Tongan Kava Ceremony-Taumafa Kava

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The "Kava Ceremony" is attended by the King of Tonga. A royal death, marriage, bestowing an honorary title or a royal coronation calls for such an event to be held.[1] Kava to be used as a drink, dates back to the tenth century. It had its origin in the islands of Tonga and Eueiki. However, its use is not very widespread now.

The coronation ceremony is known as "fakanofo" in Tongan society. The president oversees this and the would be king is guarded by two entrusted Matapules.[2] The society is quite remote and there isn't a lot of information about the existing kingdoms.

Below is a list of terms associated with the "Kava ceremony"

  • ʻAlofi- The Kava circle.
  • ʻApaʻapa- The masters of ceremony in a Kava party.
  • Fakamatu'a- when members in the Kava Circle move from one sitting posture to another.
  • Fakamuifonua- a very formal procedure of preparing Kava employed only in the making of Kava for the Tu'i Tonga.
  • Fakata'ane- the ceremonial sitting position for Tongan men, knees widely extended, flat on the ground, feet folded beneath legs, body inclined forward, elbows across upper legs, hands near lap. The left hand keeps the lower garment pulled up when necessary, as when assuming the position and rising.
  • Fakatakape- To clean the bowl rim with fau fiber, as soon as the fiber is thrown into the bowl.
  • Fakataue- To mix very strong Kava in a new bowl and bathe the edge of the bowl repeatedly with the strainer, to give the bowl's interior the kava stain.
  • Fakatomo- The central tap root or body of a large kava root, not chopped into small pieces but left intact.
  • Fakatu'auho- Thick Kava made from the small roots of the plant.
  • Fau- Fibre of the inner bark of the hau hibiscus sp. A bundle of this fibre serves as a strainer.
  • Fono- The food or relish distributed at a great drinking of kava.
  • Kava- The plant piper methysticum; the drink made from a piece of root.
  • Luluki- The root of the Kava plant.

The diagram below shows the seating arrangements of chiefs, nobles and their matapules in the Kava Circle. Taumafa Kava[3]

Below is the process of making a special drink called "Kava".

Procedure and Preparation The following is an account from living informants which describes the making and serving of Kava at a Taumafa Kava:[4]

The matapule,positions himself to the right of the president.He says"Ui ha'a mo tokonaki,": the command to source the materials for making a Kava. The assembly takes place, in front of the kava mixer which stands across the end of the kava circle. This occasion is attended by the king alias (ngaahikava) who is tended to by theangaikavas. This is a special name coined for the king's attendants.

The matapule says, "Hao ha tangata ": come and fetch the kava root. One of the angaikavas come forwards to carry the kava to the lower end of the circle. There the root is pounded by a hammer stone on a stone anvil. This technique does not bear resemblance to a former procedure where the root was chewed instead of being pounded.

The pulverized kava is next placed on a mat to the posterior right of the kava mixer. This is followed by "langlolango mei".One of the angikavas rubs the interior of the bowl: kaukau 'i 'ai tanoa as it is known in Tongan language. The other angikava picks up the bowl holding the brim with his right hand:an act called hiki tanoa. This bowl is placed before the ngaahikava; and the kava is poured into the bowl from the right side of the mixer.It is finally kept on a piece of tapa or a mat, so as make the position favourable for leaning over.

The mixer, with graceful hand movements, mashes the kava together in the bowl. The mash is massaged on the inner surface of the bowl;tipping either sides of the bowl's rim. The king is invited to have a look at the interior of the bowl.There is also a matter of hierarchy involved. The king, if higher ranking than the president, says "Holo 'a e taumafa ni,"(knead this drink), or "Kuo holo kava ni," (this kava is kneaded).On the contrary, if the situation is just the opposite, then the president orders for the king to be killed.

The attendant to the right replies - "Kuo holo: tukuatu":It is kneaded. The bowl is lowered,tilted towards the matapule. "Tuumalie pe kae palu." (All right, mix.) "Tafoki kimoua" (Turn), addressed to the two helpers on either side of the bowl, who turn inwards. "'Ai haamo vai" (Put in your water), at which many people run for water, the helpers shouting, "Vai!" (Water!) to the people in the toua. Those who first bring water, in coconut shell containers, deposit it before the bowl. The right hand helper then takes water and pours it into the bowl, while the mixer kneads the kava in the water. "Vaitaha" (one water)(almost enough). One helper ceases to pour water; the other alone applies water. "Taofi vai" (stop pouring water). They stop adding water. "Palu fakatatau pea tui haafakamau" (mix equally) and "tui haafakamau" (probably the method of twisting the fau fibre strainer). With a double flourish of the hands the mixer mixes the kava and ends abruptly, resting his hands on the edge of the bowl.

Then the right hand helper throws the fibre strainer on the bowl. In this kind of a kava party the strainer is very large and is called unu. Skilfully the mixer wets the fau and wipes the edge of the bowl, being very technical and formal in his movements. Then he begins to strain the kava, a process called in this ceremony milolua. He carefully and slowly pulls the strainer through the water with both hands. He then raises it, one end in his left hand, twists it and lays the twisted fiber on his left forearm, the one end still clasped in his left hand; reaches under his left arm with the right hand, takes hold of the end of the strainer lying on his arm; wrings the liquid from the strainer into the bowl; turns his hands over. Shaking the pieces of kava out of the strainer on a mat to his right, the operation is repeated but this time,instead of shaking the kava particles efe out of the strainer, he throws the strainer behind and away from him.

Then the right hand helper, notifying on clear inspection that the kava is ready calls : "Ma'a e kava ni" (this kava is clear).

The right hand matapule answers : "Tokonaki 'o fakatau" (Prepare to serve, wring out the kava). Then men from behind the mixer come forward with the cups. These servers are called fakatau kava, as also is their serving of the kava (fakatau, the man who wrings out the kava into the serving cups; to wring the kava into cups for drinking). As they hold a cup over the forward edge of a bowl, the mixer squeezes the kava from the restored fau strainer into it.

The right hand helper says: "Kava kuo heka" (The kava is taken up) The right hand matapule chants in answer, "'Ave ia ma'a..." (Take it for...naming the one to be served). The first cup goes to the left hand matapule. Each time the chants are repeated. The second cup goes to the man to the right of the right hand matapule. The third cup goes to the king or president. This is continually repeated until all people within the kava circle are served.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Taumafa Kava", palaceoffice.gov.to
  2. ^ Bernice P. Bishop museum- Bulletin 61-gifford tongan society
  3. ^ [1] Ngaahi ouau 'o e taumafa kava.
  4. ^ Bernice P. Bishop museum- Bulletin 61-gifford tongan society

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