Kanak Club

Archives | New Caledonia

Kanak Club

New Caledonia

Porowa ra maru “bird head” club

Carved wood
Late 19th or early 20th century
Height: 30 ¼ in. (77 cm)

Ex collection Jacques Lebrat, Paris
Ex private collection, France

Kanak Bird Beak Club 77 cm / Galerie Flak figure 26 in. / Galerie Flak Sold
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York states that the distinctively shaped porowa ra maru, or "bird head" clubs of New Caledonia were prestigious objects created for use by chiefs. The clubs symbolized wealth and high rank, and on some occasions served as gifts during ceremonial exchanges.
The top of the clubs are carved in the form of stylized bird heads typically distinguished, as here, by long, pointed beaks. However, as none of New Caledonia's indigenous birds have a similar beak, some scholars have suggested that the image instead represents the head of a sea turtle with its projecting, beaklike mouth.
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