A Review of the Fijian Legend, The Sacred Turtles of Kadavu

Sacred Turtles of Kadavu

Summary / Review / Appreciation

"The Sacred Turtles of Kadavu" is a captivating Fijian legend that unfolds on the island of Kadavu, revealing a unique and mystical ritual still practiced by the women of Namuana village. The tale recounts the story of Tinaicoboga, a lovely princess, and her daughter Raudalice, who were transformed into giant turtles through a twist of fate.

The legend begins in the picturesque village of Namuana, nestled near Vunisea Harbour. The village holds a tradition where maidens, assembled on its beach, sing a strange chant to call forth giant turtles from the sea. This extraordinary event takes place in a beautiful bay, where visitors can witness the enchanting scene of massive turtles rising to the surface, seemingly drawn by the mesmerizing music.

The origin of this ritual traces back to a tragic incident involving Tinaicoboga and Raudalice. While fishing on submerged reefs, the unsuspecting mother and daughter were captured by fishermen from the neighboring village of Nabukelevu. Bound and tossed into a canoe, they faced an uncertain fate. However, the gods of the sea intervened, conjuring a powerful storm that compelled the Nabukelevu fishermen to release the captives. Miraculously, Tinaicoboga and Raudalice transformed into turtles, ensuring their survival in the turbulent waters.

The legend persists through generations, as an explanation to the yearly ritual of turtle calling. The ritual involves a specific chant which the maiden of  Namuana sing to the turtles, addressing the transformed princess and her daughter, asking them to rise to the surface.

Despite the fantastical nature of the tale, the legend is embedded in the cultural fabric of Kadavu, passed down from generation to generation. The story not only serves as a captivating narrative but also underlines the reverence and respect the Fijian people have for the sea and its inhabitants.

"The Sacred Turtles of Kadavu" is more than just a fairy tale; it is a cultural practice that connects the present-day villagers to their ancestors and the mysterious forces of the sea. The legend, supported by the actual occurrence of the turtle calling ritual, adds a touch of magic and wonder to the rich tapestry of Fijian folklore and traditions.

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