend to make a turtle net they 
discuss it ' enfamille' and a day on which to commence 
the work is decided upon. The cocoa-nut trees are 
climbed and the green nuts collected. The fibre 
covering is then stripped off and roasted in a pit-oven ; 
after two or three days' roasting, it is dug up to be 
beaten and the plaiting is then commenced. The 
sinnet for turtle is entirely different from the sinnet 
used for house- or boat-building and is plaited very 
carefully and of large strands so as to be strong. 
During the work of plaiting the sinnet for a turtle 
net, the head of the tribe provides yanggona and food. 
When the sinnet has been finished, a day is decided 
upon to make the net, and a great feast will be held 
on that day. Upon the completion of the net, another 
tribal gathering is held, at which every man, woman, 
and child must be present. The reason for this 
gathering is to inform the members of the tribe of the 
day on which the net is to be put into the water for 
the first time, so that they will all be able to agree as to 
the day. The head of the family will then earnestly 
beseech them all to be friendly with each other and not to 

1 Transactions oj the Fijian Society. 1912 1 ;. 


have tribal quarrels and to ask them to agree to the day 
fixed upon fo the immersion of the new net. Should, 
however, there be any quarrels, the fishing will not 
be successful, and it is on account of this that everybody 
must be present at the meeting. Upon approval of the 
day being given, the members of the tribe prepare 
a feast and at its conclusion everybody (men and 
women alike) go and weed the graves of their ancestors 
or their relations and, after thoroughly cleaning them, 
drape them with tapa and wreaths. The reason for 
this is that the spirits of the dead may be friendly 
and thus ensure the success of the new net. This 
custom is still followed by some people, although 
the religious teachers are continually trying to put a 
stop to it and asking them to refrain from doing it as 
it is a heathen custom, which however they do not 
agree to. They maintain that, should they fail to 
weed the graves they will not be successful with their 
fishing : this is still believed 2nd practised, although 
everybody quite understands that it is a heathen 
custom. 1 When the weeding of graves is finished, 
lots are cast and the way for doing this is as follows : — 
Should a tribe have three or four gods they take the 
same number of ripe nuts and, after naming each after 
a god, they are spun. Should the eyes of one of the 
nuts point directly towards the net all the members 
of the tribe call out * Mdna e ndina? In the event of 
one or two nuts pointing to the net all the members 

1 There is a slight contradiction here with what he has already 
-aid. He means " belonging to heathen times." 



of the tribe proceed to the place, where the feast 
has been prepared, to eat together. A move is then 
made and they go fishing, and should one or more 
turtles be caught they immediately return to land to 
cook and eat them. This is called the ' feast for the 
beating out of the sinnet/ or ' the first fruits of the 
net.' After this the net is taken ashore and dried. 
It is then carefully wrapped up in plaited cocoa-nut 
leaves and taken into a house for safe keeping until 
instructions are received from the chief to go turtle 

With the exception of the tardki all the above nets 
are generally used on the sea-beaches and sand-flats. 
In the larger rivers the people have a substitute in the 
shape of a basket-net. This primitive contrivance is 
an openwork cane-basket about two feet long, eighteen 
inches deep, and nine inches in breadth. The method 
adopted is as follows : The men line the banks of the 
stream and cut away the long grass which is the 
hiding place of the fish. The latter are thereby 
driven into the stream, where the women await them. 
The women hold their baskets with the long mouth 
downwards and press them quickly to the bottom of 
the water. In this way many fish are caught as they 
endeavour to swim between the women. A fisher- 
woman knows immediately a fish has entered her 
basket, and she at once seizes the opening of the 
trap with her hands. The name of the basket is in 
most places the " Veildwa" 

A very interesting substitute for the net was employed 

igo FIJIAN SOCIETY ch. xix 

in earlier times. A man who had learned it as a boy 
in Ra told me of it. A piece of reed was taken and 
bent into a circle, the ends being firmly tied. After- 
wards a short handle was attached. The operator 
went into the woods and found strong spider-webs 1 
in which he waved the bent reed many times until 
it became quite covered with them. The handle was 
taken away and the reed-hoop, so enveloped, was laid 
on the top of the water in a stream, where it floated. 
The fisherman then put into it small grasshoppers 
and fles ; or he threw little pebbles, or spat within 
the circle. The fish rose like trout, and in their 
eagerness to get the bait were caught by the gills 
and fins in the spider-web. 

In the interior of Fiji the natives make an ingenious 
trap for single fish of a larger size than can be caught 
with spider-web. Reeds and grass are tied together 
at one end and a device is fashioned just like the 
straw coverings of cordial bottles, only that they are 
somewhat larger. When this trap is laid in the bottom 
of the stream with the entrance away from the current, 
it happens that many a fish is captured, for it swims 
foolishly into the opening, where little obstructions 
catch against the scales and fins, making it impossible 
for the prey to retreat. 

1 In the Hebrides garfish are caught with spider-web balls attached 
to the end of a kite tail. Florence Coombe, " Islands of Enchant- 
ment," p. 173. Similarly, in New Britain, the web is employed 
for the purpose. 



In the barbarous days of Fiji communication was 
established by certain signs or signals, by messengers, 
and by the wooden drum, or " Ldli." 

Quite a large number of miscellaneous signs and 
signals have a fixed meaning amongst the Fijians. 

When sailing, a chief always had tied to the boom 
of his canoe a bunch of pandanus leaves. No one else 
might imitate him in this practice. 

At Mbau, the flag of the high chief's sacred canoe 
was well known. It was called the " Kuila" The 
Fijian chief, Ndeve Tonganivalu, quoted previously 
on another subject, also enlightens us on this matter. 
To quote from his article in the Transactions of the 
Fijian Society, 9th Dec. 191 1 : — 

" The ' Kuila ' is not a Fijian word — it is Tongan. 
At Mbau flags hid different designations. The war- 
standard was called ' ndrotini ' ; there were two kinds 
of canoe flags, one was called ' na irongge'le.' It was 
the streamers of the sail which were arranged along 
the lower yard, commencing from the upper end of 
the yard and reaching to the foot. The other was the 
1 tawdke' which was a long flag. The ' tawdkk ' was 


hoisted on the sacred canoe when sailing, and was 
hoisted to the upper end of the lower yard. But on 
the canoe of the Roko (high chief) Tui Mbau it was 
hoisted to the upper end of the upper yard. The 
' tawdke * of the Roko Tui Mbau was a sacred thing ; 
the people might not touch it at random. There is a 
tribe at Mbau who have the hereditary right to touch 
the Roko Tui Mbau's ' tawdke.' When one of that 
tribe is appointed to handle the Roko Tui Mbau's 
1 tawdke, ' he is given the name of ' Lingatdmbu ' ; * 
He is the sacred hand for the ' tawdke.' The ' tawdke ' 
of the Roko Tui Mbau is kept in the house of 
Lingatambu, and there is a small doorway for itself 
to be put through to the inside of the house ; it might 
not be entered at another doorway. When the 
chiefs of Mbau are preparing to sail, Lingatambu 
goes and takes the ' tawdke ' by its doorway and takes 
it to the Roko Tui Mbau's canoe. On that day he 
may not touch his own food because he has touched 
the Roko Tii Mbau's ' tawdke ' ; another person puts 
his food to his mouth. If several sacred canoes are 
sailing together, none of them may sail past to wind- 
ward of the canoe on which is hoisted the ' tawdke ' 
of the Roko Tui Mbau. If any canoe is going so fast 
as to pass it, they will sheer off to sail by the leeward 
side ; it is forbidden to sail past to windward. While 
the sacred canoes are sailing, the ladies practise a 
song-dance at Mbau called the ' Vdkadhda tawdke*.' 
And, when they return from sailing, the ladies 

1 " Sacred hand." 


dance to welcome the ' tawdke ' of the Roko Tui 

A chiefly vdsu has the right to fly mast (native 
cloth) from his boom when approaching the town to 
which he is vdsu. 

A time-honoured sign of grief is still observed in 
the island of Mbau. The crew of a vessel coming to 
the island after the death of a high chief are accus- 
tomed to tie to the mast-head articles of value such 
as tdpa (painted mast), mdsi (native cloth), or European 
cloth. When they draw near to the town they are 
met by men from Soso and Lasakau (sections of Mbau) 
whereupon the string holding the goods is cut so that 
they fall into the sea. The men of Soso and Lasakau 
then struggle in the water in high glee for the possession 
of the gifts. The cutting of the string is called the 
" Tdmbisd," and the name of the gift is " At loldku." 1 

Mbau natives, when carrying bad news by water, 
indicate to those on shore that something is amiss 
by throwing stones or oranges into the water thrice. 
A single stone is sufficient to convey the news at Verata. 
In the latter place, as well as in other districts, it is 
the custom for a canoe, when bringing a dead body, 
to throw away the sail when approaching the shore. 
Those on land are immediately cognisant of what has 

Fishermen at sea, when they have caught a turtle, 
inform their friends by blowing on the conch shell 
for a considerable time. 

1 " The grieving." 

i 9 4 FIJIAN SOCIETY chap. 

Deaths are reported in similar fashion in Lau. 
Throughout Fiji bereavement is generally emphasised 
by the wailing of women ; but in Lau wailing is not 
the usual method of showing grief on the occasion 
of a death. 

There was no way of wearing mourning for deceased 
friends or relatives except by shaving the back of the 
head, a custom which is not continued. Of late, 
the Fijians are following in a marked degree the 
English custom of dressing in black. 

The first joint of the little finger on children's 
hands used to be severed when a great chief died. 
There are men alive to-day whose little fingers have 
been shortened in this way. 

Travellers had their signs and signals. If a path 
branches into two, and a Fijian wished to show a 
friend who was in the rear which direction he had 
taken, he would throw leaves on the track which he 
had not followed. 

Sometimes Fijians, when travelling, become thirsty. 
Should they be near a plantation of cocoa-nuts, the 
owner of which is their friend, they will climb a tree 
for the young fruit, and drink without a qualm 
of conscience the luscious liquid ; but the husks 
they will gather together and cover with cocoa-nut 
fronds. The owner will thereby understand that 
friends in need of a drink have taken his fruit. 

Visitors to a town recognise that they are not 
welcome when a feast is not prepared for them. The 
Fijians are the most hospitable of folk, and they count 


it a shame to neglect a stranger amongst them. The 
absence of the feast, therefore, would be a most signifi- 
cant indication of the thoughts of the people concerning 
a traveller. 

Virgins (male and female) were known in former 
days by little plaits of hair hanging from the temple. 1 
In these times the young men have given up these 
curious ornaments, and very few of the girls follow 
the custom. The plaits may still be seen in out-of- 
the-way villages. Chiefly maidens were distinguished 
from the commoners by the greater length of the loose 
ends of their mdsi (native cloth) girdles. 

Messages were sent in various ways. Inhabitants 
of neighbouring islands were accustomed to signal to 
each other by means of fires. 

An explicit message was carried verbally by a 
messenger ; nothing was written, as the Fijians had 
not evolved any system of written signs. Hence the 
man who could remember exactly the words of his 
chief, was most highly honoured. But accuracy was 
not the messenger's only accomplishment. He must 
know the proper formula with which to begin and 
conclude a communication. Much depended upon 
the preparation for the message as well as on the 
skill with which the message was concluded. Certain 
forms of words became stereotyped ; also there arose 
a family of couriers in each important clan, whose 
accomplishments in this direction were handed down 

1 So in Samoa. Dr. G. Brown, "Melanesians and Polynesians," 
pp. 316-17- 

O 2 


from father to son. The chief went nowhere without 
his " Mdta ni vanua " (special herald). 1 Some of these 
mdta ni vanua had great influence, and were always 
the spokesmen of their chiefs in every important 

Allied to the mdta ni vanua was the office of town- 
crier. Each evening his far-carrying voice would be 
heard echoing through the hills as he enumerated for 
the people the work to be done on the morrow. He 
was fully seized with the importance of his duties, 
supported as they were by the direct command of the 

In former times the " Ldli," or wooden drum, had its 
uses for sending certain kinds of information. 

We are all acquainted with the far-carrying 
sounds of the woodman's axe, consequent upon the 
vibrations of the tree on which it is used. Had we 
no metals with which to make bells, it is highly 
probable that we should have fallen back on the 
vibrating tree as a substitute. 

The Fijian has thus adapted himself to his sur- 
rounding conditions of life, and has made consider- 
able advance in the knowledge of acoustics. *" He has 
found out, for instance, that a hollow tree produces 
in concussion a more penetrating sound than a solid 
one. A tree standing not far from Richmond, Kandavu, 
illustrates this well. As the Fijian youth passes the 
hollow trunk he is almost irresistibly prompted to 

1 Vid. an illuminating article on the mdtanivanua, by A. M. 
Hocart. Journ. A nth. Inst., 1913, p. 109. 


pick up a piece of stick and play a gratuitous tattoo. 
The native has also discovered that a hollow tree 
slightly open will emit more sound than a closed one. 
Nor has it escaped his notice that a tree stripped of 
its bark is an acoustic improvement on one which 
has its bark intact. He has likewise marked the fact 
that some woods are superior to others in resonance. 

All these primitive discoveries in acoustics the 
Fijian has embodied in his Idli — an instrument half- 
drum and half-bell. It is made of the strongest and 
most enduring timber, chief amongst which are the 
" Ndilo " (Calophylhim Inophyllum), the " Tavola " 
(Terminalia Catappa), and the " Vesi " (Afzelia bijuga). 
These woods are extremely tough, and their resonance 
is remarkable. The shape of the Idli follows that of 
the tree from which it is cut, except that the concavity 
has been accentuated by slightly rounding off the ends. 
The edges are turned somewhat inwards, which is 
necessary if the sound-waves are to come primarily 
from within. Consequently, the vibrations from the 
sides of the Idli converge to a point within the drum, 
and are then projected at great speed through the 
oblong opening, much on the same principle as a 
shot from a cannon. A similar idea is seem in a certain 
kind of bullock-bell in Australia, which has a mouth 
smaller than the rest of the bell. Though the sound 
is thereby muffled, yet it is of a quality that is very 
penetrating and far-carrying. 

The sounding property of the Fijian Idli is remark- 
able, though it varies according to the size of the 


instrument. The ordinary town Idli is usually about 
six feet long by three feet high. I have measured 
one nine feet long, three feet six inches high, and 
two feet ten inches thick. A man stood inside to 
beat it. It was responsive to the lightest tap, and 
when beaten loudly was heard at a distance of ten 
miles as the crow flies, 1 although mountains intervened. 
It is quite common to hear the beat of a large Idli 
at a distance of seven miles, and from three or four 
miles over a high range of mountains. When we 
compare this performance with the resonance of our 
best metal bells, there is not much to choose between 
them as far as penetrating power is concerned. 

The cutting of a new Idli is always a great occurrence. 
When it is being taken on a canoe to its destination, 
it is beaten all the way, though it may be twenty 
miles, and the natives along the coast know therefrom 
that a town somewhere near is receiving a new drum. 

Originally, the Fijian Idli had a purport which it 
has largely lost. It is now a mere relic used for 
announcing the time of religious services, and for 
making New Year's Eve, and like occasions, hideous. 
But, in early days, the Idli and its beat were invested 
with great importance. Old men assure me that 
it was never beaten without some definite motive or 
meaning. The beats differed according to their 
significance, and were easily recognised by those who 
heard them. It must be taken for granted, however, 

1 Dr. G. Brown states he heard a Samoan Idli twenty miles 
away. " Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 422. 

Beating a Small I. am. 

{Tof.icefagc 199. 




that, in different districts, the beats varied when 
announcing the same thing ; and then again the same 
beat in the same district was liable to be altered 
slightly by the fancy of the operators. Of these 
latter, some were adepts, and were well known for 
their gift of embellishing the phrases of the beat 
with grace-notes and accidentals (Fijian, " Tatanggiri 
nggiri "). 

The first lali beat which should be noticed is simple, 
and is indigenous to Fiji. We might call it the Fijian 
beat, and it is heard more often in these days than 
any other. It is played with two short, thick sticks 
(" At uaua ") usually upon a single large drum, but 
may have other drums accompanying it. The beat 
is regular and heavy, and is the first beat that a Fijian 
drummer would learn : — 

No. 1. 
Ordinary Fijian Lali Beat. 

Right hand 

' 1 

1. c* 


r r 

j-w \ 

Left hand 

r r 


r r 

Note. — The quavers may be omitted. 

ad libitum 

The Fijian beat is often heard in these days calling 
people to church. We must not confound it with 
the Tongan beat, which is also universally known in 
Fiji. The Tongan call is lively, and avoids the solemn, 
monotonous tone of the Fijian beat. 




No. 2. 
Ordinary Tongan Ldli Beat. 

Right hand f 1 
Left hand ^ 





acZ libitum 

The " La'// m tambua " is apparently a combination 
of the previous two, and was played within a town where 
a tambua had just been received in a time of distress 
or war. The tambua, as we know, was requisitioned 
to confirm a town's allegiance to the centre whence 
the tambua came, or to alienate and undermine its 
loyalty to another town. The reception of suchTa 
tambua was usually signalled by the Ldli ni tambua. 
It is the ordinary Fijian ldli beat with an accompani- 
ment on another drum somewhat like the imported 
Tongan call. In this combination the beat of the 
first ldli is called " Kdmba mbu." 

No. 3. 
Ldli ni Tambua. 




(accom- - 



f 1* 



f Right 








1 r 1 r 


r J r r 

f J r r 




An adaptation of the Ldli ni tambua was the " Ldli 
ni Wdngga " and was played upon a high chief's 
canoe when approaching a village. 

There is no toll for the dead amongst Fijian calls. 
What we hear at the present time is an imitation of 
our own funeral toll, and answers the purpose very 
well. When heard amidst the hills of Fiji, it has a 
peculiarly solemnising effect. 

No. 4. 

Funeral Call. 

Very slowly. 

Right hand ^ r 


* ~ r 


J 1 

Left hand 1 r 


F r r 





But, in some parts of Fiji, as at Yale, Kandavu, 
there used to be what was named the " Vdkatdratdra " 
(raising the taboo). On the fourth night after the death 
of a chief, it was the duty of the relatives to intimate 
to the townspeople that ordinary work (which had 
been suspended on account of the funeral) might 
proceed as before. The beat employed had a pre- 
liminary attack of four or eight heavy strokes, according 
to the number of nights which had elapsed since the 
death. The heavy notes were immediately followed 
by a " rat-tat," diminishing in volume of sound, but 
increasing in acceleration. 





No. 5. 

Right hand 
Left hand 





Alternately, aceeltrando 
4 diminuendo, until the 
beat dies away. 
Repeat ad Libitum. 

Yet another beat is called the " Ldli ni Kdmbakoro " 
(besieging a village) and is a pretty one, although 
ominous in former days. 1 It began with a rat-tat 
(accelerando e diminuendo) followed by heavy beats as 
given in No. 6. This call was used when a town was 
invested in times of war, and was repeated, like all 
these beats, ad libitum. 

No. 6. 
Ldli ni Kdmbakoro. 






[ Right 

I Left 

* i* 1*1* r 

Rat-tat — ad libitum, 
■* f» j* * 

1* 1* T*V* 


Accelerated and dying away. 

* ^ 1^ > 

9 1* i*i* r* 

r r 


r r 

r r 




! d*' 






R«t-tat — perhaps a minute. 

1 l* 1 * 1* 1 * 1 !r r 

di 1 j 1. 

If a chief had been slain in battle, or in a siege such as 
that mentioned above, another ldli beat was evolved 

1 In San Cristoval the message of war was conveyed by means 
of a wooden drum. Florence Coombe, " Islands of Enchantment," 
p. 224. 




to mark the fact. This beat varied in different places. 
Two examples are given. They were primarily meant 
to intimidate the foe and to express the triumph of 
the victors. But they had also the further significance 
of the wild revel before placing the dead body in the 
oven. The two specimens of the " Ldli ni Mbakola " 
(as they were generally called) which are appended, 
have the specific names of the " Nderua " and the 
" Timbi " respectively. The former is from Ngau 
and Lau, and the latter was that in vogue amongst 
the Waimarou clan, Tailevu. 

The Nderua from Lau and Ngau is simple. The 
sticks strike alternately thrice, and are then brought 
down heavily together. After a pause it is repeated, 
and so on. 

No. 7. 

The " Nderua." 

Right hand f* \ 

Left hand 


rrr M 


Repeat ad libitum. 
A slow, heavy beat. 

The Timbi is the most complex lali-beat of all, and 
is a very fine one when executed skilfully. It must 
have been truly dreadful when heard amid its fearful 
associations. To be beaten properly there must be 
one sharp-toned ldli to lead, and four or five large boom- 
ing drums to accompany it. At first I could not dis- 
tinguish any time in the rhythm, but after the Wai- 
marou native had beaten it repeatedly, I found that 




its rhythm was in ordinary common measure, which 
was kept admirably throughout. Anybody with a 
small knowledge of music could play and appreciate 
the beat, if he remember that the lower line represents 
the ominous roll of the big lali, while the top line 
is the spiteful little lali that leads the savagely 
triumphant orchestra. 

No. 8. 
The " Timbir 

Rather quickly. 

Small Lali, 
both sticks together. 

Large Lalis, 
both sticks together. 

Preliminary Rat-tat. 

i r r i r r 

ill > I I I I I 11'.^ 

■0 & \ 000 \ 00 0' 

L f* 

r r r i i r r 

r r f i r r 

! I I 

^ 1 

I I J 

i r* 

\rr \ rrr l 

;;j;l;;doloidd /dj-da/d#- 

I I I i li l l I I li I !«J l i 1 1 I i* i I 

! After a pause — 
j Kepeat ad libitum. 


r^ | 


■0 00 








1 1 1 1 



00 00 

1 1 1 1 



Now suppose the fight to be over ; the victors 
were often prompted to build a " Mbure " spirit- 
house) to their ancestors, or to their particular god. 
The building of such a house or mbure was a great 


event, and was accompanied by much ceremony. A 
special drum -beat was employed when the house was 
nearing completion, that is, when the ridge was being 
covered with the vine called the " Wdkalou " (Lygo- 
dictyon Forsteri, J. Smith). Not everyone might have 
the honour of thatching the ridge-pole ; only those 
who had distinguished themselves in battle were 
allowed to attempt such a chiefly task. The men 
who had slain their score or their ten warriors in 
battle, and were called therefore "Koroi" or" Mbdti" 
or " Nggdngga" were chosen to crown the edifice 
with wdkalou. With all due ceremony and dignity 
the brave seated himself on top of the house. Then 
the wdkalou was handed to him, in order that he might 
intertwine it about the ridge-pole. During the opera- 
tion, those below executed the first part of what is 
known as the " Ldli ni mbure." It is unique in this 
respect that, in addition to the kettle-drum rat-tat 
described in a previous beat, there is an accompaniment 
of voices calling loudly the following words in Fijian : 
" Dho-o-o-ka dhoka dhoka dhoka dhok', 
Dho-o-o-ka dhoka dhoka dhoka dhok V 

No. 9. 
Ldli ni Mbure. First Part. 

Voices— high pitched— Dho-o-o-ka dhoka dhoka dhoka dhok'— in descending scale. 

Right hand [«P 1 J* 1 ** I J* 1 J* 1 J* 1 ^ Repeated thrice , 

J Long rat-tat, accelerated and dying away. while passing up 

-. * - * -, * -. P -, * i P i .* the " Wdkaldu: 

U* 1* 1* r \* 1* 1* 

Left hand 

206 FIJIAN SOCIETY ch. xx 

The cry begins on a high falsetto note, and descends 
in the scale, increasing in acceleration as it does so. 
When repeated three times, the Kordi is supposed to 
have sufficient vine to go on with. He immediately 
begins to weave and thread it about the ridge-pole, 
to the accompaniment of the second part of the Ldli 
ni mbure, as follows : — 

No. 10. 
Ldli ni Mbure. Second Part. 

Right hand 
Left hand 

r i r r 

i j 





Repeated thrice 

whilst thatching 


The whole process was repeated until the house 
was finished. Then the usual mangiti (feast) was 
presented to those who had worked on the erection, 
and the bfave who had completed the work mingled 
with his fellow clansmen. 

A house such as the foregoing was frequently 
erected before a war to ensure success, a space of ten 
days elapsing before the tribesmen began the battle. 

When war has ceased, the " Ldli ni sautii" or Ldli 
of peace, is beaten. It has no appreciable difference 
from the Vdkatdratdra (No. 5) and has a like meaning. 
The warriors hearing it knew that once more had the 
" Angel of Peace " smiled on the land, and that they 
might turn again to their usual occupations until the 
wzr-ldli should be heard booming anew its message 
of fear, rapine, and death. 



Food plays a most important part in the social life 
of the Fijian. The islander is not a glutton, though 
sometimes he goes to the bounds of excess in his 
feasts. On the contrary, the constitution of the 
Fijian, especially of the woman, has been impaired 
because, in some provinces, food is rarely eaten more 
than twice a day. The majority of the natives have 
no set time for their meals ; they are not governed 
by the regularity which distinguishes more highly 
civilised societies. The ordinary people live very 
much from hand to mouth ; each day brings its work 
of searching for foods to vary the inevitable yam or 
taro diet. 

The land is prolific in many kinds of sustenance, 
and the natives have lived long enough in it to know 
just where to go for what they need. There is little 
time or labour wasted in the search for food. 

To the question, How does food play an important 
part in the life of the native ? the answer is, that the 
many feasts which he prepares on all definite occasions 
are inextricably interwoven with his etiquette and 
social organisations. To take away the feast from the 


Fijian would be to leave him a life dull and monotonous. 
The most important times for holding feasts are, the 
birth of a child, the first turning of the child, the 
cleansing of the mother, the death of a chief, the 
celebrations at the end of ten nights and a hundred 
nights after a notable death, a marriage, a conference 
of chiefs either in a town or province, a religious 
gathering of any kind, the installation of the head of 
a district, the completion of any great work, and the 
visit of a distinguished person. There are numerous 
other occasions on which the Fijian indulges in feasting, 
and it might truly be said that he lives from feast to 
feast. Unfortunately, at times, the preparation for 
them becomes a burden on the people, especially 
when the spirit of emulation enters into them. During 
such a season of rejoicing, lasting only a week, hundreds 
of pounds have been wasted in riotous living, leaving 
the clansmen a load of debt which takes months to 
remove. The local Chinese storekeeper, who has an 
eye to business always, has often, to my knowledge, 
established a lien on the following year's crop, by 
advancing provisions to the enthusiastic customers 
who crowd his small shop. 

It is at feast-time that the Fijian earns for himself 
the reputation of being a good eater, and it is then 
that he certainly goes beyond the bounds of moderation. 
I have seen a Fijian eat continuously for over an hour 
at one of these convivial gatherings. 

A feast without its " Kenai dhoi " (relish) is no 
feast at all. It boots little to have a mountain of 


yams or tdro, if there be no flesh or fish-food to go 
with it. The most highly prized relish is pork. A 
handsome mangiti would have at least one " Rara " 
(ten pigs), but really large feasts would be distinguished 
by the presentation to the chief of three or four rara 
and even more. In modern days cattle are being 
requisitioned more frequently in lieu of the porkers. 
At many feasts there appear together cattle, pigs, 
poultry, and fish. The former (cattle and pigs) are 
presented whole, and are divided afterwards. The 
latter (fish) are usually cooked in a ground-oven if a 
quantity has been prepared ; the precaution is always 
taken of wrapping them up carefully in leaves to prevent 
earth or ashes getting to them. When cooked they 
are placed in large baskets for presentation. Shrimps 
were often boiled in hollow pieces of bamboo, and so 

After a feast has been prepared, it is customary to 
proffer it to the highest personage in the town. It is 
divided out into portions for the various divisions of 
the company assembled. It is almost pathetic to note 
the seriousness with which this is done. A Fijian 
is never more thoughtful or just than when he divides 
the mangiti. He begins at the highest individual, 
and does not cease until everybody has been supplied 
according to his rank and station. Visitors to the 
town are invariably remembered, and studiously cared 
for. When the food has thus been distributed in 
little heaps over the open square of the town, the head 
of the feast is notified, who at once gives thanks. A 



crier then calls out the names of the recipients, and 
these come forward without further ceremony to carry 
their portion to their houses. 

If a visitor has been feted, he is supposed, according 
to Fijian etiquette, to take away with him the remains 
of his food. On my first visit to a certain town in 
Kandavu, I was presented with twenty-two fowls 
for my Sunday dinner. Those I could not eat, my 
boys carried away. Though I pressed the villagers 
to receive their share, they refused, as it was my 
first visit to the village. The visitor is often thus 
considerably hampered, and good food has not seldom 
been thrown away when the outskirts of the settlement 
have been reached. 

Fiji is prodigal in the number of kinds of food it 
affords its inhabitants. So fruitful is the country 
that a famine of three months is almost unheard of, 
and would be remembered for years. The menu 
of dishes does not vary greatly throughout the Archi- 
pelago. Slight divergences occur where the exigencies 
of the case demand. The Kandavuans, for instance, 
raise yams (Dioscorea alato, Linn.), tdro (Colocasia 
antiquorum, Linn.), kawdi (Dioscorea aculeata, Linn.), 
kumdla (sweet potato, Batatas edulis, Chois.), and 
kaile (Helmia bulbifera) in abundance. Several kinds 
of manioc are grown with success. If a quantity of 
these roots and tubers is required for a feast, they are 
baked in ground-ovens. The procedure is to dig a 
hole to the requisite size. The excavation is then lined 
with stones of a regular form, upon which a fire is 


lit. When the wood has burnt out, the stones are 
nearly red hot. The coals and ashes are removed and 
a lining of leaves is neatly laid over the sides and 
bottom of the pit. Upon the leaves, the food is placed. 
More leaves cover the opening, and earth is heaped 
up into the shape of a mound, in order to keep the 
heat in. A couple of hours of this crude treatment 
suffices to cook most foods. 

The tubers named above comprise the staple of 
the Fijian's food-supply from end to end of Fiji. 
When these are scarce, the shortage is supplied by 
fruit- and nut-trees of many kinds. The most 
serviceable is the bread-fruit tree (Artocarpus incisaj 
etc., Linn.) of which there are several varieties. As 
a food it cannot maintain its reputation. It is pleasant 
to eat, however, when baked on the coals or boiled, 
and is a favourite article of diet with the natives. 
One great advantage the bread-fruit has, viz., that it 
ripens just when the supply of tubers begins to give 
out. The cocoa-nut tree is so much a necessity to 
the native that it might be termed the milch-cow of 

Other fruit trees are the " Ndawa " (Nephelium 
pinnatum, Camb.), the " Wi " (Evia dulcis, Comm.), 
the " Oleti " (Carica Papaya, Linn.), the " Kavika " 
(Eugenia Malaccensis), the orange, and the mango, 
the last two having been introduced into the Group. 

Nut trees are very abundant, the chief being the 
" ltd " (Inocarpus edulis, Forst.), the " Tavdla " 
(Terminalia Catappa, Linn.), and the " Ndwandwa" 

p 2 


(Cordia subcordata. Lam.). The nut of the ivi 
(Tahitian chestnut) is either boiled or roasted. A 
kind of Fijian bread is made from it, and is much 
appreciated by some. The method is to grate the 
nut and tie it up in large leaves for about a week, until 
it ferments. The natives then press it into little lumps 
about the size of a hen's egg, and wrap it up closely 
again for use when required. The taste is strong and 

The term " At dhoi " has already been applied to 
the flesh relish of feasts, such as cattle and pigs, but 
it has a very wide connotation. In Kandavu, for 
instance, it further comprises all the following : bats, 
flying-foxes, plover, pigeons, parrots, ducks, goats, 
dogs, cats, wild pigs, shrimps, shell-fish of all kinds, 
snakes, eels, turtle. All these the Kand&vuan can 
eat as a relish. 

But the term " At dhoi " has a still wider signifi- 
cance, for it may be used to describe all those leaves 
which, when boiled, are used by the native as a piquant 
addition to his food. Dr. Seemann supplies a good 
list of them for those who can peruse his book. 1 The 
leaves most generally treated in this way are the 
" Mboro " (Solanum anthropophagorum, Seem.), the 
taro, watercress, " Mbele " (Abelmoschus moschatus, 
Moench.), the " Mboro ha" the " Ota " (Angiopteris 
evecta, HofTm.), and the sweet potato. All the fore- 
going, after being boiled, are simply flavoured with 
salt, or with the expressed juice of the cocoa-nut. 

1 " Viti," pp. 308-9. 


To the list of " Kenai dhoi " the native of Lau adds 
eggs of sea-gulls which the people in that part of the 
Group find in the sands, mindri leaves, a reed fungus 
on trees called " Kardu" " Ndrdsi " which is a species 
of jelly-fish, " Mboreti" (Acrostichum aureum, Linn.), 
a kind of fern. The ndrdsi is usually kept four nights 
and then roasted on the coals ; or it may be simply 

In respect of " Kenai dhoi" there is one remarkable 
variation in Fiji, viz., in the case of the people of the 
interior of Viti Levu. From time immemorial they 
have been accustomed to look upon almost everything 
living as their lawful food ; and there is a marked 
difference between them and the coastal natives in this 
particular aspect of the subject. The stomach of the 
coastal native will heave at some things, such as the 
obnoxious rat. But the only living things which, 
apparently, come amiss to the inhabitants of the 
interior, are centipedes, flies, spiders, and mosquitoes. 
They include in their bill of fare owls, hawks, frogs, 
rats, lizards, locusts (sometimes eaten raw), wood- 
grubs (a delicacy), slugs, caterpillars, and the young 
of the red ant found in ant-hills. The latter article 
of diet they boil together and eat with gusto. Bats 
are boiled in their skins, and there is nothing left but 
the bones when the native has finished his repast, 
even the wings being eaten. The gap is so wide 
between the lists of food which the coastal and interior 
natives respectively use that I would suggest as a cause 
a racial difference. 


Puddings are much prized by the Fijian, and he has 
many kinds to his credit, upwards, perhaps, of a couple 
of score. They are called puddings (vdkaldlo) because 
they are sweet, and are eaten with sauce after the 
ordinary food has been disposed of. 

The following kinds are known all over Fiji. 


Scrape the tdro root and tie it up in leaves. Boil 
or bake. When cooked, cut into pieces as big as a 
small hen's egg, and pour on the juice or lolo. The 
lolo is the expressed juice of grated cocoa-nut, boiled 
with sugar and water until the mixture turns brown. 
If no sugar is available the juice of the sugar-cane 
takes its place. 


Tdro is boiled whole, and then pounded into a jelly. 
This is cut up into pieces like the Nddloyddha, and 
the lolo is sprinkled on it. In this case the lolo is not 
liquid. It is made thus : — Grate cocoa-nut, then 
boil with sugar and water, until the water has all 
disappeared. The lolo then becomes crumbly and 
dark brown. 


Treat the tdro as in the case of Sivdromddha. To 
make the lolo, grate a cocoa-nut or two, express the 
juice, but keep the grated portion. Then take the 
tdro, cooked as in the Sivdromddha, and cut it into 
pieces. Rub these pieces in the dry grated cocoa-nut. 


When the pudding is to be served, the juice prepared 
as above is poured on, and the pudding is brought 
in to the guests. 


Ndardi is the same as the preceding, except that the 
dry grated cocoa-nut is not used. 

Ydkiydki. 1 
This is a pudding made from bread-fruit, which is 
first baked on the coals ; the inside of the fruit is taken 
out and pommelled with a cocoa-nut or young bread- 
fruit until it becomes a pulp. After being cut into 
pieces, a dressing is poured over comprised of cocoa- 
nut juice, sugar and salt to taste. 

In this pudding the lolo or juice is the same as that 
of the Ydkiydki. But the roast bread-fruit is taken 
and beaten quickly under water with a stone. The 
outside covering falls away, and the inside is beaten 
to a pulp with a stick. Lolo is poured over as in the 
Ydkiydki. What difference the beating under water 
makes, it is hard to say, but the Fijians state that they 
can distinguish the taste of the Tukivdtu from the 



Tdro is taken and baked on the coals and then put 
in fresh water, and the skin is peeled off. It is then 
beaten with a stick and the lolo added. 

1 Called in Samoa " taofolo," and much prized. Dr. G. Brown, 
" Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 133. 


Vdkalolo yambia. 

The root of the manioc is scraped and soaked in 
water. The fibres are then strained out with the aid 
of long cocoa-nut fibres, leaving the starchy portion 
to dry. This is cooked by boiling it with water, and 
is eaten with the cocoa-nut sauce. Or if a great 
quantity be required, it may be done in the following 
manner : — A wooden trough four feet long is filled 
with tapioca diluted with water. Near by the Fijians 
light a fire in which stones are set. When the stones are 
heated thoroughly two or three are thrown into the 
tapioca, while two men, standing at either end of the 
trough, push them backwards and forwards in the 
mixture until the food is cooked. To watch the work 
is to lose one's appetite for the dish. 


This pudding is made from plantains. First the 
Fijians press the juice out of grated cocoa-nut. Then 
they make a slit in the plantain and fill it with the 
dry gratings. The juice is poured over all. The 
flavour is very pleasant, and is palatable to a European. 
No sugar nor salt is used in Vdkasoso. Some cook 
the pudding after they have prepared it as above. 


Cut bananas up into small pieces, then tie up in 
banana leaves with the juice of the cocoa-nut as 
dressing, and bake. The people of the Lau Group of 


islands have some special puddings of their own im- 
provisation. I give two of them. 


Tapioca and ripe plantains are mixed together in a 
mash and roasted. Afterwards it is cut into small 
pieces and eaten with cocoa-nut dressing. 

Tololo Kumdla. 

Scrape sweet potato and mix it into a mash with the 
lolo. Then wrap in plantain leaves in small bundles, 
and bake. 

Puddings are not chewed by the native. His practice 
is to swallow the pieces whole. 1 

The interior of Fiji supplies a curious pudding. 
The flower-cob of a kind of reed called " Nduruka " 2 
is boiled and sweetened with wild sugar-cane juice, 
or with sugar, if it is to be had. There are probably 
more than a dozen kinds of wild sugar-cane in Fiji. 
The native names of some are : Nandi, Mbuta, Mdlai- 
nggele, Kukusauloa, Sdnganimbdto, Me'ndra ndovu na 
Mbuiningone, Kitu, Kambakavdle, Sakuri, Silotna. 

In times of famine the Fijian was able to live where 
another would starve. After a hurricane, for instance, 
the unripe fruit and roots destroyed by the force of 
the wind are placed in a hole in the ground called a 

1 Dr. Rivers states that in some islands of Melanesia knives are 
made for eating pudding. "Hist, of Melan. Soc," vol i. p. 81. 

2 The nduruka is mentioned as food by Mr. A. M. Hocart. Man, 
1914, p. 118. 


" Ndavuki " x There a process of fermentation takes 
place, much in the same way as when ensilage is made. 
The mass, when carefully covered with leaves and earth, 
ferments together in about a month. The natives 
call this " Mandrdi " (bread), and it has a spongy 
nature like bread. The taste and odour are such that 
only a native could enjoy it. There can be no doubt 
that Fijian bread made in this way is life-sustaining. 

Many plants from the woods become useful in times 
of famine. The seed-pod of the mangrove in former 
times was peeled and put in a bread-pit {ndavuki) 
and turned into bread. The pith of the yaka vine 
was boiled as an article of diet. Certain poisonous 
arums called " Via " are also treated in the same 
manner, and though coarse, help to tide over the 
period of stress. Bulbous and tuber species as the 
" Tikdu " (wild yam) both red and white in colour, 
the " Tivoli " (Dioscorea nummularia, Linn.), wild 
" Kdile " (a wild yam), take the place of the yam 
and tdro if there be a shortage of the latter. The 
wild kdile is acrid, and, on that account, the natives 
first cook it, then scrape and soak it in water until it 
becomes mild. Further boiling or roasting reduces it 
to an eatable state. This process is aided by mixing 
the scrapings of the " Waldi " nut (Entada scandens, 
Bth.) with the kdile. 

In order to get at these roots the islanders fire the 
country where they are found. Many mysterious 

1 The Samoans know this. Dr. G. Brown, " Melanesians and 
Polynesians," p. 131. 


fires that sweep through the tropical forest can be 
explained in this way. Consequently, the Government 
has made the practice illegal. 

The soft head of the cocoa-nut palm and the stalk 
of the banana have been resorted to in seasons when 
food is scarce. The natives, especially those living 
on the coast, have learned to eat many articles of diet 
raw. These include shell-fish, as the " Sidhi " 
(trochus), the " Vasua " (giant clam), the " Dhawdki " 
(sea-urchin), cockles as the " Kaikuku" " Kaikiso" 
" Kainddzva," " Kaitasirisiri " ; also the " Tandruku " 
(mollusc, chiton), a few kinds of the Beche-de-mer, 
as the " Ndrinddiro" "Seniloli " ; the " Ndio " (oyster), 
and a slug or worm in the sands called the " Vetwia." 

In many parts of the Group raw mullet are much 
appreciated, though in Ngau, for instance, this fish 
is barred as raw food. 

In addition to the above, several kinds of seaweed 
are masticated without being cooked. 

Food Prohibitions. 

A number of food prohibitions have been noted 
under the head of " Fishing and its Superstitions." 
Others are as follow : — 

The last food which a man eats before he dies is 
in some parts denied by the wife to herself for some 
days after the burial. It is looked upon as the food 
which supported the spirit of the husband on its 
journey to the spirit-land. 

An interesting prohibition of food is continued at 


the present time at Mbau. When a high chief dies, 
a certain tribe from the mainland has the sole privilege 
of burying the body. During the work of burial 
these native sextons may not eat any kind of food 
until the grave is filled in, and until they have partaken 
of a kind of fruit called the " Kura." 1 The kura 
appears to be a small species of jack-fruit, and falls to 
the ground before it is fit to eat. The pulp of it is 
very soft and has a most atrocious and clinging odour. 

When a child is born, the mother is often prohibited 
from eating salt with her food during the three or four 
days subsequent to the birth. 

Certain kinds of fish were, in former days, kept ex- 
clusively for the chiefs. A severe penalty was exacted 
from the culprits who secretly ate food kept sacred 
by custom for the use of their superiors. The most 
important of these prohibitions had reference to the 
turtle. It is only of late that ordinary folk have been 
allowed to eat this valuable animal. Naturally, the 
breaking down of old usages with regard to the turtle 
has caused a good deal of friction. As late as 191 2, 
the chiefs endeavoured to influence the Government 
to restrict the use of the turtle as in earlier times. 
Their persistence has, in some cases, restored to them 
their ancient right. In a large number of districts 
in Fiji the dorsal fin of the shark and Sdngga (a fine 
fish), as well as the heads of most fish, are reserved 
for the chiefs of the neighbourhood. 

1 William Mariner tells of similar funeral customs, "Tonga," 
vol. ii, p. 187. 


A most fruitful source of prohibition of food is the 
old clan-interdependence of " Veimbatiki " which has 
a great similarity to our ancient feudal system. All 
chiefly or conquering towns had henchmen or 
" Mbdti" as they were called. It is surprising how 
almost all the towns of Fiji are in this manner linked 
together. For instance, Rewa has for mbdti the town 
of Tonga near by. Tonga, again, has for its mbdti 
the town of Tongandravu, higher up the river. If 
Rewa went to war, the chiefs in that town would 
communicate with Tonga, and thence the message 
would proceed to Tongandravu. Tongandravu would 
help Tonga, and they together would help Rewa. 1 

Verata is a remarkable case in point, for that town 
was, at one time, the most powerful in Fiji. Up to the 
present moment, there are many villages which hold 
fast to Verata by the old bond of " veimbatiki." The 
mbdtis, in order of precedence, are Verata, Tumbalevu, 
Nanamu, Naimasimasi, Kuku, Vungalei, Kasavu, and 
Nanggelendamu. A call of war would have followed 
that order. The interesting thing for our purpose is 
that all these recognise their relationship in their 
feasts. If all were eating together at Verata, the chiefs 
of the latter place would pass over their food to the 
mbdti, and the mbdti would hand their portion to 
the chiefs. 

In this particular system of Veimbatiki, the chiefly 
food at Verata was fish, vdkalolo (pudding), Fijian 

x Mr. B. Thomson avers that the help so given was doubtful. 
" The Fijians," p. 88, note. 




bread, cocoa-nuts, and crabs. But if one of the 
mbdti happened to be present these classes of food 
would be given to him. The mbdtis' especial sustenance 
was pig, plantains, and eels. If a chief happened to 
be eating with his retainers, the eels, plantains, and 
pigs would be handed by them to their superior. 

The foregoing prohibitions took place only when 
the high chiefs and retainers ate together. The reason 
for the peculiar usage is given by a Fijian thus : the 
mbdti are the warriors of the chiefs. If they eat 
the food of the latter they will be courageous and 
strong in battle. It would be unwise, therefore, for 
the chief to withhold that which would eventually be 
to his own good. 



Cannibalism was a hideous excrescence upon the 
true nature of the Fijian, a pestiferous, cancer-like 
growth, the roots of which struck deep down into his 
social, political and religious life. That human flesh 
was unnecessary to him has been proven by the fact 
that he exists very well without it. And if it be 
unnecessary, it is also unnatural, and by no means 
the chief index to his general character. Still the 
Fijian has been usually classed in the world's category 
as a cannibal, and we cannot therefore let it pass 
without discussion. 

The question has been frequently raised as to 
whether cannibalism was long practised in Fiji, 
and has been answered in various ways. Before we 
endeavour to give a reply three circumstances should 
be noticed. 

Anthropophagy is a very old practice of the human 
race, not as an unnatural appetite, but as a specimen 
of sympathetic and religious magic. In this form it 
is very general throughout the history of mankind, 
and may, therefore, be legitimately classed as the 
earliest kind of cannibalism. Savage races have, by 




means of a misdirected logic, inferred that the appro- 
priation of the symbols of strength and courage would 
give them those qualities. Thus generally, lions' 
claws, tigers' claws, and boars' tusks are reckoned 
amongst the most effectual charms ; likewise the 
flesh of the bear was eaten for the same reason, while 
that of the timid deer must be shunned, lest the bravery 
of the warrior vanish away. In the early days of 
stress, conflict, and ignorance, it was an easy transition 
of thought from the flesh of a bear to the heart and 
liver of a man, for, in primitive psychology, these organs 
were the seats of courage and energy. There is an 
instance recorded by Professor Tylor of an English 
merchant in Shanghai, at the time of the Taeping 
attack, who met his Chinese servant carrying home a 
man's heart. When questioned, the servant said it 
was the heart of a rebel, and that he was going to eat 
it in order to make him brave. 1 In some Australian 
tribes, the fatty portions of a corpse are consumed for 
a similar reason. Africa is also full of such strange 

Now the practice of eating human flesh from a 
superstitious motive is found all over New Britain, 
New Guinea, the Solomons, and the New Hebrides, 
and these islands were the pathway of some at least 
of the Polynesian races when they first came to the 
Pacific. Professor Macmillan Brown thinks the Poly- 
nesians learned cannibalism at their resting-places on 
their voyage from South Asia, and that they carried it 

1 " History of Mankind," p. 131. 


as an intermittent custom into New Zealand. 1 If they 
did so, they must also have learned the superstitions 
by which the practice was supported. 

Even in modern times, the belief in sympathetic 
magic survived side by side with the established 
appetite for human flesh. Dr. L. Fison narrates the 
story of a Fijian woman who rubbed her infant's 
lips with the flesh of a slain champion in the full 
assurance that the child would thereby receive some 
of the warrior's bravery. 2 I have been told that the 
heart and liver of the chief of Ndavinggele, Kandavu 
(by name, R. Tokanduandua) were eaten for the 
self-same reason by the chief of the neighbouring 
village of Nambukelevuira. An interesting parallel 
to Dr. Fison's incident was told me by the Rev. H. R. 
Rycroft, of the Solomon Islands, for he states he saw 
there a woman rub human flesh upon her infant's lips. 3 

A second fact, which bears out the theory of the 
magical and religious origin of cannibalism, is found 
in the circumstance that most of the Polynesian 
peoples have eaten human flesh at some time in their 
history. Now, if we find a practice common to many 
branches of the same stock who have not been in contact 
for centuries, we infer that the custom must have 
been known to them before they were sundered. 
It is unlikely that peoples, settled in so many isolated 

1 " Maori and Polynesian," p. 266. 

a " Tales of Old Fiji," Intro, p. xxxvii. 

3 " A mouthful of the brave man's flesh and blood is thought to 
convey the coveted power." Florence Coombe, in " Islands of 
Enchantment," p. 222. Reference is to San Cristoval. 



islands of the sea, should have initiated the horrible 
usage after their settlement in those islands. It is 
fair to add, however, that the particular form which 
cannibalism took in any one island was conditioned 
by the circumstances and exigencies of that locality. 

In the third place, we find that the ancient legends 
are interwoven with cannibalistic narrative, and without 
which the stories have no meaning at all. Con- 
sequently, we are led to believe that these stories point 
to a very early knowledge of the custom. The great 
culture-myths and heroes of New Zealand, as a case 
in point, reach back to a time preceding the arrival 
of the Maoris in their present home, and these 
stories hold together by reason of the cannibalism 
related in them. There is only one conclusion at 
which we can arrive, that cannibalism was known 
at a very early date. 

Ancient myths in Fiji likewise show that the early 
spirits or heroes there were addicted to the custom. 
At Mba there were two gods, named Rawailevu and 
Tuinaidhindra, who fell out and fought each other. 
The cause of their fighting was that the latter ate at 
Malolo a certain tribe from the mainland called 
Kaisara. Ndengei, the chief Kalou Vu of Fiji, was 
also said to demand a sacrifice of human flesh. 

From the three considerations given above, it is 
obvious that the Fijian, as part of the Polynesian race, 
knew of the practice of eating human flesh before he 
finally settled in the Pacific, and that he developed it 
according to the circumstances or exigencies of his life. 


In no place did anthropophagy develop to such an 
extent as in Fiji, except perhaps in the Marquesas 
Islands. These two groups are much alike in social 
history and contour, factors which are most important 
in the study of cannibalism. 

In the Fiji Group, cannibalism assumed the pro- 
portions of a monstrous appetite. The people acquired 
a strong liking for human flesh as food. The custom 
grew in astonishing measure in the eighteenth century. 
When the missionaries arrived in the Group, it was 
estimated that thousands were annually destroyed in 
this way. It became so customary, that the flesh got 
the name of " kendi dhoi" or the relish of vegetable 
foods at feasts. A horrible story is told at Madhuata 
that it was the duty there of certain tribes to find the 
relish at the time of the offering of first-fruits to the 
chiefs. When the sun rose on the appointed day, a 
human body was found tied to a stake, with garlands 
hung about it. In this gruesome fashion the task of 
the tribes appointed had been fulfilled. 

The appetitive phase of cannibalism I believe to be 
a comparatively late growth in Fiji, which belief I 
base on the following considerations : — 

(a) The Fijian people are so far distant from other 
groups of islands that it would have been impossible 
to get their captives from foreign nations. 

(b) They would therefore be forced to find victims 
from amongst themselves ; a fact which would 
necessitate the existence of war. 

(c) If, however, this had been done at the wholesale 

Q 2 


rate which the first missionaries were forced to witness, 
there would have been a swift decline in the population. 
The statistics of the Hervey Islands showed that the 
population there dwindled through fighting from two 
thousand to sixty, and again from sixty to five, within 
the memory of the Rev. John Williams. Now the 
population of Fiji was traditionally large. One hundred 
and fifty years ago it was estimated at between 300,000 
and 500,000. Given that the tradition is true, it 
would seem impossible that cannibalism could have 
existed on a very large scale before that time. About 
the time the missionaries arrived (eighty years ago), 
it was unanimously agreed that the population was 
at least 200,000, notwithstanding the terrible ravages, 
in the latter part of the eighteenth century, of a 
pestilence known as the " Lila mbaldvu," which 
carried off at least one-third of the total number oiF 
Fijian natives in the islands. It is unlikely, therefore, 
that war had been carried on to any extent before that 
time, and consequently, that anthropophagy had grown 
into anything like the proportions which the early 
missionaries saw. 

(d) Again, it is a well-known fact that Fijian warfare 
was comparatively bloodless before the introduction 
of firearms. In the year 1808, the natives had no use 
for muskets ; for in that year Charles Savage, a Swede, 
was wrecked on Nairai. It was he who told the chief 
at Mbau to look in the wrecked vessel for muskets, 
and also for shot. The natives did as they were 
directed and found that the guns had been taken from 


the ship by local inhabitants, and had been built into 
a yam-house. They were not so badly damaged that 
they would not shoot, and, from that time, war became 
more deadly in Fiji. There can be no doubt that 
the superiority of Mbau in battle, and the swift growth 
of cannibalism in that town, were due to the intro- 
duction of firearms at the period mentioned. 

(e) That war on a wide scale has been carried on 
only in the nineteenth century seems to be confirmed 
also by the fact that the first " Vunivdlu " (war-lord) 
was appointed not more than three or four generations 
ago. The tradition suggests that before the appoint- 
ment of the Vunivdlu in Mbau there was no need of a 
special officer. 

(/) The ancient legends describe a peaceful immi- 
gration of a few half-shipwrecked and forlorn people. 
The explanation given by the people of the use of 
stone implements is that their forefathers lost over- 
board in a gale the case which held their house-building 
tools. And so far from being an entrance at that 
early date of a victorious host, it is not till long after 
that any serious war is even hinted at ; not, indeed, 
till several tribes had broken away from the original 
stock and become independent. Steady immigrations 
from the eastern Polynesian islands would accentuate 
the state of war, until certain tribes became hereditary 
enemies, and never lost an opportunity of fighting one 

All these arguments indicate a comparatively recent 
development of warfare on anything like a large scale, 


and therefore of cannibalism in its special phase as the 
satisfaction of an unnatural appetite. 1 

We now proceed to discover, if possible, the cause 
of this appetite. Let us first examine some theories 
that have been set forth by different authors. 

The simple hunger theory is supported by some, 
and there would be some force in it if Fiji were a 
barren land. We know that intense hunger will 
compel the most gentle people to eat their fellows, 
as, for example, in shipwreck or siege. Mothers 
have been known at such times to devour their own 
offspring. So great, however, is the racial objection 
to this horrid meal, that even the extremest hunger 
fails to overcome it, except in isolated cases. An 
important case is described by a traveller named 
Werner in a book entitled " British Central Africa.'* 
The following is a quotation : — 

" In Shire there was a terrible famine in 1862-3. 
Nine-tenths of the population perished, many com- 
mitting suicide, but no cannibalism." 

When we bear in mind the equality of the Fijians 
and the Shire people in racial standing, we are com- 
pelled to realise that the simple hunger theory is 

Besides, Fiji is a fruitful land, rich, as we have seen, 
in edible roots and plants. The surrounding sea and 

1 On the connection between war and cannibalism see Ellis, 
"Polynesian Researches," vol. i, p. 359; W. Mariner, "Tonga 
Islands," vol. i, pp. 264-265; Capt. Erskine, "Western Pacific 
Islands," pp. 39, 157, 158, 249, 260, 272, 320, 334. The latter 
refers to Samoa, Fiji, Tanua, and Vate. 


the rivers teem with fish. It would be indeed difficult 
for a Fijian to arrive at the starving stage. The stories 
of the people, handed down from the past, have no 
record of a disastrous famine. The only case in which 
a Fijian could be brought to absolute starvation would 
be when besieged in time of war. But in all the cases 
of siege with which we are acquainted, those who ate 
human flesh in sheer distress were glad enough to 
give it up when the siege was raised. We infer 
therefore, that while the very extreme of hunger is 
necessary to force a person to accept this method of 
satisfying hunger, it is but a temporary cause, and, 
consequently, is not calculated to establish a custom. 
We must look for some supplementary reason. 

Dr. L. Fison evidently felt the difficulty, and en- 
deavoured to meet it. His hypothesis is that we are 
flesh-eating animals, and it is the scarcity of flesh- 
meat which causes an overpowering flesh-hunger. 1 
His assertion, also, is considerably neutralised when 
we remember that the sea waters of Fiji are full of 
fish ; and the Fijians were, and are, expert fishermen. 

It is true, as Dr. Fison says, that pigs and poultry 
were of late introduction into the Group, but we have 
to face the further fact that Dr. Fison seems to have 
forgotten, viz., that they were brought to Fiji just 
before the very period in which cannibalism began to 
develop most swiftly. 2 That is to say, according to 

1 ■ Tales of Old Fiji," Intro, p. xlv. 

2 Sir E. Im Thurn says that it developed rapidly only after the 
white man came. Med. Journ. of Australia, 1914, p. 297. 


Dr. Fison's theory, the flesh-hunger became most 
powerful in its demands when the means were present 
to satisfy it, an evident contradiction. 

The doctor furthermore overlooks the important 
circumstance that the chiefs, who were the greatest 
delinquents in the matter of eating human flesh, had 
numbers of pigs and poultry with which to appease 
their flesh-hunger. 1 They had also the monopoly of 
turtle, and well-cooked turtle-flesh is an excellent 
substitute for roast meat. 

The theory of flesh-hunger, as applied to Fiji, has 
no foundation in fact, for at present large numbers of 
natives are quite content with fish, birds, molluscs, 
and Crustacea. An occasional pig gives them merely 
a taste of flesh-food. As we have seen, the people 
in Dholo (the interior) often lack even fish, and use 
leaves of trees and shrubs as an appetiser for their 
vegetable diet. 

The flesh-food theory has been strained to meet the 
case. It is inconceivable that, for instance, men who 
had sufficient vegetable foods would think of eating a 
man to satisfy a supposed hunger for flesh. 

Another theory was held by the Rev. T. Williams, 
that revenge is the chief motive of cannibalism. This 
again seems but a partial explanation of the problem, 
for nowhere has the desire for revenge been so intense 
as in the old Italian vendetta. Napier, in his " Floren- 
tine History " writes of it : " And for centuries after, 

1 Dr. G. Brown holds that scarcity of animal food does not cause 
anthropophagy. " Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 140. 


a private offence was never forgotten until avenged, 
and generally involved a succession of mutual injuries. 
. . . Vengeance was sometimes allowed to sleep for 
five and thirty years, and then suddenly struck a victim, 
who perhaps had not seen the light when the original 
injury was inflicted." 1 Hellish torture seems to be 
the very worst thing that revenge in Italy could 
contrive. There does not appear to be any sign of 
cannibalism as a result of the vendetta. To take a 
concrete case, the only violent methods used in the 
bitter struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines 
were torture and murder. 

The native explanation of cannibalism is too much 
like Charles Lamb's story of roast pig to bear much 
examination. We are unable to believe that the 
natural abhorrence in human nature of the flesh of 
our own kind would vanish upon the discovery that 
it tasted nice after being in a conflagration. Nor 
could this be answered by saying that the Fijians were 
in a lower state of civilisation. For, if we descend in 
the scale of life as low as the superior animals, we do 
not find that they are in the habit of eating their own 
species. The abhorrence of eating one's own kind is 
evidently rooted deeply in all kinds of superior life 
as an instinct of self-preservation. 

The true explanation of the cannibalistic appetite 
seems to be in a combination of the simple hunger 
theory and the revenge hypothesis. 

The people of Fiji were intensely tribal, the separ- 

1 Napier, "Florentine History," vol. i, chap. vii. 


ation of interests being very largely due ^to the contour 
of their land. High and steep mountain ranges pre- 
vented regular communication, until the very languages 
changed. In the small island of Kandavu there are 
upwards of half a dozen minor dialects, while the 
general speech of Kandavu is quite different from 
that of Mbau. The same may be said of every other 
section of the country. 

Jealousies arose, and then bitter enmity, which 
occasioned war of a most determined character. The 
Marquesas Islands afford corroborative proof that war 
is frequent in countries where the communities are 
separated. They are very mountainous, and the 
inhabitants have become local in their ideas, and 
jealous in their disposition. In Tonga, on the other 
hand, there are few mountains, and it is well known 
that, in former days, the Tongans were not lovers of 
war. The Maoris were great fighters, and cannibals 
as well. Again, the Caribs, whose name gives us the 
term cannibalism, were fierce and warlike. 1 Alexander 
reports the same of the Hervey Islanders. 2 The 
Hervey Islanders were cannibals. 

In Fijian warfare, the characteristic mode of assault 
was not to be found in hand-to-hand conflict. In 
harmony with his general system of life, the native 
resorted to trickery and ambush ; and if any other 
way could be found by which an enemy might be 
conquered he would never fight. One of his methods 

1 Tylor, " Primitive Culture," vol. i, p. 30. 
2 " Islands of the Pacific," pp. 267-8. 


of warfare was to cut off the water supply, and destroy 
the gardens, of the foe. Fruit trees alone were the 
exception. These were spared if possible. If an 
opportunity were afforded them, the besieged would 
retaliate in the same way. Much distress would thus 
arise, for the people in the besieged town would be 
prevented by the enemy from seeking food in the woods. 
Sallies would be made at intervals with the object of 
intimidating the investing forces, and perhaps a dead 
body or two would be brought back. Finally, driven 
by pangs of hunger, and goaded by motives of revenge, 
they would cast aside their natural abhorrence for 
human flesh, and, in mad desperation, make a feast of 
the dead body. Be it understood that they were 
already acquainted with the eating of various parts of 
the human organism, but not from motives of hunger. 

On this question, Westermarck is interesting. He 
quotes the Talmud, " Commit a sin twice and you will 
think it perfectly allowable," 1 and so the act of eating 
human flesh for food, if repeated several times, would 
gradually acquire a certain legitimate appearance, and 
would become more highly favoured as war grew more 

By association, a further development would take 
place. If a man saw his deadly enemy in time of 
comparative peace, his desire for revenge, having been, 
in days gone by, closely connected with extreme 
hunger, would suggest eating ; which suggestion 
would gradually acquire strength according to its 

1 Westermarck, " Origin of the Moral Ideas," p. 160. 


frequency. Revenge thus becomes the dominant 
motive in cannibalism. Consequently, one of the 
worst insults that could be offered to a Fijian would 
be to say, " I would like to eat you." 

Revenge occupied a peculiarly large place in the 
Fijian community. The people were bitterly vindictive. 
This is curious when we contrast their past with their 
present temperament. In these days no more affable, 
generous race could be found. Yet Dr. Fison is able 
to record the following words, which are quoted by 
Dr. Codrington. They constitute a prayer for ven- 
geance offered by a Fijian. " Let those that speak 
evil of us perish. Let the enemy be clubbed, swept 
away, utterly destroyed, piled up in heaps. Let their 
teeth be broken, may they fall headlong into a pit. 
Let us live and let our enemies perish." x 

The desire for vengeance became an inherent part 
of the Fijian's nature, and was increased constantly 
by ever-fermenting tribal wars. This fact is noticed 
by Tylor — " The rancorous hatred between neigh- 
bouring tribes keeps savages in ceaseless fear and 
trouble." 2 The Fijian never forgot an insult paid 
him by a member of another tribe, although he might 
have to wait years for the accomplishment of his 

There is a unique element in the history of Fijian 
revenge which should not be overlooked. It has 
already been made clear that the natural life of the 

1 Codrington, " Melanesian Anthropology and Folklore," p. 147. 

2 " Anthropology, " p. 416. 


clan and family is kindly enough. But it often hap- 
pened that, in tribal wars, brothers and relatives were 
separated and opposed to each other in battle, on 
account of the distracting influences of marital con- 
nections. Not only so, but brothers sometimes grew 
up to hate one another as rivals for chiefly power. 
I quote a statement illustrating the foregoing from 
Dr. Fison's " Tales from Old Fiji." 1 " Dhadha- 
veitadhini signifies murderous hate between brother 
and brother." In the days of polygamy, sons of equal 
rank by different mothers were natural rivals. The 
mothers had from the birth of the children fostered 
this deadly feeling of antipathy. And from the time 
the children were able to think, they were scheming to 
murder one another. It is reported by Dr. Fison 
that, when Dhakombau and Raivalita were unbrotherly 
rivals, the former sprang out from behind a house, and 
seized Raivalita, crying out at the same time to two of 
his followers, " Strike." They struck, and Raivalita 
fell. The dying man recovered consciousness, and 
looking up, saw Dhakombau standing with a triumphant 
smile upon his face. Raivalita thereupon partially 
raised himself, and clutching a handful of bloody dust, 
threw it in his brother's face with a curse as he fell 
back and died. 

A similar bitter hate was often engendered between 
father and son, uncle and nephew. The natural 
fountain of love and respect was broken up, and } 
instead of the sweet waters of harmony, a great flood 

1 " Tales from Old Fiji," Intro, p. xxxiii. 


of horrible hate and venomous rage flowed over the 
family and tribal life. 

To sum up, the desire for vengeance in the Fijian 
breast has been most intensely developed by (a) con- 
stant tribal war lengthened out by repeated insult and 
injury, and (b) malignant hatred which sprang up 
between rival relatives and chiefs. 

As noted above, the desire so caused was 
strengthened by intense hunger in times of siege, 
amongst a people who already knew from ages past 
the superstitious custom of eating portions of the 
human body, for the sake of the energy supposed to 
reside therein. Considering the strength of the motive 
passions, it would be no great step to the eating of 
human flesh for food. An appetite would be created 
which could easily be aroused again even in times of 
peace, in view of the fact that the desire for vengeance 
is one of the most persistent passions of human nature. 
And especially the appetite would be excited in the 
native at the sight of his bitter enemy, on account of 
the close association originally formed between hunger 
and revenge in times of siege. 

Finally, the horrible custom was systematised. 
Certain utensils were used for cannibal feasts alone, 
such as pots and forks. Also, particular ceremonies 
were monopolised by it. A fearful drum-beat was 
evolved, which, by the way, is sometimes used even 
now when the turtle is captured. Weird and revolting 
chants were composed, and all great occasions were 
marked by the presentation of a human body. Dis- 


crimination as to victims became more defined, and 
inferior tribes forbore to eat the members of the more 
chiefly tribes, and some clans were looked upon as the 
proper food of their superiors. Women were generally 
excluded from the feasts. 

One more word in respect of the custom remains to 
be said. Offerings of the slain were made to cannibal 
gods. How did these gods become cannibals ? The 
answer is that if the gods acquired an appetite for 
human flesh it could only have happened after the 
appetite of the people had been to some extent formed. 
Let it be remembered that priests were recipients of 
gifts to the gods ; and it is but natural that they should 
so conduct their religious ceremonies that the gods' 
share of the gruesome repast should be allotted to 
themselves. Such a matter was simple enough. It 
was sufficient to spread a report that the god would be 
angry if his supply were not forthcoming. The god's 
appetite was a reflection of the abnormal desire of his 
devotees, and the priest was the interested custodian 
of it. 

The conclusion that we have come to shows that the 
unnatural growth was a result of definite circumstances 
in the social and material environment of the Fijian. 
We who have lived in Fiji have reason to believe, from 
the evidence which is to be seen in Fijian society to-day, 
that, if circumstances be changed, the appetite caused 
by them dies away also. These people, like the 
Tongans, are heartily ashamed of their past evil habits. 
The Mbauans, who were the worst of all in their desire 


for human flesh, are exceedingly humiliated if visitors 
are shown, in their presence, the stone upon which the 
cannibal victims used to be dashed before being placed 
in the oven. The recurrence of anthropophagy is 
therefore quite improbable, so long as the present 
regime is continued. 

Our study of the Fijian is for the time being at an 
end. At present old things are passing away and all 
things are being made new. The discussion has been 
chiefly of things that have been, and of such things as 
are resultant from, or typical of, the past. Here and 
there references have been made to the new order of 
things, and we are conscious that with a changing 
society, a new character is being formed in the Fiji 
islander. He is in a stage of transition, and is 
extremely liable to be overcome by the temptations 
and dangers of the period. The dangers are to be seen 
in the possibility of extinction, arising from indulgence 
in vices unknown to the native before, vices which are 
peculiar to civilisation. We are also aware that lassitude 
and laziness may yet prove fatal to many both in 
social life and moral character. Disintegration of 
classes is also surely setting in ; for gradually there is 
coming into view a richer and a poorer class, a law- 
breaking and a law-abiding class, and a religious as 
against a sceptic section of the community. What the 
outcome will be, not even the keenest mind can 
positively assert. During the last seven years the 
population has been gradually increasing except 


during the influenza outbreak of 191 9. Further, a 
reaction against the communal bonds is in evidence. 
Companies for the production and sale of the fruits of 
the soil make sporadic appearances and then lose 
energy. That the people are not inherently lazy 
seems to be proven by the fact that the contingent of 
natives sent to France did good work behind the lines, 
also by the achievements of a few who have been able 
to cut aloof from the commune. With a good govern- 
ment, and wise teaching, both of the moral and spiritual 
kinds, they will probably survive in the long run. 
If they eventually die away, the Fijians will not have 
lived wholly in vain. For during the past fifty years 
some good, noble, and clean men have been produced, 
who have had a worthy object in life. Some choice 
spirits have been found, free from avarice and self- 
seeking, who, considering the pit from which they were 
dug, have given estimable lives and characters to the 
service of their fellows. And what more could be 
said of the best of us ? 


Compiled by Mr. P. S. Allen in the " Handbook of the Pacific," 
and printed here by his courtesy. 

All those marked with an asterisk deal with the ethnology of the 
Fijian People. Most of the books mentioned are in the Mitchell 
Library, Macquarie St., Sydney, N.S.W. 

Adams, Emma H. " Jottings from the Pacific ; Life and Incidents 
in the Fijian and Samoan Islands." Oakland, Cal. : Pacific 
Press Co., 1890. 

Allen, Percy S. (Editor). " Cyclopedia of Fiji." Sydney : 
McCarron, Stewart and Co., Ltd., 1907. 

(American Claims.) See appendix to later editions of Williams and 
Calvert's " Fiji and the Fijians." 

Anderson, J. W. " Notes of Travel in Fiji and New Caledonia." 
London : Ellisen and Co., 1880. 

Arthur, William. " What is Fiji ? " London : Hamilton, 
Adams and Co., 1859. 

Aylmer, (Captain) Fenton. " Fiji " (in his " Cruise in the 
Pacific "), i860. 

(Brett.) " Brett's Guide to Fiji," edited by H. C. Thurston. 
Auckland: H. Brett, 1881. 

Britton, H. " Fiji in 1870." Letters of The Argus special 
correspondent, with a map and gazetteer of the Fijian Archi- 
pelago. Melbourne : Samuel Mullen, 1870. 

Burnett, Frank. " Fiji " (in his " Through Tropic Seas "), 1910 

Burton, (Rev.) J. W. " The Fiji of To-day." London : C. H. 
Kelly, 1 910. 

" Fiji " (in his " Call of the Pacific "), 1912. 

♦Calvert, (Rev.) James and Rev. T. Williams. " Fiji and the 
Fijians." Two vols. London : A. Heylin, 1858. New York : 
Appleton and Co., 1859. Revised edition in one vol., with 
introduction by Miss Gordon Cumming. London : C. H. 
Kelly, 1885. 

(Calvert.) For life of Rev. James Calvert, see G. Stringer Rowe. 

»43 R 2 


(Ceres.) " The Fiji Islands, with Maps ; Commercially considered 
as a Field for Emigration." Melbourne: Sands and McDougall, 

(Cession.) Message from Sir John Young, Governor of New South 
Wales, to the chiefs, declining, on the part of Her Majesty's 
Government, the offer of the Cession of the Sovereignty of the 
Fiji Islands ; and Colonel Smythe's report on same subject. 
See appendix, Mrs. Smythe's " Ten Months in the Fiji Islands " ; 
also Moss's and de Ricci's books. 

(Colony of Fiji.) " Handbook." Suva, 1912. 

Cooper, H. Stonehewer. " Fiji " (in his " Coral Lands and the 
Islands of the Pacific "), 1880, 1882, and 1888. 

" Our New Colony, Fiji ; its History, Progress and Resources." 

London : Mortgage and Agency Co., 1882. 

Coote, Walter. " Fiji " (in his " Western Pacific "), 1883. 

Cumming, (Miss) C. F. Gordon. " At Home in Fiji." London : 
Blackwood and Sons, 1884. 

Deane, (Rev.) W. " The Strange Adventures of a Whale's Tooth .' 
a Missionary Story of Fiji for Young People." Sydney : The 
Methodist Book Depot, 1919. 

(Decrease of Population.) Report of the Commission appointed 
to inquire into the Decrease of the Native Population. Suva : 
Government Printer, 1896. 

Des Vceux, (Sir) G. Williams. " Fiji " (in his " My Colonial 

Service "), 1903. 
Dewar, J. Cumming. " Fiji " (in his " Voyage of the Nyanza ") 


Erskine, Captain J. B. " Fiji " (in his " Western Pacific "), 1853. 

Eykyn, J. (See " A Peripatetic Parson.") 

(Federation.) " Federation of Fiji with New Zealand," reprint of 
articles from Fiji Times. Suva : G. F. Griffiths, 1901. 

Festetics de Tolna, (Count) Rodolph. " Fiji " (in his " Chez 
les Cannibales "), 1903. 

*Fison, (Rev.) Lorimer. " Tales from Old Fiji." London : De La 
More Press, 1904. 

Forbes, Litton. " Two Years in Fiji." London : Longmans, 
Green and Co., 1875. 

Gaggin, John. " Old Levuka," etc. (in his " Among the Man- 
Eaters "), 1900. 


(Gazetteer.) See Britton's " Fiji in 1870." 

Girard, Jules. "La Colonisation Anglo-Saxonne aux lies Fidji." 

Paris, 1874. 
Gordon, (Sir) Arthur. " Letters and Notes Written during the 

Disturbances in the Highlands (known as the ' Devil Country ') 

of Viti Levu, Fiji," 1876. (Two vols.) Edinburgh: R. and 

R. Clark, 1879. 
Gordon Cumming, Miss. See Cumming. 

Grimshaw, Beatrice. " From Fiji to the Cannibal Islands." 

London : Geo. Bell and Sons, 1907. 
" Fiji " (in her " Three Wonderful Nations "), 1910. 

Guppy, (Dr.) H. B. " Vanua Levu, a Description of the Leading 
Physical and Geological Characters " (in his " Observations of 
a Naturalist in the Pacific "), 1903. 

Hall, D. B., and Osborne, Lord Albert. " Fiji " (in their 
" Sunshine and Surf "), 1901. 

Horne, John. " A Year in Fiji ; an Inquiry into the Botanical, 
Agricultural, and Economical Resources of the Colony." London : 
Printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode, and published by E. 
Stanford, 1881. 

Lady, A. (Mrs. Wallis.) " Life in Feejee, or Five Years among the 
Cannibals." Boston : W. Heath, 1851. 

La Farge, John. " Fiji " (in his " Reminiscences of the South 
Seas "), 1914. 

Lucas, (Dr.) T. P. " Cries from Fiji." Melbourne : Dunn and 
Collins (no date). 

Macdonald, John Denis. " Exploration of the Rewa River and 
its Tributaries." Paper read before the Royal Geographical 
Society of London, 1857. 

Marin, Aylie. " Fiji " (in his " En Oceanie "), 1888. 

M.A.T.E. " Fiji of To-day." Sydney : G. Robertson and Co., 

Moss, Frederick J. " Old Fiji, With an Account of Cakobau's 
Reign and the Proclamations and Government Gazettes in 
connection therewith " (in his " Through Atolls and Islands "), 

" A Planter's Experience in Fiji." Auckland : Jones and 

Tombs, 1870. 

Parr, W. F. " The Bane of Sir Arthur Gordon's Disingenuous 
Utterances and the Antidote of the Fiji Times Editorial Com- 
ments and Exposure." Sydney : Gibbs Shallard and Co., 1883. 


Peripatetic Parson, A. (J. Eykyn.) " Fiji " (in his " Parts of the 

Pacific"), 1896. 
Reeves, Edmund. " Fiji " (in his " Brown Men and Women "), 

Ricci, J. H. de. " Fiji : Our New Province in the South Seas." 

London : Edward Stanford, 1875. 
♦Rivers, W. H. R. " Fiji " (in his " History of Melanesian Society") 

♦Romilly, Hugh H. " Fiji " (in his " Western Pacific "), 1886 and 

Ross, C. Stewart. " Fiji and the Western Pacific." Geelong 
(Vic.) : H. Thacker, 1909. 

Rowe, G. Stringer. " James Calvert of Fiji." London, 1893. 

Russell, (Rev.) M. " Introduction of Christianity into Fiji " (in 
his " Polynesia "), 1853. 

Scholes, S. E. " Fiji and the Friendly Isles." London : T. 

(Seddon.) " The Right Hon. R. J. Seddon's Visit to Tonga, Fiji, 
Savage Islands, and the Cook Islands." Wellington : Govern- 
ment Printer, 1900. 

Seemann, (Dr.) Berthold. " Viti, an Account of a Government 
Mission to the Vitian or Fijian Islands in 1860-61." Cambridge : 
Macmillan and Co., 1862. 

" Flora Vitiensis : a description of the plants of the Viti or Fiji 

Islands, with an Account of their History, Uses, and Properties." 
London, 1865-73. 

Smythe, Mrs. " Ten Months in the Fiji Islands, with Introduction 
and Appendix by Colonel W. J. Smythe." Oxford and London : 
John Henry and James Parker, 1864. 

Smythe, (Colonel) W. J. See Mrs. Smythe. 

St. Johnston, Alfred. " Fiji " (in " Camping Among Cannibals "), 

" Sundowner " (Herbert Tichborne). " Fiji " (in his " Noqu 

Talanoa," published in 1896, and " Rambles in Polynesia," 

Thomas, Julian. " Fiji " (in his " Cannibals and Convicts "), 1886. 

♦Thomson, Basil. " The Fijians, a Study of the Decay of Custom." 

London, 1908. 
Thomson, J. P. " Island of Kadavu." Scottish Geographical 

Magazine, December, 1889. 


Thomson, J. P. " The Land of Viti." Scottish Geographical Magazine, 
March, 1894. 

Union Steamship Company. " A Cruise in the Islands — Tonga, 
Samoa, Fiji," 1895. 

" Three Wonderful Nations — Tonga, Samoa, Fiji " (by Beatrice 

Grimshaw), 1910. 

Walker, H. Wilfred. " Fiji " (in his " Wanderings among South 
Sea Savages), 1909. 

Wallis, Mrs. See A Lady. 

*Waterhouse, (Rev.) Joseph. " The Kings and People of Fiji." 
London : Wesleyan Conference Office, 1866. 

Watsford, (Rev.) John. " My Life and Work in Fiji and Aus- 
tralia." London : C. H. Kelly, 1901. 

Webb, (Rev.) A. J. " The History of Fiji," with an Appendix by 
F. P. Winter. Sydney, 1885. 

Whetham, J. W. Boddam. " Fiji " (in " Pearls of the Pacific "), 

♦Williams, (Rev.) Thomas and Rev. James Calvert. " Fiji and 
the Fijians." Two vols. London : A. Heylin, 1858. New 
York : Appleton and Co., 1859. Revised edition in one vol., 
with introduction by Miss Gordon Cumming. London : C. H. 
KeUy, 1885. 

Wilkes, (Admiral) Charles. " Fiji " (in his " Narrative of the 
United States Exploring Expedition "), 1845. 

To which the Author adds : — 

Bennett, W. E. (in "A Century in the Pacific," edited by James 

♦Corney, B. S. " Certain Mutilations practised by Natives of the 

Viti Islands." Aust. Assoc, for Adv. of Science, vol. ii., 1890. 

*Fison, (Dr.) L. " Land Tenure in Fiji." Journ. of Anthrop. 
Inst., 1881. 

" The Nanga," 1884. 

*Frazer, Sir J. G. (in his " Totemismand Exogamy," 1910, vol. ii.) 
♦Hocart, A. M. (in " Man," 1913, 1914. I 9I5-) 

American Anthropologist, 1915. 

Journ. of Anthrop. Inst., ig 1 ^ I9J3- 


*Im Thurn, (Sir) E. F. " Address to Anthropological Section of 
British Association for the Advancement of Science." Medical 
Journ. of Aust., 1914. 

♦Lindt, J. W. " Fire Ordeal at Beqa." Royal Geog. Soc. of Aust., 

Moseley, H. N. " Notes by a Naturalist on the ' Challenger,' " 

St. Johnston. " The Lauans." 
Turner, G. (in " Nineteen Years in Polynesia "). London, 1884. 



Afiti, witches of, 32 
After-life, belief in, 41 
Ai mbtilumbulu, 81 
Ai ringurhigu, 80 
Ai rdnggordnggo, 80 
Ancestor-worship, 4, 38, 39 ff. 
Andi ni Wdimardu, 71 
Animism, 39 ff. 
Aryans, megalithic, 1 


Baker, Rev. Thos., 81, 83 

Banks' Island, spirit possession in, 

Berkeley, Mr. H., on Nggdlongga- 

Idvi, 82 
Bread-fruit, 211 
British Guiana, spirits in, 27 
Brown, Prof. Macmillan, on Oriental 

lying, 135 
— on cannibalism, 224 

Calvert, Mrs., 84 
Cannibalism, 223 ff. 

— amongst the gods, 239 

— ancient practice of, 223 

— drum-beat of, 203, 238 

— flesh hunger theory, 231-2 

— Mbauans ashamed of, 239-40 

— simple hunger theory, 230-31 

— sympathetic magic in, 223-6 

— utensils of, 238 

— women excluded from, 239 

— as leaders, 104-8, 111-12 

— change of attitude in, 8 

Fijian Society. 


— failure of, 113 

— feasts offered to, 209 

— status of, 7 

— terms of respect to, 94-6 

— their power to confiscate goods, 


— titles of, 90-91 

— birth of, 10 ff. 

— birthday gift of, 11-12 

— entrance into house of, 12 

— feeding of, 11 

— firstborn, 13 

— mortality of, 10 

— new, 13 

— of Mbauan chiefs, 10 

— superstitions about, 155-6 

— vomiting, 13 
Christianity, triumph of, 139 
Christians and superstition, 163-4 
Circus acrobats, 36 

Clubs, as symbols, 75 
Cocoa-nuts, as symbols, 72 
Communism, lack of initiative and 

incentive under, 109 ff. 
Conscience, Fijian words for, 142 
Conus Marmoreus, as symbol, 74 
Crane, as travelling sign, 153-4 


Dead, gifts to the, 40, 43, 44 

DhadhavHtadhini, 237 

Dhakaundrove, chiefs of, 45, 93 

Dhakombau, 64, 104, 112 

DMva, as charm, 76 

Dholo, dark skin of natives in, 8 

Diet, articles of, 210 ff. 

— coastal and interior, 213 

Dreams, 41 

Duk Duk society, 35 




Etiquette, 130 ff. 

— in yanggdna-dxmking, 134, 157-8 

Fish- traps, 172-3 

Fison, Dr. L., on cannibalism, 225, 

231, 236 
Food-prohibitions, 219-22 

Feasts, 207 ff. 

— Mangiti ni yavdu, 20 

— Mb&ngitini, 12 

— Tdvundiki, 13 

— Tiinundrd, 12 

Fiji, union of Polynesian and 
Melanesian in, 1-4 

— population in, 228 

— Christianised, 11 3-1 5 

— confessions of, 144 

— courtesy of, 130 ff. 

— crime rare amongst, 146-7 

— curiosity of, 24 

— dependence on superiors, 103 

— diplomacy of, 136 

— early character of, 146 

— environment and mentality of, 

98 ff. 

— eschatology of, 116-18 

— fear in, 25 ff. 

— fear in Christian, 26-7 

— ingenuity of, 182 

— interdependent spirit of, 102-3, 

— lack of an ideal, no 

— lack of wonder in, 24-5 

— laxity of, 124 

— lying of, 135-9, 140 ff. 

— obedience to chiefs of, 106-7, IIX 

— revenge and cannibalism among, 

233 ff- 

— self-control of, 2 

— sense of shame in, 143 

— voluble in preaching, 114 

— wealth of, 122 

— work in numbers, 101-2, 106 
Fish-fence, 174 


— bait in, 172-3 

— carried on by clans, 166-7 

— carried on by women, 167 ff. 

— superstitions connected with, 

167-8, 169, 170-74, 177-9, 181 

— use of oil in, 169 

— use of spear in, 168 


— a dhiri, 18 

— drawing the reed, 17 

— hiding the shell, 17 

— Idvo, 16 
— - tupe, 17 

— v&itingga, 15 
Ghosts, obsession by, 44 


Halley's comet, as sign, 153 
Hervey Islands, war in, 228, 234 
Hocart, Mr. A. M., on Vdsu, 6 n. 

Images in Dholo, 70 

— superstition about, 71 
Initiation ceremonies, 18 ff. 

— of circumcision, 19 

— luva mdsi, 19 

— of tattooing women, 23 

— of Vdkamdsi, 19 

— of Vdkatdkayddha, 21-3 

— of Waimar6u clan, 18 
Ironggele, 191 

Javan Murex, as symbol, 74 
Jevons, Proi. F. B., on taboo, 125-6 


Kaisi, 8 

Kaldu Vu, 39, 40. 45 ff-, 58 ff. 

— connected by marriage, 62 

— priest of, 58 
Kaldu Vu vdta, 59, 60 



Kalou Vu vdta as clan-bond, 100 

— discussion on, 6ik. 

— instances of, 59-60 
Kandavu, confinement of women 

in, 11 

— etiquette in, 132 

— rock at, 38 

— superstition in, 152, 155 

— tests after death in, 117 

— turtle-fishing in, 176, 180 
Kandavu Levu, Ratu, 153 
Kdto tdmbu, 177 

Kdva, as symbol, 75 

— as lustration, 76 
Kdwa, 172-3 
Kir&kiri, 120-23 

— amusing instances of, 122-3 

— evil effect of, 120-21, 123 
KiviMvl, 12, 13 

Kuila, 191 

Lakemba, rocks at, 37-S 
Ldla, 104 ff. 

— cause of trouble, 105 

— personal, 105 
Ldli, 191, 196 ff. 

Land, as property of clan, 118 

— disputes over, 58 
Langham, Rev. F., 69 
Ldsu, 140 

Lau, chiefly language in, 94-6 

Ldwa Dhirt, 185 

Ldwa ni mbaldlo, 1S4 

Ldwa Sukdu, 186 

Leweti, rock at, 53 

Lila mbaldvu, 228 

Ltivi ni Wai, 32 

— guild of, 34-5 

— obsession by, 35-6 

— secrecy of, 34, 35, 
Lyth, Mrs., 84 


Madhuata, animal-worship in, 30 

— cannibalism in, 227 

— spirit-worship in, 34 

— superstition in, 151 
Mdna, 4, 87-8 
Mandrdi vtindi, 51 
Mdnumdnu ni SingalSvu, 33 
Maoris, cannibalism amongst the, 

226, 234 

Mardma, 91 

— Polynesian use of, 93 
Marquesas Islands, cannibalism in, 


— war in, 234 

Mdsi, as symbol, 72 ff. 

— as turban, 73 

— doffing, 73 

— in installation of chief, 73 
Mataiasi Vavi, 164 
Mdtanggdli, 100 ff. 

— at work, 101-2 

— boycott by, 103 

Mdta ni vamia, 73, 160, 196 
Matriarchate in Kandavu, 12 

— in Vanua Levu, 3 
Mba, ndrdunikdu in, 164 

— superstition in, 151 

Mbau, descent through mother at, 3 

— etiquette in, 132 ff. 

— food-prohibition in, 219-20 

— sacred stone at, 65 

— signs of grief in, 193 
Mbengga, god of, 30, 32 
Mbdseyawd, 67-8 
Mbukete vdtu, 94 
Mbure, 20 
Messengers, 195-6 
Meteors, as signs, 153 
Mddhdmddhd, 12, 13 
Mothers, bathing of, 14 

— salute of, 15 


Naidhombodhombo, warriors from, 

Nainggoro, ferry at, 43, 50 
Nakasaleka, 51 

Nak6rosule, stone-god of, 67-8 
Nambukelevu, 42, 48, 51 
Namiisi, Rewa god at, 67 
Nangga, the, 40-41 
Nangganangga, 117 
Narik6so, rock at, 53-4 
Nassau. Dr., 137 
Naus6ri, superstition in, 151-2 
Ndaudht'na, 32 

Ndawani, Tanovu's slide at, 54 
Ndengei, 39, 63-4, 226 

— in form of snake, 64 

— tatdu of, 42 
Ndrdunikdu, 161-5 

Nets, netting, net-making, 169 ff-, 
182 ff. 




Omens, 28, 152. ff. 

Ono, Nddlinddli at, 56 

Orion, 29 

Osiris, 91 

Owl, as sign, 31, 160 

Patriarchate, in Viti Levu, 3 
Property, personal, 1 18-19 
Puddings, Fijian, 214 ff. 


— Aldebaran, 29 

— Corona Australis ; Na L6vo, 29 

— Hyades ; Na Lddha, 29 

— Milky Way, 30 

— Orion ; Na hi, 29 

— Pleiades ; Na tdrawdu ; Soso 

tdrawdu, 29 

— shooting, 29-30, 153 

— Southern Cross ; Na Nga, 29 
Stewart, Mr. J., his opinion of 

K&rekirb, 120, 122 
Superstitions, 149 ff. 
Susu, 172 


Ra, 91 

— Polynesian use of, 93 
Ra, superstition in, 156 
Rahu, 92 

Rajah, 92 

Rama, 92 

Rameses, 92 

Ranee, 92 

Rewa, etiquette in, 132 

— superstition in, 150, 151 

— vHmbatiki in, 221 
R6i, as symbol, 74-5 
R6ho, 93 

Rtisa, 172 

Rycroft, Rev. H. R., on canni- 
balism, 225 

Sabbath, magical character of, 

Sdki, 184 
Sdla ni Ydlo, 43 
Sdra, 175 
Saulile, 185-6 
Savage, Charles, 228 
Sex question, 147-8 
Sharks' teeth as ornaments, 78 
Signs and omens, 152 ff. 
Sika ni Idwa, 183 
Snakes, superstitions about, 154 
Spirit-worship, 31 ff. 

— lack of ritual in, 33 

— Liive ni Wai, 32, 34, 35, 36 

Taboo, 125 ff. 

— as preparation for development 

of character, 125-6 

— kinds of, 125 

— lack of ethics in, 125 

— religious aspect of, 128 
Tahiti, chiefs in, 93-4 
Tdma, 131 

Tamdta ndina, 35 
Tambua, 76, 77 ff. 

— as heirloom, 87 

— brought to Fiji, 86 

— ceremony of presenting, 87 

— general uses of, 79 ff. 

— origin of, 77-8 

— the death tambua, 83 
Tanoa, 84 

Tanovu, 39-40, 47^. 

— kitu of, 47-8 

— sharpening stone of, 55 

— slingstone of, 55 

— wives of, 48-9, 56 
Tardki, 184-5, l &9 
Tdrawdu, 29, 84 
Tatdu, the, 41 
Tautaumolau, 48-51 
Tawdkb, 1 9 1-3 
Tingga, 16 

Tod, 16 

Toga virilis, 73 

Tonga, chiefs in, 93, 94 

Tdra, 74 

Totemism, 30 

Tuninddu, 176—9 

Turtle, fishing for, 175 ff. 

— killing the, 181 
Turtle-net, making the, 186-9 



Vdkadhda tawdki, dance of, 192-3 
Vdkarordngo, 104 
Vambea, Tanovu's army at, 52 
Vaniia Levu, absence of legend in, 


— matriarchate in, 3 

Vdsu, and matriarchate and patri- 
archate, 4-7 

— the first, 7 

— of Heaven, 5 
VHmbatiki, 221 

Verata, food-prohibition at, 221 

— signals in, 193 

— superstition in, 151 

— viimbatiki at, 221 
Virgins, 195 
Vudka ni Veikdu, 31 
Vunikaldu, 19-20, 21, 22 

Vunivdlu, 229 
Viitu, 34 
Viiya, 33 


Willcox, Lieut., 137 
Williams, Rev. Thos., on canni- 
balism, 232 

Ydka, 183-4 

Yauravu, grave offerings at, 40 
Ydva ni lawa, 183-4 
Yanggdna, chewing of, 20 

— etiquette of drinking, 134, 157-8 

— superstitions concerning, 157-60 


3 'N3 MAR 1 4 1979 








Deane, Wallace 
Fijian society