Object: Totokia (club)
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Unknown, circa 1800, Fiji
x 250mm (Width)
x 110mm (Depth)
|Credit line||Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992|
This is a totokia, a type of weapon made in Fiji during the 1800s, and often associated with chiefs and warriors of reputation. Some totokia were named and had the histories of many battles associated with them. They are intimidating in appearance but also beautifully made.
Fiji material culture scholar Fergus Clunie describes the totokia as a beaked battlehammer. They are very top heavy. The weight of the head of the club was concentrated in the point of the beak of the weapon or kedi-toki (toki" to peck; i toki: a bird’s beak)(1977:55).
Clunie says "…the totokia was intended to "peck" holes in skulls." It "…delivered a deadly blow in an abrupt but vicious stab, not requiring the wide swinging arc demanded by the others"(1986:185). It was a club that could be used in open warfare or to finish-off or execute warriors on the battlefield.
Manufacture and decoration
Totokia are usually carved from a beautiful dark timber. The large bulb like head inspired European collectors to often refer to totokia as pineapple clubs, but other commentators link the appearance of the business end of the club to that of the pandanus fruit. The handles are often decorated with detailed geometric patterns. Some spectacular totokia are carved the length of the handle and are inset with human teeth or small pieces of whale ivory.
This is one of several examples of totokia in Te Papa’s collections. In 1948, the New Zealand Government purchased it as part of a larger collection from the London dealer and collector William O Oldman.
Clunie, Fergus, Fijian Weapons and Warfare. Bulletin of The Fiji Museum, No. 2.Suva, 1977.
Clunie, Fergus, Yalo i Viti. A Fiji Museum Catalogue. Fiji Museum. Suva, 1986.
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