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Object: Pütatara (shell trumpet)

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Title Pütatara (shell trumpet)
Production Unknown (carver), 1800-1900, Wanganui
Materials shell, feather, muka, wood
Classification wind instruments, marine shell trumpets
Technique carving
Dimensions Overall: 290mm (Length) x 120mm (Width) x 120mm (Depth)
Registration number ME003937

Pütatara are conch or triton shell trumpets that were used for signalling. They were typically made from New Zealand's small native conch shells (Charonia lampas rubicunda). Occasionally, triton shells (Triton australis), a species not native to New Zealand and which only occasionally washed up along New Zealand's northern-most beaches, were used.

The ends of the shells were neatly cut off, leaving a small aperture for trumpeting to which a wooden, often carved, mouthpiece is fixed - as with this example. Pütatara were the possession of chiefs and often preserved as family heirlooms.

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Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.