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Meke is a broad term in the Fijian language, primarily referring to all traditional style of dance. It is a cognate of the words "maka" (Rotuman) and "mele" in Hawaiian. It is typically performed during celebrations and festivals. Traditionally the dances that comprise the meke art form are performed by groups of men only or women only, however, foreign influences, such as the male/female Tongan ma'ulu'ulu becoming the Fijian vakamalolo, are evident throughout.
Professor Friedrich Ratzel in his 1896 publication (Macmillan of London), The History of Mankind, writes about the Fijian meke as both song and dance which only a few are given to invent and which those who do, allege that they do so in the spirit world where divine beings teach them the song and the appropriate dance. He wrote that the ideal of the Fijian poet is poetry with every verse ending with the same vowell of regular measure, which, in practice is often achieved with poetic license through the use of arbitrary abbreviations or lengthenings, and omission of articles, etc.
In popular culture
- A meke was performed by contestants for a reward challenge in Survivor: Fiji.
- Ratzel, Friedrich. The History of Mankind. (London: MacMillan, 1896). URL: www.inquirewithin.biz/history/american_pacific/oceania/melanesian-population.htm accessed 9 October 2009.