Exceedingly early rare beautiful example comprising one female ulutoayalewa & six male ulutoatagane whale tooth dart heads.
Stylistically identical to Fiji Museum Catalogue items 111 &112 p 68 described as Male & Female whale tooth dart heads. For full description see p 160. Also Oldman Collection Plate 63 item 598d.
Reported as strung into necklaces in Viti & Tonga. Original coconut sennit (magimagi) cordage largely intact.
Known as ulutoatagne, male dart heads are made from sperm whale ivory and originate from Fiji. The female version of these dart heads were known as ulutoayalewa. These dart heads were commonly made from dense casuarina wood and it is rare to find them made from ivory.
The darts were fitted onto the ends of long gasau reed shafts. These were cast by teams of men from rival clans in the highly competitive and sexually charged sport of veitiqa. The darts were thrown, sometimes with the assistance of a throwing cord, so they skipped and skidded along a flat pitch at great velocity for a remarkable distance. The aim was to send them the greatest distance. Rivalry was intense, with much banter and baulking of the opposition by girls of the other clan.
The contests were rowdy affairs discouraged by missionaries aware of the contests’ pagan and sexual overtones, and by the colonial authorities concerned about the brawling and sometimes fatal accidents that occurred due to ricocheting darts
From the Collection of;
ROONEY, ISAAC (b. Castlecaulfield, co. Tyrone, Ireland, 11 March 1843, d. Adelaide, SA, 22 July 1931). Protestant missionary in the South Pacific.
Isaac Rooney migrated to Australia aged six with his mother and stepfather, who settled in Melbourne. Following his conversion in 1860, he trained for the ministry at Horton College, Tasmania, and was sent in 1865 to be a missionary in Fiji by the Vic-Tas Wesleyan Methodist Conference. He spent 15 years in Fiji, 10 as Superintendent, and 8 in the Bismarck Archipelago, as chairman of the district. He returned to Australia in 1889 and took up appointments as a Methodist minister in SA becoming president of the Conference in 1908. He became a supernumerary in 1910, and in 1911 he visited the Middle East and England, giving many lectures on the Island peoples. Three sons, Stephen Rabone, Frederick Langham and Leslie Davidson became Methodist ministers, the eldest surviving son, (Ray) also being a missionary in the Solomon Islands.
During his ministry conditions in the islands were primitive and dangerous, and many islanders were still cannibals. Supplies, especially medicines, were uncertain and sailing to and between islands hazardous. These conditions brought personal sorrow in the deaths in the islands of two wives and two children, and in the necessity of leaving three other children, including a young baby in the care of a planter's wife. However, devotion to the Christian cause was the mainspring of his life, and he was wholly committed to the saving of souls, constantly reporting in his journal, converts and baptisms, and rejoicing in the subsequent changes in life-style and behaviour, not fully realising the long term results of the radical changing of their whole way of life.
He did much to improve ideas of hygiene, health and literacy, translating hymns and Bible passages, and setting up schools wherever he went. He shared the anti-catholic attitude of his Protestant contemporaries and accepted the Victorian belief that Christianising and civilising were identical. His contribution to the knowledge of island peoples, their customs, beliefs and languages led to his being made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1901.
I Rooney, Journal and Letters, ed K B Mather (Fairbanks, 1984); M J Rooney, 'Missions in the Pacific', BA thesis, University of Adelaide, 1960