This paddle is from New Guinea, in Melanesia. It is made from wood, with a decoratively carved handle. It may be too flimsy to have been used as a functional paddle, and may actually be a 'paddle club'. Paddle clubs are, as their name suggests, clubs made to resemble canoe paddles – historically important items for Pacific Island communities.
Along with other objects such as feather standards, clubs were symbols of power and prestige in many parts of the Pacific. As well as paddles, weapons in particular were important signifiers of rank. In Fiji after contact with Europeans, for example, gunstocks were intricately carved and used in a similar ceremonial manner.
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