Aboriginal clubs come in many different forms depending on the region they come from. Different tribes made different styles of club. The aim of this article is to look at the variety of Aboriginal clubs, as a weapon but also as a collectable aboriginal art form.
There are several distinctive styles of Aboriginal Club from different Aboriginal tribes. In general the value of an Aboriginal club will vary depending on its age, rarity and design. Many of the very simple common clubs are not worth a great deal. The more interesting varieties and rare examples are collectable.
I buy Aboriginal Clubs and if you want to sell an aboriginal club then please feel free to send me some images. If you want to know what your club might be worth then contact me. I am always pleased to see tribal items.
How bent or flat a throwing club needs to be before it becomes a boomerang is a matter of opinion. Although many clubs used in warfare were also important in ceremony. Some aboriginal clubs are ceremonial objects and not made with warfare in mind.
The most common and widely distributed of clubs would be better described as a throwing stick. They are usually about an inch in Diameter and 2-3 feet long. They have a resin handle at one end and are often fluted along the length. Due to the large number of these simple clubs they tend not to be very collectable. They sometimes have a sharp stone in the resin handle so they can act as an adze. More detailed anthropological information.
The following Aboriginal clubs are not an exhaustive list. It is a summary of the more exciting varieties of this unique art form.
Leangle Aboriginal Clubs
Leangle clubs come from Southeast Australia. They have a distinctive right-angled head and bulb on the end of the handle. In cross section they tend to be round or oval.
Traditionally used in combat along with a parrying shield. The long right angle heads reach round the sides of the opponent’s shield. According to Aldo Massola in Aborigines of South Eastern Australia: ” These clubs were only used in fighting at close quarters. Blows aimed at the head only-to strike at any other part of the body considered being unfair tactics.”
Nail Headed clubs and Pineapple headed aboriginal clubs
The majority of these clubs come from Queensland. Older traditional clubs did not have nails. The end carved to look like a pandanus fruit but is often wrongly called a pineapple club.
As soon as nails became available, aboriginal people innovated and the nail headed club became popular. The nails are usually those used by a farrier.
Other clubs from this area are identical to the nail headed club but lack the nails. They were a projectile weapon and also used in hand-to-hand combat.
Lil Lil Aboriginal Clubs
Lil Lil Clubs come from Darling River region of New South Wales. They look somewhat like a boomerang with a bulbous asymmetric end. Many are plain or chip carved but the most collectable ones have incised totemic designs.
Most authentic examples have an early collection date, as this region was one of the first areas to undergo cultural change.
Thrown at the enemy they could be deadly. Flat in profile and are sometimes classified as a boomerang. They come from New South Wales and adjacent areas in South Queensland and Victoria.
Queensland Rain forest Aboriginal clubs
Often called sword clubs these are the largest clubs made in Aboriginal Australia.
They can be over 2 meters in length and are flat. They come from Far North Queensland and are usually found unpainted. Occasional examples have painted motifs similar in design to the shields from this area.
South Eastern Australian Aboriginal Clubs
There is a whole variety of clubs from South East Australia and they are all collectable.
The more unusual the design the better.
Ones with incised clan motifs and unusual shapes are the most collectable.
The majority of clubs from this area are for hand to hand combat and used in conjunction with a parrying shield.
Tiwi Island Aboriginal Clubs
Aboriginal Clubs from the Tiwi islands were are either throwing clubs or ceremonial. The smaller throwing clubs are often unpainted or simply painted with a bulbous head and thin handle. Used in a manner like the Fijian Ula. Throwing clubs are collectable but it is the larger more beautifully painted ceremonial clubs that are more sort after. Large flat profile sword clubs from the Tiwi islands are less common.
Some Ceremonial Tiwi clubs are 2 pronged and used in a similar fashion to the ceremonial spears that this region is famous for.
Arnhem Land clubs
Not all aboriginal clubs from Arnhem Land have a distinctive fish tailed handle but the best ones often do.
They are finely painted on the upper third in clan motifs. Loss of this design detracts from their value.
They are flattish in profile and are a sword club. They are usually just over a meter long.