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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Native american warclubs Reply to topic
 
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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 5:35 pm    Post subject: Native american warclubs         Reply with quote

Greetings

This is my first post here. I am very interested in weapons made of wood mainly warclubs and their different forms and variations (including types of wood). I am particularly interested in native american weapons in use before the general introduction of tomahawks. I have seen the movie "The new world" and there where some oar shaped clubs used by the natives. Can anyone help me with references, descriptions or images of this kind of weapon?

There is another question.. a bit out of context but where I live in Portugal the most widely available wood is maritime pine. I know that the "Pinhal de Leiria" a very large plantation of this kind of pines was started in the middle ages I think in order to use the wood in ship construction for the future fleets of the discoveries. Does anyone know of the use of pine in the construction of weapons like spear or lance shafts?

Thank you

I could spare you but I'd rather spear you.
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Bob Burns




PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sergio, mainly I wanted to welcome you to the forum and to myArmoury which is an Awesome Website of "Vast" information.

I am "No" weapons expert by any means, in fact I am in my 2nd year in this hobby but have already quite an extensive collection, as I went completely "NUTS" with some money that came my way last year and did some catching up, as I am 49 years old and I just discovered in the last few years how very much I love the fasciination of this obsession.

Years ago I used to be a cabinet maker and for what ever it's worth, I for one cannot imagine "pine" being any kind of a worthwhile weapon part or component as it is a softwood, except for Douglass Fir, which acts and behaves like a hardwood. But, remember, I am "No" weapons expert! I would think that the wood used for weapons would be such as Ash, Oak, Maple, and any other hardwood that has bending or springy qualitie's to it which would endure and withstand
impact forces and by having this springy or bending type quality as opposed to stiff and rigid would be least likely to break.
Ash for instance is one of the most desired woods for bending purposes, it's a close grain, a very hard wood and it holds it's shape well once properly treated in the bending process.

Hope this helps in some way.

Bob
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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Bob, thank you Happy
Almost every site refers to ash in the medieval context for spear shafts and maple and hickory for warclubs of north american origin but many of these sites are commercial in nature so I don't really know how acurate they may be.
In the oar shaped, better yet padle shaped clubs if the impact surface is very wide could a more rigid wood be likely to be used? I don't know. I hope someone that is well versed in these matters might enlighten me. Thank you anyway for your thoughts about woods Happy since it is now forbidden to own real weapons here without a permit I am bound to make only wooden replicas so it is good to know someone that knows woodworking.

I could spare you but I'd rather spear you.
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Kenton Spaulding




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 8:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Sergio,

I really don't know much about this subject, however, I did visit the Penobscot Indian Museum, on the Indian Island reservation in Maine. They had a lot of clubs on display, most were highly decorated, made in the early 20th century to sell to tourist visiting the area. I do believe, however, that a couple of them may have been legitimate antique weapons. I will give you the contact information for the man who runs the museum, Mr. Neptune, who may be able to answer your question, or put you in touch with someone who can. His email is firekpr@hotmail.com if you are interested. Here is a picture I found on the website, I believe all of these are the decorative (the carvings are actually quite nice) clubs, intended for tourists.



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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pine wouldn't be my first choice for a war club, but it is easy to work.
In the Southeast United States, the predominant wood "would" probably have been hickory.
It's both hard and tough, and makes an excellent club. It's also widely available in the region, and was used both for tool/weapon hafts and as a major food source (nuts).

Also, stone heads of both chipped and ground manufacture *were* used as cutting/bashing weapons before the widespread introduction of metal tools into the New World.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 2:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sergio,

While it isn't technically what you wanted to know about, there are artifacts down in a museum in Roatan, Honduras that I found quite intriguing. They were stone and shaped so that they were square on the outside with a round hole in the center in order to fit onto a wooden shaft. Essentially, they were stone mace heads that looked surprisingly similar to what one might expect to see on a medieval mace. I cannot recall at the moment if they were made by natives from the area or the black Garifuna people who escaped from slavery on the island in the 18th century. I suspect also that even if the clubs were made by natives that it is probably outside your area of interest since they are not from North America. Nevertheless, I thought I'd share because it was quite an interesting discovery to me.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Thu 21 Dec, 2006 9:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 3:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to thank you all (Craig Peters, John Cooksey and Kenton Spaulding) for your replies. I am mostly interested in plain wooden weapons, I mean just wooden even if they are decorated but without stone or metal heads.
I also like maces, medieval or ancient so the info about the Garifuna was welcome. On maces the best site I know is this one http://otlichnik.tripod.com/medmace0.html since it has many pictures and details on weights and dimensions and some surprising information about ancient maces.
Going back to war clubs my greatest curiosity is about the weapons of the first natives the colonists met, the east coast tribes, hurons, algonquians, etc ( my knowledge about tribe names is poor but I hope someone can help),
I have read somewhere that some tribe used wooden weapons shaped a bit like cutlasses but I can´t remember what they (clubs) where called.

I could spare you but I'd rather spear you.
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Allen Andrews




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 4:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if they might not have used Bois d'arc for wooden clubs. Bois d'arc, which is slightly less dense than red oak, is very elastic and virtually indestructible. Obviously it was used to make bows, but it also seems to me it would be just the stuff to make a war club out of. Of course this is pure speculation on my part Happy
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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen Andrews wrote:
I wonder if they might not have used Bois d'arc for wooden clubs. Bois d'arc, which is slightly less dense than red oak, is very elastic and virtually indestructible. Obviously it was used to make bows, but it also seems to me it would be just the stuff to make a war club out of. Of course this is pure speculation on my part Happy


Hmmm----it might be a little too elastic to make a good club, but it is very tough.
Not really all that widespread, though. Mostly occurs in the southern part of the Midwest out to about the line of semi-aridity.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Allen Andrews




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suppose you are right. If the haft of the club was slender enough to grip well, it would be pretty flexible which would absorb some of the energy on impact. <Sigh> A pity because I have a real fondness for Bois d'arc (or osage orange as I was introduced to the wood) and have thought I would like a staff crafted from it. Of course walking staves and war clubs are 2 very different animals, so perhaps I should just be quiet now! Big Grin
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J F. McBrayer




PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen Andrews wrote:
I suppose you are right. If the haft of the club was slender enough to grip well, it would be pretty flexible which would absorb some of the energy on impact. <Sigh> A pity because I have a real fondness for Bois d'arc (or osage orange as I was introduced to the wood) and have thought I would like a staff crafted from it. Of course walking staves and war clubs are 2 very different animals, so perhaps I should just be quiet now! Big Grin


I have seen a Native American warclub with a flexible shaft, but, of course, it had a stone head. The head was a biconical (football-shaped, more or less) piece of polished stone about the size of two fists, and the shaft was about 18 inches of flexible wood wrapped in rawhide. I was told it was a Plains piece, intended to be used from horseback.
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Thomas Watt




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is some information as well as an illustration of "King Philip's War Club" (a native American chief):
http://www.fruitlands.org/kpclub.php

Bois D'arc wood I grew up with as "Osage Orange"... also extremely tough woods are Hophornbeam (nicknamed "ironwood" but not the real ironwood) and cypress. Also, note that not all pine is as soft and splintery as white pine... Southern U.S. forests of Longleaf pine are mostly gone now, but the wood had a reputation for curing out to be very tough. My grandfather's home was mostly framed in it, and I can recall being unable to drive a nail into the 80+ year old wooden floor joists.

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas Watt wrote:
Here is some information as well as an illustration of "King Philip's War Club" (a native American chief):
http://www.fruitlands.org/kpclub.php

Also, note that not all pine is as soft and splintery as white pine... Southern U.S. forests of Longleaf pine are mostly gone now, but the wood had a reputation for curing out to be very tough. My grandfather's home was mostly framed in it, and I can recall being unable to drive a nail into the 80+ year old wooden floor joists.


Thank you for the link.
I don't think that maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) is the same that white pine and I remember that once my father wanted to drill a door to put a coat anger and he had lots of difficulties to do it since it almost destroyd de drills (bit?) but this might have been because there was lots of resin in the wood. About maritime pine I can tell that a part of Lisbon is standing on pine columns that are under water. They still stand since the 18th century. I think this part of the city was built by Marquês de Pombal after the great earthquake of 1755. I haven't tested pine's resistance to impacts but it is very used in sscaffoldingshere in Portugal. Many times they use planks of about 30mm thick and some 20 tto 25cm wide (8 to 10 inches). As I am interested on padle shaped clubs I don't know if the wide portion of wood behind de point of inpact could be beneficial using a less flexible wood. I anyone has some material or kknowledge about this kind of weapons it would be greatly appreciated:) Big Grin

I could spare you but I'd rather spear you.
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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sergio Duarte wrote:
Thomas Watt wrote:
Here is some information as well as an illustration of "King Philip's War Club" (a native American chief):
http://www.fruitlands.org/kpclub.php

Also, note that not all pine is as soft and splintery as white pine... Southern U.S. forests of Longleaf pine are mostly gone now, but the wood had a reputation for curing out to be very tough. My grandfather's home was mostly framed in it, and I can recall being unable to drive a nail into the 80+ year old wooden floor joists.


Thank you for the link.
I don't think that maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) is the same that white pine and I remember that once my father wanted to drill a door to put a coat anger and he had lots of difficulties to do it since it almost destroyd de drills (bit?) but this might have been because there was lots of resin in the wood. About maritime pine I can tell that a part of Lisbon is standing on pine columns that are under water. They still stand since the 18th century. I think this part of the city was built by Marquês de Pombal after the great earthquake of 1755. I haven't tested pine's resistance to impacts but it is very used in sscaffoldingshere in Portugal. Many times they use planks of about 30mm thick and some 20 tto 25cm wide (8 to 10 inches). As I am interested on padle shaped clubs I don't know if the wide portion of wood behind de point of inpact could be beneficial using a less flexible wood. I anyone has some material or kknowledge about this kind of weapons it would be greatly appreciated:) Big Grin


Why don't you try making a couple of simple specimens in a style you like, from the maritime pine, and then test them out? I'd like to hear the results. These things were not made to last forever, anyway. They were usually made to be used, and then replaced by a non-specialist, when damaged to the point of uselessness.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 4:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:
Sergio Duarte wrote:
Thomas Watt wrote:
Here is some information as well as an illustration of "King Philip's War Club" (a native American chief):
http://www.fruitlands.org/kpclub.php

Also, note that not all pine is as soft and splintery as white pine... Southern U.S. forests of Longleaf pine are mostly gone now, but the wood had a reputation for curing out to be very tough. My grandfather's home was mostly framed in it, and I can recall being unable to drive a nail into the 80+ year old wooden floor joists.


Thank you for the link.
I don't think that maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) is the same that white pine and I remember that once my father wanted to drill a door to put a coat anger and he had lots of difficulties to do it since it almost destroyd de drills (bit?) but this might have been because there was lots of resin in the wood. About maritime pine I can tell that a part of Lisbon is standing on pine columns that are under water. They still stand since the 18th century. I think this part of the city was built by Marquês de Pombal after the great earthquake of 1755. I haven't tested pine's resistance to impacts but it is very used in sscaffoldingshere in Portugal. Many times they use planks of about 30mm thick and some 20 tto 25cm wide (8 to 10 inches). As I am interested on padle shaped clubs I don't know if the wide portion of wood behind de point of inpact could be beneficial using a less flexible wood. I anyone has some material or kknowledge about this kind of weapons it would be greatly appreciated:) Big Grin


Why don't you try making a couple of simple specimens in a style you like, from the maritime pine, and then test them out? I'd like to hear the results. These things were not made to last forever, anyway. They were usually made to be used, and then replaced by a non-specialist, when damaged to the point of uselessness.


Yeah, I will do some experimentation Happy I still would like to find more information on shapes used. Wink

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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, another thing I just remembered. Did the east coast natives use shields? Anyone knows if they parried with the clubs?
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Erik Powell




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello guys, first post here...

I used to know a guy whose father was a descendent of Black Hawk, who was the namesake of the Black Hawk War fought between the US gov't and Midwest native americans of various tribes in 1832.

His father discussed some of the history with us one day, and brought along a short club that he claimed was one of Black Hawk's personal weapons.

It was shortish club made of a dark wood, although it could have been dark as a result of aging or stain. According to him the club was made of oak. It was no more than a foot and a half long. It was heavily decorated with non-original feathers and beads, but the club itself was nothing special...

It is difficult to pin down concrete history concerning native american weapons outside of the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures of South and Central America. This is because the native americans took advantage of the technological gains that europeans brought with them to the New World even before there was a massive movement to claim their territories. So by the time that native american weapons, armor, and tactics were being documented by european/american historians, they had already moved on to using as many of our firearms and steel/iron weapons as possible.

For instance, it is much easier to find an ornately decorated native american cap or flint muzzle loader than it is finding an antique pre-colonization native american war club.
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Sergio Duarte




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 4:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Erik Powell wrote:
Hello guys, first post here...

I used to know a guy whose father was a descendent of Black Hawk, who was the namesake of the Black Hawk War fought between the US gov't and Midwest native americans of various tribes in 1832.

His father discussed some of the history with us one day, and brought along a short club that he claimed was one of Black Hawk's personal weapons.

It was shortish club made of a dark wood, although it could have been dark as a result of aging or stain. According to him the club was made of oak. It was no more than a foot and a half long. It was heavily decorated with non-original feathers and beads, but the club itself was nothing special...

It is difficult to pin down concrete history concerning native american weapons outside of the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures of South and Central America. This is because the native americans took advantage of the technological gains that europeans brought with them to the New World even before there was a massive movement to claim their territories. So by the time that native american weapons, armor, and tactics were being documented by european/american historians, they had already moved on to using as many of our firearms and steel/iron weapons as possible.

For instance, it is much easier to find an ornately decorated native american cap or flint muzzle loader than it is finding an antique pre-colonization native american war club.


Yeah, I think your right. maybe the only sources for that would be early depictions on european books or something like that. Or some vague description of the sort of weapons they used.
I also did some research on Inca and Maya but they where equally frustrating. I know about the macuhauitl of the aztec having obsidian blades but I am mostly interested all wooden weapons.

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