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This close quarter combat weapon is said to have belonged to Chief Rangiaho. It was taken by a British soldier fighting at Ngatapa Pa in 1869. Its ornate decoration suggests that it is a high status piece. With a name meaning ‘fish-mouth’, the form of the wahaika is unique and distinctive. Backwards-curving hand-clubs were made elsewhere in Polynesia (notably, on Easter Island) but the Maori developed this style to a remarkable degree of refinement. Like the curved slashing swords of Asia, the curved wooden blade along the wahaika’s striking edge created a larger surface that the striking force was applied through during a single blow; wounds were therefore larger. The name is believed to refer to the distinctive notch in the middle of the striking edge, which was used (like the forks in spurred Fijian clubs) to parry an enemy’s club and deflect it, or even disarm him.
So-Called Violin-Shaped Handclubs, Kotiate The kotiate can be viewed as a natural development from the wahaika. While the wahaika can fairly be credited, I think, as the weapon type in which the parrying notch was developed, reflection shows that it has a distinct disadvantage in being a one-edged weapon, and therefore not too effective when weilded backhand. The kotiate overcomes those limitations by reflecting the wahaika’s leading edge profile on the backhand side also. Kotiate were notorious weapons during the early 20th century, because some inventive Western sadist came up with the interpretation that the weapon’s notches were used for castrating captured enemy; like many other salacious and brutalising Western fantasies, this idea stuck and was repeated in several sources. The notion that the reality was an elegant two-edged fencing weapon entire passed these authorities by.
Double crescent anthropomorphic bladed club. This club type is found throughout Vanuatu but particularly on Ambrym and Malekula. It was attached to a shoulder strap to be worn by the side, but could be easily removed making it ready for use at a moment’s notice. The highly abstracted nasal projections show its intention to depict a human face.