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Home > Books > A Study of Bows and Arrows > Bows from the American Museum of Natural History
Bows

Bows from the American Museum of Natural History

Part 1 of 2

Professor A. L. Kroeber was instrumental in obtain­ing a number of bows from the American Museum of Natural History, New York. They were as follows:

Congo bow (pl. 5, fig. 19). This bow is merely the limb of a tree similar in appearance to our alder. It is split by dehydration, and too brittle to be shot. Length, 52 inches; on cross-section it averages ⅞ inch. It has a sinew of fine vegetable fiber string and conical nocks with slight shoulders. The excess string is bound about the upper limb in a decorative pattern. It is permanently bent, and apparently was kept strung up all the time. In its youth it may have been a fairly good little bow. The workmanship is admirable, but the wood and the size of it prove that it was not a very effective weapon.

African bow (pl. 5, fig. 20). This bow is made of iron- wood, is 59 inches long, is reflexed at the handle, crooked, and follows the string. It has conical nocks with a leather ring around the bow at these points to guard the string against slipping. It is ovoid on cross-section. At the handle it is ⅞ by ⅜ inches, circumference, 2¾ inches; at the mid-limb,⅝ by⅝, circumference, 2⅜ inches; below the nock, ½ by ½, circumference, 1⅞ inches. There was no string, so one was supplied of waxed linen. When drawn 18 inches, which was apparently all the bow would stand without breaking, it weighed 54 pounds.

Shooting the short flight arrow six successive times, its best cast was 107 yards. A fairly effective weapon at short range, it is an unpleasant bow to shoot, being harsh and tending to twist in the hand.

Andaman Islands bow (pl. 5, fig. 21). Very peculiar in shape, having a small cylindrical handgrip, broad flat limbs, and slender tapering nocks. It is made of a white, fine-grained wood, about the quality of our birch. Total length, 62 inches. At the handle it is 1 by ⅞ inch; at the mid-limb, 2⅝ by ⅜ inches, circumference, 5⅜ inches; ⅜ by ⅜ inch at the nocks. The limbs in cross-section are two flattened arcs; the upper limb is reflexed. Fiber rings encircle the nocks to prevent the string from slip­ping. There was no string and a linen one was supplied. When drawn 20 inches the weight is 45 pounds; it did not seem safe to draw it farther. Its cast was 142 yards. This is a very fair sort of a bow and shows good work­manship.

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