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Home > Books > Mason > North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers > The Bow - Part 1
The Bow[4]
Part 1 of 8

In ancient times there was no other weapon into which a human being could throw so much of himself-his hands, his eyes, his whole mind, and body.[5] At any rate this is true of North America, where this arm was pre eminent. In Polynesia and in Africa the case would be different. All of the early travellers in America speak of the sincere attachment of the warrior or the hunter to his artillery.

The noteworthy parts or characteristics of a bow are—
1. Back, or part of the bow away from the archer.
2. Belly, or part toward the archer.
3. Limbs, or parts above and below the grip. Also called arms.
4. Grip, or portion held in the hand.
5. Nocks, or ends upon which the bowstring is attached.
6. Horns, or parts projecting beyond the limbs, at the end are the nocks.
7. String, made of sinew, babíche or cord.
8. Seizing, application of string to prevent the splitting of the wood.
9. Backing, sinew or other substance laid on to increase the elasticity.
10. Wrist guard, any device to prevent the bow-string from wounding the wrist of the left hand.

Bows, as to structure, are-
1. Self bows, made of a single piece. Of these the horns may be separate.
{
in a cable. Called sinew corded bows.
{
with sinew glued on. Sinew lined bow.
2. Backed bows wrapped about. Seized bows.
with veneer. many kinds.
3. Compound

Bows are to be studied also as to their materials, their shape, their strength, their history, and their tradition. (Plates LXI-XCV.)

In every Indian wigwam were kept bow-staves on hand in different stages of readiness for work. Indeed, it has been often averred that an Indian was always on the lookout for a good piece of wood or other raw material. This, thought he, will make me a good snow-show frame or bow or arrow and I will cut it down. These treasures were put into careful training at once, bent, straightened, steamed, scraped, shaped, when ever a leisure moment arrived. No thrifty Indian was ever caught without a stock of artillery stores.

Instances are on record where the wood for bows, the scions for arrows, the stones for heads, and even the plumage for the feathering were articles of commerce.

As a rule, however, the savage mind had as its problem, not that of the modern of ransacking the earth for materials and transferring them to artificial centers of consumption, but the development of the resources of each culture area, to make the bow and the arrow that each region would best help him to create. His was an epoch of differentiation.

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