NY, United States
A flared quadrilateral club (macana), handsomely shaped, with a socketed stone blade. Clubs of this type, with and without blades, are associated exclusively with tribes of southern Guyana and northern Brazil. Macana were among the earliest objects to reach Europe from Guyana in the seventeenth century, entering first the Tradescant collection and then the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Quadrilateral clubs were a standard melée weapon, used to deliver crushing blows in close combat after arrows had been exhausted. Though it is now uncommon to find a club of this type still joined with its blade, the original rarity of bladed macana is disputed, and their production may have been influenced by, or a driving factor in, periods of intensified intertribal conflict.
An early description of this type of war club in Dutch Guiana, based on observations made in the years 1772–1777, is given by Captain Stedman, who writes, “I must not forget that every Indian carries a club, which they call apootoo, for their defence. These clubs are made of the heaviest wood in the forest; they are about eighteen inches long, flat at both ends, and square, but heavier at one end than the other…One blow with this club, in which is frequently fixed a sharp stone, scatters the brains. These are used by the Guiana Indians like the tomahawk by the Cherokees, on which, besides other hieroglyphical figures, they often carve the number of persons slain in battle.”
18th or early 19th century
11 ¾” h 6” w
Wood, stone, fiber
Provenance: Private New York collection