Image: Fork, Fiji E46814

Fork, Fiji E46814

Local name: i-cula

Provenance: Fiji, Melanesia, Pacific

Two- or four-pronged wooden forks of this type are often assumed to have been used for eating human flesh and are commonly referred to as 'cannibal forks'. However they were most likely used by priests and high-ranking chiefs as it was taboo to touch the food they ate with their hands due to their potent divine power; alternatively they were being fed by an attendant. As the forks were being handled by these priests and chiefs, the forks themselves also became taboo and reached the status of a relic. This fork was purchased by the Museum in 1939.

Description: dark brown, carved, wooden fork; four 13.5cm prongs circular in cross-section and tapering to a point; handle round with two circular grooves and a pointed top.

Length: 25.5cm

Emma Furno
© Australian Museum

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