Désignation: Bone Club
Pays: Northwest Coast
Date: 19th century
Description: Northwest Coast Bone Club, 19th century NUU-CHAH-NULTH (NOOTKA) OR MAKAH THUNDERBIRD AND WOLF CLUB Whalebone, probably humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Provenance: Lord Alistair McAlpine (1942-2014) These are close-combat weapons and the Nootka mnufactured a specialized form of short, straight club cut from dense-grained whalebone. The carving above the hand grip represents the head of a bird surmounted by a smaller and less easily distinguishable head. It seems likely that this weapon was for purely ceremonial use. Similar pieces can be found in the Hooper Collection (p. 325, "Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas: The James Hooper Collection" by Steven Phelps). The main figure of this fine bone club is a thunderbird whose arched, open beak lends power and personality to the object. Above the beak, a deeply incised circle with two opposing trigon shapes defines the eye of the thunderbird. A double-incised line along the thunderbird’s brow extends down to the round hole cut through the pommel for a wrist strap. Ownership of these types of weapons was apparently limited to those families who had traditional rights to the hunting of whales. Thunderbird, wolf, and serpent imagery is common to objects related to whaling ceremonials, and the use of such images indicated one’s connection to the chiefly families who upheld ancient whaling traditions among the Nuu-chah-nulth and Makah First Nations. Bibliographical Reference: Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas: The James Hooper Collection, by Steven Phelps, London, p. 309. Transfigurations: North Pacific Coast Art. George Terasaki, Collector, by Steven C. Brown, Seattle, 2006, n.p., pl. 70