I first saw this bad boy on The Deadliest Warrior TV series and I instantly fell in love with it. It resembles the Hungry Wood of the Aztecs, but it is not as razor sharp or durable. It is also not long and flat, but the weight of it and the jagged sharp teeth are just as deadly. It is scary enough to look at, but when you realize the sharp edges are real shark teeth it adds to the fear.
According to The Deadliest Warrior, the Māori were known to use this weapon, but the Leiomano was more of a Hawaiian weapon and the name Leiomano is Hawaiian. Hawaiians are more known for using it, but the simplicity and abundant resources available to make these clubs made it a possibility for Māori to either create their own or take one from an island north of New Zealand. There are many different kinds of Leiomano. The Hawaiians made fat paddle like versions to long and thin versions that resembled the Aztec Macuahuitl.
On The Deadliest Warrior they referred to the Leiomano as simply the Shark-tooth Club. After some researching, I found that many Polynesian islanders made use shark tooth weapons as well. It wasn't just a Hawaiian weapon, although its first designed versions are from Hawaii. I don't know if the Māori somehow acquired the design from interactions from Hawaiians or if they eventually came up with it on their own.
The design is fairly simple. The wooden paddle-like club had notches etched into the thin edge and holes drilled between the notches. The shark teeth also had small holes drilled through them and were then pressed into the notches. A string was then made from strong fiber that was made from touchardia latifolia, or commonly known in Hawaii as the olonā plant.The string was tied through the holes to secure the teeth into place. Other Polynesians, who did not have access to the olonā plant may have used other types of string to attach the shark teeth.
Even tied down, the teeth would sometimes break off into the wounds of the victim. These shards would create a lot of pain and discomfort as their razor sharp edges would continue to saw any soft tissue that rubbed against them. Those razor teeth are nature’s daggers. No carving or sharpening is required at all. You just have to catch a shark without getting eaten or get lucky and find a fresh dead one on the beach.
The Leiomano is sharp enough that it can cut right through any exposed skin without much resistance. The Leiomano is more effective when chopping down and then dragging the edge along the exposed skin. This is the same way the Aztecs used the Macuahuitl. As the sharp teeth broke, they would embed themselves into the skin of the opponent and continue causing damage and pain.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.