Friday, 11 April 2008 10:29 AM

Varikanas in the Western Solomons

Traditional wartime tales is common in the Solomons, and a 'varikana' in the Western Province was an ancient fighter in the tribal fighting era.

"Varikana was a person involved tribal fighting, which was common in the western part of the Solomons," Richard Tutikera explained.

In the early days, varikanas would go out in their traditional war canoes, the tomoko, seeking out enemies.

"You can tell a varikana apart from ordinary people through their dress code," Mr. Tutikera said.

Dressed from the head down in traditional attire, a varikana would wear a 'bakiha' around their necks, have 'bakolo' on their arm, 'warobokolo' on their heads and hang tribal money to please their gods in order for their prayer to be answered.

"Before going out to fight, a varikana must first conduct sacrificial worship to their gods by sacrificing a human being, usually an enemy captured during a tribal clash," Mr. Tutikera said.

Heavy feasting was symbolic of a successful fight where the varikanas would "give back to their gods" the heads of their enemies.

"These warriors had a special place where they will put all the heads to rot, and a special man was tasked by the chief to watch over the heads in the process of rotting," Mr. Tutikera said.

Solomon Times was informed that after the heads rot, the guard would then report to the chief or the elders so that they transfer the skulls to the "tambuna", which is a sacred place where they worship their gods.

It was believed that their victory would make the chiefs and his tribe to be more powerful.

The arrival of Christianity on the shores of the Western Province saw people do away with such practices.

Asked of the existence of the sacred places, Mr. Tutikera said that the skulls are still seen in the area and still considered "a sacred place".

"We have the belief that people who go up there would get sick because it is still a very sacred place," he said.

Mr. Tutikera said that although the practice of varikanas have ceased, "other traditional practices such as herbal medicines, traditional money practice are still in place today".

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