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Povai Club

Tonga Islands

Carved wood
18th or early 19th century
Height: 32¼ in. (82 cm)

Ex collection Mark & Carolyn Blackburn, Honolulu
Ex collection Leo & Lillian Fortess, Honolulu (inv. #330G)
Ex collection Eric & Esther Fortess, Boston

Published: Voyages… From the North Pacific to the South Pacific in the wake of Captain Cook, 2019

Price: sold

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War occupied a preponderant place within Tongan societies. Battles served to reinforce the authority of chiefs as well as to multiply ties between different groups of allies.
War clubs – the most precious possessions of warriors – evidenced exceptional sophistication and refinement in their sculpture and ornamentation.
This Povai or Bowaï (pole) club is made of ironwood (Casuarina equisetifolia). The carving is highly elaborate and refined. The entire club is finely incised with a wide variety of changing patterns including several exceptional, large figurative glyphs.