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Old 11th January 2021, 01:34 PM   #1
Tim Simmons
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Default Ulas? Oceanic teaser

One for the lurking Oceanic club collectors that sometimes contribute. Just acquired this interesting piece. 46cm long shown here with the sellers pictures. Although they show the whole thing quite well, the most interesting bits are not clear.
I thought long and hard about this piece even though it was not expensive and researched for sometime before going for it. The first thing that stands out, the bark still being on the wood which is not commonly found on most Fijian Ulas we encounter {not that Fiji is the only place or island that uses throwing clubs} secondly the emerging lenticels on the bark surface could be off-putting until I found that there are many shrub/trees that have lenticel bark in the indo-pacific. The seller mentions the mother of pearl inlay {assuming it is shell } to me from the not very clear pictures looks like Tridacna mother of pearl which I thought a good sign. The question is what do you think? especially when an artefact does not conform to a market standard {as collectors these things are a commodity} In this post I shall add more information which might or might not help seek an origin while I wait for the club to arrive to have a better look.
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Old 11th January 2021, 01:43 PM   #2
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So far this is the only Fijian club of the correct appearance that seems to have the same simple geometric type form shell? inlay.
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Old 11th January 2021, 02:01 PM   #3
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More food for thought. The inlay these artefacts from Palau Micronesia show a very similar form and somewhat sparse use of Tridacna shell {Leden und Uberleben im Westpazifik, Sudensee, Linden Museum Stuttgart}

If anybody can add information to the thread you are very welcome.
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Old 11th January 2021, 02:16 PM   #4
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Some of the varied forms of Fijian Ulas and certainly not the be all and end all of possible forms. {Fijian Weapons & Warfare, Fergus Clunie }
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Old 21st January 2021, 11:39 AM   #5
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Default Ritual Shaku baton

I have this now and it is rather lovely. On close inspection it does appear to be cherry wood. As I looked closer at the inlay, the pointy bits are indeed mother of pearl however end piece in the end I think is bone. This clearly octagonal shaped looked Japanese or Chinese to me. That got me researching and the Shaku baton fits quite well. It is not the most high ranking form but still a symbol of considerable status in court or religion. At the present time I can only add a wiki link but I hope to find a lot more about this interesting baton. Here are some more photos.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaku_(ritual_baton)
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Old 21st January 2021, 03:13 PM   #6
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Well, i am not particularly a club collector, but i do have one Fiji Ulas. I live near the town of Lunenburg, NS, which is home port to the Picton Castle, a masted tall ship that for many years did annual around the world trips, Fiji being one of their stops. They have a shop in town and sell items they have picked up along their travels.
Anyway, this club, along with a few other, was in their shop for some time and i found it attractive and finally purchased it. It is obviously new and never used, but it seems to have been made in a well-crafted and traditional manner out of a weighty hardwood. Feels great in hand with a nice top-heaviness that would help bring the top of this club down with a nice bit of extra velocity. I am not interested in collecting clubs enough to pay the price that a nice antique example of this club would cost, but feel that for a much more meager price i got a well-crafted example made in the manner that the actual antique items were. This particular style (would it be "f" on your diagram?) is a lovely bit of design and workmanship i think.
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Old 21st January 2021, 04:39 PM   #7
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Thank you for your reply. I am in two minds and Fiji is still to my experience the main contender for origin as there is a prunus genus native to Fiji

http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/u...ames:30003057-2

However there are atypical aspects that could question Fiji. Inlay of bone, shell or teeth are common but not the octagonal shape? also the bark still on the stick. Also I could see a Japanese aesthetic ? in this piece .

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Old 21st January 2021, 05:02 PM   #8
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As a curator of Japanese art I can tell you that there are no clubs of this shape or form in East Asia and certainly not in Japan.
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Old 21st January 2021, 05:22 PM   #9
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Geometric shape inlay is common but have never seen an octagon.
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Old 21st January 2021, 05:43 PM   #10
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Default Ulas

Okay I think I have solved the origin. Looking over this again I saw some white bits stuck deep inside one of the root cracks. Frist I though bits of foam packaging then insect remains then rice but with magnification they turn out to be one circular pearl shell disc bead and a broken sort of barrel shape bead. I think most unlikely to be anything else than Fijian Ulas.
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Old 21st January 2021, 07:19 PM   #11
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It is a nice piece. Lovely rich color to it and the new discovery of the shell bits in the root is nice. I have only just ventured into the world of Fijian clubs. I recently bought a 1st edition copy of Fijian Weapons & Warfare by Fergus Clunie. There has been a proliferation of altered clubs on the market recently with new inlay intended to deceive. I don't know enough here.

I have also recently purchased this club. While it was attributed to being Samoan it has a striking resemblance to club j in Fig. 20 of Clunie's book. I'm also wondering if the wood in Sandalwood. It has a nice age and patina to it. It certainly is a throwing club for point impact. The point is rounded and flat from such use.
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Old 21st January 2021, 07:55 PM   #12
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Remarkably similar to the illustration. Sure that is a weapon and the shape would make a good throwing weapon. My piece is more like a baton you could whack somebody with it like close quarter stick fighting but not really a throwing weapon. I did have a few large Fijian clubs but sold them and much of my collection. I am always on the lookout but not prepared to spend the money I used to so I am very pleased with this piece. To build another collection you realise how much work went into the first one.
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Old 21st January 2021, 08:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Remarkably similar to the illustration. Sure that is a weapon and the shape would make a good throwing weapon. My piece is more like a baton you could whack somebody with it like close quarter stick fighting but not really a throwing weapon. I did have a few large Fijian clubs but sold them and much of my collection. I am always on the lookout but not prepared to spend the money I used to so I am very pleased with this piece. To build another collection you realise how much work went into the first one.


I ran into a fellow collector of arms etc and we were at an auction recently. We were discussing some of the clubs and other tribal weapons and he said 40 years ago he could by them for nothing compared to today's prices.
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Old 22nd January 2021, 12:30 AM   #14
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Here's mine, it's very old - at least 15 years old! ...because that's how long I've owned it
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