+44 7831 561042

A Fine Fijian Tabua

hover over image to zoom

A fine old Sperm Whale's tooth 'Tabua’ or breast ornament of good colour and in excellent condition. Re-drilled, at least once (for the coir suspension) at the open, root end, suggesting that this tabua was worn and carried over a considerable period of time. In conjunction with a complex patina, deep colouring and many surface marks and scratches, this tabua appears to be of considerable age, dating from no later than the beginning of the 19th century. 

7.75 inches long 

approx. 8 inches in circumference.

The beaching of whales was a rare event for the Pacific Islanders and their teeth provided the trophy, a gift from the gods to be worn as a badge of distinction, with the greatest of reverence.

Hence a tabua, especially of this early date, is an item of great historic and cultural importance to the native people of Fiji. It was traditionally given as a gift of atonement or during negotiations between rival Chiefs. During the 18th century they could be used as payment to mercenary warriors and the dead men could be buried with their tabua along with their war clubs.

During the 19th century 'Tabua' would often be presented to an official or dignitary on their departure from a particular area and it was by this means that many old 'tabua' found their way to Europe. 

Offered with Article 10 Certificate no. 609157/01


Item Code: 4276

£ 2250

Enquire about this item