These clubs are used only to slaughter pigs sacrificed at Mange society grade taking ceremonies on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu. They are restricted sacred objects , and only those men entering specific higher grades are entitled to have them carved and use them to dispatch the many pigs they must hand over to purchase their new rank. This classic late 20th century example features two spirit or ancestor heads on the hammer, which is the signifier of the owner’s new rank – so each hammer is specifically carved for use on this one special day. Size: Handle 56- cm / 23 ˝ inches. Hammer 31 cm / 12 ˝ inches.
A note on the Mange society: The Mange provides the traditional political system upon which North Ambrym society is based and many ambitious men dedicate their lives to the pursuit of an ever-higher mange grade or rank. In reality, however, there are many common men at the base of the Mange and most of them may only advance a handful of grades in their lifetimes. Only a small group will advance to the middle ranks and beyond, while a mere handful of the most influential and successful members of the community will reach the highest grades. Each Mange grade is paid for in pigs and other valuables and the amount that must be paid to advance into the upper grades is very high. In spite of this, a grade is not regarded as something that can simply be bought. A man with a high grade rank is expected to have higher than average intelligence, understanding of the spirit world and knowledge of ‘kastom’, and the candidate must be regarded by his peers as being worthy.