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Proposed Outline. v2 (Read 8180 times)
lobohunter
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where be a rock and a
string there be a sling

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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #15 - Oct 8th, 2004 at 10:10am
 
I agree with Dan. About this being a encyclopedia
infact a comprehensive encyclopedia. This may not be that project . But I would love to see a volume that included everything that was possible about the sling
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #16 - Oct 20th, 2004 at 9:20am
 
Nothing here about the sling in the far East. I don't know anything about this, but it seems to me that the sling must have been used because the Trebuchet is essentially a development of the staff sling and, as I understand it, the Trebuchet originated in the East and was developed as it travelled through the middle East. The Trebuchet was finally "perfected" in Western Europe. As such, its history seems rather like that of gunpoweder.

Of course a number of seige weapons used a slinging action. A detailed treatement of seige weapons is probably beyond the scope of this project, but they should at least get a mention.
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Chris
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #17 - Oct 20th, 2004 at 11:12pm
 
Slings are known to have been used in India, Mongolia, Korea, and throughout South East Asia, but not China or most of Russia (see map).  I've been corresponding with Tint, who has an Asian background, and he doesn't believe the Chinese used slings either.  Maybe I can get him into this thread to comment.   It is an interesting geographical gap. 

Korfmann's Map of sling-related archeological sites:
...

Chris
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #18 - Oct 21st, 2004 at 5:09am
 
Yeah, Chris and I have been sending eachother personal messages concerning the use of sling in asia. 
The research has not been easy.  To start with, there is'nt even an official term for the sling in Chinese.  Dictionaries have different translations for the device e.g. Stone throwing belt, leather belt for throwing stones......etc.  Some dictionaries even confuse it with the seige engine!  The Chinese really have very little knowledge of the weapon.  (That means I am an expert amoung my tribe! Grin)

I have really looked all I can and can find no references of the sling being used in chinese warfare.  Tibet is the only place where the sling is popular but then Tibet was not a part of ancient china.

As to the reasons why it never became popular one can only guess.  I came up with a few hypothesis:

1) The Chinese were never herders.  In most societies, the people would start off as hunters.  When they run out of games in an area, they'll have to move to another for food.  Then the smart ones would start to herd tamed animals so that they'll have more control over the supply of food.  In some countries i.e. Mongolia.  The tribes would still need to move from place to place looking for grass for their herds.  Some other countries, the grass is plentyful and they can stay and build homes.  As they stay long enough in an area they'll start to grow crops and become farmers.  I know, there are lots of exceptions and I've probably made a few mistakes there but generally that's the development of early societies.  Somehow,  The Chinese managed to skip the herding phase of the development and went straight to farming.  Legend says that there was a very smart king who thaught his people how to grow crops very early on in history.  Anyways, with no herders, the use of the sling to drive herds or protect them like King David did as a shepherd was unthought of in Chinese history.

2) Landscape.  As big a nation as China,  it has relatively little flat lands.  People commonly live on the mountain sides i.e. the shoalin temple where thousands of monks resides.  In such locations, the longer range of the sling is a less apparent advantage over the bow and crossbow.  Especially in the forest areas where trees and bamboos are grown densely and may tangle with the sling.  (while bowmen and crossbowmen can ambush foes easily!)

3) The development of sophicated weapons.  The bow, crossbow and other fancy weapons were being used very early on.  Let's face it, in the hands of a novice bows and crossbows are much more effective weapons than the sling.  I can see that once the trend has been set, it is hard for the sling to catch up in popularity.  Why pratice for years to perfect the sling while the bows and crossbow are just as, if not more, effective?

4) Status.  The "face issue has always played a big part in Chinese culture.  It may well be a reflection of a person's status if he is carrying an impressive weapon.  An expensive bow and arrows,a well carfted crossbow with shiny darts or a long swords with embellishments may serve the purpose of showing off a family's wealth in times of prosper where a small sling with rocks would not do the trick.

5) Leather.  This may be a wild guess but I believe the chinese rarely used leather.  Silk and Cotton are the main material for clothing.  Growing cattle as I've mentioned is not common.  The Chinese Like to keep dogs, chicken and pigs for food.  Cows and ox are mainly for farming and pulling wagons.  Leather was scare and not well used.  The bullwhip for example, also never recieved any popularity amoung the Chinese.

The above are what my wild imagination could come up with.  Please point out any flaws or ask questions for discussion.

Tint (may be the frist slinger of his tribe)
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #19 - Oct 21st, 2004 at 5:12am
 
By the way, that's a real cool map, Chris!
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #20 - Oct 21st, 2004 at 6:27am
 
How very interesting...

I remember an old Scientific American article that first got me interested in the Trebuchet and I found it reproduced on the web:

http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/pdfs/trebuchet.pdf

This paper states that the Trebuchet originated in China, and that must be where I got the idea from. Unfortunatly, the article does not go into much detail.

However, the sling is pretty essential to the Trebuchet. While it is quite possible that the Trebuchet could have been invented by a people with no history of slinging, I always had it in my mind that the Trebuchet was a development of the staff sling.

Can anybody shed some light on this?
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #21 - Oct 21st, 2004 at 11:56am
 
That's some info there Tint.  And a good selection of hypothesis.  I like the idea about status.  Nations with high levels of status anxiety, especially regarding weaponry, tend not to use the sling, when I think about it.  But naturally, we know better.  I think it is probably the reason that the slign is not more popular as a hunting weapon today.
  I think that the sling would make sense for a Chinese army to use.  A Chinese army would typically be made of peasant conscripts, farmers by profession, and there would be many, many of them.  The sling is easy to mass produce.  The only downside is training.  But I do agree with the ideas about crossbow.
  Anyways, it is an interesting anomaly that the sling is not more widely used in Asia.
  A point about leather:  It is possible to weave a sling pouch, as we all know - leather isn't especially common in the Andes, either - and China has, of course, a highly developed silk culture.  I suppose the problem is the commercial price of silk making it a redundant idea to make something as disposable as a sling out of it.
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #22 - Oct 21st, 2004 at 10:57pm
 
Gaius,

Thanks for sharing the info.

Could it be that the Trebucet invented by the Chinese were without the sling and pouch?  I have seen drawings of similar machine with a spoon-like end.  Like you said the device was later "perfected" in western Europe.

English,

I guess my theory about leather was stretching a bit.  I came up with that cause with all the weapons in martial arts from china, nothing even close to the sling or bullwhip was ever used.  

It was an interesting idea you came up with.  What a different world it would be if the Chinese used the sling!  I can just imagine with the number of their forces, it'll be like raining rocks on the opposing army!  Training might be difficult but the Chinese were always very discipline when it come to martial arts.

But as things are, I am the only Chinese slinger as far as I know. 8)

Has anyone tried to make a sling with silk?  I am not sure if the material is strong enough.  Worth a try though.  It'll at least be fashionable!
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #23 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 12:03pm
 
I am certain that silk would be strong enough.  It was used as a premier bowstring in the middle ages, and have you ever heard about the strength of spiders' webs?  Apparently steel wire of the same diameter is about as strong as silk.  It is strong enough.
  I think that technological development is the main reason for Chinese not using the sling - China had developed to a sort of Medieval level, in many ways, by before the Roman empire.  And we know that although the sling was widely used by the Anglo-Saxons, it was not employed by most armies during the medieval period.  When you have the technology to make cast iron bridges, repeating crossbows, highly advanced composite bows, and make them so that they can equip a whole army, then why bother with a few bits of string?  Remember, Chinese armies, once given the gift of the crossbow, did not use the bow for some while, because it was thought to be a barbarian weapon.  Perhaps the same was thought of the sling, as it was a weapon used by the Tibetans.
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #24 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 11:52pm
 
The trebuchet was definitely being used in china, so they new of the sling, they just choose not to use it. 

Tint outlines some good reasons.  I think the key ones are the chinese emphasis on technology and refinement, something they couldn't do with the sling (in a sense, the trebuchet was the refinement).  Chinese crossbows were way ahead of there European counterparts, and we know historically, that when crossbows (or even good bows) come into the picture, sling use declines (at least for warfare).  Second, the Chinese had good armor, and the way an arrow stores it force (in a long shaft behind a small point) makes it a more effective penetration weapon.  Armor, especially plate armor, could deflect sling projectiles. 

Chris
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #25 - Oct 23rd, 2004 at 12:39am
 
Chris,

shouldn't the sling still survive due to its' longer range to the bow and crossbow?

English,

I didn't know silk was that strong.  I'll see if I can make a silk sling soon.
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #26 - Oct 23rd, 2004 at 12:29pm
 
"shouldn't the sling still survive due to its' longer range to the bow and crossbow? "

Not if it can't penetrate armor...  It would only harrass the enemy, not kill them.  Armies would prefer to make their armies deadly, not annoying. Smiley

Back in the day when slings and bows were equally effective because the armor was either less protective, not used, or had little covereage, range was the decisive factor. 

Chris
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #27 - Oct 30th, 2004 at 4:01pm
 
Tint, I tried making a sling from silk.  It is too fine.  Very strong, but too fine.  I braided some twisted silk threads, and, even with 112 strands, it was still too thin to use for a sling, and very expensive.  That could be the reason.  However, it will make any excellent bowstring.
  I think the too reasons are those suggested - Chinese obsession with refinement of weapons, and technological advances. 
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #28 - Oct 30th, 2004 at 10:29pm
 
English,

Thanks, I am sure you are a much better braider than I, so I'll give the project a pass.  Suppose someone is obsess enough to make a sling with silk, do you think it'll be any good?

My kevlar slings are very thin, 1.3mm in width.  I use a leather pouch and add rubber tubing near the end of the cords to keep the string from cutting into my hands.  Do you think braided silk could do as good a job as kevlar in this construction?
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Re: Proposed Outline. v2
Reply #29 - Oct 31st, 2004 at 5:21am
 
I think silk would do fine in that situation.  Silk is very fine, that is why it makes such excellent quality cloth.  I'm sure that it would be possible to make a good silk sling, but it would require a massive amount of silk, which, of course, is quite expensive.  Not something you'd use everyday.
  Actually, I'm quite bad at braiding.  I can only do up 8 strand braiding.  And I find that difficult.  I can do 3 and 4 strand in my sleep, but anything above that is a serious mental exercise.
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