Oceanic Ula Drisia Ironwood Fijian War Club
It was common for several ironwood Ula’s to be carried around a Fijian warriors waist. The Ula’s were typically held wrapped in cloth and fiber waist belts. They were carried in addition to other Fijian war clubs, such as the famous Totokia pineapple or birds beak club with its characteristic pointed and spiked head.
Unlike the other distinctive larger clubs, there are several designs of Ula. The round ball head (I Ula Drisia) such as this example, one with a lobed head. Another root version where the ironwood roots were fashioned into a clump with spikes. The Ula Tavatava and here which is perhaps the finest and most worked version which I have linked above.
These war clubs were held with great respect and importance in Fijian society. They were passed down from generation to generation, and with that, their story became ingrained with spirituality within the carved details of the club. The Fijian war clubs had a spiritual strength which increased with age and history. They were a connection with the past and were prized possessions.
This beautiful Ula is of the first type with a ball-shaped head (I Ula Drisia). It was fashioned through the process of forcing a tree to grow in such a way as to grow in a clump. And then, also working and sanding to get the final ball shape. It must be remembered that the Fijian people did not have any access to metal. There were no cutting tools besides what they had around them, which included seashells and other sharp implements. Implements were harvested from the sea and land were fashioned and used to cut patterns in the stems and work the heads. Given only rudimentary tools, it is astonishing that these incredible works could be produced at all.