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Home > Books > Mason > North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers > The Arrow - Part 3
The Arrow
Part 3 of 9

There are as many ways of classifying arrows as there are parts of the arrow, and more, some important parts furnishing several classific concepts. These will be set down as they occur without regard to order, each time seeking to exhaust the arrow.

Unbarbed—Designed to be withdrawn from the wound
Barbed . . . . . . . . { Retrieving . . . . . . .  { Fishing
Hunting
Rankling . . . . . . . { Hunting
War
Entangling.

The concept here is especially the existence and function of the barb, rather than number and structure of parts.


Simple, entire, monoxylic.
Shaft . . . . { Of two parts . . . . . .   { Shaft
Fore-shaft and point
Of three parts . . . . . . { Shaft
Loose-shaft
Fore-shaft and point
Also . . . . . . . . . . . . . { Shaft
Fore-shaft and point
Nock-piece footing

As to the feathering, arrows are (1) without feather; (2) two feathered; (3) three or more feathered; and, as to the attachments, (1) glued to the shaft; (2) fastened only at the ends; (3) with the quill inserted at its ends into the arrow shaft. The nock of American arrows are (1) flat as in the hyperborean zone; (2) bulbous or spread, as in Canada and North United States; (3) cylindrical, as in California and the southern tier of States. (Plates XL-LX.)

There are innumerable references to ancient arrow-makers among the North American Indians, but the probability is that the life history of the bowyer is repeated in that of the superannuated fletcher. First comes the boy struggling through his primitive institute of technology, then the warrior or hunter, skillful in making an arrow and in wearing it out. Last of all he takes the wings of Hermes from his feet and spends his closing years in making arrows for his sons.

There was, according to Chippewa tradition, a particular class of men among our Northern tribes, before the introduction of firearms, called makers of arrow-heads. The same is related by other Algonkians.[22] Longfellow's ancient arrow-maker will occur to every reader at once.

The operations of constructing one of the more elaborate American arrows led a man into many trades-quarryman, stone-cutter, mineralogist, sinew-dresser, and wood-worker. In the far North he must be also worker in bone, ivory, and horn. As a rule, in all savagery, both with men and women, the user of an implement must be its manufacturer. Yet, the differentiation of trades is a necessary step in the progress of culture, and our Indians had taken it more than once.

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