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Makes are seen as an accurate representation of past happenings

The Fijian meke is different as well as complicated in structure and organisation.

However, there is little doubt that this spectacular dance performance will be an unforgettable experience once you have a little insight into what it is all about.

Firstly, mekes are seen as an accurate representation of past happenings.

Accuracy develops from the belief that the content is not the composition of the daunivucu (composer) but it is created through the inspiration of the ancestral gods.

Basically the composer acts merely as a mouthpiece or medium between the spirits and the people. He is normally a commoner who belongs to a priestly clan.

He has no special privileges, however that all changes during his periods of initation while he is occupied in composing and teaching the meke.

Those who have come to request the making of a meke have the responsibility of looking after the composer's family.

The daunivucu also has the authority during this time to penalise anyone who does not practice or perform to standard.

In some cases he can also sense when certain taboos are not being upheld to enable the meke to progress.

All penalties for misdemeanours during this period goes to the composer and are done humorously, which often lessens the punishment!

Before we go any further it is important to note that throughout the South Pacific there is a strong belief in the supernatural, particularly the power which surrounds the chiefs of the people.

Interestingly, it has the same name for exactly the same quality ascribed to the rulers throughout the Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian cultures. It's called mana.

Basically the word means the power beyond the ordinary not just physical strength but power of a less tangible kind, though it must be demonstrated by physical results.

Both people and things can have this power, and it needs constant replenishment through actions.

Mekes are also performed to explain natural phenomena, or they give specific expression to emotions of fear and wonder in the face of phenomena.

Today, for example, the meke plays an important part in the traditional Fijian ceremonies of welcome.

This ceremony is solemn, sacred and serious. There is hardly any movement, everyone remains seated and silent as a sign of respect.

The dance itself is sacred and serious and during the performance one or two of the performers can be seen clowning away with a skilful handling of their bodies and spears.

Every step is determined by the beat of the tali (drum) and the actions correspond to the chanting of the meke.
Meke can also be seen as a...

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