World Cultures, Pacific

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World Cultures

Object connections:

Collection World Cultures, Pacific
User collections Captain Cook's Third Voyage by NMMCollections
Collectables (All) by blueheatwave
Collectables (Australasia / Oceania) by blueheatwave
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleProvenance: Cook, James

Object details:

Object ID AAA2831
Description A Maori long handled club, pronounced 'tefa tefa'. This is a status object of importance spiritually and ritually as well as in warfare. The flat blade would have been used to lead followers in battle, both to signal direction and to direct whether or not to attack. The enemy would have been struck using the thick back. A hole at the base of the curved edge would have allowed feathers to be attached. These acted both as a distraction tactic against the enemy, and to absorb blood. A complex scrolled pattern is carved towards the base of the handle. This is a geneology personal to the tefa tefa's owner, representing the head of an ancestor. The end of the handle forms the tongue, protruding out of the carved upper and lower jaws, which represent different hemispheres of knowledge, combining the heavenly and the physical. XXX is cut into the top edge of the head. As this is cut with a metal edge, rather than carved, it is likely to have been added after Europeans brought metal to the Pacific, or by a later European owner. The end of the handle appears to have been broken in the past, and would have terminated in a carved point. The black grain suggests this may be made from black maire wood. This tefa tefa is part of the 'Cook Collection' but the source is unknown.
Date made before 1777

Place made New Zealand
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials wood
Measurements Overall: 132 mm x 25 mm
  • tewhatewha (AAA2831)
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