Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1846 Fijian koroi
Subjectkoroi 'killer'
Culture: Fijian
Setting: tribal warfare, Fiji late 18th-mid 19thc
Object: clubs

CulaCula / KiniKini

* Ewins 1982 p44
"Paddle Clubs - Culacula and Kinikini  These broad-bladed clubs were of two types, war clubs and ceremonial.  They are said to be possibly of Tongan or Samoan in origin but some of the oldest surviving Fijian clubs are of the Culacula type.  The war-clubs were used like broadswords, the sharp edges on the very hard wood being sufficient to snap, if not to cut through, bone.  The ornately decorated ceremonial clubs were often excessively broad, almost fan-like, and were exclusive to chiefs and priests.  They were handed down as heirlooms, and long use has often worn the carved designs almost away from the handles, even the blades in some cases.  They were probably seldom used to strike with, being so thin in the blade that they would break easily - though not, it must be admitted, before doing very considerable damage."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Kinikini (1920.43.1)
"With its oversized, fan-shaped head, the kinikini is one of Fiji's most distinctive clubs, although it was also exported for use in Tonga.
    "[....]  Paddle shaped war-clubs were common in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, but the proportions of kinikini meant they were seldom used for fighting. Instead, they were used exclusively by chiefs and priests for ceremonial purposes. ....
    "Given the weight, size and practical unwieldiness of the kinikini, combined with it's imposing appearance and the labour-intensive nature of its manufacture, it is not surprising to learn that it was the insignia of high status individuals in both Fiji and Tonga. Specifically, it was restricted to the use of chiefly individuals ('Ratu' in Fiji, 'Hou'eiki' in Tonga) and priests ('Bete' in Fiji, 'Taula' in Tonga). For chiefs, they were considered valuable family heirlooms and powerful symbols of rank and authority. When used by priests in rituals they became invested with a supernatural power: in his 1866 account of his missionary work in Fiji, the Methodist minister Joseph Waterhouse recounted how he had witnessed priests beat the ocean waves with their 'sacred shovel clubs' to subdue a wild hurricane.
    "Although there are descriptions of the thin edge of the kinikini being used in a cleaving action in combat, another reason for the unlikelihood of such usage is the formal exemption of chiefs and priests from violent contact during battle. Traditionally, the general practice in large-scale land engagements in Western Polynesia was for the sides to let fly a volley of arrows at a distance of around thirty metres, before charging to engage. Since neither the priest of chief was expected to enter into hand-to-hand contact, the moment of this volley release was when they were potentially subject to as much danger as their warriors. Consequently, the shield-like shape of the kinikini can be seen to have developed as an elite protection against such arrows."

Dromu / Vunikau / Waka

* Bruyninx/van Damme 1997 p69​
"De bovenzijde van deze knots -- vunikau, soms ook dromu genoemd -- is vervaardigd uit de hoofdwortel van een jonge boom. Hiervan werden de zijwortels weggesneden, aodat enkele stompen overbleven die de knots tot een geducht slagwapen maakten. De vervaardiging van knotsen was het werk van specialisten (matai ni malumu) die een grote vakkennis bezaten en hoog aanzien genoten. Het maken van een knots, dat met rituelen was omgeven, vromde een lagdurig proces dat een aanvang nam met het creatieproces in de geest, en vaarbij een vrij grote artistieke vrijheid aan de specialist werd toegekend. Vervolgens selecteerde men een geschikte boom. Aan de wortels daarvan werd soms jaren gewerkt vooraleer men de boom ontwortelde. Het gereedschap was eenvoudig en omvatte onder meer een hamer (ai tuki), gemaakt van het zeer harde nokonoko-hout (Casuarina equisetifolio). Om te snijden, te schrapen en te effenen, gebruikte men diverse schelpen. sommige werktuigen waren voorzien van vissen- of rattentanden of ook de stekels van een zee-egel. Als rasp gebruikte men het vel van de vleet (een vissoort). het versieringspatroon dat de steel deels of geheel bedekt, is vrij uniform en bestaat uit ingesneden zigzaglijnen (tavatava), die door middel van verticale groeven van elkaar worden gescheiden. Door het contact met het Westen verdwenen de traditionele wapens. Dit proces verliep geleidelijk, daar de knots geen gewoon wapen was. Het voorwerp werd, naast zijn gebruik in de oorlogsvoering, beschouwd als een echt kunstwerk. Het was tevens een belangrijk rangteken, een symbool van manhaftigheid en een object geladen met mana of levenskracht."

* Wardwell 1994 p166
"This is a fairly common Fijian club type made from the bottom part of a small tree, the top part of the root buttress forming the macelike end. ...  The purpose of the vunikau was to smash heads." [reference omitted]

* Ewins 1982 p32
"Vunikau - tree root clubs  The rootstock of the tree formed the head of the club, with the side roots having been cut off so as to leave protruberances."

* Ewins 1982 p34 (quoting Clunie 1977 p57)
"Waka - Mace-like rootstock clubs  The name waka is used for clubs with a short length of the taproot retained and with a flanged, mace-like head made up of the buttress roots of the uprooted sapling from which the club was made."


* MiA online (describing a gugu dance club, Fiji 19th century)
"Clubs were one of the most important art forms on Fiji and are found in many shapes and styles. Treasured possessions, they were used by men as weapons, dance wands and as indicators of rank. Clubs of this type were for dancing. Often mistakenly identified with the lotus, their form comes from a stylized depiction of the flat butterfly fish, gugu. The extending diagonal portions are the fins, and the raised eyes can be seen carved where the top section tapers inward and joins the shaft."

* Gage 1982 p43
"Gugu (butterfly fish clubs)  Gugutivitivi or siriti, in overall form related to the sali, had no spur and the 'cheeks' were carved in a very particular way to resemble the form of the butterfly fish (gugu or tivitivi) for which they were named.  They came chiefly from Nadroga district.  That European name, simplistic and erroneous, was 'axe-bit' clubs."

Fijian kiakavo dance clubs 2017-09-14 online
"The gugu club (2015.3.1) is another great example of design from nature.  Its shape and name come from the Fijian vernacular name for the boxfish."

* Wardwell 1994 p172
"Often incorrectly referred to as lotus or axe bit clubs, the surface designs of these clubs are actually very stylized renderings of the butterfly fish, gugu.  Here, the body of the fish is represented by the square panel, below which are they eyes and pointed head.  The diagonals extending from the eyes indicate fins.  Such clubs were used exclusively for dancing.  Although it has been suggested that they only come from the region of Nadroga Navosa on Viti Levu, the comparatively large number of clubs of this type that exist today suggets a more widespread area of origin."
[reference omitted]

I Ula

* Bull 1991 p195
"One specialized Fijian variety was the ulas -- much shorter, and with a bulbous head. This was designed for throwing."

* Ewins 1982 p25
"Throwing clubs - I ula  Throwing clubs might be regarded as equivalents to pistols.  They were short-range personal weapons, carried at all times struck in men's waistbands, either singly or in pairs.  While they could be used as bludgeons, their true use was as missiles, thrown with enough to stun, maim or kill the victims.  Several variants existed, but all were essentially a heavy head and short slim handle (formed from the rootstock of small trees, and the main trunk).

* Bruyninx/van Damme 1997 p71

Sali / Kiakavo / Gata

* Wilkinson 1978 p145
"... [I]n Fiji there were clubs fashioned from naturally occurring roots and and [SIC] trunks and those which represented hours of laborious carving and scraping.  Among the largest was the musket club so-called because of its general resemblance to the butt and projecting lock."

Fijian kiakavo dance clubs 2017-09-14 online
"Of the twenty plus styles of club in Fiji, the most unique styles of club of any grouping of Pacific islands, at least three are commonly referred to as gunstock clubs. From the name one might imagine that they were based on a Fijian’s understanding of a gun, but despite the kiakavogata, and sali clubs all sharing a long, straight shaft, curved head, and a spur approximately where the cock of a musket would lie, historical evidence indicates that these designs all predate western contact with the peoples of Fiji. Rather than being an imitative aesthetic addition, the v-shape created by a spurred club head was ideal for catching and redirecting incoming blows from enemies’ clubs. The popularity of this design in the gata and sali war clubs led to the creation of the kiakavo, a smaller variant reserved for dances."

* Ewins 1982 p41
"Gata ('snake' clubs')  These commonly-used clubs possessed a short 'spur' on the back of the 'head', and the head was bevelled to a cutting edge designed to break bones.  The 'cheeks' of this edge were often (but not always) roughened, and the head was frequently curved, with the cutting edge invariably on the inside curve, scythe-like.  Together with the Sali and Kiakavo, these clubs have often been called 'gunstock' clubs, but they were all ancient designs certainly not imitating gun stocks."

* Wardwell 1994 p168
"Because its shape is related to that of European rifle butts, this type of lipped club is commonly called a gunstock club.  The form is actually based on the flower of a plant in the banana family.  According to Clunie, 'bladed cheeks [are] designed to cut through and snap bone rather than smash it.'  The spur might also have been used to put a hole in the skull, and the club was also used for parrying.
    "A number of salis were made only for dancing.  They were held in two hands, one holding the handle, the other the spur.  However, of necessity, dancing clubs were of lighter weight ...."

* Meyer 1995 v2 p473 f546
"Wuchtige Kriegskeule, die nach der klauenartigen Blume der bananenähnlichen Sali-Pflanze der Art Musa als sali bezeichnet wird."

* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology > Pacific Islands Hall
"Although commonly called a 'gunstock club', the form of this club is actually based on the sali flower of a plant in the banana family. Some clubs were used for dancing only, others for fighting or prestige display. Each type of Fijian club was designed to inflict a certain type of wound. The shape of this club was meant to cut through and snap bone."

* Ewins 1982 p41
"Sali, Cali or Tebetebe  These were an extreme variant of the gata, with broad, flattened blade and extremely pronounced spur.  The cheeks, instead of being merely roughened, were generally (though not always) carved with geometric patterns.  The head was effectively a scythe, as for the gata, and the long spur was probably used like the 'beak' of the totokia, for piercing."

* Wardwell 1994 p170
"Like that of the sali, the salient edge of this club was made to cut into and break bones.  Gatas were among the most common fighting clubs of Fiji, and they may have been so named because they represent the wide open jaws of the Pacific boa snake called gata.  Distinguishing characteristics of some of the finer examples are the roughly carved parallel grooves on the upper inner side such as are seen here.  These are caused by carving with stone tools into the growing tree before it was cut."  [references omitted]

* Ewins 1982 p38
"Kiakavo or ulaula (dance and ceremonial clubs)  "Superficially resembling the sali, these clubs were, however, rarely if ever used for fighting and lack the sharp 'blade' and pointed 'killing spur' of the sali.  They were made of various woods (often light softwoods) and frequently the handles were bound with sinnet or pandanus matting."

Totokia / Ai Tuki

* Gage 1982 p37
"Battle hammers - Ai tuki and Totokia  Sometimes called pineapple clubs, or more accurately pandanus clubs (since they were fashioned after the pandanus fruit).
    "The word i tuki also means hammer, and they were just that, with an arched neck, heavy studded head, and cone-shaped 'business end'.  The totokia ('pecker' or 'beaked' battle hammer) was a development, the beak being used to deliver the coup de grace by neatly piercing the skull.  It has been called by Clunie 'the most Fijian of all war clubs'."

* Bruyninx/van Damme 1997 p70
"De totokia is een geducht slagwapen dat, wat zijn vorm betreft, geïnspiereerd zou de vrucht van de pandanus-boom.  Deze snavel-vechthamer vertoont een cilindervormige bekroning waaruit een scherpe, lange kegelvorm steekt, die in zeldzame gevallen van walvistand is gemaakt.  Het wapen werd vervaardigd uit een jonge boom die men omboog en parallel met de bodem liet groeien.  Het object dat hieruit ontstond, en waarvan het pinvormige uitsteeksel uit de hoofdwortel werd gesneden, was -- door de kromming van het hout -- uiterst resistent.  Dergelijke knotsen werden gebruikt in twee soorten oorlogsvoering.  De ene soort betrof de strijd tussen twee leiders, die gepaard ging met grootschalige campagnes en pas beeïndigd werd wanneer één van beiden was gesneuveld.  Daarnaast waren er de kleinschalige schermutselingen, die onder meer tot doel hadden het individuele prestige van de krijger te verhogen.  Afhankelijk van het aantal gedode vijanden, kreeg de krijger en de knots die hij gebruikte een specifieke titel.  Hoe meer individuen hij velde, hoe roemrijker de krijger werd.  Dit impliceerde dat hij op het militaire vlak bedreven moest zijn, doeltreffende wapens diende te bezitten en over veel mana of levenskracht moest beschikken, die hij via talrijke rituelen kon verwerven."

* Wilkinson 1978 p145
"Also from Fiji came the so-called pineapple club: this had a globular head set at an angle to the shaft which was cut into a square pattern -- hence the name -- and from the centre of which projected a vicious spike."

* Wardwell 1994 p164
"Clubs such as athis one acquired their basic shape from a sapling that was tied and forced to grow so that one upper end is at a right angle to the handle.  Although they are popularly if mistakenly called pineapple clubs, the heads are in fact carved to represent the fruit of the pandanus tree.  The point at the end was meant to knock a hole in the skull of an adversary, and because they did not require much of a backswing to be effective, they were favored for combat in the underbrush.  They were also used for killing those that had been wounded, for inflicting nonfatal punishments, and for executions.  The most important were given personal names.  Some chiefs valued these clubs so highly that they were buried with them in order to be properly equipped for their journeys in the afterworld."  [references omitted]