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Bows Chiefly from the University of California

Part 1 of 4

Igorot bow (pl. 2, fig. 1). A simple stave of split bamboo; cross-section a flat parallelogram. It is straight when unstrung; the convex or bark side is the back of the bow. The length is 61½ inches; diameters: at center, 1⅛ by ⅜, circumference, 3 inches; at mid-limb, 1 by ⅜, circumference, 2⅝ inches; at nock, ⅞ by ⅜, circumfer­ence, 2⅜ inches. It has bilateral nocks, simple cuts in the wood 1 inch from the ends. It balances at the center, has no wrapping at handgrip or elsewhere; shows signs of use. The wood is in good preservation. The string is made of three strands of manila fiber with a left-hand rope twist, has a slip knot at the top, and a series of half­hitches with 12 inches of excess string at the bottom nock. It has a soft draw and bends in a symmetrical arc. It jars a little in the hand, is flabby in the cast, but is easy to shoot. It pulls 26 pounds with an arrow drawn 28 inches and shoots 100 yards.

Mohave bow (pl. 2, fig. 2). A simple stave of willow, having a permanent bent position following the string; has stubby bilateral nocks. Length, 67 inches; diameter: at center, 1⅜ by 1 inch, circumference, 4 inches; at mid­limb, 1⅛ by ¾, circumference, 3½ inches; at nock, ¾ by ½, circumference, 2½ inches. A cross-section is a rough quadrilateral. The string is of sinew, two strands, with a left-hand twist, bound permanently with many wrap­pings and half-hitches at the nocks.

The distance between the string and the center of the bow is 4½ inches. It balances in the center. There is some thin inner bark left on the back; the wood is either stained a dark color or has been smoked. There are no wrappings or decorations on it. It shows signs of use and is in good condition. It has a weak draw and a flabby cast, and jars in the hand. Shooting a 28-inch arrow, it pulls 40 pounds, and has a cast of 110 yards.

Paraguay bow (pl. 2, fig. 3). A heavy, crooked bow, apparently of ironwood; follows the string badly; is almost oval on cross-section; its limbs are tapered sharply, terminating in no appreciable nocks; only a slight shoulder at the upper end; shows signs of much use, is burnished at the center by handling; shows old dry blood stains; has a heavy rope for a string, 3/16 inch in diameter, apparently hemp or commercial clothesline. This string is fastened by a slipknot at one nock and bound with wrappings and half-hitches at the other, with 2 feet excess string wrapped about the upper limb. The distance between the string and the center of bow is 5 inches. Apparently it is kept permanently braced or strung. Length, 71 inches; diameters: at handle, 1¼ by 1, circumference, 3¾ inches; at mid-limb, 1½ by ⅞, circumference, 3¼ inches; near nock, 9/16 by ⅜, circum­ference, 1¾ inches.

It is a stubborn, strong, inflexible, quick-casting bow; very unpleasant to shoot, twisting in the hand and kick­ing when released. It has a 25-inch draw, past which it refuses to bend; it pulls or weighs 60 pounds, and has a cast of 170 yards.

Because the wood of this bow seemed so resilient, an experiment was undertaken to improve its cast. By heat­ing the wood the lateral deviations were straightened. The wood was planed off the limbs so that a gradual taper was attained, and the bend was distributed through­out the limb instead of being limited to the extreme ends. Its length was reduced to 5 feet 7 inches, horn nocks of the English type put on, and a linen string applied. The altered weapon became an excellent bow, bending with a fine symmetrical curve, quick in its action and very powerful.