Signature Chamorro weapon

The signature weapon of the ancient Chamorro warrior, slingstones of various sizes were sharpened at both ends and hurled from a sling with deadly force in combative times. These stones, called åcho’ atupat in the indigenous language of Chamorro, were fashioned from either limestone, basalt, or fire-hardened clay and were hung from slings of made of pandanus or coconut fiber, the latter being far better by way of durability.

The most notable aspect of these most oftentimes oval-shaped stones were that ancient Chamorros used them with deadly accuracy as documented in historical texts. Though commonly associated with weaponry of the Latte period, these stones were used in early colonial history as the arms of resistance to Spanish colonization, hurled at the harbingers of that particular destruction. A prized art of warfare, the knowledge of how to fashion and hurl these stones was kept in the men’s domain and was passed down from older to younger males, most likely from father to son, or mother’s oldest brother to son.

Today, the slingstone shape is part of the design of the official Guam flag and is incorporated into architectural designs. Like the latte the slingstone is a cultural icon used in Guam’s contemporary pop culture (in tattoo and clothing designs) to exhibit Chamorro pride and cultural identity.

By Julian Aguon

Åcho’ atupat (slingstone) video demonstration

Featuring Al Lizama

For further reading

Freycinet, Louis Claude de. An Account of the Corvette L’Uranie’s Sojourn at the Mariana Islands, 1819. Supplemented with the Journal of Rose de Freycinet. Translated and prefaced by Glynn Barratt. Saipan, CNMI: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Historic Preservation and the University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesia Area Research Center, 2003.

Russell, Scott. Tiempon I Manmofo’na: Ancient Chamorro Culture and History of the Northern Mariana Islands. Micronesian Archaeological Survey Report 32. [Saipan, CNMI?]: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Historic Preservation, 1998.