The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum

Sau mocemoce ni valu

A large shell ear lobe piece consisting of a davui tovutovu shell taken from Davetalevu Reef by the Kaba gonedau. The chief gonedau of Kaba blessed the shell with the shellfish still within it and it was place in a cave. Yaqona was poured into its upturned mouth at religious cursing ceremonies and the flesh inside slowly rotted. A big magiti was presented by the gonedau of Waimaro for their Kaba relatives when the sau shell was handed over with appropriate religious ceremonies. The difficulty of collecting the shell and the hazards of getting it safe to Waimaro added to its mana and sau. The shell was worn by the bete ni valu of the gonedau of Wainawaqa, who wore it in the large hole in his earlobe, the mouth of the shell facing backwards to collect the mana of the warriors who were following him, the point facing forwards towards the enemy, concentrating the power on them. The cord was placed over the ear to help support the shell, however, when charged with mana it was very light. After a religious ceremony the shell was held in a via leaf, as it could not be held in the hand being charged with too much religious power, until it was inserted into the earlobe hole.

The shell was thus worn and with appropriate ceremony had the power to send its target to sleep. It was used on Waimaro enemies at Rewa, who on seeing the shell and leaf in the ear of the bete ni valu were unable to hold up their heads or move their limbs and fell into a coma-like sleep. It was also used in the hill wars and at Lovoni in 1871 when Waimaro warriors killed Rakavono for the Bauans. One time, when young men from Nakorotubu came to Wainawaqa and presented their sevusevu, they then went to the river to bathe, having first arranged secretly with some Waimaro girls to meet with them and elope back to Nakorotubu. The bete were however aware of this plot and when the youths took off their loincloths, the bete trained the power of the shell on the youth and they lay sprawling, half in and half out of their loincloths, so that on their arrival the Wainawaqa girls laughed at them and the youth on awakening to find the girls laughing leapt into the river in shame and fled home clad only in leaves. Since then Wainawaqa and Nakorotubu have always exchanged masi as their veitabani, the masi being exchanged being called malokalou in memory of this event, when the Nakorotubu youth unintentionally presented their malo to Wainawaqa.

When the Wainawaqa bure kalou was destroyed , the shell was kept in a box wrapped in a piece of masi. Whenever it made a noise a piece of via leaf was placed with it to quieten it. The late Ratu Manoa Droininavula was the last of the gonedau to understand the use of the shell.

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