IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS

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Lot 24
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS

Sold for US$ 56,562 inc. premium

African and Oceanic Art

19 Nov 2020, 11:00 PST

Los Angeles

IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
'akatara
length 99in (251.5cm)

Provenance
James Hooper Collection, London/Arundel (no. 609), 'H609' written in white on shaft near butt
Christie's, London, 19 June 1979, Lot 172
James Willis Tribal Art, San Francisco
California Private Collection, acquired from the above in 2000

Published
Phelps, Steven, Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas - The James Hooper Collection, Hutchinson of London, 1976, plate 77, no. 609

Born September 1, 1897, James Thomas Hooper had amassed the most important private collection of Polynesian art by the time he turned sixty. In 1957, he put his entire collection on public display at his personal 'Totems Museum.'

Hooper wrote, "After my service in World War I, my quest for ethnographical specimens continued but I soon realised that many of the products of primitive man were becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

With the advent of modern civilisation, the whole way of life of many primitive peoples had changed and this was bringing about the disappearance of their weapons, ornaments, dress, gods, masks and other objects associated with their former existence. I could see that no time should be lost if such objects were to be preserved and I therefore commenced in earnest the forming of an ethnographical collection." (Hooper, J.T. and Burland, C.A., The Art of Primitive Peoples, Fountain Press, London, 1953, pp. 11-12)

These magnificent pole-clubs were great prestige objects containing the mana (spiritual power) of their creators and of their owners. According to Steven Hooper, they "have long been attributed to Rarotonga, but evidence for this assumption is hard to find. Formal analysis and an eye-witness account suggest that these were originally made on Atiu, though they may have found their way to Rarotonga and elsewhere. A number of them (Oldman 2004: pl.31, no. 445c; Phelps 1976: pls 77-8, nos 606; Buck 1944; fig. 179r-s) have collar designs as small figures of the central Cook Islands kind, and where they have 'eye' designs, they are of eye and lids, with no additional brow line, which is characteristic of Rarotonga. Others have a fine tip which is carved in exactly the same way as the tips of fan handles of central Cooks origin. When Anderson was there [Atiu] in 1777 during Cook's third voyage, he noted: 'The clubs were about six feet long or more, made of a hard black wood launce shap'd at the end but much broader, with the edge nicely scallop'd and the whole neatly polish'd'(Beaglehole 1967: 841)." (Pacific Encounters - Art & Divinity in Polynesia 1780-1860, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 2006, p. 222)

Carved from the heart (taiki) of ironwood (toa) tree (Casuarina equisetifolia) with a unique double-scalloped motif, forty-four on each side along the blade with an elliptical eye motif at the collar near the midsection; an old break on the lower part of the shaft with indigenous sennit fiber wrapped around to support it; dark brown patina with wear indicative of significant age and cultural use. Hooper's inventory number 'H609' written in white near the butt flange and an unknown inventory number '136' located under the collar.

Nowhere in the world did the making of weapons reach higher aesthetic refinement than in the islands of Polynesia before the coming of Christianity. On the Cook Islands, and in Polynesia in general, of the different forms of clubs used, the 'akatara is universally accepted as one of, if not the, most elegant.
Contacts
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
IMPORTANT POLE CLUB, RAROTONGA OR ATIU, COOK ISLANDS
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