Oceania, Gilbert Islands, ca. mid 20th century CE. One of my favorite items! A spear made from a thick shaft of coconut wood, studded with two vertical rows of tightly-spaced fish spines that rise roughly three-quarters of the way up the blade length; as the blade tapers to a point, they cease. A wide, flat handle is at the base, wrapped tightly in woven twine; the spines are affixed using dual-colored twine. Size: 2" W x 34.5" H (5.1 cm x 87.6 cm); 36.75" H (93.3 cm) on included custom stand.
Some researchers have noted the similarities in shape between fish spines and canoe sails, which were also supported on masts of coconut wood. This type of spear was used during ceremonial warfare, when ritual duels took place in order to maintain honor. Along with these weapons, warriors wore suits of armor made from thicky woven coconut fiber and a belt made from stingray skin, as well as a hemlet made from a hollowed-out, dried puffer fish. Shark teeth were sewn into the backs of the armor gloves. Some historical photographs of the full costume are available here: https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/BBCollabSupport/An+Ethnographic+Analysis+of+a+Kiribati+Shark-Toothed+Sword
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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Many of the spines are partially broken as shown. One side of the point has some compression.