Title / object name
Pütatara (shell trumpet)
|Maker ||Role ||Date |
|Unknown ||carver ||1800-1900 |
shell, feather, muka, wood
|Approximate ||120 (Height) x 290 (Length) x 120 (Width/Depth) mm|
wind instruments, marine shell trumpets
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.