The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum


This daveniyaqona is carved from sacred vesi wood in the form of a human image. This vessel represents a range of shallow, saucer-like dishes which are often misinterpreted as bete's (priest's) oil dishes. They are actually ibuburau, or religious yaqona drinking vessels, used by bete when they were possessed by ancestor spirits. In the ancient burau rites, yaqona was grated from the root of the plant Piper methysticum and kneaded with water into an infusion which was sucked straight from either a circular pit lined with vudi (plantain) leaves or via (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) leaves, or from a wooden or earthenware vessel, by a kneeling or lying drinker who at no point touched the vessel with his hands, instead using a tubular wooden or cane drinking straw.

In these shallower bowls it was not possible to mix the kava directly inside the bowl. Instead, grated yaqona root was placed atop a tightly packed mesh of fern leaves, which filled a wickerwork or wooden funnel. As water was poured into the funnel, the yaqona was kneaded with the fingers and the yaqona trickled down through the layers of fern leaves, filtering out any solid particles, coming out the bottom of the funnel into the ibuburau dish.

Length: 34.5cm; Width: 20cm.

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