A Fine Old War Club Kwiao People Malaita Island Solomon Islands
A Fine Old War Club from the Kwiao People in the interior of Malaita Island in the Solomon Islands
This fine old Subi Club was collected from the Kwiao People who historically lived in small, autonomous groups in the interior of the large island of Malaita. Their religion was heavily based on ancestral deities and their maintenance of moral standards within the community. I was very lucky to be invited by Kwiao men to visit some of their remote villages in the interior of Malaita in 1986, it was a rough two-day walk from the coast and you could only visit there by invite otherwise you would definitely not be welcome. These are proud people who have kept their traditional life through the 20th century as all of their coastal neighbors had converted to Christianity.
The Subi Club is, in my opinion, one of the most elegant-shaped clubs in the Pacific Islands. The diamond-shaped Club head with medial ridges and long tapering handle ends in a small crescent shape. The Handle is bound with bush fibre rope to keep your hand from slipping when sweaty.
This club was bought in the village from an old man. I have kept it for nearly 40 years. The form is slightly irregular as with many of the oldest clubs. Now in the Solomon Islands, many new clubs are made for the tourist market but they have none of the elegance of the old used clubs.
I have put a field photo above from that trip in 1986, this is not the same club that the man is holding but is a very similar old club.
Provenance The Todd Barlin Collection of Solomon Islands Art & Oceanic & Pacific Islands Art
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