Fijian ‘Cannibal’ Fork

Hi all,

carved wooden cannibal fork with incised patternshere is a newish carving of a ‘cannibal’ fork. These forks were originally used to feed tribal chiefs and holy men who were not allowed to touch food.

Cutlery was not used in ancient Fiji but these forks would be used in ceremonial feasts. An attendant would feed important members of the tribe for whom touching food was Tapu.

Although cannibalism was part of Fijian culture for centuries, it is not clear that these forks were reserved only for human flesh, as all food was subject to spiritual restrictions.

Modern anthropologists consider the reputationĀ  of these forks to be exaggerated, initially by missionaries eager to justify their work with tales of ‘savage’ natives in need of Christian guidance and later by the Fijian artists who quickly realised that they could sell more forks to tourists and collectors if they gave their work a macabre back story.

Artist Alana Jelinek investigates the myths in herĀ Tall Stories: Cannibal Forks art project although you can see from this cannibal fork auction that these artefacts have lost none of their exotic appeal…

Read more about making a cannibal fork at the Aretactual Blog