You are in site section: Online features

Arrows ngahau

Arrows ngahau

Place: Tonga
Category: Fishing & hunting

reed, wood, plant fibre, Tonga, various sizes, Inv. Oz 1261, 1514, 1515, 1512, 1513

Arrow ngahau, Inv. Oz 1261

Humphrey No. 318 or 319: ‘Two long Reed or bamboo arrows pointed with hard wood from ditto [Friendly Isles].’

The shaft of the arrow Oz 1261 consists of brown reed and is between 6 and 8 mm in diameter. The lower end is damaged. The point is made of dark brown wood and 8 cm long. Its tip is 3 mm in diameter, becoming slightly thicker towards where it is attached to the shaft, to reach 7 mm in diameter. Here, the shaft is wrapped with a fine string.

‘The arrows are made of reed, headed with casuarina wood: some of these heads have three or four rows of barbs, and, to make them more formidable, are tipped with the bone of the sting ray’ (Mariner 1817b: 287).

Mariner (1817a: 283) distinguished between two types of arrows, one designed for hunting and nearly two metres in length, the other used in warfare and about one metre long. Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger

Arrow ngahou, Inv. Oz 1514

Forster Register A.10: ‘20 arrows for throwing or shooting’ or A.11: ‘15 dito’

The shaft consists of yellow reed, and is 9 to 11 mm in diameter. There are two wrappings with a plant material, one at the lower end of the shaft covering 3.2 cm, and the other at the junction to the point covering 4.2 cm. The point is made of brown wood. On one side there are twenty-four barbs carved into it, these becoming gradually smaller towards the tip. Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger

Arrow ngahau, Inv. Oz 1515

Forster Register A.10: ‘20 arrows for throwing or shooting’ or A.11: ‘15 dito’

The shaft consists of yellow reed, and is 5.7 to 8 mm in diameter. There are two wrappings with a plant material, one at the lower end of the shaft covering 5.7 cm, and the other at the junction to the point covering 4.6 cm. The point is made of wood and painted black. A tip, 4.6 cm in length, is carved into the outer end of the point and has two barbs at its lower end. Directly below, there is another two-sided barb, 5 mm in length. Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger

Arrow ngahau, Inv. Oz 1512

Humphrey No. 320: ‘a bamboo arrow with a broad blunt end of wood in the middle of which is a short point, intended to knock down birds with, from the Friendly isles.’

The shaft consists of reed and is 8 to 10 mm in diameter. There are two wrappings with a plant material, one at the lower end of the shaft covering 3.4 cm, and the other at the junction to the point covering 4.1 cm. The point is made of a red-brown wood 9 mm in diameter at the base, the point quickly widens to 25 mm in diameter, and ends in a rounded platform, from which a 3 mm long tip projects. Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger

Arrow ngahau, Inv. Oz 1513

Forster Register A.10: ‘20 arrows for throwing or shooting ‘or A.11: 15 dito’

The arrow is basically of the same form as Oz 1512. The lower end of the shaft is missing, however. The upper end of the shaft is wrapped with a plant material, covering 2.3 cm. The point widens from 7 mm to 28 mm in diameter, ending in a rounded platform from which a 12 mm long tip projects.

Both arrows (Oz 1512 and Oz 1513) were intended for hunting birds. Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger

Sources

Mariner, William, An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, 2 vols (a and b), London, 1817.