- Museum number
Axe made of stone, set into a wooden haft with gum. Woven bambo decoration on the haft, vegetable fibre handle, further decoration of seeds and deer hooves.
- Production date
Height: 100 centimetres (Including strings hanging down from handle)
Width: 28 centimetres
Depth: 5 centimetres
- Curator's comments
From Thursday, March 1st, 1860. (1861). Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 1, 99-104:
'I visited the camp of one of the principal tribes, the Apinajés, about lat. 7° S., a few miles from the small town of Boa Vista. Most of the savages were out hunting; but about 100 men and women had remained in camp, and these came running out to meet us the moment my party appeared. They were tall, well-made people, with remarkably sleek skins, and long black hair: with the exception of the chief and his wife, they were all entirely naked, and painted bright red with annatto from head to foot: the women wore no ornaments, but the men had round pieces of wood inserted through the lower lip and the lobe of each ear. I inquired through the chief, who could speak a few words of Portuguese, if they had anything to barter. At first they declared they had nothing; but on my opening a box full of things they most valued, such as beads, knives, looking-glasses, &c., they soon brought out all their possessions, and were most anxious to begin the barter. In this way I obtained six or seven stone axes, at the rate of one stone axe for one new American axe, a much higher price than they demanded for the clubs, bows and arrows, feather head-dresses, &c., which they were glad enough to part with for a few coloured beads or a two-inch squared looking-glass. One of the axes is represented in the accompanying woodcut [Am1860,0326.1?]. I ascertained from the chief, and from an Italian missionary friar who had lived for many years at Boa Vista, that these axes were not made by the Apinajés themselves, but had been taken by them from the above-mentioned Gaveoes, a tribe of ferocious savages that have always been enemies, not only to the Brazilians, but to all other Indians.
In the latter part of 1857, the Apinajés made a number of small canoes, and went to the country of the Gaveoes (about 200 miles lower down the Tocantins), attacked their camp suddenly, massacred many of the fighting-men and the women, and carried off all the children and weapons they could lay their hands on; among the latter were the present stone axes. As far as I could make out, the Gaveoes do not use the axes in actual battle, but after the fighting is over, deliberately hack their prisoners with them; and this is confirmed by the slightness with which the axe is fastened into the handle, which would render it almost useless in anything like a struggle.
The Gaveoes are not the only Indians who manufacture and use these axes, they are also found among the Chavantes and Cherentes, a few hundred miles higher up the Tocantins, and one (a broken axe-head of dark granite 4.5 inches long and 5 inches wide) comes from an old Indian burying-place in the province of Pianhy, in a district however which is not above 200 miles from the Tocantins, so that it may probably have been inhabited formerly by the same tribes of savages.
I could not learn that any other Indians besides those of the Tocantins and its neighbourhood have such axes in their possession: but they, and all the other savages of Brazil, use stone celts, similar to those found in so many parts of the world. Of these I have three Brazilian examples; two from the Indians of the Tocantins, and one from those of the Uruguay, in the extreme south of Brazil, about lat. 30° S.
The spherical stone for slinging is also from the Uruguay [Am,+98?].
From registration slip:
'Obtained from the Apinajé Indians, who in 1857 obtained them by a raid upon the Gaveôê Indians, Tocantins R.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- 12th February 1877
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Am1877C2.99 (old CDMS no.)
Miscellaneous number: Am1877C0212.23