Bamboo spear from Malaysia, Asia. Collected by Leonard Wray. Purchased by the Museum in 1891.
This bamboo-headed spear was used by the Semai people of Perak, a state in Peninsular Malaysia. The Semai are known for their rejection of violence (they have no police, courts, or even formal rulers). Therefore, it is unlikely this spear was used as weapon. Instead it was used in spring-spear traps for killing pigs and deer.
The spring-spear trap was made by pegging down a sapling 20 feet long in a 'U' shape, one end embedded in the earth and the other end secured by a palm fibre trip-string. This razor-sharp bamboo spear would be tied on to the free arm of the U, at a right angle to it, the tip pointed away. When an animal stumbled against the trip string, the bent sapling straightened out, snapping the spear into the prey. Each trap was marked and could kill large animals. However, since the spear tips were not poisoned, it relied on impact alone and this often just maimed the victim, which sometimes escaped before the hunter returned to check the trap. Such traps have now been outlawed.