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The Prince of Wales and his entourage on camels posing for camera in front of Pyramid of Cheops and Pyramid of Cephrenes, Giza, Cairo. The Prince is seated on the camel fifth from the left. The man in the white suit with a cigar, gazing up at the Prince,

Modes of travel and travelling accessories used by monarchs past and present


Tabua 1963

RCIN 60250

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During The Queen’s reign she has visited Fiji five times, both as a crown colony and, since 1970, as an independent member of the Commonwealth. A key element of all Commonwealth visits is the presentation of gifts, which often reflect local craftsmanship in order to celebrate the diversity of the Commonwealth’s member states. This sperm whale tooth, drilled and threaded onto a palm fibre cord, was presented on The Queen's State Visit in 1963.

In Fijian culture, teeth are traditionally collected from the lower jaws of beached whales, and since whale beachings are a relatively rare occurrence, the teeth are highly prized. When threaded on a cord, as here, they are known as tabua, and they play an important role in traditional ceremonies of marriage, mourning and peace-making. Rather than being worn, they are formally exchanged by high-ranking chiefs as representatives of the Fijian people. This tabua was used in the ceremony of cavuikelekele or ‘invitation to land’, performed to welcome The Queen in 1963. A photograph in the Royal Collection records the tabua's presentation by the High Chief of Fiji, Ratu Cakobau.