Maori Quarter Staff, New Zealand

Wood, shell
19th Century
64 inches (162.5 cm) Note only 7 in. (18 cm) detail of finial shown

A classical Polynesian icon, the taiaha depicts a tiki-type subject with tongue sticking out, arero, a sign of threat and intimidation in Maori culture. This talismanic device decorates the end of a long “quarter staff” which functioned both as a forward moving/stabbing weapon and a defensive pole to parry enemy blows.