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Way of the warrior

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Porcupine fish helmet, 1900s, Maker unknown, Kiribati. Gift of Jennifer Orange, 1995. Te Papa

 
  • Charms of war
  • Head protection

Head protection

This helmet, which completes the associated Kiribati armour, is made from the dried skin of the puffer fish (probably the species Diodon hystrix).

For extra strength and comfort, the helmet is lined with plaited pandanus strips, cut and overlapped in places for a snug fit. The plant-fibre edging is attached with fine cord.

The fish’s tail makes a peak at the back and its fins form wings on either side. An altogether fearsome effect!