Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1886 Samoan toa
Subjecttoa warrior
Culture: Samoan
Setting: civil wars, Samoa 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Meyer 1995


Clubs (Dil, Nifo'Oti)

* ​Museum of New Zealand / Te Papa Tongarewa online > Nifo'Oti (cane knife)
"Weapons and warfare in nineteeth [SIC] century Samoa   In the nineteenth century, Samoans engaged in spear throwing and club fighting contests but weapons were most often used in small scale skirmishes or ambushes. Fighting could be vicious and the injuries if not fatal, very serious. Battles were fought over major chiefly titles and to settle disputes or avenge insults. It has been noted that firearms were not widely used in this period and no one side had a monopoly on them. Some indigenous weapons had importance as heirlooms and were passed down and in some cases even named. The family war club was known as the 'anava, and it would be brandished on the malae of the village when a troop of warriors were setting out to march. In the twentieth and twenty first centuries, indigenous forms of weaponry were still made in Samoa for cultural perfomances and the tourist market."

​* Brunt/Thomas/Mallon/Bolton/Brown/Skinner,/Küchler 2012 p277 (Nicholas Thomas, "European incursions 1765-1880" p270-297)
"The plates from Jacques Labillardière's Voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse (1799) depict two singular, presumably wooden 'clubs', carved in the forms of a European sword and cutlass.  The Samoan nifo'oti similarly appear to be modelled on the big blubber knives of European or American whaleships, and date probably from the early nineteenth century.  Whereas the latter are heavy enough to have been effective weapons, the former, going at least on the visual images, were surely not useful for fighting as it was customarily conducted, and may rather have been used performatively, like the dance clubs and dance paddles reported from many Pacific cultures.  But both types mark an interest in the appropriation of European weapons and implements, which evidently predated the notorious interest in the acquisition of guns."


*​ Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography > Pacific Islands Hall
"This type of necklace was popular and highly valued among the chiefs and high ranking man [SIC] throughout Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.  Generally they were made by Tongan or Samoan artists to trade with the Fijians.  Large teeth from the lower jaw of the sperm whale were split into parts, then ground, and polished to their present shape.  After that the teeth were drilled, matched and strung on a fiber cord.  Until well into the 20th century, these necklaces were valued as heirlooms, and worn on special occasions."