Fijian tradition and ceremony is a living way of life that has remained intact for millennia, evolving as the Fijian nation has modernised over time, with various external influences from Pacific neighbours, and European and Asian society. The term Fijian in this article refers to "indigenous Fijians" or "I Taukei"  as the term Fijian generally includes all citizens of Fiji. This article is a general overview of various cts of Fijian tradition, social structure and ceremony, much of it from the Bauan Fijian tradition. There are variations from province to province. Many social intricacies depend on one's inherited social position and the occasion one is confronted with: each will have a particular social etiquette. The Fijian terms in this article are most often of the Bauan dialect.
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It is costly to perform bulubulu, and is generally not done until some years after the marriage. The wife may not return to her village until it is performed.
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If all protocol is followed, the Tevutevu is performed. It involves both sides of the family, in which they present the couple with mats and other household practical items so they are able to begin their new home. While they are still part of a larger clan this symbolises that they are now a separate and independent family.
When a death occurs, related clans and family come together in a religious and social gathering to share their sorrow and to reaffirm the connections between them. The death has the "Reguregu", which is the lead-up to the burial, where all the friends and extended family come to pay their respects.
The presentation etiquette utilises Mats, Yaqona and Tabua and varies from province to province. After several days of this the actual burial takes place and Mats and masi are placed over the grave site. The death is commemorated at the burial ceremony and again on the fourth and tenth nights thereafter.
One hundred days after the death the mourning is lifted and the various Taboos, or in Fijian Tabuare lifted from the family members in what is called the Vakataraisulu ceremony. The grave site is then cemented in.
A further ceremony is held one year later. Each of the gatherings mentioned above include both the mother's and the father's sides being brought together. These ceremonies are not as stringent today as in times past. Each province follows a similar pattern but with specific variations. Items that will be shared generally across the Fiji group in ceremony and social interactions are Yaqona, Tabua, Mats, Masi, the following will discuss this in further details.
Yaqona is a cousin of the pepper plant. The root and stem are washed and dried thoroughly, then pounded into a powder to be mixed with water and filtered through a silk cloth.
Before the introduction of silk special reeds were used. Yaqona is a central and ancient part of Fijian ceremony. Whereas Yaqona was once only for use by priests Betechiefs and elders, it is now consumed by all.
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The following outlines a Yaqona ceremony in the Bauan manner Bau : a prominent island and village of the Kubuna Confederacy in the province of Tailevu. Yaqona is consumed seated on a rectangular Pandanus mat. At one end is a Tanoa wooden or clay mixing bowl. The front area has Magimagi coconut fiber rope and cowry shells attached to the Magimagi.
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This rope is laid out toward the chief, while next to the chief will be his spokesman and other senior men. Behind the Tanoa will generally be three people: one mixing and two to serve and gather water as needed. After mixing, he takes the coconut shell bowl and fills it with Yaqona.
He lifts it high and then lets the Yaqona pour back into the Tanoa so the Chief's herald can see the Yaqona. He then knows the Yaqona is a good mix and is ready to be served. Then he cups his hands, claps three times and begins to serve the Yaqona in a Bilo coconut shell cup. This will then be carefully taken to the chief in his personal bilo all others will drink of the same cup.
The chief will receive the bilo of Yaqona by cupping his hands and clapping with a deep, dignified sound.
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Then he will take his bilo and drink. The same will be repeated for the herald, but all will clap only twice when he is finished.
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For a time this process will be repeated, then once he feels it appropriate the herald will signal to the mixer to open the drinking of the Yaqona to everyone. All will then be allowed to drink, following the order of seniority. He will announce himself with a respectful greeting and then the senior members drinking will invite him to join in.
He will say a few words of respect when he places his Yaqona on the mat before the others. Among family and friend gatherings this etiquette is more loosely followed and dialect and social etiquette can vary from place to place. The Tabua is a whale's tooth and is a valued gift in ceremonial presentations,  the greater number of teeth presented the greater the gift.
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It is important for the presenter to always play down the offering, but those receiving will always talk up the offering: if it is small they will say it is great, the point is eloquence and humility. Mats are generally rectangular and vary in design between provinces. They are made from the Pandanus plant, a saltwater marsh plant also found throughout the Pacific and South East Asia. The leaves are boiled, pounded with a heavy wooden mallet and then dried and rolled into bundles.
They are then woven into mats of varying design.
The colours are normally an earthy beige and black or brown with dyes used from the mangrove tree, though now, some modern materials are used such as coloured yarn to make frilled edges. The exchanging of mats has been common practice in all forms of Fijian ceremony from ancient times. Masi is made from the bark of the mulberry tree.
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The strips of fibre are placed on a wooden anvil like a low stool, or on any flat hard surface, and the fibre is beaten with wooden clubs, beating and folding it repeatedly until it is almost half a metre wide. Pieces are then overlapped and beaten at the joints to form larger pieces.
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The resulting cloth is dried in the sun. The dyes, generally variations of earthy browns and blacks, are obtained from mangrove sap, terracotta clay and specially prepared soot. Masi can also be smoked over a sugarcane fire to produce the tan-coloured masi kuvui. The designs vary from province to province.
The most famous and intricate designs are from the island of Vatulele. The Lau group is also renowned for its crafts and particularly for the art of making fine Masi.
The finest white masi considered to originate from Tonga. The Masi can be used as a permanent decorative piece in a house or a temporary decorative piece at various ceremonies. One of the uses of Masi is to wrap the newborn baby collected from hospital, while at the other end of the life cycle it decorates the room where the body lies before burial. It also covers the coffin, and is spread over the grave. While Tabua, Yaqona and Mats are crucial items in ceremony and social gatherings, many other items are included, such as various root crops and now flour, bread, tinned foods, kerosene, soaps and the like for rural and distant areas.
These help to meet physical needs whereas Tabua and Yaqona are items of respect and hold a spiritual significance.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Fijian tradition and ceremony. Main article: Kava. Main article: Tabua.
Dixon, A Grammar of Boumaa Fijianpp. Child sexual abuse in Fiji: Authority, risk factors and responses [online].
Current Issues in Criminal Justice, Vol. Here's searchable snippet view of the book Fijian Ethos. Nayacakalou, R. General reference to Traditional Fijian culture, terms and meanings and history with a study on the people of Vugalei on Viti Levu in the Kubuna confederacy. Heads of State Cakobau period Colonial period Modern history crisis coups Military-church relations coup Reconciliation Commission - crisis coup crisis.
Culture of indigenous Oceania. List of resources about traditional arts and culture of Oceania. Languages of Oceania. Cook Islands Niue.
Literature of Oceania. Religion in Oceania. Not included: Oceanian: cinemaindigenous currency, dress, folkore, cuisine. Also see Category:Oceanian culture.
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