Sali War Club

oceania | Fiji Islands

Sali War Club

Fiji Islands

Sali war club

19th century
Carved wood (toa ironwood)
Height: 110 cm – 43 ¼ in.

Provenance
Ex collection Alex Arthur, Brussels
Ex collection Edric van Vredenburgh, Brussels

Published: Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale 2022
Sali war club 110 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
It was in 1643 that the Dutch navigator Abel Janszoon Tasman discovered the Fiji archipelago consisting of over 320 islands. Traditional Fiji society was organized around clans and divided into hierarchal classes dominated by chiefs and priests. War occupied a preponderant place within Fijian society. Battles served to reinforce the authority of chiefs as well as to multiply ties between different groups of allies.
Beside their functional purposes, war clubs were highly sophisticated sculptures imbued with immense spiritual power. They served on the battlefield but also as symbols of authority, ceremonial objects or images and vessels of the divine.
Sali (or Cali) clubs such as the one shown here were powerful weapons on the battlefield; they were also much used in ceremonial dances. These clubs are named after the clawed sali flower of one of the wild banana-like plants which grow on Fiji Islands.
A rare combination of form and function, elegance and menace emanate from this fascinating sculpture.

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