Fiji: Katonimana

Contemporary Artist from Fiji

Fiji - Katonimana (2017) by Contemporary Artists from BotswanaImago Mundi








Katonimana 


According to Fijian mythology, the history of Fiji began about 1500 BC with an extraordinary

voyage of giant war canoes descending from the North. Leading the armada on the huge double hull canoe “Kaunitoni” was the able seafaring warrior Chief Lutunasobasoba assisted by his General Degei.

Legend has it that the armada was carrying precious cargo – treasures from the Temple of King Solomon – including a special box called the “Katonimana” (“Kato” meaning case and “Mana” being magic), which in Fijian literally translates to the “Box of Blessings”. 

Noda Sala – Our Ways, Alifereti Malai Junior, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Noda Sala – Our Ways (2017)
by Alifereti Malai Junior

Their purpose was to find a fabled island in the South East, with bountiful seas and rich land created especially by the gods, where the Chief’s people could settle after years of wandering. Navigation was by the evening stars. The armada carried rations, families, warriors, and skilled craftsman including the famed Lapita potters.

Craft of My Ancestors – Land & Sea, Pauliasi Delaibatiki, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Craft of My Ancestors – Land & Sea (2017)
by Pauliasi Delaibatiki

Tribal Legend – Octopus vs. Shark, Antonio Qumi, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Tribal Legend – Octopus vs. Shark (2017) by Antonio Qumi

Two convoys set sail, but one got separated and disappeared in the Indian Ocean. The other continued its mission towards the South East, past Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, into the Marquesas, north of Tahiti, and then curled back south west into the Fijian archipelago. The armada pushed forth via the Yasawa, and as the reefs were treacherous around Viti Levu they had to keep travelling to eventually find an “opening” into the bay of Fiji. This was the Momi passage, which is still used today by large ocean-going vessels.

The Banishment, Aseri Tuca Yabakivou, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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The Banishment (2017)
by Aseri Tuca Yabakivou

Around Matamanoa, Mana and Likuliku their giant canoe Kaunitoni, with its special cargo, met rough weather and high seas, and its Katonimana – “Box of Blessings” – slipped off the outrigger and fell into the sea. Lutunasobasoba immediately gave orders to let it go, believing it was the will of the gods. General Degei tried frantically to retrieve it, but it was too late.

My Journey, Sonny Misiolo Sofe, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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My Journey (2017)
by Sonny Misiolo Sofe

Tribal Voyage, Iliesa Maikeli Lee, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Tribal Voyage (2017)
by Iliesa Maikeli Lee

Lutunasobasoba then named the three islands: Mata-manoa (meaning “eye of the storm”), Mana (“magic”) since it marked the area where the box of blessings had sunk, and Likuliku, where the armada once again experienced calm waters.

The Last Turtle, Sharon Light, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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The Last Turtle (2017)
by Sharon Light

Nature, Lolohea Koroinamuana, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Nature (2017)
by Lolohea Koroinamuana

The convoy finally landed at Vuda Point, a beach on the big island of Viti Levu. Chief Lutunasobasoba eventually settled in Vaturu which is one of the high mountains you see in Nadi, and Degei moved to Nakauvadra near Mount Victoria.

Totoisu, Peter Maepioh, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Totoisu (2017)
by Peter Maepioh

Aurora Feld, Martin Alexander Whippy, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Aurora Feld (2017)
by Martin Alexander Whippy

Lutunasobasoba gave specific instructions that no one was to ever try retrieving the Katonimana from the Mamanuca seas. The gods had made their decision clear, it had to remain there and anyone who tried to tamper with it would be cursed. Lutunasobasoba also predicted that this group of islands would one day be a great source of prosperity for the Fijian people.

Boko E Take (Traditional Dolphin Hunting), Stephen Bill Amasi, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Boko E Take (Traditional Dolphin Hunting) (2017)
by Stephen Bill Amasi

Nguzu Nguzu, Martin Ata, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Nguzu Nguzu (2017)
by Martin Ata

Many years later Degei returned to the Mamanucas to try his luck with the box of blessings. Legend has it that he only managed to retrieve a big diamond which was on the outside of the box. Immediately he was transformed into a lowly snake with a diamond marking his head. For eternity he was destined to crawl on his stomach, wearing a heavy diamond and trapped in an ocean cave in Sawa-i-lau in the Yasawas, which is still accessible to visitors today.

Buiniga (Fijian Afro), The Ancient World of Currents, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Buiniga (Fijian Afro) (2017)
by The Ancient World of Currents

The Ancient World of Currents, Mason James Lee, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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The Ancient World of Currents (2017) by Mason James Lee

The Fijians believe the Katonimana is still buried in the sea between Likuliku and Mana, guarded by two giant clams. It is this magic box which has brought such great blessings to all the villages in the area and the people who visit these islands.

Rosa Maria Falvo Independent writer and curator, specializing in contemporary art from the Asia-Pacific region. She is also an international arts publishing editor in Milan, and has presented numerous contemporary artists across the globe.

Heart of the Ocean, Unaisi Lina Daunivalu, 2017, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Heart of the Ocean (2017)
by Unaisi Lina Daunivalu

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