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Missle Club (I ula tavatva)

This throwing club is finely carved, demonstrating a high level of craftsmanship. The thirty serrations (tavatava) around the circumference of the head are even in size, with tiny notches just below the head. Twelve zigzag strips are indented uniformly in a decorative pattern below a single band on the grip. The surface is highly polished. Producing a fine club like this one required tremendous time, skill and knowledge, and brought honor and fame to the craftsman who made it. A Fijian craftsman might give away his finest work to a man of high rank or a renowned warrior, though no rewards could be gained in return.

Made to be easily portable, throwing clubs are smaller than other Fijian clubs, usually 14 to 18 inches long. Carved from the rootstock and trunk of a small tree, they are bulky at the head, with a short slim handle. The decoration of the head varies, from broad lobes to the fine serrations seen on this example. Some plain ball-headed throwing clubs were inlaid with whale ivory. Decoration of the handle usually consists of incised zigzag lines which cover the lower third of the shaft and may have been designed to provide a firm, non-slip grip.

-Kathy Yim King Mak, Class of '07