Austral Island paddle
Early round pommel Austral Island paddle for sale
Object Type: Dance paddle
Locality: Austral Islands Polynesia
Circa: 1800 -1820
Height: 90 cm
Description: This is one of the more collectible early small paddles with a rounded pommel. it has 8 small dancing tiki figures on the pommel none of which show damage.
The blade has been reshaped sympathetically to the original incised designs
According to the expert on these paddles : Rhys Richards in The Tribal Arts Magazine (2012, pp 141 – 145),
“Though widely called ‘paddles,’ these objects are not functional paddles. They are ‘paddle-shaped,’ but their sizes are too extreme; their shafts are too weak, and they are thoroughly unsuitable for use as paddles. Consequently, it has been assumed that they were emblems of rank or status, for ceremonial rather than functional use… Austral Island paddles are dated roughly between 1820 – 1840, mostly made probably on the Island of Raivavae, and are generally described as made for-trade items, with their original use being treated as something of a mystery… In general older Austral island paddles tend to be smaller and have round pommels. Square pommels and larger paddles are later in production. This example is smaller and has a rounded pommel. Based on the glossy dark brown patina, rounded pommel, and smaller size I would date it to late 1700s – early 1800s.