A splendid and rare Amazon indigenous wamara wood Macana war-club
Southern-Guyana or Northern Brazil, Wapitxana group of the Aruak peoples, 18th century, possibly earlier
H. 43 cm
The deep patina of the club present, and the residue on the part where it was held, attest to its great age.
This unusually large Macana is decorated with several incised whitened anthropomorphic and human figures, a decoration only found on one other documented club in the British Museum (inv.no. Am1910,-.456), which is illustrated in: Hjalmar Stolpe, Amazon Indian designs from Brazilian and Guianan wood carvings, New York, Dover Publ., 1974.
Among the earliest objects to reach Europe in the 17th century from Guyana are ‘four wooden clubs and five hammocks’ that entered the Tradescant collection and are now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
An early description of these war-clubs in Dutch Guyana, based on observations made from the years 1772 to 1777, are stated in the famous book Narrative of a five year expedition against the revolted Negroes of Surinam in Guiana on the Wild Coast of South America from the year 1772 to 1777 by the author Captain John Gabriël Stedman (1744-1797),: “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.”
For this book in our collection, see:
Uit Verre Streken, November 2018, no. 9, or https://www.zebregsroell.com/john-gabriel-stedham-south-america
Hjalmar Stolpe, Amazon Indian designs from Brazilian and Guianan wood carvings, New York, Dover Publ., 1974
We are grateful to our dear friend Mr. Peter van Drumpt for his assistance in writing this catalogue entry.