Language: Maori
Source: Augustus Hamilton, 1896

Description

Upoko is the carved head on the butt end of a Maori taiaha, a kind of two-handed war club.1

 

Glossary of taiaha parts

Parts of the taiaha

 

1. Upoko, head
2. Arero, tongue end
3. Tinana, body providing the grip (also called ate, meaning "liver")
4. Rau, flat smooth blade

Sometimes the upoko is adorned with a tauri (collar) of feathers and/or aice (tassels) of dog hair. 

"About four  inches of the shaft, close up to the carved part, is covered by a little tightly-fitting mat (tauri), made of flax into which are worked the bright scarlet feathers from under the wing of the large New Zealand parrot (Nestor), and at the lower edge of this are fastened a number of little quillets, or tassels (aice), of doghair, each quillet being elaborately bound up at the base with a kind of swordstitch, with a fine cord made of the best picked flax fibre. These tassels of hair form a handsome fringe about five or six inches long, and, being generally white in colour, contrast well with the brilliant red of the feathers, and the rich brown polish of the taiaha." 2

 

References
1. Augustus Hamilton; The art workmanship of the Maori race in New Zealand. Royal Society of New Zealand, 1896. Page 176.
2. Ibid. He also mentions that: "Mr. Colenso mentions a strange method of obtaining these narrow strips of skin, covered with the long white hair, from the tails of living dogs. -Trans. N.Z. Inst. Vol. XXIV., p. 452."

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