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Old 22nd July 2005, 05:22 PM   #31
Tim Simmons
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Hi Fearn,
I did mention earlier that in saying Torres straits I suggested that the surrounding areas be included in the debate. I am more than happy to rule out the Straits proper . That leaves PNG and the many small islands around its coast which still suits me. Taking into account of how large PNG is and therefore it long coast line. I think you would have to be very sure of your facts to deny the crux of my arguement. Tim
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Old 22nd July 2005, 05:39 PM   #32
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Hi Tim,

Perhaps. Here's what we know:

1) the bill belongs to "[a] large sawfish [that] is distributed through much of the Indo-West Pacific region. It is, like all other Pristids, disproportionately subject to continued capture in the net gear widely employed throughout its range... It [lives] in shallow inshore coastal waters, estuaries and possibly the lower reaches of rivers. " (from the IUCN redbook page cited above). Checking another web page , this fish can occur from the Red Sea to southern Japan. It occurs in the Torres Strait, but we certainly can't exclude quite a few other locations.

2) both of us think that the blade is around 100 years old, although I really don't know how fast sawfish bills age.

3) It has a carved hilt that could be European, could be Massim, could be whatever. I'm arguing specifically on that swelled grip, which to my thinking is more common in European (esp German) knives than on Massim clubs (don't forget that the Germans and Dutch were the original colonizers of New Guinea).

4) It's undecorated, aside from the tar/plant sap/lacquer/whatever on the hilt, and it doesn't have a wrist cord.

5) What I've been able to find out about the history of the Torres Islands suggests that, if we've got the age right, it probably wasn't made for indigenous warfare or ritual, since neither were going on in the Torres Islands 100 years ago.

It's certainly fun to argue about, but we need more evidence to settle this one way or the other.

Fearn
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Old 22nd July 2005, 05:49 PM   #33
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I am happy to leave it at that. My main concern was the rather catch all know nothing really tag of " sailor made " one of the reasons ethnographic items in the past were largely considered junk and untill quite recently very cheap is the lack of real knowledge of the items and cultural context. I can not wait untill I find the next piece to do it again. I might get some work done now. Thanks Fearn , Tim

Last edited by Tim Simmons : 22nd July 2005 at 07:24 PM. Reason: SPELLING!!!
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Old 22nd July 2005, 06:22 PM   #34
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I WOULD NOT SAY THAT A PERSON WHO HAS SEEN ACTUAL SWORDS MADE FROM SWORDFISH BILLS THAT WERE PROVENANCED IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS SOME HAVING SCRIMSHAW WORK ON THEM IS A KNOW NOTHING. I BELEAVE THERE WERE NATIVE MADE AND SAILOR MADE AND SEE NO PROBLEM THERE AND WOULD CERTIANLY NOT SAY SOMEONE WAS A KNOW NOTHING IF HE HELD ONE VIEW OR THE OTHER THIS A DISCUSSION OF ALL POSSIBILITYS NOT A DEBATE WHERE SOMEONE MUST LOSE.
THE ABORIGINALS USE A TYPE OF TREE GUM ON THE ENDS OF THEIR KNIVES AND SPEAR THROWERS OTHER SIMULAR GUMS ARE USED IN PNG AND ELSWHERE BY PRIMATIVE SOCIETYS. A HANDLE MADE FROM THE SAWFISH OR BILLFISH BILL IS STRONGER THAN ONE WITH A ARTIFICIALY ATTACHED HANDLE. IT WOULD ALSO BE MORE EASILY MADE USING STONE AGE TOOLS ,STONE, BONE, SHELLS, LOOK FOR PRIMATIVE TOOL MARKS WHERE IT IS WORKED AND HEAT UP A BIT OF THE TAR AND SEE IF IT SMELLS OF TAR OR SOMETHING ELSE. SAW MARKS OR TAR WOULD POINT TO A MORE RECENT ORIGIN, I HAVE SEEN A FEW SAWFISH SWORDS RECENTLY MADE IN THE MORE PRIMATIVE FASION IN AUSTRALIA IN THE 1980'S I HAVE A SMALL ONE BUT AM NOT SURE WHERE IT WAS MADE.
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Old 22nd July 2005, 06:37 PM   #35
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Vandoo,
Please accept my apologies, I did not mean in a personel sense " know nothing" it was directed at the use of the term 'sailor made' without any real thought, I do hope I have not caused offence. I find this site and its members a most enjoyable part of my collecting. Tim

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Old 23rd July 2005, 12:19 AM   #36
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NO APOLOGIES NECESSARY TIM, I DIDN'T REALLY TAKE IT PERSONEL.

THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW TIMES IN THE PAST WHEN SUBJECTS WERE DEBATED HERE ON THE FORUM, THIS DOSEN'T WORK WELL AS IN DEBATE ONE SIDE MUST WIN BY DESTROYING OR OUT POINTING THE OTHER. MANY TRICKS ARE USED TO WIN OR SHAKE UP THE OPPONENT INSULTING THE OTHER SIDES POINT OF VIEW AND ASKING FOR CONCRETE PROOF BEING TWO OF THEM. WHILE THINGS CAN BE LEARNED IN DEBATE, I FEEL THAT DISCUSSION WITH SEVERAL POINTS OF VIEW BOTH RIGHT AND WRONG IS MORE PRODUCTIVE. I MAY GIVE MY OPINION OR WHAT FACTS I HAVE WHICH MAY DIFFER FROM PREVIOUS OPINIONS BUT WON'T REFER TO THE OTHER GUYS VIEWS AS PSYCOBABBEL OR FEEBLE MINDED. IT IS A KIND OF COURTESY I PRACTICE AND SOMETIMES I LEARN FROM BEING WRONG OR SEEING SOMEONE ELSE MAKE A MISTAKE AND OCCASIONALY I AM TOTALY BAFFELED AS TO HOW THEY COME UP WITH SOME IDEAS. I SUSPECT SOME OF MY VIEWS MAY FALL INTO THIS LAST BAFFELING CATAGORY
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Old 23rd July 2005, 02:28 AM   #37
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Hi Tim and Vandoo,

I don't take "sailor-made" as an epithet either. I love scrimshaw work and knot-work. I was simply thinking of something that someone made, not for warfare or ritual, but because they had a large sawfish bill and some time on their hands.

Neat as this sawbill is, the thing about it is that almost anyone could have made it, using (for instance) a saw, a knife, a file, and some black paint (or tar, or lacquer, or tree gum). It's so simple that's it's lacking the clues we need for a good provenance. Given a suitable sawfish bill, I could make something like that in an afternoon using my Leatherman, and I'm quite sure that Tim could turn out something much more stylish in the same amount of time.

If you want a fanciful scenario, it could have been made by or for the teenage son of a white missionary, store owner, fisherman, or the like. It's the kind of thing that a boy would love, and that would explain its comparative design simplicity.

The other thing I'm glad we uncovered is that sawfish all appear to be listed under CITES. As with ivory, it's worth knowing that one might run into trouble with customs on these things.

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Old 6th June 2006, 06:09 PM   #38
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oops! my mistake, wrong one
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Old 6th June 2006, 07:49 PM   #39
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As this has risen to the surface again, I thought I might add that along with the tarry paint like substance the handle has the crystal like residue of what looks like a gum on it, perhaps this at one time had fibers or chords gummed and wrapped around the handle.
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Old 14th August 2007, 06:54 PM   #40
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Just to put a cap on this thread.
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Old 15th August 2007, 01:19 AM   #41
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HI TIM WHAT WAS THE DATE OF THE EXPIDITION AND IS THERE ANY INFO ON WHERE THE ITEMS WERE COLLECTED?

LOOKING OVER THE THREAD IT SEEMS ABOUT COMPLETE UNLESS WE CAN RUN ACROSS SOME NEW REFRENCES.
I COULD ONLY THINK OF ONE THING TO ADD THE WEAPONS OR RICTUAL ITEMS MADE BY THE TRIBES WERE MADE FOR USE, THOSE MADE BY SAILORS WERE MOSTLY MADE FOR SOUVINEERS OR GIFTS NOT USE. THE SAILOR WOULD BRING HIS HOME AND IT WOULD END UP ON A WALL OR STORED SOMEWHERE.
THE NATIVE ITEMS MIGHT BE DESTROYED IN BATTLE OR WORN OUT AND DISCARDED WHEN MORE EFFECIENT WEAPONS BECAME AVAILABLE FOR INSTANCE METAL AX,SWORD OR GUNS. IF THEY HAD RELIGIOUS OR CEREMONIAL VALUE THEY WOULD PROBABLY HAVE BEEN RICTUALY BURIED OR OTHERWISE DISPOSED OF. SO I WOULD GUESS A LARGER PROPORTION OF SAILOR MADE ITEMS SURVIVED OF COURSE THE NATIVE MADE ONES TRADED FOR BY SAILORS WOULD ALSO HAVE HAD A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVAL.
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Old 15th August 2007, 06:47 AM   #42
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Hi Vandoo. 1912. There is some of the material collected in the Natural History museum London. I have found that this is a collection of skulls, I thought that sort of thing had stopped by then. I would imagine that some of the insects may be there also. There may be some material at the FitzWilliam Cambridge where Wollaston was a tutor, only to be shot by a pupil who then took thier own life.
http://www.papua-insects.nl/history...0expedition.htm
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Old 22nd August 2007, 04:58 AM   #43
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Hi All,

Just saw a new article on sawfishes. Couple of things in it that are relevant here.

1) I didn't realize when I posted above, but the CITES ban on sawfish trade reportedly goes into effect September 1, 2007. This will ban all international sales of sawfish, dead or alive, whole or in parts.

In addition to international trade, in the US, domestic trade in sawfish will also be banned, since the US follows CITES rules in this regard. Other countries have other rules. I don't know if sawfish bills are like ivory, in that older items are grandfathered in if they have a documented provenance and age. Please check your local laws if you want to sell or buy a sawbill.

2) the reason for the ban is that sawfish have been hammered by coastal development and overfishing (accidental or intentional, see below). Since they grow slowly and reproduce slowly (basically at human rate), every species of sawfish is endangered. Some species are down in the 3,000 animals range.

3) What do people do with sawfish parts, other than carving weapons? According to the article, sawbills are believed to be the most effective tool for repelling demons, disease spirits, and ghosts across Asia (comments?).

So Tim, you can now go into the exorcism business. Have fun!

Bottom line: if you own one of these bills and want to sell it, do it now. Otherwise, it will become an heirloom. Considering how weird and neat these critters are, if you're so inclined, you may want to support conservation and preservation efforts for these species, so that future generations will get to see sawfish bills outside of museums and dusty collections. Realize also that in the old days, they used to get 10 meters long, and now they rarely top three meters, so the longer everyone waits, the bigger they get.

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Old 22nd August 2007, 05:06 PM   #44
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I think I will keep mine. I could make a few bob as a local sham phoowy man.
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Old 8th February 2010, 09:58 PM   #45
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Default sorry to disturb the dead.

I do not really want to wake the dead but just have to post this link.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/resear... <br /> arch_o

Perhaps this link will work?

http://www.britishmuseum.org/join_i...es.aspx?asset_i
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Old 9th February 2010, 04:32 AM   #46
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SEEING AS HOW IT LIVES AGAIN I WILL ADD SOME PICTURES.
1. SAWFISH SCULPTURE MADE WITH REAL SAWFISH BILL BY YOUNG DR. SUESS HIMSELF IN THE 1930'S
2. BROADBILL SWORDFISH SWORD AND TWO FIDS MADE FROM MARLIN BILLS (MARLIN SPIKE) ECT.
3. AFRICAN MADE EXAMPLE 1946, CUT OUT HANDLE.
4. SAWFISH SWORD WITH INTERESTING HANDLE
5. SAWFISH SWORD
6. CLOSE UP OF VERY OLD BROADBILL SWORDFISH SHOWING PATINA.
I HAVE A NICE EXAMPLE FROM NEW GUINEA BUT THE CAMERAS ARE DOWN SO I CAN'T ADD PIC'S NOW.

LAST YEAR I WAS LOOKING AT A LARGE COLLECTION OF INDIAN ARTEFACTS AND FOSSILS FROM OKLAHOMA. THE FELLOW HAD SOMETHING HE SAID WAS ONE HALF OF A BOW FOUND NEAR OKLAHOMA CITY. IT WAS A BROADBILL SWORDFISH BILL AND A VERY OLD ONE CERTIANLY PRECOLUMBIAN. SO NATIVE AMERICANS BROUGHT ONE FROM THE OCEAN TO OKLAHOMA IN PREHISTORIC TIMES. WEAPON OR CEREMONIAL OBJECT WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
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Old 25th August 2010, 01:16 AM   #47
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Found this photo of a drunk man wielding what appears to be a sawfish sword...
might be during a festival with self-hurting rituals and stuff... "don't try this at home"

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Old 25th August 2010, 02:52 AM   #48
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How can we say whether his intoxication is chemical and not spiritual ?
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Old 25th August 2010, 03:50 PM   #49
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If that's how one repels demons with a sawfish bill, all I can say is that I hope it was worth it for him.

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Old 18th November 2012, 10:42 AM   #50
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I think this is worth showing here as well as the European section. German renaissance parade sword.
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Old 21st November 2012, 03:15 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
I think this is worth showing here as well as the European section. German renaissance parade sword.




Salaams Tim Simmons ~ I found an obscure reference book but it is in German "ASMAT MYTHOS UND KUNST" (Berlin Museum) ISBN 3-88609-381-6. This appears to be a masterworks of all things ethnographic in the region Asmat (PNG) I will endeavor to add pictures to your various excellent threads on the areas weapons and quoting this fine reference. It is full of shields bows and spears... etc etc with superb photographs.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Note; Picture of swordfish and extracts in German.
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Old 21st November 2012, 04:59 PM   #52
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Ibrahiim, thank you for the images of the sawfish blade in the German reference....impressive research as always!! This establishes of course the presence of these items of ethnographic exotica from the Oceanic regions in Europen context, and now it will be interesting to discover just how far back these were brought into the European countries.

Naturally the possibility of these returning from the East Indies areas via Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch merchant ships who certainly must have been through areas which had indirect contact with some of the habitat regions with sawfish.

It is most helpful to have images posted like this one from the German book on a singular basis as you have done. It is by far best to post images of this kind separately so that observations and associated text can be directed to that specific image and example. In this way these important examples become essential to the discussion.

What is most curious, as we have noted, is this sawfish blade in mounts of medieval style, and shown as a German parade sword. The use of sawfish blades is of course well established in Oceanic regions, but seems most odd in this European context. What was the significance of this, and are there other instances of these kinds of features on other European swords.
We have this sword running concurrently on the European forum so it will be interesting to see what develops.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 21st November 2012, 07:10 PM   #53
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About that German parade sawbill: The thing to remember is that there are multiple species of sawfish. The large toothed sawfish historically was found north almost to the straits of Gibraltar (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/ra...oothsawfish.pdf). Thus, there's no logistical problem with a sawbill ending up in Europe during Renaissance time or before. Note that I can't identify sawfish bills to species from pictures, and if that sawbill came from an Indo-Pacific species, the connection would be more interesting.

Best,

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Old 21st November 2012, 07:15 PM   #54
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IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO FIND THE SAWFISH OR ITS BILL FEATURED IN THE OLD DRAWINGS AND PRINTS OF THE "CABINETS OF CURIOSITYS" THAT WAS THE PRECURSOR FOR TODAYS MUSEUMS. THESE EARLY COLLECTIONS MADE BY ROYALTY OR THE RICH WERE VERY POPULAR AMONG THOSE CLASSES THEY WERE ALSO THE ONES WHO COLLECTED ARMS AND ARMOR.
THOSE WHO MADE THEIR FORTUNES IN TRADE ESPECIALLY SHIPPING OFTEN SOUGHT OUT OR HAD PEOPLE IN THEIR EMPLOYMENT SEEK THE EXOTIC AND UNUSUAL IN FORIGN COUNTRIES.
I WILL LOOK AND SEE IF I CAN FIND A PICTURE OF A CABINENT OF CURIOSITYS. CROCODILES, LARGE SNAKES,SKULLS, SHELLS ODD BIRDS AND SEA CREATURES ,ECT. A UNICORN HORN, COCO DE MER, DRAGON TOOTH, SEA MONSTER AND OTHER MYTHOLOGICAL BEASTS OR MONSTERS WERE SOUGHT AFTER FOR SUCH COLLECTIONS. BELOW IS A LINK TO WIKIPEDIA.
TWO PICTURES CAN YOU FIND THE SAWFISH BILLS. ENJOY

COLLEhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_curiositiesCTIONS.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 06:20 AM   #55
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Wow Vandoo, the cabinet of curiosities (Wunderkammer) in the top engraving is that of the great Danish physician and natural historian Ole Worm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Worm) He was one of those old school great men of the world: Part multi(!)disciplinary scientist, part freakshow host - a true rock n' roller while keeping it real and a great inspiration to myself as a biologist!

As an albeit offtopic, (but so very cool) side-note I can mention that, when I, in connection to my work, recently went to meet the curator of the mammal collection at the current Zoological Museum of Copenhagen, I actually held the very same narwhal tusk from the engraving above! -you can see it lying on the middle shelf on the back wall.

Even though it was lying on a huge rack with many other prime specimens of narwhal, this one stuck out above all: Twisted and weird like a corkscrew it is, with a patina that'd make any ivory aficionado drool! Holding it in hand and feeling the brush from the wings of 400 years of history made the hairs on my arms stand up.


Cheers, - Thor
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Old 22nd November 2012, 03:30 PM   #56
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Salaams all ~ Then I remembered I have one somewhere in my store...
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 2nd July 2013, 05:36 PM   #57
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Updated information on sawfishes. It looks like their conservation status is even worse than I thought.

At this point, I'd strongly suggest taking a pass on any sawfish bills you see, especially if you have to take it through customs (they're all now protected by CITES). It's too bad, but they are coast and river creatures, and there isn't a lot of space left for them anywhere. Hopefully they can be properly protected and given enough time to recover, so that our grandkids can see sawfish and those bills in something other than a museum.

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Old 27th November 2015, 03:59 PM   #58
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End of.
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Old 8th January 2016, 02:06 PM   #59
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I just wanted to post the image in the thread "Period Photos of People with Ethnographic Arms", but noticed that there are only photos. So I decided to put some more pictures and information.
From "Seventy two specimens of castes in India":
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Old 8th January 2016, 02:11 PM   #60
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Some more images. And as I know in Italian journal in English will be published the articles of D.Miloserdov ("mahratt" on the forum) about the weapons from rostrum of sawfish in Indo-Persian region.
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