'Vewa, Feejee Islands, Octr 1849' [Fiji]

No. 26a in Fanshawe's Pacific album, 1849 - 52. Captioned by the artist on the album page below the image, as title. Fanshawe's first landing in the Fijis was on Turtle Island to confirm its longitude, then at Ovolau, 'the central and most convenient harbour' on 28 September. He arrived at Vewa or Viwa, on the 29th 'a small island in the Bay of Ambau - or Mbou as it is pronounced...the headquarters of the Fiji Mission. Its inhabitants are nearly all Christians, including the two chiefs, Mosomalua and Varanni - names once terrible throughout the group, but now, changed to Elijah and Hezekiah, they were harmless and inoffensive.'

Fiji was partly in a state of internal war (on Rewa) when Fanshawe arrived and despite increasingly successful Wesleyan missionary activity had long been known as a warlike society, still practising cannibalism (see PAI4632). Fanshawe also noted (p. 225) that off Viwa he 'found at anchor the missionary vessel "John Wesley", a fine brig built by White, of Cowes' recently arrived from New Zealand on one of its regular visits. Viwa is off Bau, itself a small island off the east coast of Viti Levu: see PAI4632. The implication of the name order here that Masomolua was baptized Elijah appears to be accidental: Fanshawe later (p. 244) attributes this to Varanni, which other sources appear to support, Mosomolua therefore being Hezekiah. Fanshawe did nine drawings of Fiji and Fijians, including two studies of local weapons, PAI4631-PAI4639.

Object Details

ID: PAI4631
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Fanshawe, Edward Gennys
Places: Viwa
Date made: Oct 1849
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 88 x 176 mm
Parts: Album of watercolours of Madeira, Brazil, the Falkland and Pacific Islands, Chile, Panama, Mexico, Vancouver, and California (Album)

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