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Beaked Battle-Hammer (totokia)

The totokia, or beaked battle-hammer, is often described as “the most Fijian” of all war clubs. It is also called the “Pandanus-type” club, because the head resembles the Pandanus fruit. The weight of the club is concentrated at the beak point, allowing the warrior to drive a neat hole through an enemy’s skull. If used correctly, the totokia could puncture the scull without collapsing it. Specialist craftsmen, called matai, carved the clubs from a single piece of wood using simple tools such as stone adzes, hardwood hammers, and shell scrapers. Young ironwood (nokonoko) trees were trained to grow parallel to the ground to create the totokia’s elegant curve, the root was carved to make the beaked head. The elaborate details and fine craftsmanship of this particular weapon suggest that it was intended for a wealthy patron. The complexity of the traditional Fijian zigzag carvings indicates that it was probably an heirloom, perhaps even from a chiefly family, because the totokia was favored by chiefs in both life and death and was often buried with them to accompany the spirit on the journey to the afterworld

-Jennie Lamensdorf, Class of '07