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Royal Commonwealth Society : Weapons and implements of war: warriors preparing for a fight

Angas, George French (1822-1886)

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>George French Angas (1822-1886) had trained as an artist and developed an interest in natural history. Angas’s father held significant financial assets in South Australia and while visiting it in 1844, he sailed to New Zealand, and travelled within the recently established colony. Angas met a number of leading Maori, who sat for portraits, and he completed many pencil drawings and watercolours of Maori dress, artefacts, dwellings and culture. In 1847 he published ‘The New Zealanders illustrated’, which contained hand-coloured lithographic plates, the majority from his own work. The volume is a significant early source for understanding traditional Maori way of life.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>1. A richly carved adze, with a greenstone head, ornamented with dogs' hair and kaka feathers; from the Middle Island. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>2. Tomahawk with a European head, and a handle of carved bone. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>3. A Tomahawk belonging to Pomara, the Chatham Island chief; the handle is of bone richly ornamented: a strip of dog's skin is inserted through the handle, for the purpose of fastening it to the wrist in battle. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>4. A wooden dagger. From the interior near Tuhua. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>5-7 E Hani. A staff of hard wood carried by the chiefs, and used both in war and whilst speaking. The head of the hani is carved, the sharp point of which, designed to resemble the human tongue thrust out in an attitude of defiance, is urged forward as a mark of insult to the enemy; the eyes are made of small pieces of pawa or pearl shell, inserted on each side, and the staff is still further ornamented with red parrots' feathers and tufts of dogs' hair. In the circle of debate, the chief whilst speaking runs up and down before his hearers, holding in his hand the ornamented hani. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>8. Patu, a light wooden weapon, about four feet long, with a semicircular head resembling a bill-hook or chopper; it is generally ornamented with a bunch of kaka feathers, and the handle is frequently carved more or less. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>9. Warriors preparing for battle. Before going to a fight, it is customary for the combatants to strip off their garments, and, by distorting their features, rolling their eyes, putting out the tongue, and other marks of defiance, to work themselves up into the highest pitch of phrenzy and passion. This preparation is called poukaua. The elaborate tanning of the thighs and posteriors is here shown.</p>

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