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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Fijian Chief’s Flywhisk ‘I Roi’"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
Size: 63cm long – 24¾ ins long
cf: ‘Yalo I Viti’ Fiji Museum catalogue, 1986 no. 187, (FM58.226) for a similar example from the G.Wright collection
Fijian chiefs and priests enjoyed a semi-divine status, and before the advent of firearms, were relatively immune on the battlefield. In war they advertised their status by their dress and by holding distinctive weapons such as the shield-like broad bladed paddle club. In peace they were recognised by a bark-cloth turban, a long train to their loincloth and by holding a flywhisk.
However, whatever their ultimate significance flywhisks probably originated out of necessity. Many of the small islands of the Pacific support enormous populations of flies, which were possibly worse during the 19th century. The early European settlers quickly adopted the use of the flywhisk as is evidenced by early photographs.