Ball-headed Club

Western Great Lakes

Not on view

At once elegant and deadly, ball-headed clubs combine refinement of form with a fearsome efficiency of function. In use for more than two to three hundred years, they were associated with many different American Indian peoples of the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Several of the clubs appear in portraits of distinguished Europeans, particularly during the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century they were becoming obsolete as pipe tomahawks gained preference. Distinguished by its narrow yet strong profile, the club displayed here would have been a formidable weapon in the hands of its warrior owner. When a club was successful, reports say, it was left beside the body of its victim. The ball of this club is tightly clenched in the jaws of an animal, possibly an otter, and feathers were once tied through the hole above the grip to increase the weapon’s supernatural power.

Ball-headed Club, Wood, metal, Western Great Lakes

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