From a broad perspective, aesthetics refers to the critical evaluation of art, beauty, and visual taste respectively. Aesthetics is interpretive, in the sense that it is concerned with the judgments of sentiment as well as taste. Aesthetics delves deeply into the nature of art, beauty, and taste to explore and appreciate the creation of visual, beautiful and artistic creations. As such, it is the primary objective of this discussion to explore the aesthetic aspects of weapons. Specifically, the discussion reviews and compares the aesthetic elements of various Hawaiian weapons. More specifically, this paper features a critical reflection of the aesthetic value of the hand-held weapons as well thrown weapons of Hawaiian history. The weapons that feature in this discourse include the Hawaiian spears, daggers, ax, and clubs.
Spears and spikes were the main and weapon of choice for the ancient Hawaiian people. Spears are not only effective in battles but also reflect an undisputed aesthetic appeal. Among the aesthetic value of the spear is drawn from the design of the weapon. Spears were designed and made with various variations and styles of the short spears measuring between 4-6 feet long, and the long spears measuring 12 to 15 foot long. The short design facilitated short-range attacks, while the long design was effective in long-range combat. Equally important, the strong and durable wood was used as the shaft for the spear. Other designs of the spear had spikes or shark teeth attached to the shaft just below the sharply pointed head. Besides adding the aesthetic value, this also enhanced the effectiveness of the weapon. Spears were also decorated with brightly colored feathers.
The Hawaiian dagger also embodies substantial aesthetical value. Specifically used for thrusting in close melee combat, daggers were designed and made with several variations. Models of the variations include the double-edged dagger and the single-edged dagger. Other dagger design variations include the curved-bladed dagger, long-bladed dagger, shark-tooth-bladed dagger daggers were creatively made of strong wood. The size of daggers varied in size and shape based on the use and the user. Equally important, shark teeth and the swordfish sword were innovatively and resourcefully used as a blade and decorative attachments on the daggers.
The Hawaiian war club is another weapon that symbolizes high aesthetic value. The material used for making clubs was wood and occasionally stone. Clubs were curved out of strong and durable wood with inlaid attachments of shark teeth, bone, shell or rock (Arbeit, 2011). The clubs were designed and made in a wide range of styles to fit a particular purpose and target a given location of the body.
Just as the club, the Hawaiian ax was curved out of strong and durable wood. The intimidating hand-held weapon which was effective for both short and long-range attack in combat was also decorated with engraved patterns curved on the axes blade and handle respectively. Alternatively, some axes were decorated with shark teeth inlaid on the blade. Similarly, the ax was curved in various stylized forms ranging from the long blade and long handles and vice versa.
The design variation of the Hawaiian weaponry manifests a unique set of creative and resourceful engineering ideas that reflect the aesthetical aspects of the weapons. When put together, the designs represent a well thought-out design; engineering, artistic skills that facilitate the weapon’s effectiveness in combat as well as the aesthetical value. The creative uniqueness and originality of each club illuminate the aesthetic elements of Hawaiian weaponry. The choice of material used to make the weapons adds value to the aesthetic elements of the Hawaiian weaponry.
- Arbeit, W. (2011). Clubs. Links to the Past: The Work of Early Hawaiian Artisans. The University of Hawaii Press, 196-205.