Lot 122. Maori Hand Club, New Zealand, wahaika. Wood, length 18 1/4in (46.5cm). Sold for US$ 25,000 (€21,912) inc. premium. Photo: Bonhams.
Finely carved in large proportions with a tiki figure with curvilinear features including an arched back, circling arms, legs, feet and hands with three fingers, the vulva defined, the head with an arching brow, raised nostrils and open mouth with protruding tongue, a tiki head at the base of the handle, pierced through at the handle for suspension; fine, honey-brown patina with ware indicative of significant age and use.
Provenance: Purportedly J.J. Klejman Collection, New York
Sold by order of the present owner, Sotheby's Parke Bernet, Inc., October 11, 1974, Lot 160
Private Collection, New York
Note: According to Charles Mack, 'This form of short club with the broad tongue-shaped blade is unique to New Zealand. Its name, wahaika, is literally translated as "fish mouth", a reference to the shape of the blade. Such clubs were used for combat and in dances, during which they were brandished in mock battles. In battle, they were employed in thrusting and jabbing motions, the end, not the sides, being the part that inflicted damage. They were also important elements of chiefly regalia that were carried in the belt when not held in the hand. Most have a human head carved below the handle and a small reclining figure just above the handle on the inside of the blade. Both of these figures represent mythological ancestors (Simmons 1984, p. 188, no. 45). The hole at the base was for attachment of flax suspension cord that was looped around the wrists.'(Wardwell [Alan], Island Ancestors, 1994, p. 218)