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Rhizome club

Rhizome club

Place: New Hebrides (Vanuatu)
Category: War

wood, Vanuatu, l. 170.4 cm, Inv. Oz 826

Humphrey No. 328: ‘A long knotted Staff or Club, nearly in its natural shape, from the Hebrides Isles.’

Humphrey’s description above gives a very good impression of this object. The wrapping at the lower, narrow, end clearly points to its use as a clubbing instrument. This wrapping consists of a c. 3 mm wide plait. The material is probably coconut fibre. At the lower as well as at the upper, knotted, thickened end, the surface of the club is left naturally rough. It is a dirty light-brown in colour. The remaining middle part is shining and smooth, probably through repeated rubbing with coconut oil.

There does not seem to be a similar club in any of the Cook collections elsewhere. However, Speiser (1923, PI. 57) depicted such a club, giving as its origin the island of Malo in the centre of the New Hebrides. This club is much shorter however, only 96 cm in length. Volker Harms


Speiser, Felix, Ethnographische Materialien aus den Neuen Hebriden und den Banks-Inseln, Berlin, 1923.

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