2000.2.102 (Dagger)

2000.2.102 (Dagger) image

This is an Asmat dagger carved from bone, produced in Papua New Guinea in the second half of the twentieth century. It features a single slender body carved from a cassowary thigh bone, with serrated edges carved in the fashion of teeth. The handle is made up of the same material as the blade, and is covered with a twine wrapping. Attached to the end of the handle are two cords which have large feathery tassels attached to the ends of them. The cords themselves are made up of beads and plant stalks.

Daggers are highly prized weapons and tools for many Asmat communities. They are traditionally made from the bones of either humans or birds, and serve both decorative and practical purposes. Daggers such as this are incredibly strong and resilient due to their composition. The use of bone in weaponry has decreased among many Asmat communities due to the introduction of refined metals by colonial powers in the late twentieth century. Bird bone daggers still retain a high standing in the culture, however, and are used for ceremonial and practical applications.

Colors: Brown, Black, White

Found in Collection: