Leaders Ornamentation, Fiji Islands

Leaders ornamentation, Fiji Islands

Click here to view image

Author/ School/ Dating:

Fiji Islands, second half of 19th century

Technique and Dimensions:

Ivory sperm whale teeth (Physeter macrocephalus) cut lengthwise and then processed


Thematic path, first floor (inv. no. CDA 1083)


Legacy of Captain E.A. D'Albertis, 1932

Object Type:

Ritual ornament


Great value ornament, worn by leaders and men of rank not only in Fiji but also in Tonga and Samoa. Like other cetacean-based ornaments, wāsekaseka or wāseisei necklaces were made by boat builders from Tonga for Fijian chiefs and men of high rank. The elements of the necklace consisted of sperm whale teeth cut longitudinally and then worked. The production of these kinds of ornaments developed in the early 1800s probably thanks to the introduction of metal tools and a marked increase in the supply of sperm whale teeth now also imported and no longer coming only from stranded specimens, it had therefore replaced the less refined vuasagale necklaces of the previous period, composed of teeth of other cetaceans, such as the pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhyncus) or the pseudorca (Pseudorca crassidens).