In the islands of the Pacific, where hardwood trees were abundant and iron virtually non-existent until the 19th century, the fighting club was elevated to an art form – made in a wider variety of forms and with more lavish decoration than any other weapon.
The Fijians in particular were experts at
all types of club warfare and best known for the short round-headed
throwing club or ulla. Each Fijian warrior would go into
battle with at least three or four tucked into his belt.
Two different examples were offered as part
of the Gentleman's Library sale at Mallams (20%
buyer's premium) in Oxford on October 30-31.
A typical example with a lobed shaped head
(ulla tavatava) sold for £1400 but a much rarer club known
as an ulla soba with a deep cross cut to the head and
carved decoration to the grip, took £9500.
The dui or fan club was used
by Fijian warriors to deliver blows with a sharp edge. It's also a
scarce form and the example estimated to bring £100-200 at Peter
Wilson (20% buyer's premium) of Nantwich on November 27-28 sold
to a Netherlands collector for £7800.
The club, one panel carved with a diamond
pattern, the other plain, had been given to the vendor in about
1955 by a friend who had collected various items while
Among the most identifiable weapons of the
Maori are the mere, traditional close-combat weapons
typically made from nephrite jade. The material was highly prized
and the slow and arduous process of manufacture ensured they were
high status objects often passed down through generations.
The example offered by Brightwells
(17.5% buyer's premium) of Leominster on October 30 was part of a
collection of late 19th century Aboriginal and Maori artefacts
collected in the first half of the 20th century.
As with most examples, a hole had been
drilled through the handle to allow for a wrist cord (originally
made of plaited flax but here a replacement).
Estimated at £150-200, it made £2600 and is
on the way back to New Zealand.
Inuit Fish Hook
Meanwhile an Inuit fish hook was the key element
of a small collection of objects sold for an unexpected £1200 at
the Gentleman's Library sale at Mallams in Oxford on October 30-31.
Used for ice hole fishing, the carved marine
ivory or bone hook retained its original sinew (animal tendon) cord
to which was attached an old pen and ink label reading: From
the Captain Perry Expedition.
This could be a reference to Robert Edwin Peary
(1856-1920), the American explorer who made many visits to the
Arctic, bringing five Inuit men and a boy back from Greenland in
1897. Put in the custody of the American Museum of Natural History
in New York, most soon died of tuberculosis.