Saturday, July 2, 2011

The blowpipe

The blowpipe constructed from bamboo. It consists of an inner and an outer tube.

In an outer, protective tube, the distal section appears to fit into the proximal, but the joint is concealed by a rattan binding covered with black gummy substance.

Blowpipe is more as a hunting weapon, and is effective for small tree dwelling game such as squirrels, monkeys, bats, and birds and for this reason alone its use is restricted to the forest.

In open areas air movement can easily deflect the more or less weightless darts.

Other than used by Negritos in peninsula blowpipe is the main projectile weapon of the Borneo interior for generations and is typically carved from hard wood such as Koompassia excelsa, Eusideroxylon zwageri or Artocarpus nitidus and capable of accurately delivering a dart to an animal in the rainforest canopy.

The history shows how the Portuguese were greatly frightened of the Celates (famous for guerrilla warfare on the high sea) and their skills with the blowpipe. As written by Tome Pires: They carry blowpipe with small arrows of black hellebore which, as they touch blood, kill, as the often did to our Portuguese in the enterprise and destruction of the famous city of Malacca….

What made the blowpipe missiles so dangerous, of course was the poisonous substance on the tips. The poison is derived from ikan pari, a species of stingray.

For Penan in traditional times the fish poison was used said to be tuwa ilang (Strychmos) and tuwa lukat (Derris elliptica).

The poison works by arresting the heart in systole and is believed to ‘remain potent for an indefinite length of time’.
The blowpipe
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