Noqu vosa nogu iyau taleiOctober 6th, 2014
Ni sa bula vinaka, and good health to you. Fiji Language Week this year is celebrated between 6 and 12 October and the Library is hosting a much anticipated event with a presentation and demonstration of the traditional Fijian masi (tapa), followed by a viewing of selected Fijian items from the Turnbull collections.
The theme for Fiji Language Week this year is noqu vosa nogu iyau talei – my language, my treasure; come and find out more.
Women spreading or taking up a carpet of masi and mats, 1969. Ref: PAColl-0199-179.
In our collections we hold excellent examples of Fijian masi, a cloth made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry. Several collection photographs show masi being worn, gifted and used in customary ceremonies. In the past, it was men who wore masi cloth and it was most commonly plain and not decorated or dyed.
These days both men and women clothe themselves with masi during customary occasions, and a range of different types can be found. Patterns and decorations are applied to the white masi using stencils and natural dyes.
Types of masi
Masi vulavula – undyed white masi, the most common kind.
Masi toni – brown masi from dipping (toni) in an infusion of mangrove bark, often used for burial.
Masi kesa – masi with coloured patterns using dyes and different colours.
Masi kuvui – smoked (kuvui) masi. Chiefly masi used for turbans and shoulder bands with a dull yellowish colour. In places such as Vatulele which is well known for masi making in Fiji, the smoked colour is from having been soaked in an infusion of the bark of the kura tree and bark of the doi shrub.
Masi in photographs
Presentation of Fijian mats and tapa cloths to Queen Elizabeth II, 1953. Ref: PAColl-7171-61.
Men wearing masi, preparing for a Yaqona drinking ceremony, 1969. Ref: PAColl-0199-129.
Men dressed for a meke-ni-valu, a dance before war, 1881. Ref: PAColl-5530-31.
Kanathea patterns, Vuna, Taveuni, 1914. Ref: PAColl-1914-134.
Yaqona's nuptial couch, ca 1910. Ref: PAColl-1914-082.
Details from a photo of Fijian masi, ca 1910. Ref: PAColl-1914-124.
Tui Tubou ties tapa to the left arm of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, 1969. Ref: PAColl-0199-113.
Vinaka vakalevu, see you at the Library soon!