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Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific (Read 1150 times)
english
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Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific
Sep 24th, 2004 at 11:37am
 
I have been extensively reading about Melanesia, Polynesia and the South Pacific in general, in particular, anything that talks about weaponry or survival, for an anthropology activity at college.  I found out about melanesian arrows, are often over a metre or two long - nearly as long, or sometimes, longer than the archer.  The arrows have heavy, hardwood heads and no flights.  The heads keep the arrow steady.  The heads can be made of lots of things, but hardwoods are preferred, along with various palms, shells, in various combinations, in many different styles for different purposes.  I just think that it's a cool way to make arrows.  I have been trying to find out about bows but I can't find any sources.  All I can find is that they are longer than the arrows and made mostly out of black palm.  Nothing about design.
 I was also finding out about spears, clubs and axes - axes are mostly of basalt, as are heavy adzes, the lighter ones being shell blades.  Clubs are large, long, with different shapes and sizes for different islands.  Fiji has some nice clubs which look like odd versions of gunstock clubs.  Spears on Papua New Guinea in the mountains are apparently quite short, with heads made of crudely knapped obsidian where it can be found.
 We all know about South Pacific use of slings.  I couldn't find much.  I was wondering if anyone could give me any info for the anthropology thing I'm doing.
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britishslinger
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Re: Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific
Reply #1 - Sep 24th, 2004 at 12:39pm
 
were the arrows of a tail shaft, for shaft design made a few for my caterpult , sorry no info on slings ill have a look for you
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Re: Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific
Reply #2 - Sep 24th, 2004 at 1:42pm
 
Don't ask me. Smiley
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Re: Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific
Reply #3 - Sep 26th, 2004 at 9:58pm
 
What an odd top, and rather ironic.  I grew up in Papua New Guinea and carried my sling all over the place.  Never met a Nuginian who knew what one was, though most of them were fairly excited about a new way to kill birds - or each other for that matter.  I don't know much about slings in the South Pacific.  Their spears and arrows however, I know quite a bit about since I sat around making them with villagers in the western highlands growing up.  Bows were made of black palm, an extremely hard and flexible wood with perfectly straight grain.  Usually their bows measure 6 feet long.  They actually use a thin variety of bamboo to string them and the "string" is around half an inch wide.  A heavy bamboo is also used for bows and it is surprisingly strong - about a 40-50lb bow.  They make their arrow shafts from a reedy bamboo they call pitpit.  For bird arrows they take several points of bamboo and carve barbs in them and make a multiple head arrow.  No fletching and a light head makes the arrows inaccurate past 30 or 40 feet.  The pig or war arrows are usually long, up to 5 feet long using the same reed shaft and no fletching.  The tips are most often made of black palm though other hard woods are used.  I never saw stone tipped ones, though they told me they sometimes used stone.  The hardwood tips were generally 12" long, sometimes more.  I have a whole bunch here at home.  They hold the tip to the shaft using a very finely woven mesh that acts just like chinese handcuffs (the kind you stick a finger in each and when you try and pull them out the woven tub clamps down on your finger). 

With the 1/2" string on the bow, the back of the arrow just sits against the string - there is no notching of the arrow. 

I saw many tribal wars and such and it's crazy to see a couple hundred guys in feathers and loin-clothes go charging down a mountain with an assortment of spears, bows, axes, machete's, shields, and a few home-made guns.  No slings.  And certainly not much on organized warfare.  Probably for the better. 

This is outside my house in PNG (on the other side of the fence fortunately).
...

It's probably good they didn't have slings.  Riots usually involved large rocks punching holes in our yard.  If they'd had slings the rocks would have made it farther and been punching holes in the solar panels on our roof.

Barak
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Chris
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Re: Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific
Reply #4 - Sep 26th, 2004 at 10:27pm
 
If you look at Korfmann's map, we see that it was used extensively in South-East Asia and all the Pacific islands (and on the western shore of South America).  But you are right, there isn't all that much information out there. 

You might have some luck emailing academics in Guam.  They seem pretty keen on the sling (it's incorporated into their national flag). 

Chris
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english
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Re: Melanesia, Polynesia and the Pacific
Reply #5 - Sep 27th, 2004 at 12:34pm
 
That is great information, thanks, Barak.  That looks such an interesting place to live.  Violent and no doubt quite dangerous, but interesting nonetheless.  Thanks.
  I might do exactly that, Chris.  I have heard quite a lot about the sling in Guam.  But it would be nice to know more.
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