Monday, January 15, 2007
Once were Fijian warriors shaking palm fans
Once Fijians were warriors, using a fan made from palm leaves to wave and slap to make a frightening display and to parry enemy arrows which in Fiji were light and flimsy.
Now the fans are used in dances such as the meke iri. Fans can be made from coconut leaf, pandanus, but the best of all are leaves from the masei tree.
The tree is called vua ni masei and the botanical name is Pritchardia pacifica
The Fiji fan palm is a medium sized quick growing palm native to Fiji. This palm will grows with a straight smooth trunk with some fibre patterning at the base. It has numerous palmate leaves which are very large and nearly as wide as long. The shallowly split leaves are rich lime green with a yellowish midrib. This ornamental palm has fragrant brownish flowers. The spherical fruit is 11-12 mm in diameter, turning red then black at maturity.
A string band group from Mali Island are called Vua ni Masei.
The drawing here made made in a doctor’s garden in Suva. When I was drawing it, she said, ‘Don’t draw these shabby old trees!’ but I did. I will not do what I’m told!
I'll put some variations of my picture of the Suva tree on our Geelong blog.