PARRYING SHIELD OR CLUB (QAUATA)
Makira (San Cristobal), Solomon Islands
Height: 57 in (144.8 cm)
The shaft with a paper label inscribed in black ink: "SAN CRISTOVAL, [/] SOLOMON IDS [/] C. F. Wood coll., 1873 [/] d.d. Mrs Wood, 1921"
C. F. Wood, Thoresby Hall, Lincolnshire, collected in situ in early September, 1873
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, donated by Mrs C. F. Wood in 1921
Denver Art Museum (inv. no. 98-QM-EX), acquired from the above by exchange on July 22, 1948
Harry A. Franklin, Beverly Hills, acquired from the above by exchange in April, 1962
Despite its slender form, William Davenport states that the shaft of the qauata was "used to parry javelins, the feather-shaped blade to protect the back of the head" (Davenport, "Sculpture of the Eastern Solomons", Expedition, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1968, p. 21); this agrees with Henry Brougham Guppy's earlier observation that "flat-bladed curved clubs [...] serve the purpose of a defensive weapon." (Guppy, The Solomon Islands and their Natives, London, 1887, p. 75).
The stylized 'W' on the blade may represent the outspread wings of a frigate bird, which was a symbol of male power. (Waite in Morphy, ed., Animals into Art, London, 2015, p. 328).