Circa 19th century
Reserved for chiefs and high status warriors, this superb Maori hand club is made out of whalebone (Physeter catadon), and carved with a large lobed blade and a straight handle decorated with the head of a tiki. A wrist-thong was previously hung from the pierced hole at the bottom of the handle in order to make sure the warrior didn't lose his weapon during combat. The Beyeler Kotiate is the work of a sculptor who played with the volumes of the club: the thickness of the median part slowly decreases until the very end of the ridges where they become extremely thin. He skillfully carved this club in the form of a highly stylized anthropomorphic body. The long cylindrical neck is supporting a beautiful tiki head looking towards the sky. The protruding tongue of the tiki refers to a traditional aggressive gesture closely linked to combat.
We can compare this exquisite Maori hand club to a second one from the British Museum (Oc1895,-.366) that was collected by Frederick H. Meinertzhagen (1845-1895) circa 1870 on the East coast of New Zealand, and to another one from the Sainsbury Collection previously owned by the Pitt-Rivers Museum (Hooper, 1997, fig.8).