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Fijian tabua

Date: before 1988
Overall: 16 x 72 x 25 mm
Medium: Sperm whale tooth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Tabua
Object No: 00006634

User Terms

    This polished tooth of a sperm whale is a Fijian tabua. Tabua's are an important cultural item in Fijian society. They were traditionally given as gifts for atonement or esteem (called sevusevu), and were important in negotiations between rival chiefs
    Significance"The Tabua is a whale’s tooth, much prized in Fijian tradition. It takes precedence over everything else and occupies first place in Fiji ceremony, whether for family, intertribal or state occasions. It is regarded as a sacred bond between two parties. It is also used as a symbol of peace and disputes or quarrels can be smoothened over by its presentation" (Fijian High Commission, 2006)
    HistoryIt is believed that whale teeth were first introduced to Fiji by passing whalers who bought them to shore for trading purposes. Prior to this tabua were traditionally made using the wood from the frangipani tree and known as buata. The tabua represents a sacred bond between two parties and is exchanged at betrothals, weddings, births, deaths, and when personal or communal agreements or contracts are agreed upon.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Fijian tabua

    Collection title: Tilbrook collection

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