A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Use Of The Term Tomahawk-Bad Publicity!

Hunt for blood-soaked city tomahawk wielder.
 Megan Levy

December 29, 2010 - 9:23AM
.Heavily-protected police have entered an upmarket Melbourne hotel hunting a blood-soaked man who attacked a car with a tomahawk in inner Melbourne this morning.

What are the chances that this chap was actually using a tomahawk?! Very little chance I would think, yet the term is used to highten the drama. It is this sort of (probable) misinformation that led to the banning of tomahawks in Victoria some years ago, and I believe one had to apply for a permit to attend a Living History Rendezvous with a tomahawk for the purpose of competition tomahawk throwing.
A modern axe or hatchet. Far easier to obtain than a tomahawk.

A typical tomahawk or 18th century belt axe. Not available from hardware stores, and the most common tool used by 18th century Living Historians & Reenactors worldwide.

10 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

If ignorance is truly bliss, then the world should be overrun with insanely joyous people!

Joel said...

Typical of the non-sense spouted by so called "journalists" to make things sounds much worse than they really are... That's the sort of thing that really p**s me off...And people who have absolutely no idea what a tomahawk is will nod wisely and say: oh yes it must be banned...:-(

When will they get the idea that's it's NOT the tool itself that's to blame but the hand that holds and missuse it?

Sorry about the rant!

Hutch said...

Le Loup, can you tell me why the difference in the handles and heads in functionality?

Dave Reid said...

I was reading about the Melbourne 'tomahawk' event and thought it strange (if true) that someone had actually used a tomahawk.

If tomahawks are such lethal weapons in the eyes of Victorian lawmakers why are hatchets not? Is it that the word tomahawk evokes more excitement or something. Very strange Keith.

Le Loup said...

I don't think that many people actually know what a tomahawk is, and let's face it, the term tomahawk and axe has become prety much interchangable. But it is true that most people that do know what a tomahawk is and yet do not carry one themselves, see the tomahawk as a weapon, not a tool like a hatchet or axe.
The truth is that the (trade)axe in the 18th century was in fact the tomahawk, and then the word was interchangable. The trouble is when we mention things like Tomahawk throwing after a news headline like this, the red lights start flashing everywhere.
I phoned up the Victorian police some years ago to enquire about getting a permit so I couls attend the Rendezvous in Taminic & enter the competition. The female police officer said that I could get a permit but I was "not allowed to throw my tomahawk at people"!!!
Now doesn't that just take all the fun out of it!!!

Le Loup said...

Reply to Hutch: "Le Loup, can you tell me why the difference in the handles and heads in functionality?"

Hi Hutch. The tomahawk/(trade)axe head shape is more to do with the period design at that time than anything else, though these heads do tend to be lighter in some cases.
Ditto for the helve. If you look at a lot of 16th, 17th & 18th century axes you will see that this tapered helve fitting was popular.
From a functional point of view the tapered helve is easy to make and fit, even in a wilderness situation. The helve rarely comes loose in the head, but if it does, it is a simple matter to either tap the helve on a tree to secure, or failing that pack the head out with rawhide or leather.
The heads on the small tomahawk weigh about 1lb, but with a longer helve it has a lot of cutting power.
They are very good for throwing, and once you are skilled at this the tomahawk becomes a good back-up for hunting. I also find them much easier to control for fighting than a heavier headed hatchet.

Hutch said...

Thank you. I had always wondered the difference, even in using them on a day to day basis. Well, most days. Luckily, I live in Texas, and there's not much law around here to tell me where I can and can't carry something. I'm going to start practicing the throwing of it. Historically, did they use it (throwing) much like that of a rabbit stick? Or, did they use it when they were closer to larger game?

Le Loup said...

I have seen no record of the tomahawk being used for hunting in the 18th century, but one Indian did leave a record of hunting with a tomahawk during the great depression.
The Rangers were also known to have tomahawk throwing practice for fighting during the F&I War.
Other than that it is ordinary usage, making trap stakes, building shelters, help in butchering large game, etc.

Gorges Smythe said...

I've heard it said by a Vietnam veteran that throwing ANYTHING was a last ditch effort, because once the object leaves your hand, it can easily fall under the power of the very person you were trying to hit. THEN the weapon could be turned on YOU.

Le Loup said...

Quite true Gorges, but there are times when being able to throw accurately is an advantage. If for instance you had fired & then found yourself about to be fired at. Within distance a well aimed throw would at least distract the shooter, delaying his shot giving you time to dive for cover or even cover that ground between you to attack. There is infact a record of an Indian having to do just that. The settler was forced to raise his gun to ward off the thrown tomahawk & he lost a finger or two.
With more than one assailant you may have no choice but to throw your tomahawk. But yes, if it can be avoided it is best to hang on to your tomahawk/axe.