c1825 Fijian Warrior Ula Tavatava Throwing Club


A fine example of an original early 19th century Fijian warrior’s Ula Tavatava Throwing Club. Such clubs were carved from the buttress roots of ironwood saplings. This example has a head made of carved radial ‘tavatava’ lobed ridges (not unlike a peeled tangerine) and a slim handle, which is decorated with geometric designs ‘tavatava’ to improve the grip. The ridges are not a single row, but arranged as 3 lines of them, with the middle ones being the largest. The wood has an attractive patina of age. The diameter of the handle decreases as it moves away from the head and the tip has an unusual concave edge. The Ula were worn by warriors in their waistbands and then thrown, with great precision, at the skulls of their assailants. They were a well-known weapon to early European sailors who reached Fiji - many had Ulas hurled at them and were brought back as souvenirs. The Fijians, of Western Polynesia, were renowned for their accuracy and speed. Successful enemy kills were marked on the club and if sufficient kills were recorded, the club developed an aura ‘mana’ of its own. It isn’t just the bulbous head that was deadly. The handle could also pierce a victim, with the head lending weight to the blow. Apparently, Churchill saw a Fijian bury his Ula up to the head in a pig at a distance of sixty-five feet."
Size: 10.5 x 42 cm (4 1/8 x 16 ½ inches)
Weight: 616 g