Maori nephrite patu club valued at $60,000 at Christie's

A rare Maori nephrite short club, or patu, is valued at $40,000-60,000 ahead of a sale at Christie's San Francisco on February 9.

The patu was of great importance in Maori culture, and was used both as a weapon in tribal combat and as a symbol of masculinity and warrior status.

High status members of the tribe would have owned clubs carved from nephrite, referred to as mere, while others would be fashioned from commonplace materials such as stone or whalebone.

Maori nephrite club Bonhams
The Maori club, known as a patu, is fashioned from green jade

The example offered in the sale is one of two known to feature a manaia head carving at the butt - with the other held in the British Museum's Maori Collection.

A jade Maori hei-tiki pendant dating to the 18th century carries an estimate of $30,000-40,000.

The pendants were high value objects sacred to the Maori, and were usually passed down the family line.

They represent the first man, created by the god Thane, and were of particular importance in their connection to ancestors - with the tiki of each family given its own name and oral history.

As with the patu, high status owners possessed examples carved from jade. The stone is known as pounamu in the Maori dialect, and is only found on New Zealand's South Island.

A popoi pounder from Marquesas Island, which features bifacal tiki carvings, is another highlight - estimated to make $20,000-30,000.

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