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.

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