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Long Club (Taiaha)

The taiaha was not only a weapon but also a status symbol used by Maori chiefs. The point of the club is a head with abalone shell eyes and a huge out-thrust tongue, the Maori sign of defiance. There are in fact two faces, one on each side of the point, looking in opposite directions. A warrior held the taiaha with the point of the club (the tongue) down and the blade up. Oriented this way, the faces are right side up. The blade is used to parry blows or strike an opponent.

The decorative carvings which continue along the whole length of this particular staff might make it hard to grip and impede its effectiveness as a weapon. They may indicate that this taiaha was used mainly for ceremonial purposes. When carried not as weapons but symbols of status and authority during ceremonies and orations taiaha were often decorated with collars of red feathers and white dog hair. In this case the taiaha was held with the tongue end up and the faces upside down, with the decorative collar bound around the shaft just below them.

-Kelly Fedak, Class of '09