HISTORICAL artifacts are still preserved with respect among the Mati clan of Taulevu village in Naitasiri as they play a very important role in their traditions.
Nai Lalakai reporter, Viliame Ravai experienced firsthand some of the clan's artifacts that have been and still is part of their lives all throughout their generations until today.
In fact, cultural artifacts are generally divided into two kinds - the secular and the sacred.
More Pictures of the Mati clan
Secular artifacts could include tools, weapons such as ai wau, ai ula, dakai titi or arrowheads, everyday clothing and etc. These are items that were used in day-to-day life.
While interesting, they are not as revered as sacred objects or carvings like in caves that indicate part of their lives, medicine bundles, totem poles, or other objects connected to special ceremonies or rituals.
Head of the clan, Kaveni Nakailagi, 63, told our reporter, Vili Ravai, that near the village, there is a cave which holds peculiar artifacts of female breasts.
"These are rocks in the caves taking the shape of women's breasts - the women of Mati, that is."
"No matter where they are in Fiji, their breasts are all visible here in this cave, " he said.
Nakailagi said the stone artifacts of each woman's breast is visible in the cave from the day she is born.
"As they grow, so will the shape and look of their breasts according to their age right up until their death, then her breasts will disappear from the cave," he said.
A visit to the cave was imminent. Ravai said it took him almost an hour to reach the cave.
"We had to travel from the village down the hill, through thick, dense forest, crossing a stream before reaching the cave," he explained.
It was early on a Friday morning when Ravai - accompanied by villagers Poasa Tuvunamoto and Aseri Koroulu - made their way to the spot.
It was not an easy walk as they had to travel downwards from the village.
Ravai said it had being a long time since anyone visited the cave which housed the Mati women's breasts of stone.
"For someone whose been working in an office most days, the experience was quite shocking. I could feel the cold of the early morning dew in my bones as we trekked downwards through the thick bush," Ravai said.
He said it was not long before they came across the flowing stream. They had to wade through it to get to the cave site.
He said, what he saw in the cave was totally unexpected and bewildering.
"To my amazement, hanging from the ceiling of the cave were women's breasts - all of different sizes and descriptions - young, teenage, middle aged and the old age - but they were all rocks shaped like breasts.
"You name it, they were all there in various sizes," he said.
Ravai said he was told that if one throws water at the peculiar stony breasts, white, milky substances would drip from the nipples.
And that, he did.
"I did as I heard, and that was to wet the breasts, and alas, there I witnessed this milky substance dripping from them to the waters below," he said.
"On the tip of the breasts (nipples) something like a milky substance was seen, just like an ordinary woman's breasts," he added.
"It is white as milk," Ravai said.
Interestingly, as it drops, before landing on the waters below, the substance becomes clear again like water, Ravai explained.
Nakailagi said the breasts were indicators of a newborn baby girl among the Mati. Even if she lived in another part of the world, it would still be revealed in the cave.
Also in the same cave, it is said there is a gold ring under the flowing stream.
When he took a photograph inside the cave, Ravai captured the image of a shiny emerald-like sparkle among the rocks and waters below.
Ravai has vowed to return to the cave on another trip to find out about this mysterious shimmer in the cave.
In fact, he said the elders in the village have advised that he take another trip there and find out for himself the truth behind all this mystery.
Once back at the village after this early morning adventure, Ravai said the villagers seemed to show signs of trust and confidence in his ability as a journalist to reveal the untold stories they had kept among themselves for ages.
Nakailagi also showed Ravai a few of the secular artifacts they kept in the village.
"This is ai ula, and is evidence that my great grandfather was a true warrior," he said holding it out to Ravai.
"Nowadays many a people don't like to keep these types of artifacts.
"How can you prove your family history when relaying stories to your children or great grandchildren?" he asked.
Nakailagi told Ravai that these were facts of life that needed to be taken into consideration when one is talking about their family history.
"Evidence is the most important thing that is needed as we venture into the changes that come with time," he had said.
But for Ravai, another trip to Taulevu village and its hidden mystery will definitely be on his travel diary in the not too distant future.
Taulevu village is within the district of Matailobau. Matailobau district also includes villages of Nairukuruku, Navuniyasi, Delaitoga and Nabena.