Cannibal fork

Viti Levu, Fiji Islands

Meat fork Icula or Bulutoko

Carved wood
19th century
Length: 11 ¾ in. (30 cm)

Ex collection Leo & Lillian Fortess (#169G), Honolulu
Ex collection Eric & Esther Fortess, Boston

Price: on request

Central Polynesia
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These forks were carved in order to respect the taboo associated with ranking members (chiefs and priests) of Fijian society that prohibited them to touch food with their hands or lips. Such forks are often referred to as “cannibal forks”.
The triangular flying fox head finial and carved motifs on the handle on this fork are particularly noteworthy features.
The Fiji Museum in Suva has a closely related figural fork in their collection (inv. #FM-58.122).