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Wuvulu (Maty Island) 'spiked' model - rare opportunity

Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by Roger Young, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    In another recent thread about Oceanic canoes (and models thereof), discussion turned, in particular, to the rather unique form of the Wuvulu or Maty Island canoes with their long, spiked ends and tall, upright spires:


    For anyone interested, there is an auction up-coming in Australia, on March 17, 2019, at which a 50" (or thereabouts) Wuvulu model is available. These, in my collecting experience, are not overly numerous, or often available. Several years ago, when I was avidly collecting Oceanic pieces, I would likely have fought very hard to acquire an item like this. I'm more into the factory samples at the moment, so will probably pass. This looks very attractive to those wanting one and inclined to gather S. Pacific items. Bear in mind that shipping from Australia could be necessary, and that there is a fairly steep buyer's premium. All the same, this may be a very rare opportunity to acquire:

    Thought this might be of interest.
    Good luck.

    Attached Files:

  2. Thanks for this, Roger. While not a particularly refined model, it does have some interesting characteristics.

    Firstly and most obviously it shows an example with 6 ‘booms’ and whereas Hornell mentions large canoes with ‘maybe’ up to 8 booms, I also [same as Hornell mentions] have only a photo showing a one with 5. Most model photos I have seen are of 2 or 3 booms, so this model might be an outlier on account of the general Wuvulu type as well as the larger boom count.

    In addition to the boom count and despite the model’s [and others similar] lack of refinement, the other interesting feature is that the vertical spike is quite pronounced and modelled whereas a thin sharp spike would be easy [and correct] to just model. So why not the simple way as the model is fairly simple? And why is the wooden tie-pin [connection between vertical spike portion and the base] so articulated [albeit slightly misplaced]? According to Parkinson, the spikes were readily and typically dismounted when many canoes were adjacent to each other presumably to protect them. To me, it seems as if there are 2 types of vertical spikes here: spindly and sharp versus a wide, thicker type.

    Thin, delicate and pointed:

    Delicate, but purposely shaped version – not so spindly:

    So if one type just terminates in a sharp point for adjacent visibility alone, what is the additional purpose for this thicker, stronger and elegantly shaped spike? . . . I’ll take a stab [!] here and say it relates to the weapons that they used on that island, in particular the wood spear type 4 as shown by Parkinson:

    So my thoughts are that these different and elegantly shaped uprights are doubly purposed as light spears readily at hand for either show or emergency –[ one of the fishing techniques was to ram a spear right down the shark’s throat!]

    But who knows: it’s fun to contemplate, and there likely is a good relevant reason for the different shaping - maybe this is it.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  3. OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Very keen observations Mick. I agree with much of your comment, particularly the number of booms and shape of the spikes. My first reaction on seeing the auction notice was that this seemed a later, larger model than I might otherwise have expected, and also not nearly as 'refined' or 'flowing' as might be hoped (by a collector with particular tastes). Perhaps it is a more recent 'tourist trade' effort, and meant to be 'representational', moreso than a truly, culturally faithful, detailed craftsman's product. I have never come across any examples, other than in books. Given the chat exchange and interest that sprang up in the earlier thread, I simply felt that WCHA friends should be made aware of this, when the auction notice came to my attention. Others can make up their own minds as to whether it suits. Were I still actively pursuing Oceanic pieces, I likely would be participating in the chase; however, my plans are to sit this one out. Someone will go home happy with a very interesting and unusual item, all the same.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019

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