"U'u", Marquesas Islands war club
Marquesas Islands, Late 18th/early 19th century
Height: 136.5 cm
Acquired by Gilbert Lawson, 1819-20; inherited by Admiral Samuel Thornton (born 1797) in 1850; Thence by descent
"U'u", Marquesas Islands war club, carved of Toa wood (casuarina equisetifolia). The long staff terminates in a fan-like round-headed club exhibiting the stylised features of a head, with two round eyes et with skulls in their centres, a third skull decorates the short horizontal element beneath the eyes. A band of geometric decoration carved in relief surmounts the top of the handle. A deep brown patina to the wood.
In his book, 'Some Things We Have Remembered', Percy Melville Thornton, the son of Admiral Thornton and an athlete and politician wrote regarding Gilbert Lawson, 'I do not think my father saw him after 1848 as he [Lawson] died two years later, and at his death left his old friend and messmate [at that time Captain Samuel Thornton R.N.] a copy of Captain David Porter's 'Cruise of the Essex During 1812-13-14' which concluded with his account of the conflict of the Phoebe. Mr. Lawson also left him two South Sea war clubs.'
Lawson served on three different ships, the Apelles, H.M.S. Phoebe and H.M.S. Topaz, which visited Mauritius and the Seychelles in 1819 and 1820 but there is no indication of a journey to the Marquesas Islands. However, the clubs may possibly have been acquired in Mauritius as it was a known trading station between the Pacific and the islands of the Indian Ocean.