Whale teeth (tabua) have a very high spiritual value to Fijians. Tabua are used as important presentation items in spiritual as well as worldly matters. Imbued with deep meaning, tabua were able to remedy almost all infractions, and also had the power to make agreements and requests binding. Thus, chiefs gave tabua as diplomatic gifts during rituals to seal alliances and pacts. As a sign of respect to the recipients, tabua are presented on various occasions such as the reception of a king, at weddings, funerals, births as well as virtually all state occasions.


About 1960/1961, during a Tabua ritual in Fiji, presented to Governor Carlton Skinner (b. 1913 - d. 2004), Boston; 2002, year-end gift of Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 2003)

Credit Line

Gift of Governor Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner


Tusk length: 15 cm (5 11/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Whale's tooth, coconut fiber cord
Jewelry / Adornment
Accession Number
Not on view