Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Borneo poisonous blowpipe

The diverse indigenous Dayak tribes, as well as the formerly semi-settled hunters and gatherers of Borneo (Kalimantan) such as the Punan, Berusu, and Basap have traditionally hunted for wild animals WILD ANIMALS. Animals in a state of nature; animals ferae naturae. Vide Animals; Ferae naturae. with blowpipes and poison darts. The blowpipe, which is about two meters long, is made of ironwood ironwood: see hornbeam.


Any of numerous trees and shrubs, found worldwide, that have exceptionally tough or hard wood useful for timber, fence posts, and tool handles. (Eusideroxylon zwageri), generally known as ulin in Indonesia, or of another hardwood species. Among my collection are also some antique blowpipes cut from bamboo sections.

The 30 cm. long blowpipe darts weigh less than 1 g. The darts exit the blowpipe at a speed (V0) of at least 50 m/see, or about 180 km/h, as ascertained through trials by the author at the German Bundeskriminalarat (German Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice charged with investigating all violations of federal laws except those assigned to some other federal agency. ) in the city of Wiesbaden in 1985 (Zahorka 1986:37). Because of minimal weight and high velocity, the darts' trajectory is flat up to a distance of 25 to 30 meters. Therefore, at this distance, the dart can hit an animal even if only a small part of it is visible or it is shielded by branches and leaves in the dense jungle cover. This would not be possible if using a bow because the flight path of a heavy arrow is not straight but takes on a ballistic curve. Another advantage of hunting with a blowpipe is the nearly soundless shooting.

The agent that brings about the demise of the animal is the poison, not the dart itself. Irrespective of which part of the animal's body the dart hits, the poison diffuses very rapidly throughout the whole body. A two-centimeter segment of the points of the darts used for hunting small animals, monkeys and large birds is treated with poison. The darts for hunting deer (Cervus unicolor u·ni·col·or
), muntjak muntjac, muntjak

Asian rib-faced deer with slit-like scent gland openings on the face and two-tined antlers. Called also Muntiacus muntjak.
(Muntiacus muntjac muntjac: see deer.
or barking deer

Any of about seven species of solitary, nocturnal deer, native to Asia and introduced into England and France, that constitute the genus Muntiacus (family Cervidae).
) and wild boar (Sus barbatus) are treated with poison to five centimeters down from the point upon which is affixed af·fix
tr.v. af·fixed, af·fix·ing, af·fix·es
1. To secure to something; attach: affix a label to a package.

a sharp head of bamboo, metal or a small animal's pointed tooth.

Because of the depletion of the forests in Kalimantan, the present indigenous hunters need a hunting weapon that can be shot over a much greater distance than the blowgun blowgun, hollow tube from which a dart or an arrow is blown by a person's breath. The arrow was usually tipped with a poison, such as curare, which would stun or kill the struck prey. Blowguns were widely used by prehistoric peoples. . Therefore, some Basap people living on the Mangkalihat Peninsula, Kalimantan Timur, have constructed sophisticated air guns powered by strings of elastic, which shoot these poison darts accurately at a distance of about 100 meters (Zahorka 2004a:10).

The Plant Species Needed to Produce the Dart Poison

The raw material that yields the poison is the latex of the tall tree Antiaris toxicaria (Pers.) Lesch., Moraceae. However, the poison processing is possible only with the use of a young leaf of the small Licuala spinosa Thunb. palm.

1. Antiaris toxicaria (Pers.) Lesch., Moraceae, can grow up to 50 meters in height and to a diameter of up to 1.5 meters or more. The tall branchless trunk is straight; the buttresses are relatively small, and the small treetop is nearly spherical. It is a rare tree that grows from the lowland up into the montane mon·tane
Of, growing in, or inhabiting mountain areas.

[Latin montnus, from m
tropical forest. Generally, the lower parts of the trunks display numerous scars, which indicate former latex tapping over many decades.

Because of its powerful poison, this tree has been the subject of horror stories for 200 years. Thus, the seventeenth century German-Dutch natural scientist Rumphius wrote: "This tree grows on barren mountains. The soil below it is desolate and singed. Only a horned snake lives under the tree which cackles like a hen and has eyes that glow in the night" (cit. Beekmann 1981 in Zahorka 2000:19, translated by the author). Similarly, the Swedish Borneo explorer Eric Mjoberg reported in 1929: "To stay at a close distance to the tree is life-threatening and an embankment of bones surrounds it ..." (Mjoberg 1929:307, translated from German by the author). Fortunately, this all is pure fantasy. In a more recent book, we can read: "There is a fabulous legend that it is deadly merely to sleep in the shade of the upas tree upas tree (y`pəs): see mulberry. " (Smith 1997:36).

In Java, Sumatra and Malaysia, the tree is widely known as pohon ipoh or pohon upas. However, the various traditional tribal communities in Kalimantan have their own vernacular names for it. Here are some examples which I collected in East and Central Kalimantan between 1976 and 2003:

2. Licuala spinosa Thunb., Palmae, is a small fan palm growing in the tropical forests of SE Asia along the equator (McCurrach 1960). The 3-to-5-meter-high stems grow in tufts. The 15 to 18 leaf segments, which are up to 40 centimeters long and up to 15 centimeters wide are widely used for thatching. The Indonesian and Malaysian name for it is sang.

For the dehydration process of the Antiaris latex, a very young sang leaf, that is still accordion-like folded and not yet spread out, is used. In this original condition, the leaf is absolutely fire resistant and durable. It is this property of the leaf that holds the secret of producing the dart poison over a fire. The young leaf keeps its shape and will not burn even if put into a hot gas flame. A boat-shaped container made with this leaf must be durable enough to hold the latex throughout the prolonged dehydration.


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