club (weapons: bludgeon)

Wooden u'u club with shaft of ovate section which flares into a fan like profile. Across this runs a transverse bar of rhomboidal section which forms the cheekbones of a large facial representation. Each element of the face is composed of a smaller facial representation. The neck of the club features an engraving in light relief of further facial motifs and concentric circle elements which represent containers and skulls. At the butt a small nail has been hammered into one side and then ground off flat.

Two-Handed Bifacial Club, ‘U‘u. Marquesas Islands, Central Polynesia. Warriors (toa) were demarcated as a particular social class in Marquesan society, and ‘u‘u clubs of blackened temanu wood (Calophyllum inophyllum) were the indispensible insignia of their identity. Although it shares a number of basic characteristics with other types of Pacific clubs – it has two lines of reflectional symmetry through its axis, it flares towards the head, and the head bears human facial features – in other ways the ‘u’u is unique. Most distinctively, ‘u’u possess the fascinating characteristic of the main human face on each side being composed from several other faces. This says something larger about the way that Marquesas Islanders have historically conceptualised the world: because mana (supernatural power and effectiveness) emerged, like ourselves, from the ancestors and was guaranteed by their good will, we are al, in a certain sense, part of our ancestors, and contain our descendents within us. Supernatural power flows down from the ancestors in this way, and the form of the ‘u’u club shows the arrival of this ancestral power in the physical world, on the battlefield. Wood. Late 19th Century. Formerly in the private collection of Mr. R. Freston.


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