Bows from the American Museum of Natural History
South American bow (pl. 5, fig. 22). A black longbow of palma brava. It is square in cross-section and has the usual rope string of this type. The excess is bound about the upper limb in a decorative way, which shows that the archer had no conception of what is required of a bow for strong shooting. This dead weight on a limb would interfere with its resilient recoil. Length, 74 inches. At the center the bow is ⅞ by⅝ inches; at the mid-limb, ¾ by ½ inches; at the nock, which is a slight shoulder, ½ by ⅜ inches. When drawn 28 inches it weighs 50 pounds and shoots 98 yards. Its action is heavy, slow, and jarring. Considering the excellence of the wood, this bow speaks of a lack of intelligence on the part of the maker.
Solomon Islands bow (pl. 5, fig. 23). A heavy, dark, well made bow of palma brava. Length, 74 inches; broad in the center, tapering to conical nocks. On cross-section it is lenticular in shape, with a rounded belly but with a wide groove running down the back. At the center it is 1½ by⅝ inches, circumference 4 inches; at the midlimb, 1¼ by⅝, circumference, 3¼ inches; at the nock, ½ by ⅜, circumference, 1¾ inches. The string is of some vegetable fiber, twisted and polished, and is served at the center with thin rattan ribbon for a distance of 4 inches. The string is attached to the nocks in a peculiar way. A loop is made by repeated half-hitches, applied in a reversed manner, every alternate cast. This is stuck together by some adhesive substance, thus forming a permanent cap of matted string for a loop which covers the nock for a distance of an inch or more. It is a very well made string. This bow weighs 56 pounds when drawn 26 inches and shoots 148 yards. Possibly it could have been drawn farther, but I doubt that its cast would exceed 175 yards under any conditions. Although it bends in the handle and in consequence jars the hand, it is nevertheless a good effective weapon.
New Guinea bow (pl. 5, fig. 24). A well-made bow 71 inches long, broad and flat on the back. On cross- section it shows a low arc. It is made apparently of palma brava and is bound at the conical nocks and at the middle of the lower limb with rattan sewing. The string is a flat bamboo ribbon. There is no handgrip. The bow shows signs of having been greased. At the center it is 1⅝ by⅝ inches, circumference, 4 inches; at the midlimb, 1⅜ by ½, circumference, 3½ inches; at the nock,⅝ by ⅜, circumference, 1½ inches. This bow was not in perfect condition so it was deemed inadvisable to risk weighing or shooting it.
Philippine bow, probably Mindanao (pl. 5, fig. 25). Made of split bamboo, bark left on the belly of the bow; rattan binding at the handgrip. The string is a ribbon of split bamboo, with formed loops and rattan sewing at the ends. There are posterior nocks; two near together at the upper extremity. Length, 55 inches; flat, weak, and of no apparent value as a weapon. The second nock at the upper end apparently was used to make the bow higher strung when desired. It was in no condition to be shot, but probably was no stronger than the one described in the previous group. Its cast would not exceed 100 yards.
African bow (pl. 5, fig. 26). Practically the same as that described as a Congo bow. It was not shot, being apparently too brittle.