The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Articles > The Journal of the Antropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland > On Poisoned Arrows in Melanesia > Part 4 - Discussion
On Poisoned Arrows in Melanesia
Part 4 of 4


The PRESIDENT thought Dr. Codrington's description of the pre-paration and properties of the arrows was extremely clear: it. ex-plained the uncertain but often very formidable results of wounds inflicted with these arrows.

Prof. VICTOR HORSLEY wished only to suggest that possibly the original value of the human bone tipping the arrow was first made evident by the employment of bone from a corpse recently dead, and in the decomposing tissues of which consequently the septicæmic virus would be flourishing. He also referred to the case published recently in the "British Medical Journal" by Mr. White, of Nottingham, in which a servant maid wounded herself with a poisoned arrow from a trophy, the symptoms being those of curare poisoning, and successfully treated as such.

His Excellency GOVERNOR MOLONEY remarked that he felt sure he was only expressing the general view of the meeting when he said that the paper which had just been read was one of importance and considerable interest. It might, however, be inferred therefrom that aborigines knew nothing of the use of poison for arrow tips until they were so instructed by aliens, who also had been the channel of supply of the necessary commodity.

Speaking of the African Continent, this was not his experience; the practice seemed extensively known. At the Gambia among the Mandingoes, who still employed the bow, the use of vegetable poison from a Strophanthus for arrow tips was general, and he would say the same of Yoruba, whence he had succeeded in bringing home to the Royal Gardens, Kew, living specimens of what is considered a new species of Strophanthus, which yields a poison used much for a similar purpose. The umtsuti, or poison plant of South Africa, is Strophanthus hispidus, and wanika, an arrow poison of the East Coast, is said to be from the root of the same. Again, we must remember the hippo, kombé, and vakamba arrow poisons. Finally, we have heard or read of the Inée, or Onaye, of Gaboon, a Strophanthus poison used to a like end. Doubtless there were many other poison-yielding plants known in use by the natives of Africa.