Tomahawks & War Clubs
Tomahawks | War Clubs
Native American small fighting
axes, originally with stone heads mounted
in wood handles.
In the 1600s,
European traders began providing iron and brass
heads to trade with the various tribes, in a great
number of variations. Highly decorated
versions were presented to tribal leaders
The small axe
was a useful tool to the settlers as well, and
local blacksmiths and gun makers made many fine
specimens. The pipe tomahawk was a fairly rare
variation, often highly decorated.
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About War Clubs
the 1500s, when their European trade muskets
ran out of powder and shot, the American Indians
undoubtably discovered in the midst of battle
that their empty muskets made devastating clubs.
War clubs in the stylized shape of gunstocks
became popular amongst the Northeastern tribes,
and the weapon spread to across the Great Plains
to the Pacific Coast. These clubs, carved from
straight-grained hardwoods, weighed several
pounds, and often had spear or knife points (of
antler, bone, flint or metal) attached to increase
their lethality. The clubs, like tomahawks, were
often embellished with carvings, feathers, leather,
paint, beads, brass tacks, scalplocks, etc. These
weapons still were in use in the late 1800s.
Note: No original examples I have seen indicate
that they started out as an actual firearm, as
there are no lock or barrel inlets, and many
are flat and board-like. The shape was probably
an attempt to capture the lethal "magic" of the firearm.
However, the versatility of this club as a close-quarters combat weapon becomes
apparent as soon as it is handled. It can be used to parry, thrust and trap,
one or two-handed, and every surface creates blunt force trauma.