The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum


This iTaubeciva breastplate is composed of a black-lipped pearl shell core, to which plates cut from sperm whale teeth have been fastened by lead rivets. A human image is fastened to the centre of the shell by a lead rivet through its navel. The right calf of the image is bandaged with coarse cloth, although originally it was of masi tied on with siti (Grewia crenata) fibres. The suspension strings are of coconut husk fibre. Height 16.5cm, width 17cm. It was presented to the Fiji Museum by Ratu Epeli Roseru, Vunivalu of Matailobau and his son Tuicaumia, Roko Tui Naitasiri in 1983.

This civavonovono (breastplate) was presented by Ratu Seru Cakobau to the Waimaro chief, Ro Seru (previously known as Ro Luveilutunasobasoba), in commemoration of his role in persuading Ro Rakuita, Komai Vunibua and the Roko Tui Waimaro to protect Ratu Cakobau at Nasorovakawalu when the Waimaro and Namosi men were going to kill Ratu Cakobau.

Other than for the human image in its centre, this breastplate is representative of the smaller, often metal-riveted breastplates produced in the 1840s and 1850s to satisfy a demand created by constant wars between Bau and Rewa, when the engaging and buying off of highland mercenaries became a strategic necessity. The human figure sets this breastplate apart, with only two other civavonovono known to have human figures on them.

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