1840: The town of Levuka contains about forty houses

Five volume Narrative of The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 reported in 1840 – “The town of Levuka contains about forty houses; it is situated on the east side of the island of Ovolau, in a quiet and peaceful
valley, surrounded by a dense grove of cocoa-nut and bread-fruit trees, with a fine stream of fresh and pure water running through it to the beach: high, broken, volcanic peaks rise to the west, forming the background.

Commodore Wilkes sets the tone: “I directed the chief, Tui Levuka, to send a message immediately to Ambau, to inform King Tanoa of my arrival, and desire him to visit me. This was at once assuming authority over him, and after the fashion of the country; but it was doubted by some whether he would come, as he was old, and a powerful chief.

Levuka “Spirit-house” Bure described:  The most conspicuous and remarkable structure is the mbure, or  spirit-house, which is built on a raised and walled mound : its  proportions are exceedingly uncouth, being nearly twice as high as  it is broad at its base, and forming a singular, sharp-peaked roof;  the piece of timber serving for the ridge-pole projects three or four  feet at each end, is covered with numbers of white shells (Ovula  cypraea), and has two long poles or spears crossing it at right angles. The frames of the houses are built of the bread-fruit tree, and are filled in with reeds, whilst the roof is covered with a thatch of the wild sugar-cane. They are usually oblong in shape, and from twenty to twenty-five feet in length by fifteen in breadth”. At the termination of the thatching, the roofs of all the houses are  about a foot thick, and project eighteen inches or two feet, forming  eaves, which secure them from the wet. For the most port they have two doors, and a fireplace in the centra, composed of a few stones. The furniture consists of a few boxes, mats, several large clay jars, and many drinking vessels, the manufacture of pottery being extensively carried on by them. The sleeping-place is
generally screened off, and raised about a foot above the other part of the floor”.


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