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Home > Books > Additional Notes on Arrow Release > Appendix
Transactions of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Primeval History
Part 2 of 2

In succession to these hand rings follow, of course, the West African daggers with hollow handles (Figs. 10 and 11) which have so far become known to us (as existing) in the protectorate of Togo the Wute country and the Benue regions, especially (specifically) from the latter. STAUDINGER and HARTERT brought already, 1886, a long dagger knife (Fig. 10) of the kind which they found with the Kadarra and Korro tribes where these knives serve as well as a hand weapon for defense, as for the quicker bending of the bow, by pressing the handle against the string.

This statement is, of course, not quite clear, as with such aid one may gain rather in power, but hardly in quickness, nevertheless it results without dispute from this statement, that de facto also these tribes have the same manner of bending the bow, which since then has been recognized more distinctly a little farther south by LIEUTENANT MORGEN. But the Berlin Ethnological Museum has very numerous specimens of quite similar knives from the Togo Protectorate brought thence by staff-physician DR. WOLF and by DR. BUTTNER and to the latter we are also indebted for the names Ssegara and Sama, both of which, as it seems, are common in the Sugu language, for the knives. It is true both travelers have considered them only as such (knives) and do not mention that they are also used for bending the bow, but there seems to be no doubt that they, just as the similar knives in the Benue countries, serve both purposes, at all events we have the specific information as regards the knife, (Fig. 11) from the Wute countries, that it is also used for bending the bow therefore besides the above described wooden middle-hand-rings, which serve the same purpose. To examine which is here the original and which the derived forms would be a difficult and perhaps also a useless task, at all events already the above consideration shows - and practical attempt confirms - that this method of bending the bow, whether by the aid of the wooden hand-ring, or by that of the iron dagger-handle, is an extremely powerful method. As a matter of fact it is far and away superior to every other method, not only on account of the ease with which the full strength of the whole arm is brought to bear upon the string, but also on account of the extraordinary delicacy with which the arrow is released at the decisive moment.

The enormously powerful effect produced by this (bending) ring finds its counterpart in a protective apparatus for the left hand, which exceeds in its dimensions everything existing before. It consists o (Fig. 12) of a strip of leather tightly fitting the wrist, open and arranged for tying on the ulnar side, and carrying on the thumb side an irregularly conical erection of 10-15 cm. high also made of string or leather (hide) colored black and generally embellished with geometric ornamentations. This peculiar (or peculiarly) a symmetrical wrist band presents therefore to the rebounding string two inclined planes which completely paralyse even the hardest blow.

The pursuit of the subordinate (minor) and apparently unimportant inquiry as to the method of bending the bow used by different peoples results thus in the disclosing of an unexpected manifoldness (variety) and furnishes inducment in various directions for further reflection. The material collected so far contains, however, by far too many gaps if the above communication concerning the Wute method fills one of these in a manner so entirely sui generis, the other gaps appear only the more lamentable, I may, therefore, be allowed to express the hope that future travellers will pay more attention to this question than has been done hitherto, and that the excellent observation of LIEUTENANT MORGEN will by no means remain the last one of its kind.

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