"3 Friends Fans" Fiji

Fiji Dance with Fans
People/Country: Republic of Fiji
Fan image: Meke (dance) with palm fans, traditional dress
Border/Corners: Tapa cloth (bark cloth)
Dry point etching
Ni sa Bula/ Hello in Fijian
Fiji, in Oceania, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands in the South Pacific.

Pictured here is the Meke (meh-kay,) considered a national dance of Fiji. It is a story- telling style of dance, usually performed during celebrations by both men and women.  The women, dressed in traditional skirts (sula), perform with a fan (iri ni meke), while the men may carry spears or clubs. The fan dance, called Seasea, is meant to be graceful. Women, with fans made of coconut palm leaves,  in their right hands,  clap the fans at the “climax of a musical cadence” and sing as they move (Lester).”  The dancers, called mantana, wear salusalu or garlands of flowers (allaroundtheworld). Some Meke serve as a form of oral history as they retell known stories of significant events.  Other Meke may be original compositions and choreography, as they reflect the particular purpose of the occasion. 

Border: Masi, Fijian tapa cloth, is a type of bark cloth made from the mulberry (masi)  or fig tree. The inner bark is stripped  from the tree in single sheets, soaked in sea water for about four nights, then beaten into a pulp to make a piece of cloth. Traditionally, Tapa cloth was made in many Polynesians islands, including Samoa, Fiji and Hawaii (where it is called Kapa). The technique  for applying dye varied from place to place, often employing a stamp or stencil.  In Fiji,  banana leaf stencils are used. But some tapa cloths are left undecorated, hand decorated or smoked (Klarr).  Often symbolic motifs were applied. Today, masi is primarily used for ceremonial purposes.  For example, Tui Cakau wore masi ceremonial attire at his installation as paramount chief of the Cakaudrove region,  in 1996 (Fiji Gov).
References and Links:
( Note: I do not endorse or mean to promote any of these sites.) 
  • allaroundtheworld.com
  • Fiji Government online
  • Klarr, Dr. Caroline, Khan Academy
  • Lester, R. H. Notes from Fiji, Wiley Online Library.
  • NationalClothing.org. Tapa cloth- original barkcloth of the Pacific Islands. http://nationalclothing.org/293-tapa-cloth-–-original-barkcloth-of-the-pacific-islands.html



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The Art and Writing of Barbara Rizza Mellin