Veiqia: na iVolavosa Vakaviti
Today and every day we celebrate our female ancestors. On this International Women’s Day we are launching our new series Veiqia: na iVolavosa Vakaviti.
This year is the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages, a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate our tattooing history. Through language people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression.
Throughout the year we’ll be sharing Fijian words associated with veiqia. We hope these word lists will help raise awareness, revive, and document our history.
In Fiji, women were the tattoo artists (daubati) and recipients of revered qia (tattoo). Girls were tattooed at puberty; the ceremony initiated them as women and signified their eligibility for marriage.
na iVolavosa Vakaviti
In Ra, Adi Vilaiwasa, the daughter of Degei, was the first woman to be tattooed. She was tattooed in a cave below the sacred summit of the Nakauvadra mountain range in the valley of the upper Wainibuka River in Ra. In 1886 the cave was still used to tattoo women.
Brewster, A. B. (1922). The hill tribes of Fiji. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Retrieved from Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/hilltribesoffiji00brew
Hazlewood, David (1872). A Fijian and English and an English and Fijian dictionary : and grammar of the language with examples of native idioms (2nd ed). Sampson Low, London. Retrieved from Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/fijianenglishan00hazl/
Ravuvu, Asesela & Tabana ni Vosa kei na Itovo Vakaviti (2005). Na ivolavosa Vakaviti. Tabana ni Vosa kei na Itovo Vakaviti, Tabacakacaka Itaukei, Itovo kei na Iyau Vakamareqeti, Suva.