Taking Root and Stock: Naturally Formed Fijian Clubs

Rootstock Club (Vunikau), mid 19th CenturyFiji, MelanesiaWood; 46 x 3 1/2 x 3 3/8 in.2020.5.1Bowers Museum PurchaseHit Square with a RootThe fundamentals of warfare are in large part the same across all cultures and all times: there is a point of contention and so the sides—whatever they might be—rally a force and attack an enemy with weapons. As a...
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All Swords of Things: Five Decorative Short Swords from the Congo

Swords, 19th to 20th Century Ngombe or Poto culture; Democratic Republic of the CongoWood, leather, metal, fur and fiberF79.58.2, F80.49.26, F79.59.2, 2003.42.29 and 2013.12.3Gifts of Dr. and Mrs. Myron Klapper, Mr. and Mrs. Jon Herman, Dr. and Mrs. Iwao Kawakami, Susan Lerer and David PoiryOld Knives TaleSwords once played a vital role in warfare ...
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Whatsits and Whatnots: Bowers Permanent Collection Oddballs

Detail of 2003.50.37Gift of William R. Moran Weird and Just Downright WeirdAs part of an ongoing project to classify the Bowers Museum’s collections, our Collections team has reached many an oddball object that does not easily fall into standard categories. Many more have outlandish or wonderfully rare names. Today’s post is a celebration of t...
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That’s Got to Sting: Barbed Blades from the Admiralty Islands

Dagger, 19th Century Admiralty Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, stingray barb, fiber and beads 2019.20.2Bowers Museum PurchaseBlade with a BarbThe Bowers Blog has previously spent a lot of time focusing on the art of Admiralty Islands, a small chain located in Papua New Guinea’s Bismarck Archipelago. I...
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Two-Face: An Unfinished Tongan Paddle Club

Details of Paddle Club (Mougalaulau), mid 19th CenturyTonga, PolynesiaWood; 45 ½ in.2019.19.1Bowers Museum Purchase; Photograph courtesy of Michael HamsonEndless BufferingThe towering spires of Antoni Gaudí’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, the fragmented narrative of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Love of the Last Tycoon or Michelangelo’s unfinished pr...
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Blade with a Beak: New Guinean Bone Daggers

Bone Daggers (Yina and Amia Ava), 20th CenturyAbelam and Iatmul culture; East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, OceaniaCassowary bone and pigment2010.22.5-.31Gift of Anne and Long Shung ShihThey do Move in HerdsUnassuming dinosaurs of the modern era that they are, cassowaries are incredible creatures. For example, though flightless they ...
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At Harms Length: Shark Tooth Spears of the Gilbert Islands

Spear Heads (Tataumanaria), late 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, MicronesiaPalm wood, shark teeth and sennit; various dimensions2019.6.1-.2Gift of Anne and Long Shung ShihInto the MawThe Bowers Museum’s continued efforts to improve our Oceanic Collections has driven the acquisition of several shark tooth weapons from the ...
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Bring a Shark to a Knife Fight: Short Blades of the Gilbert Islands

Knife (Tebutu), 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, MicronesiaPalm wood, tiger shark teeth (galeocerdo cuvier) and sennit; 6 1/2 in.2019.3.1Bowers Museum PurchaseWar Changes Quite a BitIf humans have consistently been innovative in any one field, it is in the discovery of more effective ways to injure one another. Often heavi...
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Progenitor Protection: Wooden Shields of the Asmat

War Shields, 20th CenturyCentral and Northern Asmat culture; Papua (Irian Jaya) Province, Indonesia, MelanesiaWood, pigment and sago-frond; Various Dimensions2017.10.148, L.2010.4.4, F75.16.1 and 2006.19.1Anonymous Gift, Bowers Museum General Acquisition Fund Purchase, Loan courtesy of Gayle and Edward P. Roski and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer BelloY...
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Under the Hilt: Identifying Three Japanese Swords

Short Sword (Wakizashi), 15th to 19th CenturyTsuguhiro (Japanese, active 1469-1521), Jiryūsai Tomohide (Japanese, 1778-1847) and Seiyōken Akitada (Japanese, active 19th Century); Fukui Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Japan and Nagasaki, Kyushu Region or Tokyo, Kantō Region, JapanSteel, manta ray skin, lacquer, silk and iron; 2 3/4 x 2 3/8 x 27 1/4 in.200...
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Blade with a Bite: The Shark Tooth Swords of the Gilbert Islands

Club Sword (Te Toanea), mid 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Republic of Kiribati, MicronesiaWood, shark teeth, fiber, tapa and human hair; 34 1/2in.2018.9.1Gift of Mark BlackburnWhirling DervishBarring the outlandish Sharknado franchise, when we hear the phrase “shark attack,” the assumption is that we would have to be in the ocean...
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The Niue Club in Town

Cleaving Club (Ula-fumiti), early to mid 19th CenturyNiuean culture; Niue Island, PolynesiaWood; 68 7/8 x 5 x 1 ¼ in.2018.4.1Bowers Museum PurchaseBehold the Cook-o-nutCaptain Cook was the first European to travel to Niue, a small island in the middle of Polynesia, when he landed ashore late in the spring of 1774. His welcome to the small tropical ...
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Shields of Mendi Valley

Shields (Wörrumbi), 20th CenturyMendi culture; Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, pigments and fiber; Various Dimensions2017.10.163, 2003.43.3, 2017.10.143Anonymous GiftOn the MendiIn an early 20th Century effort to pacify Papua New Guinea, Australian colonial administrators began a campaign of suppressing tribal warfare....
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Hefty Sum: Central African Throwing Knife Currency

Throwing Knife, 19th CenturyKapsiki culture; Cameroon or NigeriaIron, rubber and cloth; 24 1/8 x 5 3/8 in.2003.43.91Anonymous GiftThrowing Knife (ngwolo), 19th CenturyNgombe culture; Democratic Republic of the CongoIron, wood; 19 3/8 x 12 1/2 in.2003.43.92Anonymous GiftThrowing Knife (sengese), 19th CenturyMafa culture; Cameroon or NigeriaIron, fib...
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Fijian Kiakavo Dance Clubs

Dance Clubs (Kiakavo), 19th CenturyFiji, PolynesiaWood, fiber and pigment97.138.13, .17, and 2015.17.10Anonymous Gift and The George Stanley Lodin CollectionTwo late 19th Century  Fijian men hold clubs across their laps for a staged photograph. Bowers Museum CollectionGift of Mr. E. Morgan StanleyFijian Club SceneUp until and in the few d...
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