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Home > Articles > Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society > Japanese Archery and Archers > Part 11
Japanese Archery and Archers
by E. Gilbertson
Part 11 of 12

Mr. WILLIAM GOWLAND, Member of Council, said he had listened with the greatest interest to Mr. Gilbertson's very able paper. His own studies of the subject had been confined to the weapons of the bowmen of a period far antecedent to that dealt with by the author. The earliest of these are the arrow-heads of stone which are found in considerable numbers throughout Japan. They are made of flint, chert, rock crystal, obsidian, and other stones, and do not differ in their forms from those used by all races during their Stone Age or the early part of their Bronze Age. These arrow-heads, however, are not Japanese, but are those of the Aborigines, the Ainu, who once occupied the country, and were gradually driven northwards, and finally into Jeso, by the former race. The earliest arrow-heads of the Japanese are of bronze-generally of the type of which he exhibited a specimen-and they appear to have been in use until about the beginning of our era, or a little later, as they have been occasionally, but rarely, found along with the iron swords of the dolmen builders. Iron arrow-heads were, however, in use before those of bronze had died out.

The most ancient iron specimens have only short tangs, and in this respect resemble the bronze forms; but, during the early centuries of our era, more formidable iron arrow-heads appear, which have lance-shaped heads, often doubly barbed and about 1 1/2 inch long, forged at the end of tangs varying from 4 to 4 1/2 inches in length. They are specially characteristic of the dolmen period, and seem to have fallen into disuse about the seventh century.

Most of the later forms, however, have been evolved from them.

The bow used by the Japanese during the early centuries of our era appears to have been a short one. This we know from a representation of one on a sepulchral vase which he had obtained from a burial mound of that period in the province of Bizen. On the shoulder of this vase a herd of deer, chased by hunters, is rudely modelled, and one of the latter is in the act of shooting with a bow of this kind.

He had not found any bows in his exploration of Japanese dolmens and tumuli; even where there were arrow-heads, owing to the perishable nature of the materials of which they were constructed. In conclusion, he desired to say how greatly indebted the society was to Mr. Gilbertson for his valuable paper.

Mr. MARCUS HUISH, Hon. Librarian, said that every one would be very glad to see that their old friend, who so many looked up to as the father of the art members of this Society, retained as an octogenarian that undimmed vigour of mind and clearness of sight which has always distinguished him. It was the speaker's pleasure to visit him last autumn at Ilfracombe, and his continuous interest in things Japanese would have shamed most so-called enthusiasts.

Plate VIII. Arrow-heads
Showing presumed Origin of Heart-shape Ornamentation from Petal of Sakura.
(Huish Collection)
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