Club (u'u)

Marquesas Islands
19th century
Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander


Object Place: Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Dimensions

139.7 x 17.78 x 10.16 cm (55 x 7 x 4 in.)

Accession Number

1992.342

Medium or Technique

Toa wood

On View

Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa Gallery (Gallery 177)

Collections

Africa and Oceania

Classifications

Arms and armor

The most complex rendering of the pervasive tiki image occurs on Marquesan clubs, the exclusive property of warriors. On this and other examples, both sides of the flared upper end are shaped as large stylized human faces incorporating smaller faces carved in high and low relief. A face in low relief appears above the arching brows of the larger facial shape, whose ringed eyes have pupils composed of smaller human heads. Another head emerges from the middle of the protruding traverse bar, below which bands of geometric designs enclose oval eyes in low relief. The dark patina results from coconut-oil polishing, and fiber matting originally wrapped the bottom of the shaft. Warfare with weapons such as clubs, spears, and slings was mainly due to territorial disputes, insults, or humiliation. Marquesan men not only fought with such clubs but displayed them as symbols of prestige and preserved them as valued heirlooms. The clubs are among the best-known works from the Pacific. Since the eighteenth century, Marquesan artists have produced them for export, and many examples are now in private and museum collections.

Provenance

1992, gift of Landon T. Clay, Peterborough, NH, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 24, 1992)

Credit Line

Gift of Landon T. Clay