Obsidian Blade Dagger Hafted Decorated Putty Nut (Parinarium laurinum).
Largest 35cm (13.75 inches)
US$1,500 For set of three
Obsidian is a naturally occurring glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock from rapidly frozen lava. The Bismarck Archipelago, off the north-east coast of Papua New Guinea, is a rich natural resource of obsidian; in particular, the islands of Lou and Manus in the Admiralties from where the obsidian blade of these daggers was sourced.
Obsidian has been used for projectile points since ancient times. This is due to its lack of crystal structure, which gives the blade edges an almost molecular thinness. Even today, well-crafted obsidian blades are used in medical surgery since their cutting edge is many times sharper and finer than that of even high-quality surgical steel scalpels.
In these examples, the obsidian blade is hafted into a molded putty nut Parinarium gum hand grip. From the beginning of the 20th century, the quality of manufacture of Melanesian obsidian-bladed spears and daggers decreased as they were replaced by imported European steel edged blades. The fine workmanship of these daggers is indicative of early pre European trade contact production c1900.