Four portraits of Fijians
F.H. Dufty of Levuka
Four carte-de-visite portraits all showing different Fijians, with inked inscriptions verso in the same period hand identifying the sitters or providing a caption.
The four photographs show: King Epinesa Cakobau of Fiji (not captioned but easily recognisable); Tui Mousei [sic] and attendant; Loma Loma Natives; and ‘Daughters of the King.’
The Fijian chief and warlord King Epinesa Cakobau (1815-1883) was the self-proclaimed ‘King of Fiji.’ In fact he was only one warlord among many and his domination was in one limited area in Western Fiji. In 1871 he attempted to form a Western-style government but this collapsed after just two years. In 1873 the acting British consul sought British annexation of Fiji, and on 10 October 1874 it was pronounced a British colony with its capital at Suva.
‘Tui Mousei’ is a misspelling for ‘Tui Namosi’ which is a chiefly title held by the paramount chief of Namosi Province on the main island of Viti Levu, Fiji. The man seen here is elsewhere identified as a ‘Kai Colo,’ meaning ‘mountain warrior.’ Both men are wearing the ‘ulumate’ (literally: dead head), a huge wig of human hair for which the men of the hill tribes were famous.
Lomaloma is a district on the Fiji island of Vanua Balavu, one of the islands in Fiji's Lau archipelago. The first modern town in Fiji, it also acted as a key port of call between Tonga and Viti Levu.
The two women seen in the lower left-hand portrait are daughters of King Epinesa Cakobau. Adi Arieta Kuila (died 27 January 1881) is seated, wearing a white smock and skirt. Her younger sister Adi Kakua is standing on the right, holding a posy of flowers.
Photographed by F. H. Dufty of Levuka, on the island of Ovalau [Fiji].
Francis (‘Frank’) Herbert Dufty arrived in Levuka from the colony of Victoria [Australia] in early 1871. Over the following sixteen years he first established and then expanded a successful studio on the island, producing many portraits and landscape photographs.
Condition: the print of King Epinesa Cakobau presents some black marks in the area of the background; the print of his two daughters presents some smaller but less peripheral black flecks; the other two prints are in good condition. All four mounts are clean, firm and solid, with crisp edges and sharp corners.