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Bow (s-shaped bow)

Bow (s-shaped bow)

Place: New Hebrides (Vanuatu)
Category: War

wood, Vanuatu, l. 158.5 cm, Inv. Oz 1218

Forster Register A. 7 (8): ‘7) a long bow, made of black wood, from New Zealand (8) 8 shorter [bows] made of brown wood’

The bow has a partially scraped-off label which nevertheless clearly shows the typical ‘F.’ imprinted into the wood.

This is the rod of an S-shaped bow made of dark brown wood. The cross-section is plano-convex, tapering and flattened at both ends. There is no notch for the bowstring anywhere on the bow. The form and use of such bows are most clearly described by Speiser (1923: 210 ff., PI. 55, Fig. 18). Due to its relative length and its particular shape, as well as its especially dark colour, this could be the bow erroneously listed in the Register of the Forster South Sea Items as originating from New Zealand. This assumption is justified by the fact that, at least in the reports on New Zealand from Cook’s voyages, there was no reference to a bow and that it is therefore highly unlikely that one of the two Forsters could have acquired such an object there. Volker Harms


Speiser, Felix, Ethnographische Materialien aus den Neuen Hebriden und den Banks-Inseln, Berlin, 1923.

Related artefacts

Bow, Inv. Oz 1217
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