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Title: Traditionally contemporary? : understanding urban Fijian masi
Author: Igglesden, Katrina
ISNI:       0000 0004 9355 0473
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2019
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This research investigates how the contemporary use and significance of Fijian barkcloth (masi) in Suva, the capital of Fiji, has been adapted from its traditional use and practices and how this urban environment has created new ways of distributing, displaying and presenting it. I aim to explore the notion that contemporary masi practices, while superficially divergent from those historically, still reflect and pay homage to the traditional customs and codes that made masi culturally significant in the past. Masi is made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera). A laborious process, the bark is beaten to produce sheets of cloth of varying thicknesses and sizes and then decorated using one (or a combination of three) technique, depending on the type of masi being made. Historically one of the most pervasive exchange objects in Fiji, masi is a female iyau (valuable) and still plays an integral role in Fijian cultural practice. In particular, this research looks to the dynamic and fast-moving urban scene in Fiji and its many global diasporas, especially in terms of urban contemporary Fijian fashion and the presence of ‘masi couture’, and examines masi’s increasingly modified modes of display. The term ‘Urban-Fiji’ will be introduced and speaks to masi’s twenty-first century creative adaptability. Perhaps the first study in which urban Fijian masi is understood in terms of its adaptation and transformation, specific ‘Urban-Fiji’ (diasporic) case studies assist in exploring ‘non-traditional’ uses and resulting artistic practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available