A carte-de-visite portrait of the Fijian chief and warlord Epinesa Cakobau (1815-1883), the self-proclaimed King of Fiji.
During the 1840s Ratu [‘chief’] Cakobau of Bau, with the assistance of the Europeans and their firearms, began to extend his control of Viti Levu and several islands. By 1850 the white settlers were calling him Tui Viti (King of Fiji), and he converted to Christianity to secure European support. In fact he was only one warlord among many. His domination was in one limited area in Western Fiji, while the east was controlled by Ma’afu, a Tongan chief who had gained control over the Lau group.
In 1858, the British became concerned at the interest being shown by France and the United States in the islands and they sent their consul, Pritchard, to claim them. Cakobau, who was in debt to some American residents who had sold him firearms, offered to cede the islands to Britain in return for the payment of his debts. Pritchard took the offer to London but the government, by now preoccupied elsewhere, failed to act. During the following years, hundreds of Islanders were taken from their homes and forced into slavery in the Fijian plantations.
In 1871 Cakobau attempted to form a Western-style government but this collapsed after just two years. In 1873 the acting British consul sought British annexation of Fiji, and on 10 October 1874 it was pronounced a British colony and a capital was established at Suva.
Photographed by F. H. Dufty of Levuka, on the island of Ovalau [Fiji].
Francis Herbert Dufty arrived in Levuka from the colony of Victoria [Australia] in early 1871. Over the next 16 years, Frank Dufty he first established and then expanded a successful studio on the island, producing many portraits and landscape photographs.
condition: Apart from some black marks in the area of the background, mainly towards the upper
right-hand corner, the print is in very fine condition, with good tonal range. The mount shows some
foxing but is clean, firm and solid, with crisp edges and sharp corners.
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