Oceania, New Zealand, Maori, ca. 19th century CE. A sizeable kotiate club, hand-carved from a single whalebone, with an abstract profile head on the butt end and a suspension hole below it, made for a wrist thong in order to ensure that the warrior did not lose it during combat. A finely crafted Maori hand club like this example would have been reserved for chiefs and elite warriors. It is finely carved from whalebone (Physeter catadon) with a large lobed blade and a straight handle decorated with a tiki head looking upward towards the sky. Notice the tiki's protruding tongue; this was understood as an aggressive gesture associated with fierce combat. The sculptor of this kotiate demonstrated a marvelous rendering of volumes on the club and skillfully, ever so slowly, decreased the thickness of the club from the median part until the peripheries where it becomes extremely thin. A fabulous example, delineated in the form of an abstract tiki with both anthropomorphic features. Size: 5.875" W x 12.75" H (14.9 cm x 32.4 cm)
A Maori whalebone kotiate sold for $60,000 at Christie's New York (10 May 2012, lot 8).
See a similarly impressive Maori hand club in the British Museum (Oc1895,-.366) that was collected by Frederick H. Meinertzhagen (1845-1895) circa 1870 on the East coast of New Zealand as well as another example from the Sainsbury Collection previously owned by the Pitt-Rivers Museum (Hooper, 1997, fig.8).
Provenance: private Nevada, USA collection
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Expected age wear, but overall intact and superb.