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Home > Books > Mason > North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers > Plate LII
Plate LII
Barbed and Harpoon Arrows of the Eskimo about the Alaskan Peninsula

FIG. 1. SHAFT, of cedar, 23 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. A streak of red around the middle and either end. The shaftment is somewhat flat, and ornamented with two narrow streaks of red and one bright streak of blue. Feathers, three, two black and one banded brown and white; the ends inserted into slits cut in the shaft and seized with sinew poorly laid on. The middle portions of the feathers are not glued to the arrow. The nock is flat, in a plane with the head, and is simply notched. The barb piece of bone is 8 inches long and is let into a socket in end of arrow shaft. It has a strong barb on one side at right angles to the head. It is ornamented with deep longitudinal furrows. The triangular head of bone is a flat blade inserted neatly in a deep slit at the head of the barb piece, which is smoothed down so as to present no impediment to the passage into the animal struck.

Cat. No. 127627, U. S. N. M. Alaska. Collected by J. W. Johnson.

FIG. 2. SHAFT, of spruce, cylindrical; coarsely made; banded with red paint. Feathers, three, seized with sinew, one of them at the middle of the flat side and the other two at the round corners of the other side. As usual with the Eskimo, the end of these feathers is sunk into notches cut in the soft wood. The nock is flat; the notch, angular. There is a barb piece of bone set into the shaft, at the end, by a cylindrical tenon, and is seized with sinew. Blade, of iron, set into the barb piece at right angles to the plane of its longest diameter and cross section. One barb in the side of the barb piece. Total length, 28 inches.

Cat. No. 127627, U. S. N. M. Eskimo, Bristol Bay, Alaska. Collected by J. W. Johnson.

FIG. 3. SHAFT, of cedar, cylindrical. Shaftment, flat, banded with blue stripes. Feathers, three, seized with sinew thread and standing off quite a distance from the shaftment. The nock is flat; notch, angular. Blade, of slate, inserted into the end of the barb piece of bone. The single barb is 1 1/4 inches long and is formed on one side by a narrow notch. Two shallow gutters extend from this barb to the end of the shaft. The barb piece is fitted into the end of the shaft by a dowel or peg made of bono and lashed with a fine sinew thread. The blade is covered by a cap made of two pieces of cedar neatly cut for the blade and the end of the barb piece and joined together with a braid of sinew. This is a very effective and neatly-made weapon. Total length of shaft, 30 inches.

Cat. No. 90404, U. S. N. M. Kadiak, Alaska. Collected by Wm. J. Fisher.

FIG. 4. SHAFT, of cedar; about half an inch in diameter in the middle, tapering slightly forward to within two inches of the end, where it is cylindrical, and tapering backward gradually to the nock. Feathers, three, laid on at equal distances apart and seized with fine sinew thread. The plume of the feather is neatly cut into a triangular shape. The shaftment is painted red. The nock is a bulb of extraordinary size, which gives the hunter all the grip he could ask. Notch, shallow and angular. Foreshaft, of bone, let into the end of the shaft by a dowel cut on the end of the bone. A small wooden plug is inserted into the front end of this and perforated. The head is a small triangular piece of bone, barbed on one side, cut away at the butt to form a very short dowel to be inserted into the perforation in the shaftment, and perforated near the base to receive a lanyard or martingale of braided sinew, which, near the other extremity, has two branches, one of which is attached to the front of the shaft and the other towards the butt end. This arrow operates in the following manner: When this line is unrolled it resembles a kite's tail-the bird to which the barb is attached representing the tail and the spreading bifurcation the point attached to the kite. This line is neatly rolled up. on the shaft to the end of the fores haft. The barbed head is then put in place; the line tucked under the coil and drawn tight, but not fastened. The hunter shoots the game with this arrow; the barb penetrates beneath the skin; the sudden movement of the sea otter withdraws the barb head from the foreshaft and loosens the slight fastening of the coil, which is then unrolled, and the bone head, being heavier, sinks in the water, while the light shaft supports the feather above the surface, the whole appa ratus acting as a drag to the game and also as a buoy to enable the hunter to follow. Total length of shaft, 34 1/4 inches.

Cat. No. 16407, U. S. N. M. Kadiak, Alaska. Collected by W. H. Dall.

FIG. 5. SHAFT, of spruce, cylindrical. Shaftment, flattened. Three black feathers, seized with sinew. The nock is flat; notch, rectangular. The barbed head is leaf-shaped, with two small barbs on one side and one on the other. The head is fitted into the end of the shaft, which is seized with sinew. Length, 33 1/2 inches.

Cat. No. 19382, U. S. N. M. Eskimo, Cook's Inlet, Alaska. Collected by Mr. Early.

FIG. 6. SHAFT, of spruce wood, cylindrical. Shaftment, flattened. Feathers, three, seized at one end with sinew and at the other with sinew thread. The feathers are laid on at the round corners of the flattened shaftment, so that really there could have been another feather at one of the corners. The nock is flat; the notch of the usual U shape. Foreshaft, of walrus ivory, one end cut into the shape of a tenon and inserted in the end of the shaft and seized with sinew thread. The front end of this shaft is perforated and into this is inserted a plug of soft wood. The delicate head has two barbs on either side, and a perforation through the body for holding a sinew cord, which attaches it to the shaft. The head is loosely fitted into the foreshaft by a conical tang. This weapon is shot from a bow into a sea otter or other game. The barbed head becomes fastened in the skin and withdraws from the foreshaft. The ivory head sinks in the water, leaving a feathered shaft bobbing in the air. The whole acts as a drag upon the game and also enables the hunter to follow. Length of shaft and foreshaft, 31 3/4 inches.

Cat. No. 72412, U. S. N. M. Eskimo, Bristol Bay. Collected by Charles McKay.

Plate LII
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