Punji Spikes

This artefact is a model made in the 1970s which depicting a punji spike board with a boot impaled on it. This is believed to have been made as a training aid to help soldiers identify and understand the hazards that they faced by punji spikes in the field. Punji spikes became an increasing popular form of guerrilla warfare during this period and were most infamously used by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War.

The term punji which is used to refer to these traps was first coined in the 19th century by Indian soldiers in reference to the traps used by the native Punjabi people for hunting animals. Made from sharpened sticks of hardwood or bamboo, they would be placed in well camouflaged pits or trenches for the enemy to fall into. The spikes themselves were rarely fatal, although they could certainly cause very painful and sometimes crippling injuries. The main goal of these traps was instead to harass and wound the enemy soldier to the extent that several of their comrades would be required to help carry and evacuate them from the area. The Vietcong understood that by wounding a soldier in this way they could remove more enemy soldiers from the battlefield than by simply killing them and usually required less effort or direct confrontations on their part.