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Old 2nd August 2012, 05:46 PM   #1
Tim Simmons
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Question Whats that spell? TAIAHA?

Give me a T and so on, whats that spell? Seriously, I took a not that low a punt of this piece. Something just seemed right in the rubbish pictures. Then it arrived and deep dissapoint set in. Anyway I proceeded to examine every mm with a x10 loop and descovered some old handwriting. At first I thought it some 19th century spelling of Palau. Now I see it starts with an old fashioned T, or am I dreaming? It is not insubstancial seen next to a Solomon Island paddle club. 108cm long, it has more scrapes than one would like and is very plain. Not every warrior would have one of those very fine examples? At some time some tiny steel screws have been screwed into the item. Curiously the heads are missing long time ago. The screws used in a display? What do you think?
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Old 2nd August 2012, 06:20 PM   #2
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THE WOOD LOOKS LIKE THE TYPE USED IN NEW ZEALAND AND THE PATINA IS GOOD THIS WOOD DOES NOT FORM A HEAVY PATINA QUICKLY. THE FORM IS CORRECT THE SIZE A BIT SMALL FOR A FULL SIZE MAORI WARRIOR. IT MAY BE ONE FOR A YOUNG MAN TO PRACTICE WITH UNTIL HE GREW UP AND GOT A FULL SIZE WEAPON, HOW IS THE BALANCE?. PERHAPS THE MAORI DID NOT CARVE THE MOKO ON PRACTICE WEAPONS AS IT WAS ONLY NEEDED FOR MANA (POWER) IN ACTUAL BATTLE AND YOUNG MEN DO GROW UP QUICKLY, JUST A GUESS
WHATEVER THE CASE I LIKE IT I HOPE YOU CAN RUN DOWN SOME INFO ON IT, YOU HAVE PROVEN TO BE THE MAN FOR THAT AS YOU ARE STILL LOOKING FOR INFO ON THE OLD STONE HEADED CLUB FROM YEARS AGO.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 06:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for the interest Barry. I cannot be sure what the writing says. It could be bad spelling, a version of how a name sounds or a regional name, anything really. Just because it looks like a Taiaha does not mean it is a Maori weapon. The balance is very good held above the spear point ball so to speak. It is very easy to swing in a fast manner one handed for such a long club. I show it with a similar form but very different wood sword club. You have to hold the sword club at the spear point part, also has a midrib where as the new item is a flat paddle form. I also show it next to a New Britain club needing both hands to control to show you just how substancial it is. I have been looking into Moari weapons but all the example of long clubs of varrious form I have found are all fine examples with carving. I doubt it is a tourist Taiaha as it is plain and has seen much wear. There is a possibility that it could be from the Chatham Islands? where the work on weapons is far less refined.
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Last edited by Tim Simmons : 3rd August 2012 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Spelling Spelling
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Old 4th August 2012, 03:27 AM   #4
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You are of course assuming that all Taiaha were carved...............
Certinly NOT a tourist piece as all those are usually heavily decorated to attract the eye of the unwary.
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Old 4th August 2012, 08:20 AM   #5
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Good point Stu. I had similar thoughts like assuming they are all around 150cm long and always top quallity?
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Old 4th August 2012, 09:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Good point Stu. I had similar thoughts like assuming they are all around 150cm long and always top quallity?

.............and sometimes top quality junk............
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Old 4th August 2012, 03:34 PM   #7
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Indeed so Stu. There are a great deal of best said "reproduction" decoratively carved Maori weapons to be had. I am starting to think that the writing may very well say Taiaha though the fourth letter the second "a" is most unclear. I am also a lot happier about the length which I got wrong it is 118cm or 46.5 inches for those that size is important. Thats considerably larger than the example in the link with rather strong but simple carving. The only fly in the ointment is the rather ugly cuts to each side to the spear end. This with the remnants of tiny steel screws makes me think the damage was caused in fixing the item to a wall display of some kind.
http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/6683521
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Old 4th August 2012, 07:14 PM   #8
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From the images, the inscription does seem to read "Taiaha"...

A quick internet search reveals there are flourishing taiaha fencing schools in New Zealand, and on the face of it probably this is a 20th century practice taiaha, perhaps for a boy or youth.

Other less likely scenarios are - a film prop or a hobbyist production, but difficult to say for sure.

Regards.
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Old 4th August 2012, 08:25 PM   #9
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Yes it could be an old training Taiaha. I have just found a plain Pouwhenua. I was going to post pictures of similar clubs from the British Museum Maori collection but they all had decorative carving. I provide the link and have expanded the picture. This does not mean what I have is old but it does establish plain forms, and by that the one I have could possibly be old? It is well patinated? As has been shown many times some old things need not look how you think they should or want?
http://www.new-guinea-tribal-art.co...-weapons-maori/
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Old 8th September 2012, 06:51 PM   #10
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The fellow on the right has the very same form. Which is interesting. So it could be 19th century. From "Maori carving illustrated, W.J. Phillips, Reed Books NZ.
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Old 25th September 2012, 07:25 PM   #11
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HERE IS A PICTURE OF SOME MAORI BOYS IN TRAINING WITH SMALLER CLUBS SOME APPEAR TO BE MORE PLAIN. PERHAPS YOU HAVE SOFTWARE TO ZOOM IN FOR A BETTER LOOK.
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Old 7th June 2014, 11:37 AM   #12
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This one is 1cm longer than mine but decorated. In the Leiden Museum.
http://www.volkenkunde.nl/collectio...000\9000991.JPG
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Old 7th June 2014, 09:37 PM   #13
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I've seen a few 18th century Taiaha where there is no carving on the 'tongue' (but the eyes were carved in). In the Maori tradition if a carver died before finishing an article, or simply gave up on it, no other carver would step in and finish it. So, what we might see as an uncompleted piece IS actually completed ... i.e. it has been worked as far as the carver wanted to take it.

I've spent quite a lot of time looking at old writing on artefacts, using a combination of a) an ultraviolet lamp [bought at electrical shop], b) an infrared camera [night security camera plugged into TV], c) piece of yellow cellophane [when looked through in controlled lighting helps to highlight writing]. Also, try calling up an image into Picture Editor and mess around with the colour and contrast. My guess with the style of writing on your taiaha is that it is early to mid 19th century at the latest.

Have you tried looking at the online catalogue of the Te Papa collections ?

Incidentally "the guy on the right" in the photo is Te Rangi Hiroa, a very great Maori expert and museum curator.
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Old 8th June 2014, 11:37 AM   #14
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Thank you for your reply. I revisited this thread after looking at the Leiden Museum online data. There I found an example of a similar size to mine being approx 120 cm {I got the size wrong in the first post for some reason}. Other Taiaha in the collection have minimal decorative carving with no eyes but I have not found a completely plain example. With regard to length that might depend on a warriors own preference and style of fighting, whether to engage close hard and fast, you might like slightly shorter weapon. Fine carved head and tongue Taiaha would depend on status. Many may not have been made for combat. Not all high status Maori would be warriors but would probably still carry Taiaha.

I am reasonably satisfied that the writing on my piece is at least 19th century. I have added a few more close up pictures. The spelling seems to me to be Taieha. What appears to be 'e' might just be the result of fast writing. The club does have some age, just by the nature of the rusted through eye? screws that were obviously put in at some time display purposes. This condition would take many years to happen. Who knows why the head is so roughly carved? not all practical implements need to be decorative to function. Chatham Island weapons are in the same form as NZ weapons but not decorative.

It is hard to capture good close up detail with a fun snap camera.
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Old 8th June 2014, 07:24 PM   #15
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I've found a very similar example to yours, but made of whalebone. It was in W.O. Oldman's collection (see plate 53 of the Oldman Collection of Maori Artefacts). It was 45.5 inches long.
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Old 10th June 2014, 11:42 AM   #16
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To me the color/wood type does not match up with a very old example.

I have a Taiaha that is of a similar wood and color and it is probably mid 20th century.

see pictures and comparison to an ebony (tourist) sword
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Old 11th June 2014, 10:11 AM   #17
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Yes I have to agree the lack of "collectors colour" is troublesome. I have seen 16th century crossbows in museums that lack the desirable colour, in fact many museum exhibits lack colour.

Shown with these Polynesian clubs Tonga/Samoa and Niue Island. The colour factor is debatable? These clubs have not been purposely polished in there collected existence. I am not trying to say one thing or the other, just interested in comparison.
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Old 12th June 2014, 03:16 PM   #18
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My pictures did not get posted but here they are...
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Old 12th June 2014, 06:03 PM   #19
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Thanks for the pictures. Another interesting aspect to my example is that it has a definite way of use. A deliberate carved off-centre weight forward striking edge. I try to show this with a straight rule. This gives an added power to a swing or blow of the weapon. It also kinks at this point.
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Old 12th June 2014, 07:31 PM   #20
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What i did with my "taiaha" is i contacted the museum of tepapa nz here (link) And i got an honest reply back from them, very nice people you should really send them a message!

Also you can check out there online collection here (link)
Or if you want to see them all on one page (like i do) use this link

Also i get what youre saying about color, very hard, i guess it depends on storage condition and age and also how long was it in use by the natives?
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Old 1st January 2016, 05:43 PM   #21
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This one sold on the well known auction site for more than x3 of mine. A little prettier still short 112cm, 5cm shorter than mine.
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