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Samoan Material Culture

Billet Clubs

Billet Clubs

The povai is a billet of heavy wood which resembles an American baseball bat in appearance. There are two varieties, the round and the four-sided in cross section.

Round billet. In round billet clubs the distal ends are domed, some coming to a blunt point, and the greatest diameter is at the part where the head turns off to form the domed end (Pl. LI, 1 and 2). These clubs average in diameter about 2.7 inches at their head, diminishing to about 1.6 inches at the grip. The, proximal ends are flared and furnished with lugs. Bands of carving encircle the clubs and are inlaid with coral lime. The club shown in Plate LI, 1 was used by King Malietoa in the war with Tamasese.

While the heads of most billet clubs are domed, Churchill (5, p. 21) describes a form cut off square. The shaft and grip though usually circular may be distinctly elliptical. The proximal end surface to which the lug is attached besides being usually cut square may in some clubs be slightly convex.

The four-sided billet has two sides narrower than the other two. (See Plate LI, 3). The widest part is distal where the curved end commences. The four surfaces of the head gradually narrow in a convex curve to form a blunt point. The club surfaces narrow gradually towards the shaft which is rounded and runs into the narrower grip. The proximal end is flared and provided with a lug. Bands of carving inlaid with lime form ornamentation.