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Yumi: The Japanese Long-Bow
Part 7 of 9

Japanese archers, like the ancient English bowmen, were occasionally armed with a long-handled wooden mallet, with which they dispatched the foe at close quarters; usually, however, his additional weapons, if any, were swords. The archer, proper, was not always armored, but carried as a protection a wooden shield, ta-ta-i-ia, of oak two inches thick, fifteen inches wide and three or four feet in length, which, from superstition as well as for ornament, was carved or painted with the head of the war god.

In preparing for battle, these shields were propped up on the ground to form a palisade, the warriors knelt behind them and awaited the signal for the ya-awase, or volley of arrows, fired by both sides at the commencement of every battle.

In case of retreat, these shields were carried on their backs and received the shower of the enemy's arrows, sure to follow them; being afterwards exhibited by the lucky warrior with an array of embedded shafts as a proof of his individual prowess.