A Fine Old Shark Teeth Knife From the Gilbert Islands Republic of Kiribati Micronesia
|Size||56cm without stand|
A Fine Old Shark Teeth Knife from the Gilbert or Ellice Islands now part of The Republic of Kiribati in Micronesia
This fine old Sharks Teeth Sword is of the most elegant curved form, the razor-sharp teeth were set in grooves carved into the wood and the teeth were further stabilized with fibre cord that was lashed through each pierced tooth.
This type of knife was just one type of weapon that was made & used by the warriors as part of ‘ceremonial warfare’ performances, the maintenance of honour, and the settling of disputes in ritual duelling. It wasn’t just the knives that were used in these contexts, however, as they only formed a small part of a warrior’s combat ensemble. A warrior wore a complete set of armour, made from thickly woven coconut fibre and a belt of stingray skin, and a helmet created from a hollowed-out and dried puffer fish. See the historical photo of these warriors dressed for battle
As with many Micronesian and Polynesian cultures, sharks played an important cultural role for the people, sharks are involved in the origin mythology of the islands and they played a major part in cult initiation ceremonies. Using part of the great creatures in a weapon would imbue it with some of the shark’s strength.
Over the past 40 years, I have owned a few of these Shark Teeth Weapons but this was always my favorited due to the elegant form and obvious age patina. It is missing a couple of teeth but it does not detract from the beauty of its sculptural form.
Provenance: The BL Hornshaw (1878-1937) Collection of Oceanic Art & The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic Art
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