Back in the 1800s, when cannibalism was still very much a part of Fijians` daily diet, human skulls were used as drinking cups.
Not much is known about these relics but there are historical accounts of rare occasions when the human skulls were used as drinking cups.
William Diaper in Erskine`s book, `A journal of a cruise among the islands of the Western Pacific` - talks of two human skulls used as yaqona drinking cups in a spirit house (bure kalou) in Mouta, Macuata in Vanua Levu.
It was only on rare occasions when a chief wanted to have part of an enemy`s skull for a soup-dish or drinking cup - that orders were given not to strike the victim on the head.
The Roko Tui Dreketi`s skull cup was handed over to Reverend David Cargill (a British missionary) in Rewa in 1840.
The skulls is that of a Fijian Chief seen as a threat to Kania and was kept as a symbol of `victorious revenge`. In fact, the bones of cannibal victims were symbols of trophies.
Historical accounts record cannibalised skulls and bones wedged between tree forks in the Viti Levu highlands. Only the hill tribes of eastern Viti Levu and some coastal tribes of western Viti Levu did the practice.
(People in Bau and Rewa, on the other hand, didn`t keep bones as trophies but used amputated sexual organs that were hung in trees near spirit houses and cannibal ovens.)
The bones were either wedged between tree forks or made into sail needles, comb handles, head scratching pins and ear-lobe ornaments. Human teeth were strung together to form necklaces.
And as a further insult, some people grounded the bones and mixed the dust into puddings, which they presented to the victim`s unsuspecting relatives.
One of the main reasons for cannibalism in Fiji was revenge. For instance, in Nadroga, a warrior would keep the liver and hands of an enemy in a bundle over his fireplace so when he grieved over his relatives` deaths, he would take down the bundle of his enemy`s flesh and eat some to ease his pain.
This, it is said, would go on for about two years until his vengeance was sated. An even greater form of vengeance was to cook the body and leave it in the oven marking it as unfit to eat.
A warrior who killed his enemy was seen as triumphant if he ate him too and would then be held in high esteem by his fellow villagers. But woe and humiliation befell the man to be eaten.
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