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Oar-shaped club parahu

Oar-shaped club parahu

Place: Marquesas
Category: War

wood, Marquesas Islands, l. 256 cm, w. 10.5 cm (max.), Inv. Oz 103

Humphrey No. 329: ‘a very long battle axe made of hard black wood from the Marquesas.’

(Dordillon, cited in Linton 1923: 392)

The shaft of the club is round, and after approximately 1.8 metres, becomes a flat blade ending in a curve. The upper, somewhat flattened end (pommel), is slightly widened.

Linton (1923: 391 f.) distinguished two types of club: 1) a type called uu (Handy 1923: 129: u’u) which on both sides of the lower end features an anthropomorphic head, the eyeballs (carved to represent human heads) of which protrude conspicuously. The Göttingen Collection has two such examples (Oz 101 and Oz 102. 2). Parahu clubs were war clubs, whereas the uu or akau toa types are more likely to have been insignia of rank rather than weapons. Von den Steinen included pictures of six oar-shaped clubs from the Krusenstern Collection, Petersburg (1928b: aQ No. 2). Brigitta Hauser-Schaüblin


Handy, ES Craighill, The Native Culture of the Marquesas, Bernice P Bishop Museum Bulletin, vol. 9, Honolulu, 1923.

Linton, Ralph, The Material Culture of the Marquesas Islands, Memoirs of the Bernice P Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1923, vol. 8, no. 5.

Steinen, Karl von den, Die Marquesaner und ihre Kunst. Primitive Südseeornamentik III: Die Sammlungen, Berlin, 1928b.

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