Click here to view image
New Zeland, second half of the 19th century
Thematic path, first floor (inv. no. CDA 492)
Legacy of Captain E.A. D'Albertis, 1932
Experts in hand-to-hand combat, the Maori devised a large variety of short clubs - generally called patu - designed to deliver sudden and powerful blows downwards. According to the shape and material used they have different names. Each type of patu was modelled and made specifically for the hand of it’s owner and had its own name.
The figure on the inner side represents a mythological figure connected to the spiritual power, mana, of the weapon, which increased proportionally to its success in battle. These types of weapon were passed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms.
The multiplication of curvilinear motifs, spirals, and the coverage of the entire surface with fretwork or engraved decorations is characteristic of Maori production, in particular in wood.
Historically Maori art has been described by referencing the characteristics of its external appearance. However, more recently the publication of works by Maori scholars has provided interpretations and insights that reveal the complexity of plastic symbols in social, political and religious systems that must be understood in their entirety.