Shark-tooth knife (Maripi) New Zealand

Māori shark-tooth knife (Maripi)
Māori shark-tooth knife (Maripi)

Custodian: University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Reference: GLAHM E.352

This intricately carved wooden Māori knife (Maripi) has teeth, believed to be those of a Sevengill shark, lashed to it creating the cutting edge, and is decorated with serrated shell circles on both sides. This sort of knife was probably used for utilitarian tasks such as cutting the flesh of a whale or shark, but may also have functioned as a weapon in combat or have been used for ceremonial purposes.

The knife may have been part of The Hunterian Museum collection when it was first catalogued by Captain John Laskey in 1813. Two similar knives, in the British Museum and the Oxford University Museum, are believed to have been collected during Captain Cook's three voyages (1768–79); this knife has been variously attributed, including to Cook's third voyage which called at Queen Charlotte Sound in the far north of New Zealand's South Island in February 1777.

Maker: not known

Materials: wood; vegetable fibre (probably flax); haliotis (Abalone) shell; and shark teeth

Dimensions: 225 x 65mm