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Home > Articles > Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society > The Japanese Yano Ne > Part 10
The Japanese Yano Ne
Part 10 of 10

After the paper illustrations of arrow-heads were shown by means of the epidiascope—some from photographs and some from the original arrows—by Mr. Harding-Smith.

The Chairman asked for questions, which the reader would he glad to answer as far as he could.

Mr. Harding Smith, Member of Council, J.S.: Until this evening I never could understand the use of these arrow-heads, but Miss Scidmore's paper mentioning that fact about the ornamentation of arrow-heads has cleared up the doubt in my mind, but it still seems to me rather inexplicable why the small ones are so highly ornamented What were they used for ? It seems a waste of fine art. A plain arrow would answer the same purpose and do it much more cheaply.

The Chairman:You have probably overlooked the intensely artistic nature of the Japanese: he would think of the artistic satisfaction of the person being hit by the arrow, which would be a consolation in his last moments.

Mr. Harding Smith: In Dr. Anderson's paper nothing was said of ex voto arrows, though to him (the speaker) it seemed a very possible explanation of their decoration.

The Chairman: Yes, certainly, as large sword-guards, much too large for use, are given as votive offerings.

Mr. Dobrée, m.j.s., in answer to a question by Mr. Phené-Speris (Member of Council, J.S.): The steel is hardened all the way round, and is made just in the same way as the sword-edge, and is highly polished. The subject of arrow-heads is a very interesting one, but there is nothing known in English about their manufacture and workmanship, nothing more than Mr. Gilbertson has said about swords.

The Chairman: There was one point in the paper which was very interesting, and that was the last arrow, to be shot when the owner suffered defeat, and the last he ever shot, for he would then commit suicide—just as people always keep a cartridge for the last. It struck me that the origin of this decoration might be in the nature of a visiting-card for the purpose of showing who had killed a particular person—rather an honourable thing to do, so as to prevent any innocent person being taken up for the murder. This would imply that these decorative arrows were actually used in warfare. Arrows have often been used as a declaration of war and for other things. In many tribes war is declared by throwing a particular kind of arrow into the enemy's camp, e.g. among some of the tribes of the North American Indians, and the custom is still in use among the people of the Malay Islands, who stick an arrow into the wall of the house at night

One further point I noticed. Can there be any connection between the cult of the arrow-head and the red-arrow gates in Korea, which have been a puzzle to antiquarians—gateways adorned with a series of arrows painted red, supposed to be for the purpose of warding off evil spirits?

A Vote of Thanks to Miss Scidmore for her paper was proposed by Mr. Harding Smith, and seconded by Mr. G. Ukita, Hon. Sec. J.S.

The Vote of Thanks was carried unanimously, as also a vote to Mr. Kadono for reading the paper.

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