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Place: New Hebrides (Vanuatu)
Category: War

wood, Vanuatu, l. 155 cm, Inv. Oz 1283

Forster Register A.10 or 11 or 17: ‘10) 20 throwing or shooting arrows, 11) 15 ditto (or) ... 17) 3 long sticks, 3 short [sticks], 3 pipes from the island of Tanna’

The shaft is very carefully made from a greyish-brown wood, with a more or less regular round cross-section. It has a patina like that of a dull varnish (evidently from repeated rubbing with coconut oil). Its rear end is markedly widened and its shape most resembles that of a billiard cue. From its thickest part, with a circumference of 8.6 cm, it tapers sharply towards the point, which in the meantime has broken off. Speiser (1923: PI. 50, Fig. 17) depicted a very similar pointed shaft which he called a ‘hunting spear’, allegedly 141 cm in length, and said to come from the island of Malo (central New Hebrides). Due to a still clearly visible and firmly adhering ‘F’ label, it is clear that the spear comes from the Forster Collection, the regional classification ‘Tanna’ also having been taken from the Register. Nevertheless, given the very vague information in the original Register of the Forster Collection, it is also possible that this object was originally listed in the sections 10) or 11) cited above. No specified regional origin was given for this group of objects, and to this day, there is no way of identifying them with certainty.


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

Related artefacts

Spear, Inv. Oz 1285


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