The Maquahuitl (the hungry wood) was a wooden weapon used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. It has been described as a sword and a club, but lacks a true European equivalent. It was the Mid-Range weapon of the Aztec Jaguar.
The Maquahuitl was used to serve Tezcatlipoca, the God of the Night Sky. It was a flat wooden club with sharpened obsidian blades inserted into grooves along the side: which are about 12 times sharper than modern surgical knives. About four feet long or more, the weapon came in one and two-handed variaties. The last authentic maquahuitl was destroyed in 1884 when the building where it was housed in Madrid burned down.
- 4 feet
- 2.5 lbs
- Hardwood & obsidian (chert and flint stones could be used as obsidian substitutes)
The maquahuitl was wielded like a sword, although its cutting action was more like a saw. The weapon could sever heads, and there is at least one account of the maquahuitl beheading a horse. The model used in Deadliest Warrior managed to sever a Ballistic gel horse's head in three strikes. The flat wooden sides of the weapon could be used to bludgeon opponents, usually so as to avoid killing them so that they could be captured and sacrificed.
Because of its molecular structure, obsidian can be sharpened more finely than high quality steel; however, it quickly becomes dull with use and the obsidian needs to be regularly replaced: especially if chipped from excessive force or damage.
It also took more time to swing the maquahuitl than a similar-sized sword, as well as more space, forcing Aztec warriors to advance in loose formations. Normally this wouldn't be an issue since Mesoamericans battles avoided dense formations for individual dueling instead. However the conquistadors under Cortes did use dense formations as part of pike-and-shot tactics, which devastated Aztec warriors unable to break through the dense front line of halberds and arquebuses.
- Polynesians had their own variation of the Maquahuitl, replacing the stone with shark teeth. The Kiribati tribes are noticeable example of 'shark swordsmen'. This weapon is very similar to the Shark Tooth Club.