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A Maori spear or harpoon

Museum number: M607

Curatorial note

The Museum's 1837 inventories describe this object as a 'grotesque staff about 7 feet tall' with one of them adding that it was the 'walking stick of Guy of Warwick'. This indication that John Soane did not know the precise origin of this wonderful object is intriguing and implies that he obtained it second or third hand. It was in his collection by 1822 when it appears in a watercolour of his first Picture Room. The first European to set foot in New Zealand, Captain James Cook, landed there in October 1769 so this item must have arrived in England some time after that. Its precise provenance is yet to fully researched but it may have been brought back from one of Cook's voyages. Soane's collection also contains a bird's nest from Australia which may have been acquired at the same time, although it does not appear in early inventories.

Associated objects

X158, provenance link


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk