Bau Fijians

Oceaniaprimarily hunter-gatherers

expand_more Description

Originally from the mountains of Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu, the Bau migrated to the east coast, and by the middle of the eighteenth century had established their political center on the tiny offshore island of Bau. Aided by an increasing availability of firearms during the early nineteenth century, and culminating with the defeat of rival Rewa by the Vunivalu (paramount chief) Cakobau in 1855, Bau became the dominant political power of Fiji. Bau chiefs commanded a formidable army and navy, collected large tributes, and mandated religious practices such as cannibalism and widow-strangling that shocked the missionaries who began arriving in 1839. In 1854 Cakobau converted to Christianity and renounced cannibalism. He reigned until nearly a decade after acceding to British colonial rule in 1874, which brought about administrative reorganization, and diminished the political power and customary prerogatives of Bau chiefs.

  • Oceania
  • Polynesia
Subsistence Type
  • primarily hunter-gatherers
  • Fiji