The Lasakau Sea Warriors were a 19th-century warrior sub-culture in the pre-colonial state of Bau, in Fiji. The sea warriors were instrumental in spreading Bau's political power throughout the South Pacific archipelagic islands. The rise of the eminent islet of Bau amongst other embryonic states was due mainly to the projection of sea power through its naval forces. Bauan chief Ratu Tubuanakoro was praised by French Captain Dumont D' Urville in May 1827 for his geographic knowledge of the Fijian archipelago signifying Bau's naval influence. More far-ranging than Bau's land warriors led by the Vusaradave clan, the Lasakau clan became the leading proponents of war and tribute for the emerging island kingdom. They became known as the Bai kei Bau or 'War fence of Bau'. Sahlins made the crucial observation that," The kings of Bau based their rule not on native cultivators but on native sailors and fishers-which is to say in Fijian catergories, as in political strategies, not on the land but on the sea". This was the great political transformation that catapulted Bau to power over other pre-colonial kingdoms.
The fleet of Thakombau sailed out this morning with not less than 200 warriors on board each canoe. -Rev. Walter Lawry, a missionary, 1847.
The Lasakau clan was traditionally the fishermen of Bau. The clan was also renowned as seafarers. This is verified by many traditional blood links to far-flung islands of Fiji. The leading families of Lasakau as purveyors of sea bounty and wealth married into Bauan royalty. They became key allies in the competing chiefly intrigues that shaped Fiji’s pre-colonial political landscape. As Bauan maritime supremacy came into contact with Western explorers, traders and missionaries, its native hegemonic power was transformed. Christian missionaries and British colonisers consolidated Bauan political influence as the conduit of Western civilization in the Fiji Islands.
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