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Home > Books > Mason > North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers > Plate LXV
Plate LXV
Sinew Backed Bows of Eskimo

FIG. 1. Compound bow, made of reindeer antler and backed with sinew. The specimen is from Cumberland Gulf, the farthest point east at which sinew-backed bows have been found. This is an interesting specimen also because it exhibits the method of making the compound bow after the advent of the whalers. The grip piece is spliced and riveted to the limbs. In the old régime these three pieces were fastened together by lashings of sinew cord or braid, very strongly at the points where the upper and lower seizing occur in this bow. Two views given. Murdoch says of this type: "The main part of the reenforcement or backing consists of a continuous piece of stout twine made of sinew, generally a 3-strand braid, but sometimes a twisted cord, and often very long (sometimes 40 or 50 yards in length). One end of this is spliced or knotted into an eye, which is slipped round one 'nock' of the bow, usually the upper one. The strands then pass up and down the back and round the nocks. A comparatively short bow, having along its back some dozen or twenty such plain strands, and finished off by knotting the end about the ' handle,' appears to have been the original pattern. The bow from Cumberland Gulf (fig. 1) is such a one, in which the strands have been given two or three turns of twine from the middle. They are kept from untwisting by a 'stop' round the handle, which passes between and around the strands."

Cat. No. 34053, U. S. N. M. Collected by L. Kumlien.

FIG. 2. Southern type of sinew-backed bows of Murdoch. The essential features of these southern bows are-

First. The substitution of a columnar for a breaking strain upon the wood secured by winding a great many yards of sinew twine or braid backward and forward along the back of the bow, from nock to nock.

Second. The addition of strands in the cable inserted by means of half-hitches at various points, laid on as shown in the following plate.

Third, Holding the strands together in a cable by a coiled twine running from end to end.

Cat. No. 86032, U. S. N. M., Cape Romanzoff, collected by E. W. Nelson. Straight bow with the simplest form of southern backing.

Plate LXV
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