An Amuzing Museum
We are amused in Fiji Museum Suva
A quick trip to the museum, this time by taxi, was called for on the Saturday before we left Suva. The first thing that stood out for us there was the giant sailing catamaran or waqa drua on show in the main hall that was built in Fulanga in 1913.
It was acquired by the museum in 1981 and the gentleman from Fulanga who assisted with the restoration and was the grandson of the original builder had the surname Cirimaitoga, the same as our hosts Mere and Jone on Fulanga, so they are from the boatbuilding heritage and that skill has been passed down to Jone in his carpenter skills.
If you look at the little 1:10 model of the drua you will see the horned masthead (with the delightful name Domodomo) above the top of the sail. The ocean going canoes (which were often over 30 metres long) could be made to sail in the opposite direction without turning the vessel around. The mast would be brought upright so the sail foot would clear the deckhouse while it was being turned and then the mast would drop to the same angle as before but in the opposite direction. Clever eh! The Domodomos on those big babies alone could measure over 4 metres in height. I’d love to have sailed in one.
At the far end of the room were the remnants comprising the rudder of the Bounty, made infamous by her mutineering crew. I thought it a shame they could not display it upright but it would probably have fallen to pieces. The picture on canvas of the mutiny was fine by comparison.
The bamboo raft you see is an example of the many still in use for bringing goods and crops from inland farms, down the rivers to the markets in Savusavu and Suva on both the big islands and are also used for local fishing near the villages. We saw them when we visited that little village near the waterfall in Vanua Levu if you remember.
From one beautiful item (the drua) to another in the form of a wedding dress made from masi matting. The dressmakers must have worked the fabric to soften it from its starchy natural texture into this lovely creation worn in 1991 when a local lass, Ada Litia Mara married a Mr Henry Dugdale.
Finally a tale of murder and cannibalism. In 1867 Methodist Missionary Rev. Thomas Baker (shown in the photo), along with a Fijian convert and six student teachers were murdered and eaten while they were working in central Viti Levi. This is the only case of a European minister being cannibalised despite the fact Christianity was threatening the traditional Fijian religion and causing disquiet amongst the chiefs. Usually it was Fijian Christian converts who were murdered. Ironically it was a Christian chief who ordered the murder because the minister held a meeting at an alternative location to the one offered by the chief. Confused? Me too. Anyway there’s the bowl and fork supposedly used for the feast.
After all that culture and a delicious iced mocha in the café overlooking the gardens we wandered back through the same and I have added the picture of the tree because it is a fig tree, or Bodhi Tree under the embracing branches of the like that Buddha received his ‘Enlightenment’ 500 years BC., The Tree of Knowledge.
Before departing from the convenience of onboard internet I made arrangements for Zoonie’s berthing for the cyclone season back in New Zealand and started the ball rolling for our flights home via Australia. The earlier the better we reasoned and we were right.
Spaces are filling up quickly in Port Whangarei where she will sit on the hard for four months after a few weeks in the Town Basin to complete the small but growing list of jobs and to catch up with friends. This afternoon (14th Sept) I added Rutland Wind generator to the list as it has started making damaging “My bearings are worm out” noises in the strong winds we are presently riding out. So we put a sock on it so to speak and it is off duty now until we can fix it.
Two days after Christmas with our dear friends Jeannie and Merv we fly to Sydney hopefully to see Alison and Randall, Jane and Greg and maybe even Peter and Martina while we take a look at the big cities in the south east before jumping on the Ghan Train to Darwin from Adelaide via Alice Springs and then flying from there to London, via Sydney again, on the 28th/29th January. But in the meantime there’s the rest of our stay in Fiji to enjoy!