Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun Fiji Facts 6

Cannibalism Played an Important Part in Fijian History

Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes was quite rampant and very much part of everyday life.[1] During the 19th century, Ratu Udre Udre is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement.[2] According to Deryck Scarr ("A Short History of Fiji", 1984, page 3), "Ceremonial occasions saw freshly killed corpses piled up for eating. 'Eat me!' was a proper ritual greeting from a commoner to a chief." Scarr also reported that the posts that supported the chief's house or the priest's temple would have sacrificed bodies buried underneath them, with the rationale that the spirit of the ritually sacrificed person would invoke the gods to help support the structure, and "men were sacrificed whenever posts had to be renewed" (Scarr, page 3). Also, when a new boat, or drua, was launched, if it was not hauled over men as rollers, crushing them to death, "it would not be expected to float long" (Scarr, page 19"). Fijians today regard those times as "na gauna ni tevoro" (time of the devil). The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles, in turn Fiji was unknown to the rest of the outside world.[3]

A very fine cannibal fork, or i cula ni bokola, which was used exclusively for the consumption of human flesh by high ranking chiefs or great priests. The persona of important ranking chiefs and priests was taboo, and as such nothing un-sanctified was allowed to touch them - hence their use of the fork to feed themselves or to be fed with by their attendants. When not in use the fork, a taboo object and treasure in its own right, was hung on the inner wall of the burekalou, or spirithouse until the next meal.[4]

English           Fijian (pronunciation)
Chief                Ratu (raw too)

[1] Peggy Reeves Sanday. "Divine hunger: cannibalism as a cultural system". p.151.
[2] Peggy Reeves Sanday. "Divine hunger: cannibalism as a cultural system". p.166.
[3] Pacific Peoples, Melanesia/Micronesia/Polynesia, Central Queensland University.
[4] Online article from

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