Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Club (Patu Onewa)

19th century or earlier
New Zealand
Maori people
H. 3 5/8 x W. 14 1/8 in. (9.2 x 35.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
This type of short-handled club (patu) features a flat elongated blade with sharp striking edge. The term patu means to strike, hit or subdue in Maori – in this case the blow administered was a sharp, horizontal thrust straight from the shoulder aimed at the enemy’s temple. Finely finished, these flat bladed weapons could be made from wood, stone, whalebone (patu paraoa) and even prestigious greenstone (mere pounamu) ̶ see 1979.206.1459 for a fine example in the Met’s Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. Patu onewa refer specifically to hand clubs carved from stone (greywacke or basalt) such as this one, which was cut and painstakingly polished with natural abrasives to achieve its smooth surface and fine lines. A single perforation at the rounded tip would have had a cord (tau) fashioned from dog skin to fasten it securely to the wrist. The rounded tip features a series of perfectly concentric grooves which yield and unfold to the base of the handle.

Maia Nuku, 2015

Further reading
Te Maori. Maori Art from New Zealand Collections, exhibition catalogue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 11, 1984-January 6, 1985; The Saint Louis Art Museum, February 22-May 26 1985, and the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, July 6-December 1, 1985. Edited by Hirini (Sidney) Moko Mead. Harry N. Abrams inc, and the American Federation of Arts, New York, 1984.
Hugh Smith, until 1955; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1955, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978

Mead, Hirini (Sidney) Moko, ed. Te Maori: Maori Art from New Zealand Collections. New York, 1985.

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