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20 December 2009
Mystery of the Narara caves in Fiji

Thirteen stones sit hidden in the dense jungles of the range of mountains that make up Nakauvadra in Ra (Fiji islands). Caves with drawings sit below them. They remain a mystery for the people of Narara Village. Deep in the jungles above the village of Narara in Ra stand 12 stones of similar size and shape. The thirteenth is a little longer then the rest. They stand as monolithic reminders of an era the people of Narara are struggling to understand.
     It takes about six hours on foot to get to these ancient monuments at the top of the range of mountains that make up Nakauvadra. The stones sit in a rough circular formation on the very top of a steep mountain. The interesting part about the Narara story is that the stones stand on a steep mountain overlooking a number of caves. One of them shelters unusual drawings on the wall.
     Kemueli Penisoni, 60, was one of four men hunting for pigs who discovered the caves about 30 years ago. "One of the caves had unusual writing on the wall," he remembers. While villagers like Kemueli can only guess what the monuments and drawings mean, Jone Wailevu, a researcher in ancient Fijian culture, believes they are important for the people of this country. "The indigenous inhabitants probably chose the site for its height, with its panoramic view of their world, especially the eastern seaboard. The significance of the east for the ancient people is that it is the front of the Earth where the day and night begin, the rising of the sun and moon," he said.
     "The Narara cult would have been prominent in its day as the mount of the gods. Its seclusion, non-accessibility and panoramic view denote its role as the place from which the gods bless the whole of Fiji. At the foot of the mountain would probably reside the various social groups that define their culture in terms of the cultus. Visiting worshippers from the whole of Fiji would probably present their gifts at that point, so Narara would have been a very busy commercial centre with travelers coming from faraway places.vIn fact, ancient roads like the tualeita (legendary ancient Fijian route) receive new meaning under the Narara cult as sacred pathways to the gods," Wailevu added.
     He believes the stones held a lot of meanings for the ancient people of Narara. "The 12 stones arranged in a circular formation probably depicted the 12 complete cycles of the full moon from one harvest to the next. Usually, upon the completion of the 12 full moons, the harvest had not been reached probably by a week, days or hours and the normal practice was to add on another moon - the 13th. The 12 stones being a complete number but to enable rebirth or the continuation of the circular motion, the 13 or the number of rebirth had to be added on."

Source: Fiji Times Online (13 December 2009)

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