Kanak Ceremonial Axe

New Caledonia

O Kono

Serpentine (jade), wood, flying fox fur, fabric
19th century
Height: 20 in. (51 cm)

Ex collection Stodel, Rotterdam
Ex collection of the Museum of the Instituut voor kulturele antropologie van de R.K. Universiteit van Nijmegen
Acquired on April 20th, 1961 (inv # 566)
Ex collection Michel Thieme, Amsterdam

Price: sold

Melanesia – Eastern Papua New Guinea
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The earliest available information relating to the function of the axe is that it was used to cut up the bodies of cannibal victims; however, the fragility of the hafting and the preciousness of the blade make such a use extremely dubious.
Maurice Leenhardt in 1930 noted that the “green clubs” were seen in rainmaking rituals. He also noted that these prestige objects were kept in a basket of wealth belonging to important lineages, and that they were only removed on key occasions such as mourning ceremonies and weddings during which affirmation of status occurred.