|Medium||Hand-painted on Masi (inner bark of the paper mulberry tree)|
|Size||The masi is mounted on customised black card, and measures approx. 21cm tall by 25cm wide (landscape). The black card measures approx. 24.5cm tall and 30cm wide|
|Copyright||Images and text © Maria Rova|
Pasifika - Emblems of Fiji
This painting is one of a pair, celebrating emblems of Fiji’s forests and seas. Traditional legends feature many of the animals found in Fiji’s reefs, explaining how they got there, or attributing magical powers to them. One of the spirits worshiped by ancient Fijians was a sea snake, revered as especially powerful. Turtles, on the other hand, were symbols of good luck, bringing blessings to those who encountered them!
Fijian ‘masi’, also called barkcloth, is produced by village women on islands such as Vatulele. A renewable resource, masi is made by harvesting strips of bark from specially grown paper-mulberry trees. Each piece takes days to process, involving repeated pounding, soaking and stretching. These traditional skills are passed on from generation to generation, with certain clans being considered the experts in masi-making. The uneven quality of the masi reflects its handmade origin.
Maria Rova lives in Nadi, Fiji. Her artwork is inspired by the wildlife, culture, and scenery of the Pacific, especially that of the remote island of Taveuni to the north of the Fiji group, which is home to her husband’s traditional clan. Sustained by forest and reef, Taveuni villagers still follow many of the ancient cultural practices that give Fijian people their unique identity. The artist wishes to acknowledge gratefully the impact that her Fijian family has had on her work.