The native population are called I’Taukei. A proud nation of wariors with deep roots to their land, their clan and their family. The tribes of Taveuni have a long history of warfare as they were always on the front line against the Tongans and the Samoans. We have collated a few snippets about their rich history.
When the boys were very young, their hair were cropped very short. As they grew into men, they went into great pains to spread their hair out into mop like forms.
The chiefs, in particular, paid great attention to the dressing of their heads and for this purpose, all of them had barbers whose sole occupation were the care of their master’s head. The duty of these servants was held to be so sacred a nature that their hands were tabooed from all other duties. They were not even permitted to feed themselves. A chief’s household could hold between 2 and 12 barbers.
These barbers were called a-vu-ni-ulu.
Warfare was one of the bases of the Fijian (I’Taukei) society. The many circular ditches and moated fortifications seen in Fiji and particularly in Taveuni are a strong indicator of a violent past. A glance at the old Fijian dictionary filled with the many obsolete terms concerning war and cannibalism, war clubs, clubbing, spearing and fighting suggest that wars was a way of life.
War occupied the entire male populace. The boys were trained early in the wielding and parrying of arms from infancy. They would be granted a real man’s name once they had slain an enemy. Most fights started with skirmishes, showers of arrows or stones. The war could quickly upgrade to spears and viciously barbed sticks. Casualties only became serious if parties came to grips with clubs. An extensive array of clubs were used for different purpose for maiming, squashing, cutting… all depending on the warrior specialty and usage.
Chiefs and priests enjoyed a semi-divine, relatively immune status on the battlefield. They were distinguished by their long multi pronged war spear, ornaments and long bark clothes turban.
Captain Bligh from the “Bounty” always referred to “FeeJee” as the “Savage Iles” in his diary and log books. “…where the Savages of these Iles have elevated cannibalism to an art form.”
Archeological finds dates back cannibalism in Fiji to the 7th century and by 1800 was a normal properly ritualized part of live in the I’Taukei society. The eating of human flesh was practiced from habit and taste. Considered a delicacy, portions would be sent to friends in other villages as an acceptable gift.
Bodies from slain enemies in battles were eaten but war would never furnish enough food to satisfy the appetites. Kidnapping and violence completed the diet.