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Jessop Bows

Part 2 of 2

Hupa bow (pl. 4, fig. 15). A typical California Indian bow, made of a good quality of yew, broad and flat in the limbs, heavily backed with sinew, and having nocks formed of overlapping and circular bands of the same material. It is strongly reflexed. The handgrip is of buckskin thong bound about the center. It is painted red and blue in a checkered design over the back. Length, 47 inches; diameters: below handgrip, 1½ by ½ inches, circumference, 3¾ inches; at mid-limb, 2¼ by ⅜, circum­ference, 4¾ inches; at tips, ⅞ by 7/16, circumference 2 inches. The string is very smoothly twisted sinew resem­bling a cello string, having a formed loop at the top, and made fast at the lower nock by slipknots. A bit of cotton string extends from the loop to the upper nock. When braced this bow is very musical, has a soft, even draw, and weighs 40 pounds; drawn 22 inches, it shoots 148 yards. In action it bends in the center and consequently kicks in the hand. It would seem to be a good bow for small game.

Osage bow (pl. 4, fig. 16). A rather unusual type of bow. It has a small cylindrical handgrip, wide, flat limbs, and small whip-end tips. It is apparently made of bois d'arc, and has no backing. The workmanship is excellent. It is 47½ inches in length, the handle is round and approximately ⅞ of an inch in diameter. Just below this the limb is very broad and has a diameter of 2 by⅝ inches, circumference, 4½ inches; diameters: at mid-limb, 1½ by ½, circumference, 3¾ inches; at tip,⅝ by ⅜, circumference, 1½ inches. The string is sinew of the usual type. The nocks are short, shallow, and rounded. When drawn 20 inches it weighs 40 pounds and shoots 92 yards. It is a pleasant bow to shoot, but weak.

Cree bow (pl. 4, fig. 17). A flat lath of ash bound with sinew at the handle and nocks, but having no backing. It is fairly straight 44 inches long. There are short bilateral nocks. Its diameters are: at center, 1⅝ by ½, circumfer­ence, 3⅞ inches; at mid-limb, 1⅜ by 7/16, circumference, 3⅜ inches; below nock, 1 by ⅜, circumference, 2½ inches. The string is sinew, with a slipknot above and the usual hitches below. This specimen was fractured at the handle when drawn 20 inches, and registered 38 pounds at that moment. It is an inferior type of weapon.

Blackfoot bow (pl. 4, fig. 18). This bow has seen con­siderable service, and bears evidence of many greasings and hard use. It is a piece of split red hickory, heavily backed with sinew, with short rounded nocks. Length, 40 inches; diameter: below handgrip, 1⅜ by ⅝, circum­ference, 3¼ inches; at mid-limb, 1¼ by ½, circumference, 3 inches; below nock, ¾ by ½, circumference, 2 inches. On cross-section it is lenticular, or a flat oval. The sinew draws it into a reflexed position when not braced. The string is made of two strands of twisted sinew, having a slipknot at the upper nock, and half-hitches at the lower. When braced it is a springy, vigorous weapon, and by far the best shooter in the group. When drawn 20 inches it weighs 40 pounds and shoots 153 yards.

It is possible that in its youth this Blackfoot bow might have been drawn farther and have shot harder, but now it cracks ominously when drawn above 20 inches. This seems to be the type of weapon that was used on horseback and doubtless it is strong enough for buffalo hunting. Mr. Jessop assures me that it is a buffalo bow. If this be the case we must assume that it does not take a very powerful weapon to kill bison.