The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 24, 2024

Ball-Headed War Club

Ball-Headed War Club

late 1700s–early 1800s


The ball at the striking end of this club is clenched in an abstract, jawlike form that likely refers to a protector animal who endowed the owner with power. Incised on the shaft is a rich record of doodemag (singular, doodem, “totem”)—animals representing other-than-human progenitors from which Anishinaabe peoples trace their descent. (The Anishinaabeg, a group of related Great Lakes nations, include the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and others.) Included is an antlered creature, perhaps a caribou, along with mammals, birds, and powerful spirit beings: the thunderbird, its wings outstretched, and perhaps the long-tailed underwater panther. When this example was made, clubs had become symbols of status and earlier ways of life, having been replaced as favored weapons by metal tomahawks and European firearms. Today, clubs are part of powwow regalia.
  • Richard Pohrt; reportedly from a collection in Kitchener, Ontario
  • Cleveland Museum of Art. The CMA Companion: A Guide to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2014. Mentioned and reproduced: P. 342
  • {{cite web|title=Ball-Headed War Club|url=false|author=|year=late 1700s–early 1800s|access-date=24 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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