Weapon; Whipsling

RI 41.29

About this object

A pointed stick in dark wood with a carved, probably female, human figure at the top. The figure's feet touch its chin and the three-fingered hands rest on the belly. There are double spirals carved on the surfaces of the lower face, buttocks, shoulders and elbows, and over the left forehead, with notched ridges on the feet.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand
  • Date made
    1894 before
  • Materials
    Wood; Technique: Carved
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Liverpool Royal Institution, from a loan in 1894
  • Collector
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    4.0 x 5.5 x 42.0 cm
  • Note
    Kotaha (whipslings) were used as throwing sticks to launch darts, and possibly lighted material to set fire to thatched roofs in palisades. The stick was tied loosely to a dart which was placed in the ground, tilted in the direction of launch. When the thrower whipped the kotaha forwards, the dart flew out of the ground towards the target and the knot in the cord automatically released. Apart from the kotaha, Maori before European contact had no projectile weapons. This kotaha is unusually short as they are normally over one metre long; its owner may have re-sharpened it after it broke. Attribution: East Coast, 18th century (David Simmons, October 1981). Illustrated in Adrienne L. Kaeppler (1974: 68-92, plate 4b), 'Cook voyage provenance of the "Artificial Curiosities" of Bullock's Museum', Man 9:1.
  • Related people
    Liverpool Royal Institution ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • Cook voyage provenance of the 'Artificial Curiosities' of Bullock's Museum

    Kaeppler, Adrienne L

    Author: Kaeppler, Adrienne L
    Date: 1974


Previous owners

  • Liverpool Royal Institution

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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