Native Weapons: Fijian War Club

Posted on by Richard
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The number and variety of Native Weapons is testament to the fact that Fiji in the south pacific was beset by a long history of warfare and rampant ceremonial cannibalism. This article aims to help the reader understand and distinguish the different types of native weapons used in Fiji and their intended specialised functions.

I buy native weapons from the South Pacific so if you have a south pacific Weapon to sell send me jpegs and I will let you know what it is worth

A club was the most cherished  weapon of the Fijian warrior. It was designed and made for specific purposes and there are approximately thirty distinct and diverse types of native weapons used by the Fijians.

Native weapons that had been successfully use to kill were either inlayed with human teeth or by the cutting of notches on the grip. A club use to kill many enemies was believed to have a life power of its own or mana. A Fijian War club with large amounts of mana were sometimes placed in a temple to the gods of war, and became ritual objects in funerary rites and certain craft ceremonies.

Types of club could can be further divided by surface ornamentation and design, type of wood, and by the type and nature of coir sennet wrapping. If you are interested in these details I highly recommend the book Fijian Weapons and Warfare by Fergus Clunie to which a lot of the information from this article is extracted.


Native Weapons War Club Types

Kiakavo Fijian War Club

Kiakavo Fijian Native Weapon

According to Fijian Weapons and Warfare by Clunie, “ “typical kiakava … dance and ceremonial clubs, rarely if ever used for fightingso lacking a cutting edge – the underside of the head is rounded in the kiakavo, not angled as with the Gata and Sali spurred clubs. Kiakavo were made in a variety of hardwoods and softwoods and a wide range of sizes. Collectors of native weapons are not keen on Kiakavo probably due to their ceremonial nature and the fact they are far from rare.











Gata Fijian War Club


Gata Club


This is one of the most widely used weapon in Fiji. The angled cutting edge was designed to cut through and snap bones. The spur on the very top perhaps represents the open mouth of the striking snake.


Tudonu – a straight shafted form of Gata






Tavo Fijian War club




Tavo – Rare form of Gata without the characteristic spur









Sali Fijian Club


Sali Club




Also known as Cali or Tebetebe these clubs are similar to Gata clubs but they have wider cheeks and a more pronounced spur. They were used in the same way as a Gata with a cutting edge to snap and cut bone. There is a variety of Sali made from a lighter wood made for ceremonial dances. Sometimes misdescribed as a gunstock clubs.








Gugu Fijian War Club


Gugu Club





These native weapons are believed to come from the interior of Vitilevu and are well represented in museums. Little is known about this form of weapon but they were probably used in ceremonial dances. They are highly collectable and much sort after. Sometimes misdescribed as a Lotus clubs or axe head clubs they were actually named after the butterfly fish.







I tuki Fijian War Club

Native weapons

I tuki Club






Known generically as battle hammers they were just that being used to smash open the heads of the enemy with a heavy blow. They are a rare form of weapon and possibly predate the totokia










Totokia Fijian Club

Totokia Club





According to Fijian Weapons and Warfare by Clunie, this native weapon “was designed to drive or peck a neat hole through the enemy’s skull, the weight of the bulky head being concentrated in the point of the beak.  These clubs were much carried by chiefs in both life and death and according to tradition were particularly favoured for murder and in skirmish warfare in thick bush, the heavy head driving the beak through the skull without a long warning swing likely to alert the target or catch on undergrowth” Sometimes misdiscribed as a pineapple club they were being manufactured well before the pineapple was introduced to Fiji





Culacula Fijian War Club




These broad flat bladed clubs were used in a sword like manner with the blow being struck on the thin edges cutting through bone like an axe rather than smashing it like a club. They are probably of Samoan or Tongan origin but so widely used by Fijians as to become a Fijian native weaon.  Sometimes wrongly described as a paddle club or spade club due to their shape.









Kinikini Fijian native weapons




Similar in shape to a Culacula these clubs were used by chiefs / priests and were very broad doubling as a shield and as used as a symbol of rank. The blades of a Kinikini tend not only to be broader but are more highly decorated than that of a Culacula. Due to their association with chiefs and priests and the ornate nature of their blades these clubs are rare and highly collectable native weapon.









Dui Fijian War Club

Dui Fijian War club





A moderately rare form of Fijian Club which according to Capel in the new Fijian dictionary describes as having a broad head shaped like a fan.










Teivakatoga Fijian War Club





Of Tongan origin this native weapon was also used with the cutting edge. It was mainly used in the Lau islands and other areas with strong Tongan influence.










Bowai Fijian Club




Looking much like a baseball bat they were used like an oversized truncheon or cudgels for smashing skulls. The cudgels were often named after the wood they were made from















Gadi – A small form of one-handed Bowai that does not flare towards the end. Used as much as a wife beater as a weapon of war.











Vunikau Fijian War Club




These are also called rootstock clubs, as that is precisely what they are made from. Favoured in open situations due to their reach they were used for smashing skulls and ribcages.











Waka Fijian War Club





Waka same in form as a Vunikau with only a short section of the tap root retained, the rest having been removed










Bulikia fijian War club





Bulikia same in form as Vunikau but with the tap root having been almost completely removed.











Bulibuli Fijian War Club





Similar in form and function as a Vunikau club only the head has been carefully formed and modified. A similar Ula was made probably to accompany this type of club.










Ula Fijian War Club

Ula were made for throwing at an enemy and often a Fijian warrior would have several either tucked into his belt or close to hand. It is for this reason they are the most common type of Fijian war club on the market. Ula come in many different forms.


I Ula Kobo






A natural root throwing club









I Ula Drisia





A common type of Ula where the head is a ball shape











I Ula Kitu





A common type of Ula where the head is shaped like a small coconut container or kitu from which the club gets its name










I Ula Bulibuli




A rare form of Ula made possibly as a companion piece for a Bulibuli club. Same head shape.












I Ula Soba






Rare form of Ula best recognized by the cross deeply cut in the head










I Ula Vutu





A rare form of Ula with a squarish head in cross section.











I Ula Tavatava





A common type of Ula with flanges or lobes on the head of the club










I Ula Gasau




A very rare form of Ula where the head is shaped of a tiqa dart. Their distribution was possibly restricted to the Vitilevu highlands









I Love Fijian Clubs and south pacific weapons especially antique and Rare types so why not sell yours to me!

Fijian War clubs are collectable in their own right but they are also highly desirable to collectors of Oceanic Art / South Pacific Art, Antique Militaria collectors and specifically to a collector of pacific island weapons.

Rare forms of Fijian War Club are of course more expensive than common varieties. Antique shark tooth carved varieties more valued than steel carved. Patina from use especially kill marks and feasting dots increase a clubs value. Intensely carved examples tend to be more desirable as do beautiful forms and inlayed ivory and teeth make an huge difference to value.

Fijian clubs at Melbourne museum


 Images of some Fijian War Clubs

Kinikini Fijian club I tuki Fijian club Gugu Fijian War Club Gata Fijian Club Gata Club Fijian War Club Fijian Clubs Ula Fijian club Waka Fijian Club Totokia Bulikia Fijian Club Fijian War Club

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  • John Schick

    I just bought a Fijian war club with the bulbs at the top, and cross hatching on the stem. I knew it was a native war club of some type. I paid $68.00 for it in an antique store. Wow! I hit a home run!!!

  • Justin Boyle

    Hi I am traveling to Fiji in 2 weeks and am writing a paper for a class about tribal warfare in Fiji and Fijian war clubs. I have been having trouble finding books or any sources on tribal warfare in Fiji. Do you know of any books or have any other recommendations of where to look for this info? I would really appreciate it if you do.

    • We have a Fiji Weapon which has been in the family for many years. We have always regarded it as 19th Century.

      Looking through your illustrations, ours is almost certainly a Sali Club, made of dark and heavy wood.

      We are looking to sell, despite it being a feature on our chimney-breast. What might it be worth, and is there a specialist sale-room somewhere near Bedfordshire? We took it to a valuation day at Peacocks in Bedford a year ago, when they suggested £650, but we did not think they had specialist knowledge.

      Not being great on computers, how do I do a jpg?

      Best wishes


  • Dear Sir

    I missed out sending to you yesterday – my fault.

    Having found you again this evening, I need your advice.

    We have a Sali Club (your fourth illustration), in good condition, with a nice patina, which has been in the family for many years. It currently hangs above the fireplace in our cottage in Bedfordshire, England. It has always been known as ‘the Fiji Weapon’, and was associated with a great aunt, my grandfather’s sister, but otherwise I have no provenance for it.

    At this stage, I wish to offer it for sale. Given your knowledge of the market currently, what might be the value? Also, given your contacts in England, who would you recommend as a suitable saleroom? Even better, do you know of someone who would buy it privately, at your suggested valuation?

    For information, we did take the Fiji Weapon to Peacocks of Bedford, twelve miles away, last year. The Valuer was no expert but suggested then that it might fetch around £650.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Best wishes


  • p.l.

    we got a figian war club from figi prior to year 2000. Do you think it is worth anything? please let me know where I can conntact you

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