Cicia Revives Traditional Wealth

Susana Yalikanacea, who now lives in Cicia, said youths were learning the steps of making a magimagi.
26 Jan 2020 13:53
Cicia Revives Traditional Wealth
A piece of masi where black powder (loaloa) was used in the print.

A retired agriculture officer is assisting men and women of Cicia Island in the province Lau to preserve the art of making traditional wealth.

Cicia Island is well known for its two traditional wealth – sennit (magimagi) and black powder (loaloa).

Susana Yalikanacea, who now lives in Cicia, said youths were learning the steps of making a magimagi.

Magimagi, she said, was braided from long coconut husks, preferably those of the elongated coconut (niu ni magimagi). She said the youths now learned how to prepare husks.

Often the husks are baked in a pit-oven, and then soaked in water for several days before being separated by beating with an iSamu ni magimagi (wooden mallet made from extremely dense nokonoko wood) upon a drata ni magimagi (anvil).

The fibres are then dried in the sun before being braided into cord by men during long gossip sessions! In many areas the fibres are rolled on the thigh (the equivalent of spinning) before being plaited.

The husks are boiled and soaked in water for several days, then pounded and dried in the sun. The fibres are then spun by rolling them on the thigh before the string is braided.

During traditional gathering, the people of Cicia would present their two traditional wealth to the paramount chief (turaga na Tui Nayau).

The preparation of the black powder, Ms Yalikanacea said, was very unique as it was only done at night inside a special bure.

They burn the candle nut fruit so the black smoke trapped inside the bure will darken the flesh of the fruit.

“No one else is allowed to enter the bure at this time of the night,” she said.

Ms Yalikanacea is also preparing the designs for masi printing.

The designs used to symbolise Fiji are produced with stencils.

She prepares the stencils and 56-year-old grandmother Vakatalai Siki does the masi printing using the black powder.

The iTaukei use masi today for almost all ceremonies.

Masi is mainly produced in a few south-eastern islands of the Lau group and Viti Levu.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro


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