Jump to content
News Ticker
  • I am now accepting the following payment methods: Card Payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal
  • Latest News

    Antique Arrows

    Recommended Posts

    Hello everyone! I joined this website hoping that one of you might be able to shed some light on some antique arrows that fell int my possession! I'm having a really hard time learning anything about them.  These came to me from my grandma, who received them from an old friend of hers she met working the switchboards for the phone company in the 1940's. We can't trace the history past that. My grandma told my dad, who told me, that these are "authentic Native American Indian arrows." Nothing else is known about them. I am trying to determine if they really are American Indian arrows, or if they might be South American Indian arrows, or if they're not really Indian arrows at all, and just really old replicas. 

    The arrows appear to be made of bamboo (I'm guessing). All of the arrowheads are magnetic, indicating that they have Iron in them. One arrowhead has what appears to be an aluminum shaft connecting it to the body of the arrow (could this be a modern repair? I took a close up photo of the aluminum). The nocks are carved directly into the bamboo. The feathers are tied on by hand. The arrows are all about 40 inches long, give or take, except the 3 pronged fishing arrow, which is 60 inches long. I also have a bow that came with the arrows. The bow is 67 inches long and has a leather-wrapped grip. It appears to have three layers of laminated wood at the grip. I tried to capture this in the photo.

    Anything you guys can tell me would be greatly appreciated! I hope they turn out to be real, but I won't be heartbroken if they are not. My end goal is to refurbish them and turn them into a display piece, as long as that doesn't decrease their value... 









    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    • 2 weeks later...

    Is this content not appropriate for this website? I found a thread about South American arrows on here which is why I reached out to your community, but I've been waiting for almost two weeks for a moderator to approve my thread. Please advise me on what I need to do differently to get my content approved. Thank you.  


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Hello, you did fine! 

    But this ain't a website, it is a forum!

    There is nothing else to do then wait, until a member (who has knowledge about this ) answers you.

    You don't need approval by a mod. 

    I can not think of anyone to direct you to, but try to find a auction house specialized in this kind of objects, they might be able to help....


    And keep us up dated, if possible.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Hello Lmaas and welcome to the forum.  Sorry I didn't notice your post when it first went up.

    A couple of general comments from a definite non-expert:

    Almost positive the bow is not Native, as the laminate construction on the handgrip is a modern bowyers technique.  A traditional bow would have been carved from a single piece and I'm not sure North American indigenous bows even used this 'thicker in the middle' shape, but that should be easy to check.

    Bamboo or cane arrows would be unusual for North America as, I think, would be the fact that they are bound with grass/fibre rather than leather or rawhide.  My money is on Asian or African.

    I have seen the barbed style arrowheads in Nigeria, when I lived there, used by armed night watchmen and originally rude forged from large nails.  Iron arrow heads were a common trade item on several continents too but the style looks, to me,  as if they might have been hand forged, again in Africa or Asia.  The feathering could be hawk or turkey or ???  

    Here is a link to a short monograph on N American arrows: https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/aa.1940.42.2.02a00060

    That's all I've got, but one of our members is an anthropologist who has donme field work in South America, so maybe if he sees this he'll be able to make more in formed comments than I can. 

    Welcome to the GMIC!  



    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    • 2 weeks later...

    Welcome Lmaas1 and thanks for posting more images of bows & arrows! Sorry for my delay in collecting my thoughts about your arrows-but I'll let fly with my ignorance and conjecture...

    I agree with Peter the the bow is certainly unassociated with the arrows, and for the same reasons. The laminate construction and grip's configuration marks it as a "recent" European bow. The arrows you illustrate would have been associated with a traditional "self" bow, as Peter notes the stave would have made from a single piece of wood lacking the laminate construction. Some older European-style bows were tillered to have the form of the grip in the image, but again carved from a single piece of wood. The well-known Sudbury bow from 1660 (in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard) is the earliest example of a North American Native American self bow (possibly Wampanoag) and does show a thicker grip region, but not comparable to the modern bow in your photos. The arrows you illustrate would have been used with a very different form of bow, depending where they actually do come from, and that is not clear to me. If they are from South America, they would have been used with a palmwood bow similar to that shown in Stuka f's photos and those I illustrated in the thread that you found in his section. 

    The arrows are certainly ethnographic, but the region they come from is a bit problematic. 40 inches is quite short for most South American arrows (most are at least twice this length up to ~2 m long), although boy's arrows will be smaller than those used by adult men. Some groups did make arrows that were sold to outsiders, often they were shortened because of the demand for arrows that were easier to transport back to he visitors' homes (having returned hundreds of South American Native arrows back to the US, it is a complex task to bring long arrows any great distance). The length is also too long for most North American arrows. The point forms of the lanceolate steel-tipped arrows with central mid ribs is very uncommon among South American (even more so for North American) arrows, normally S. American lanceolate points are flat because they were made from scrap pieces of worn out machetes or knives, often retaining the casting elements of those blades. The mid-ribbed lanceolate points suggests manufacture on an a grooved anvil, or casting, practices more common in east Africa where dedicated village metallurgy served a variety of local technological needs. In most other parts of the world, steel has been obtained principally through recycling of worn-out tools, trade in raw materials (usually already manufactured steel points or worn-out tools), or from scavenging scrap from household dumps of the wealthy (often foreigners or non-indigenous local residents). Such blades with mid-ribs are best known for hand-held spears from Africa (fewer arrowhead forms have a mid-rib), that would have wooden hafts and no fletching (feathers at the proximal end to stabilize flight). If these are New World arrows, they would likely be from an area where sufficient trade between outsiders & Native folks occurred that the European-descendant folks would have manufactured such mid-ribbed points, specifically for trade with indigenous peoples (some parts of Brazil?). The elaborate, multi-barbed points appear to be made by heating and cutting the barbs (using an axehead, machete, or other hard steel implement) and are quite time-consuming to manufacture. Interestingly, the 4 non-lanceolate arrow forms are all principally fishing arrows. In the third photo showing the point forms, the arrow on the left has the multi-pronged fishing head similar to a hand-held leister, and often these arrow forms are thrust into water in a manner similar to spears to catch fish (as you note it is fishing arrow). I cannot tell if this example has barbs, but such points are effective either unbarbed or with some barbs. Interestingly, this is the longest arrow in your group, and even though it is fletched, a hand-held use, in addition to occasionally being shot from a bow, is quite likely. The short barbs on the other  3 non-lanceolate arrows also indicates design for fishing. The arrow second from the left has a large distal barb and the shorter barbs on the proximal portion of the squared x-section of the steel point. Both of these elements are critical in holding a fish on the arrow until it can be retrieved. The other 2 arrows to the right of this one that appear square in x-section with small, cut barbs that keep fish from slipping off the arrow point. 

    Interestingly, none of these arrows show a long foreshaft, a piece of hardwood that the point is seated into and then pushed into the mainshaft (usually with a resin or glue). The advantage of foreshafts is that the hardwood holds the point securely, even if the arrow is damaged in flight or by the animal once struck. They also often are pre-made, with a point seated in a foreshaft, for field repairs should the original distal armature of the arrow break in use. Except for the leister, all of the other arrows may have very short foreshafts, it is quite uncommon to seat a point directly into the lighter weight arrow mainshaftt because the shock will damage the distal mainshaft. Most South American arrows have long and quite visible fore shafts of dark red or brown hardwoods. This also is true for most Asian arrows where we have good descriptive e & illustrative literature (especially Papua New Guinea and the Philippines). 

    The mainshaft of the arrows (the long tan portion that looks like bamboo) is probably a cultivated arrowcane. Different species are used in different parts of the world. So until the probable location of origin for these points can be determined, it isn't possible to say from photos which it is, nor are photographs particularly useful in narrowing down the plant to help identify where they were made. South American arrows all use mainshafts, as do those made in other parts of the world. Some African hunter-gatherer groups (such as the pejoratively-termed "Bushmen" of Botswana, Namibia, & adjacent areas of southern Africa or Congo Basin "Pygmies") have common arrow forms that lack separate mainshafts & foreshafts, but principally on their small poisoned arrows. All of your arrows are fletched, although the feathers are missing from 2 of them. Fishing arrows often are used unfletched, the shooting distance is much shorter than for terrestrial game. Sometimes the mainshafts retain fletching because all elements of arrows are repaired and re-used, and often different points are put into arrows that formerly held a different style of point. The fletching is tangential, where whole segments of feathers are laid along the length of the mainshaft (modern target arrows use radial fletching, where the feather is split through the vein and each half of the feather is attached to form a raised "fin", modern competition arrows use radial fletching and now employ very low profile fletching [micro-fletching] that stabilizes the arrow better than larger amounts of fletching that just create additional drag). This is the simplest and fastest manufacturing method of attaching feathers. Your arrows' fletching feathers are bound at the ends, again a less time-consuming method than other techniques that bind the feather tighter to the mainshaft. While tangential fletching does not produce the most ideal flight characteristics (as radial fletching does), most traditional arrows are not designed for long distance flight. In hunting terrestrial game, most indigenous bows & arrows (for that matter atlatls [throwing sticks & long darts used among Australian Aborigines, Eskimo people, Maya & Nahua populations in Mexico, and widespread prehistorically before the invention of the bow], blowguns, and throwing sticks) are never used for distances greater than ~30 m, and that is a wildly risky outside shot. Fishing arrows are normally used for distances no greater than ~2 m, but the skill to compensate for refraction through water is a considerable feat. The windings of the fletching appear to represent at least a couple different materials. In your 5th photo showing the proximal ends of all the arrows, the 5th from the left (a lanceolate arrow missing its fletching) looks like a form of vine. The others may be a variety of different materials (commonly plant fibers, but possibly animal sinew, if they are not South American arrows). At least the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and maybe the 6th from the left show traces of some kind of resin attached to the bindings (this can be beeswax based or made from other tree resins, all of these usually combine at least a couple varieties of other materials as well). All of the proximal ends appear to have nocks (a groove in the mainshaft to fit the bowstring on), that you note are carved in the mainshaftt. Take an additional look, if you have not already, to see if all are just in the mainshaft cane or possibly inserted hardwood plugs. The particular form of the nock (carved or just worn from use in the mainshaft versus a carved plug inserted in the proximal end of the mainshaft) can be important in helping to narrow the geographic origin of arrows. All except the 5th arrow have windings at this proximal end that is designed as a reinforcement to prevent the mainshaft from splitting (the 5th shows traces of resin from previous windings). The 6th arrow appears to have vine as the initial winding of this nock reinforcement, and it may be covered with the use of a different plant fiber, but it is hard to tell from the photo. These windings show evidence of the use of resin to help the nock windings adhere, and possible to completely cover them with resin as well. The fletching is usually the portion of the arrow that suffers most from transportation, drying out in less-humid climates, and the depredations of insects, so it is common that the fletching is not in pristine condition. 

    The feathers used in the fletching are not necessarily diagnostic elements. Large feathers are common on South American arrows, but not necessarily useful as defining origin there. Several in your group look like members of the hawk family, and those are used in many parts on the Americas, similar-looking feathers are employed in other parts of the world as well. The black fletching on the one lanceolate arrow is consistent with some feathers used in South America. Many Asian groups do not use any fletching (especially some New Guinea groups). 

    The decorative carving on the proximal end of the mainshaft, distal to the point and the aluminum sleeve (likely an add-on, possibly by a past owner as heavy lanceolate points can become loose if the the windings dry out, become damaged, or if there is damage to that part of the mainshaft), is not distinctive enough to unambiguously identify the origin of these arrows. There is a possibility that these arrows are not all from the same group of people. I am very confident these are not North American arrows. They do not strike me as obviously identifiable with a particular South American region or group of people, although there may be areas with the lanceolate points that exhibit mid-ribs that I am not able to research here in my study. The shortness of the foreshafts (or possible lack of any on some arrows?) and the overall shortness of the mainshafts is anomalous among most South American arrows, again unless these were intended for trade with tourists. The point forms lack some of the complex styles ("exuberant" is the term used by one researcher working with Agta foragers of the Philippines) used in Asia and New Guinea. South America is still a likely source for these arrows, but the oddities suggest a population in fairly consistent contact with outsiders. The short length is not uncommon among groups who trade forms of their arrows to outsiders. Additionally, giving up large pieces of steel is not usually seen among populations with restricted access to metal, but might be more common if people were living in proximity to outside sources of metal (or pre-made points made specifically for trade with indigenous groups). The lack of any wooden arrows in this group also suggests a source among Natives living in proximity to sources of metal. The arrows in Stuka f's illustration are all wooden-pointed forms, and are likely no older (and possibly more recent) than yours, simply indicating they probably came from a more remote community. The dominance of fishing arrows does argue in favor of a South American origin. Most Indigenous folks are more willing to exchange these forms of arrows than the lanceolate types that have the more valuable large pieces of steel. It appears the lanceolate points in your collection may not be of the largest dimensions seen in South American (or other regions') arrows. 

    These arrows are not old. The lack of any wooden points at all in your assemblage suggest more recent origin. They most likely date to the early mid-20th century when significantly more travel occurred into indigenous areas, and this is true in many parts of South America where a range of individuals involved in oil exploration, exploitation of other forest products, assistance with development projects, or travel for fun were interested in obtaining Native crafts. Arrows are one of the most common items that visitors purchased or traded for, and South American Natives are much more willing to exchange arrows than almost any other technology (they are used in many groups quite commonly as a "currency" in trade relationships with other indigenous folks). Your source could very likely have been given these by another traveler without having gone to the location they are from, again as arrows are not that hard to obtain and someone returning would probably have more arrows than other kids of indigenous artifacts they got during their travels to give as gifts to family or friends. They also are not valuable, first because there is no clear provenience for them, and second arrows were such a common item to obtain in travel. I would urge you to be cautious in "refurbishing" your arrows. Inexpert "repairs" detract from the authenticity & any potential value of these items. I would suggest using small amounts of beeswax to stabilize some of the loose windings or re-attach the fletching. Beeswax is completely reversible and does not stain most plant materials. It is easy to work with if you pinch off small amounts and make it pliable from the heat in you fingers, pressing it onto the pieces you wish to hold down. Craft stores or fabric stores with diverse sewing materials will usually have small blocks of 100% beeswax. You may not want to completely stabilize all of the windings, you do want to be able to observe what the raw materials are for continued attempts at better identifying their provenience. The best way to display (or store) arrows is to support them in two places (one hook near the distal end to support the weight of the metal points) and hang them on the wall. This prevents additional warping,  keeps them away from insects on the floor, allows you to monitor their condition, and the visual display on a wall grabs peoples attention much more than a group of arrows leaning against a wall in a corner. They don't have to be completely level to help prevent warping, a slight angle gives the illusion of flight and yet keeps them from becoming more damaged. 

    Sorry for such a long-winded diatribe without giving you what you really wanted to know. I'll continue to think about these arrows for a while and see if I can add any information useful to you. Welcome to GMIC & have fun with your arrows!

    Edited by Rusty Greaves
    correcting spell check changes
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Thank you Stuka f, Peter, and Rusty for your input!

    Sorry for my delayed response! Rusty, you have provided me with a wealth of information! Way more than I’ve been able to find anywhere else. I did take another look at the nocks, 5 out of the 6 arrows have nocks carved directly into the mainshaft, and I can see the hollow center of the cane. The 6th arrow looks like it used to have a separate nock that slid over the top of the mainshaft, but has fallen off over the years. The hollow of this arrow is filled with the remnants of the white glue/resin that held the original nock in place.



    I am a little confused about the foreshafts. You did note that none of my arrows display . There is no distinct hardwood separating the metal from a long foreshaft, but then said that, “Except for the leister, all of the other arrows may have very short foreshafts.” You also said that sometimes foreshafts are premade with a point already fixed to them. Does this mean that my foreshafts are forged into my arrowheads as one piece? Or that I don’t have long foreshafts, but may have short ones hidden behind the bindings? Or that I don’t have foreshafts at all (which seems to be the case)? With the exception of the arrow with the aluminum repair (and probably that one too, but it’s hard to see without pulling up the binding), all of the arrowheads appear to be directly inserted into the hollow center of the mainshaft, and then wrapped for additional support (I've included a picture at the end of this post) mainshaft, like in the example you pictured in the other thread. If it is the case that these arrows lack foreshafts, does it lend to the idea that these were made for souvenirs? After all, the arrows would be less durable without a foreshaft, but the arrows would be easier and faster to make and a tourist would be unlikely to know or care.Arrows1.jpg

    I’m a little sad that the bow did not originate with the arrows as both you and Peter pointed out, but relieved as well. The laminated wood made me suspicious that the bow (and possibly the whole set) wasn’t authentic, which is why I made sure to take a close up picture of it. But I am relieved that it appears to have originated separately from the arrows, which do still have some interesting history.

    Of course, it would be fun to know precisely which tribe made these, (like the Guarani or Kaingang) but I am satisfied with what you have told me so far. Mostly I don’t want to hang them up and have people ask me about them and only be able to reply, “I don’t know anything about them.”  The information you have shared has been most enlightening.

    As for repairing the arrows, my intentions were to find some feathers similar to the ones on the arrow and tie them on with a fine thread (without taking off any of the original feathers or binding) which is completely reversible. But I do like the idea of using some beeswax to keep things more authentic (I happen to have some on hand).

    Anything else you can think of would be greatly appreciated! And thank you again for taking the time to write that response! It’s amazing how little information there is out there for identifying antique arrows. Hopefully, this thread will be useful for any other curious minds trying to learn about arrows!


    Edited by Lmaas1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I seem to have a few errors in my response, but for the life of me, I can't find an edit button anywhere?! I know I saw one before, where did it go?! lol. Anyways, I noticed I did a poor job revising the paragraph about the foreshafts. Whoops... it should have read like this:  

    "I am a little confused about the foreshafts. You did note that none of my arrows display a long foreshaft, but then said that, “Except for the leister, all of the other arrows may have very short foreshafts.” You also said that sometimes foreshafts are premade with a point already fixed to them. Does this mean that my foreshafts are forged into my arrowheads as one piece? Or that I don’t have long foreshafts, but may have short ones hidden behind the bindings? Or that I don’t have foreshafts at all (which seems to be the case)? With the exception of the arrow with the aluminum repair (and probably that one too, but it’s hard to see without pulling up the binding), all of the arrowheads appear to be directly inserted into the hollow center of the mainshaft, and then wrapped for additional support (I've included a picture) There is no distinct hardwood separating the metal from a long foreshaft, like in the example you pictured in the other thread. If it is the case that these arrows lack foreshafts, does it lend to the idea that these were made for souvenirs? After all, the arrows would be less durable without a foreshaft, but the arrows would also be easier and faster to make, and a tourist would be unlikely to know or care."

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Lmaas, thanks of the additional info about the nocks, and the additional photos. My comment about the possible configuration on foreshafts was just based on what I could see in the photos. There might have been foreshafts under the windings holding the points, but again it was not possible to determine that from the photos (except that it appeared the leister did not have evidence of one). As you suggest, the lack of foreshafts might indicate they are made for trade with non-indigenous folks, but a better determination of where they may be from may help determine why there don't appear to be foreshafts.  The foreshaft is one of the more time consuming elements to fashion. Metal points (and prehistoric stone ones as well) have "hafts" of varying lengths and configurations (see the images in the 2nd photo of my post on 10 January, 2018 in the thread on "South American Bow and arrows" that you have already looked at ) that are the part that would be inserted into either or a foreshaft or directly into a mainsheet. The haft of the point is not considered a foreshaft because it is not a separate component of the arrow. 

    The points of the 2 fishing arrows with the straight points and marginal barbs (3rd & 4th from the L in your last picture of your 1st post) are square in x-section, are they not? With 4 rows of rows of barbs cut into each edge?  I'm still thinking it is likely these may be boy's arrows (except for the longer leister) because of their shorter length than the leister. But, I'm still working with some references to see if I can provide any additional info. Potentially, the most distinctive characteristic of this set is the mid-rib of the lanceolate large game arrows, which  is uncommon on most South American arrows I have worked with in my research. 

    I would again urge you not to replace the feathers. I mentioned that many arrows have problems with the fletching. While you may (or may not unless you have experience fletching arrows) be happy with how the kind of complete replacement you are pondering as "repair" may look, it would detract froth authenticity, which is a big part of the fun of having REAL artifacts on display. I recently performed the kind of repair I mentioned to you with beeswax on a 2 m-long arrow from the Aché foragers of Paraguay collected in the early 1990s with a nearly 1 m-long wooden foreshaft that also is the point (it is common in wooden-pointed arrows that the wooden point's proximal portion serves to be directly inserted into the mainshaft, not just in South American arrows). The fletching had come dis-attached at one end of this arrow, but by using a SMALL amount of beeswax I was able to reattach the feathers so they looked great (as with yours, they were only held down at the proximal and distal ends of the feather). I also used beeswax to hold down some of the vine windings around the foreshaft/mainshaft link (the Aché don't use resin on these kinds of monkey arrows with very long hardwood points that have a row of barbs, partly this allows the point to become detached so it remains in the monkey's body and continues to do harm, and the very sharp, backwards-facing barbs prevent the animal from being able to pull the point out without causing an even more grevious bleeding wound) that had become loose in the much drier climate over the years the arrows have been in the US. Both repairs kept the arrow in it's near-original condition as much as possible. I also had to use beeswax on an Efe bow (collected in the late 1980s from one of the groups of so-called "pygmies" of the Ituri Forest in the Congo Basin of central Africa) when the the bowstring was broken (my mother-in-law was allowed to open some of my artifact boxes, and of course she had no idea what she was opening, and damaged a few items). The bowstring is made from a strip of the outer epithelium ("bark) of vine, and was difficult to get to hold, but it is the most invisible & reversible fix I could do, and since it will never be whole again this helps prevent further damage and is not a glaring and inexpert repair.  

    The edit button exists for a bit more than a day I believe. It is located on the lower left, just outside the  message to the right of the "Quote" button. It will disappear after a short while, but only after ~2 days, a moderator could state what the time frame is for this option. 

    Edited by Rusty Greaves
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Again, thank you Rusty for your input! I wish there was a way I could repay you for the time you have invested in my project! To answer your question, yes the fishing arrows are square in the x-section with barbs cut into each edge. I've also reconsidered the arrow with the missing nock. I don't know why it's different than the others, why it doesn't have a notch carved directly into the cane, or why it appears to be plugged (Although the plugging looks deliberate to me, for all I know someone accidentally poked some white mud with it and it just got stuck). There is also no forensic evidence to suggest that there was once a separate nock that slid over the end of the arrow like a cap.  I would expect to see a difference in color/wear where an old piece would have sat, like a tan line etched in with age. But I don't see this. In addition, I have been unable to find anything about arrows being constructed with cap-like nocks. So like I said, I don't know why that arrow is different, but I believe that my original guess was wrong.  Anyways, if the ribbed lanceolate tips yield any further insights, please let me know!  As I have said, you've already provided me with way more info than I could have hoped for and it has been most appreciated! Out of curiosity, what are the lanceolate arrows most commonly used for? I am assuming large game, target practice, and combat are the most typical uses. Is that correct? 

    As far as the repairs go, I never had any intention of removing the original feathers or binding from my arrows. I was intending to supplement them with new feathers and a fine thread, which could always be removed by untying the thread without affecting the arrows in any way. Howvever, I've considered your comment about that detracting from the authenticity of the arrows, and I agree with that sentiment. I have decided to heed your advice, and patch them up as best as I can with a small amount beeswax and leave it at that. I'm glad you were able to repair your own collection! While these are my first antique arrows, I do have quite a collection of other antiques and old scientific instruments that tend to get unintentionally rough handled from time to time, so I understand your pain. Your mother-in-law must have felt terrible! But in my experience, the person that does the breaking tends to feel much worse about it than I do. At least you were able to fix it! 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Lmaas1, you are most welcome, it's a pleasure to discuss some of these issues from my professional work here on GMIC. Nocks are sometimes cut off or trimmed if they became damaged. Additionally, even without a nock plug, folks may not carve a groove in the nock, but they may develop one from use and wear on the string. All of the nock ends of the arrows I illustrated in the 3rd photo of my post of 10 January 2018 on the "South American bows and arrows " thread to show the different fletching are flat, reinforced nocks that may develop a groove from the bowstring but do not have any carved into the mainsheet. Some museum examples from the River Pumé (who live along major drainages of the Orinoco and are not mobile foragers like the Savanna Pumé and grow a variety of crops) that I have examined exhibit wooden nock plugs, so there can be significant variation even within one ethnicity. 

    The lanceolate arrows would be used for larger game, and that is dependent on the geographical area of course. Let's continue to work with the idea that these may be South American arrows. The folks I work with in Venezuela have a very impoverished fauna, that kind of open savanna is associated with low soil fertility and the low underbrush cover that has a negative relationship on animal density & diversity. The Pumé rely on small body sized animals for 87% of all captured game in the wet season when they focus on terrestrial hunting for their protein (In the dry season they shift to fishing), principally using the same fishing arrows to catch those animals. 3 species; armadillos (max 900 g), tegu lizards(~700-900 g), and small 100 g lizards were 87% of all hunting captures in my quantified data. Any animal that was 6 kg or larger was shared with the entire camp of ~63 people (including children). I've seen them use lanceolate points to hunt anteaters and deer, caimans  are captured with a harpoon & dispatch with a machete. For many S. American indigenous groups, they don't even bother spending time pursuing animals that are just 6 kgs, unless it is late in the day and they are unlikely to encounter additional game. For the Pumé, "large game" includes lesser anteaters (~ 6 kg), caimans (up to 60 kg), giant anteaters (~35 kg, I have been on trips when we found sign of these but I've never seen one killed), capybara (~50 kg), pacas & agoutis (max 10kg, I've been on trips where we encounter them but didn't capture any), peccaries (20-35 kg, I've seen sign but never encountered any); tapir (up to 200 kg, I've never seen them in the wild and only eaten tapir at a criollo's house once),  and deer (brocket =mx30 kg; white tail=50-120 kg). An inventory of all the larger game (6 kg or larger) that came into camp over a 24-month period included 2 deer, 1 capybara, 6 lesser anteaters, and 7 caimans. Most South American groups are forest dwellers, and long, barbed monkey arrows are common for those animals. Large game for most S. American indigenous groups in forests includes deer (brocket & white tail); tapir; peccaries (collared & white-lipped); caimans, pacas & agoutis, giant armadillos, some groups may eat giant otters, a few groups will eat anacondas. 

    Very few traditional folk do any kinds of target practice. That is why I posted the unusual images of boys doing target practice in the first 4 photos of my post of 9 March, 2018 on the "South American bows and arrows" thread. Those were the only 2 such events I have witnessed in over 30 months of fieldwork with the Pumé. Warfare is common only among a few groups in South America. Some groups, such as the well-known bellicose Yanomami will use their large, lanceolate points (made from a kind of bamboo) that are their large game arrows in ambush raids to shoot people. Many groups (such as the formerly more belligerent Guahiboan group of Colombia and Venezuela that surround the Pumé) would make specialized war arrows with a series of scary barbs proximal to the main lanceolate point (especially in hardwood) to make them cause more damaging woulds and be very difficult to remove.  


    Savanna Pumé man cutting a proximal barb into a point using a hammer to strike the point on an axe head blade (sunk in the sand) in 1990. The point is made from a nail that has been heated in the fire in front of him and hammered square and the ends thinned using the hammer and the fact side of the axe head as an anvil. This barb will resemble that in Lmaas1's arrow shown 2nd from the L in the 3rd photo posted on 9 October, expect that the barb will be more distal on the point (see my examples in the "South American bows & arrows" thread). 


    Pumé man twisting wild bromelia fiber into winding for arrow manufacture in 1990. There is a fletching feather stuck in the ground in front of him (an anhinga tail feather) that he will use for tangential fletching of this arrow (the arrowcane is seen just to the R of the man, partially covered by a cloth bag that contains his arrow making gear and an hallucinogenic snuff taking kit). The discoloration of his hands and arms is an innocuous condition cause by a spirochete. All the heat he needs for arrow manufacture is represented in the 4 sticks at the extreme L of the photo. 


    Same Pumé man in 1990 heating the nock end of the arrow (the narrow, distal-most portion of the arrowcane) in order to rub it with a stick of resin (the balks lump just to the viewer's R of his L knee on the sitting mat) so that he can attach the fletching and wind the nock. The 2 small "sticks" to the R of the resin are trimmed segments of arrowcane that are chewed to flatten them and are held together like tongs to rolls the windings with in order crush the bromeliad fiber windings and make them adhere well to the mainshaft, and also to rub the heated resin into the windings and furthersecure the windings.  


    The same Savanna Pumé man in a different arrow making bout in 1993 trimming the foreshaft/mainshaft link with a knife (the foreshaft and point are visible to the R of his hands). A small skein of bromeliad fiber can be seen on top of the same red & blue cloth bag in front of him holding his arrow making gear and hallucinogenic snuff kit. The resin is seen just in front of his R knee, and one of the two small pieces of cane used to roll the windings is visible touching his R knee. Next to his R leg is some of the bromeliad fiber, pulled out of the skein to use in the various arrow making windings. 


    Savanna Pumé man repairing a bent point that also broke the foreshaft out of the mainsheet during the first attempts to capture this caiman, using the back of a knife and using the caiman snout as an anvil (out in the field during an overnight hunting trip in 1992). His bows and arrows are at the left in the image, and the proximal ends of another man's arrows can be seen in just the lowermost left corner of the image. The wooden pole in the front of the man is the caiman harpoon, the cordage (see the harpoon point & line used for this hunt in my 4th image on the post of 10 January, 2018 on the South American bows and arrows thread) can be seen tied along the length of the harpoon haft. There is a bird just in front of my yellow data notebook next to my camera case, and an extra length of cord in front of the bird that was brought along to tie game for the return to the residential camp. 

    Edited by Rusty Greaves
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    This has all been very fascinating! I just got back from Belize a few weeks ago where I had a local take me into the jungle, and upriver to his village. This was a very different experience than your field work, but still absolutely amazing. The ingenuity and skills these people use to live in the jungle are astonishing. The landscape and wildlife both seem incredibly unforgiving to me (I'm from Colorado). The insects and infections are ubiquitous and lethal.  And yet people thrive in these environments. My guide showed me many interesting animals including howler monkeys, caiman, bats, herons, manatees, rat snakes, tarantulas, turtles, and so many more. I was looking forward to seeing a tapir, but apparently, they are really rare in that area. He also pointed out a lot of the plants and explained their uses for various crafts and medicines. It made me appreciate how adept humans are at adapting their lifestyle to their environment! 

    As a side note, he told me that Manatees taste like bacon, that they are very delicious and filled with marbled fat. He also told me that people are not supposed to hunt them because there are so few left, but his village was exempt from this law because it was a tradition. But the way he side-stepped the question led me to believe that his village wasn't supposed to hunt Manatees either, but no one was going to stop them at their remote village, so they continued to eat manatees like they always had.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now
    • Create New...

    Important Information

    We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.