13 September 2010

Fight club - Marquesan weapons

Marquesan club in the museum. Provenance 1970s: possibly gift by visiting dignitary from French Polynesia.

The evidence of Marquesan creative vigour of the past is matched by evidence of vigorous destructive behaviour. Warriors were fierce, their weapons cruel. Tribal warfare was the norm.
There were several types of Marquesan war clubs. The type called u’u (pictured) was the exclusive property of the warrior caste, a group of men who also acted as paid mercenaries for allied chiefdoms.
The clubs are huge in comparison to those in the rest of the Pacific. They are said to have been individually tailored to reach from the ground to the owner’s armpit. Tufts of white human beard hair and black human hair at times adorned the grips of such weapons.

04 September 2010

Freezing times in Rarotonga

Sally Voss at the library with artefacts ready to be frozen.
Two or three times a year CILAMS conducts a programme of freezing to get rid of pests that have taken up residence in our books and small artifacts using a freezer specially bought for the purpose.
Freezing is a non-chemical, non-toxic, and effective pest eradication method which is widely used in the international museum community, but high electricity costs here in the Cook Islands makes it an expensive task so only those items that are visibly affected are treated.
We use an inexpensive household freezer since the required temperature level is –20 degrees Celsius (-5F). The items are tightly wrapped in two layers of polyethylene plastic and sealed with plastic carton sealing tape. (CILAMS uses the Conservation Management guide drawn up by the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery, Australia, as its guide for preservation.)
We alternately freeze our infested objects and then warm them to room temperature - hey presto – no more bugs! It’s a non-chemical method to zap insects without a health hazard.
Unfortunately, some of our larger artifacts won’t fit in a household freezer and we don’t have the budget – or the space – for a walk-in freezer but luckily CITC allows us to use some of the space in its commercial walk-in freezers.
Recently Mr Trevor Clarke, director of CITC supermarkets, arranged for space to be made available in one of his walk-in freezers, so that some of our large items can be debugged for two weeks.
CITC staff helped wrap and transport the items both from our museum and the nearby National Museum.
This is the second time CITC has come to our assistance with their freezers and we thank CITC and Mr Clarke for their help in this programme of preservation of our national heritage.
CITC staff ready to carry the artefacts into the freezers.