knife (general & multipurpose)

Knife made of a double row of shark's teeth attached to a wooden haft, and with a plant fibre suspension loop at the handle end.

Woman’s Fighting Knife, Te Butu, Kiribati, Eastern Micronesia. This very finely carved and highly functional two-edged knife of shark teeth attached to a shaft of coconut wood (Cocos nucifera) goes by the name of te butu. It comes from Kiribati, and was used by 19th century i-Kiribati women for self-defence, and in vengeance attacks on other women for encouraging their husbands to adultery. When argument turned into physical violence, women sought to open an artery inside the elbow, or scar each others’ faces, with these razor-sharp knives. Wood, tooth, human hair. Late 19th Century. Formerly in the private collection of J. S. Udal, one-time Attorney General of Fiji.

Collection Information

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