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Carved Wooden Short Club (Wahaika)
Maori, People, New Zealand
length: 42cm, width: 12.6cm
This finely carved Maori wooden club (wahaika) has a varying, lustrous brown patina suggesting a dating to around 1900 and possibly earlier.
The blade is carved in relief all over on both sides with interlocking whakarare bands.
The top of the lower part of the blade is carved with a reclining wheku humanoid figure and the handle section finished with a finial carved with a human head.
The base of the handle has been drilled with a hole through which flax cord would have been threaded to allow the club to be tied to the wrist.
The term 'wahaika' translates as 'fish mouth' - a reference to the shape of the blade. Such clubs were not intended to be used in actual warfare but more in
mock battles and dances. They were also worn as chiefly regalia items, usually through a belt.
A similar example with a carved blade in Salem's Peabody Essex Museum is illustrated in Linton & Wingert (1972, p. 53). Two more are illustrated in Dodd
(1967, p. 155). Another, in the collection of the University of Glasgow, can be seen here.
The example here is in fine condition, without cracks, splits, significant chips, or repairs. There are some areas that have been won flat, but overall, the patina
is fine and the age is clear.
Dodd, E., The Ring of Fire: Polynesian Art, Dodd Mead & Co, 1967.
Linton, R. & P. S. Wingert, Arts of the South Seas, The Museum of Modern Art, 1972.
Starzecka, D. C., R. Neich & M. Pendergrast, The Maori Collections of the British Museum, British Museum Press, 2010.
Wardwell, A., Island Ancestors: Oceanic Art from the Masco Collection, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1994.
Provenance: UK art market
Inventory no.: 4109 SOLD
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