At Quai Branly, refinement beyond the weapon.
Some have a human form, others are covered with eyes and faces that watch over us, like Western holy images. They are made of an incredible variety of materials: stone, different types of wood, coconut fibers, shark teeth, mother-of-pearl, etc. Some are adorned with hair which makes them receptacles of Mana, a supernatural power in certain Polynesian religions, which crystallizes the strength of ancestors or slain enemies.
These objects were intended for ritual performance and the demonstration of power and authority. Some, like our famous Excalibur and Durandal, had their own associated name and legend. Unfortunately, we only have a few clubs left, the only witnesses to this story, the legends having disappeared with colonization. Many were destroyed by English missionaries in the 18th century, which makes these exhibits exceptionally precious rarities. The exhibition Power and Prestige is an opportunity to discover these magnificent treasures of the Pacific.
The ornamentation is extraordinarily meticulous and refined. The woodcuts are like lace and tell peopled stories of fishermen and flying fish that read like comic books. Some are genealogical trees that go back to the Divine and have nothing to envy to Giacometti or Modigliani. Between marquetry and sculpture, these objects are extraordinarily modern.
There is no circuit designed for children but the exhibition remains accessible to the little ones. They will be delighted to discover the bestiary of the Pacific islands: birds, turtles, manta rays, snakes and sharks. The exposed clubs are varied arranged with the greatest care in a refined staging that highlights them. Unique in its kind, this exhibition, the first dedicated to this type of object, questions the simplistic and outdated commonplaces that surround the clubs and underlines their major cultural importance.