About this object

A taiaha (long club/fighting staff) with one end (the head) carved in the shape of a tongue with a human face on either side of the shaft below it, the other end is a smooth blade. The main design on the tongue is two looped undulating waves lengthways on each side. One eye is shell-inlaid.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand
  • Date made
    19th Century
  • Materials
    Wood; Abalone (Haliotis sp); Technique: Carved, inlaid
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection
  • Collector
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Date collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Measurements
    8.5 x 3.5 x 155.8 cm
  • Note
    The taiaha is a double-handed weapon used for striking with the blade, or stabbing with the tongue end, which is carved protruding from the mouth in the Maori gesture of defiance.

    Attributions: Taranaki, about 1880 (David Simmons, October 1981).

    Acquired by the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum at Stevens' Auction Rooms, 28-29 August 1928, Lot 658.
  • Related people
    Stevens (Previous owner); Wellcome Historical Medical Museum (Previous owner)

Where is this object from?


Previous owners

  • Wellcome Historical Medical Museum

    Owned from: 1928-08-29
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1951
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Stevens

    Owned from: 1928-08-29
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1928-08-29
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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