Most everyone has heard of the Amazon Indian's poisoned tipped blowgun dart dipped in curare (or as the Amazon Tupis call it: wrary or warali which means, "he, to whom it comes, falls"). Not all natives used poison, and some poisons (usually not as effective as curare) were made out of other substances -- frogs, insects and plants, etc. (Timbo bark is used for poison fishing.) One might find interesting some other information concerning these weapons.
Other Users of Blowguns
- Dyaks of Borneo -- use the extremely milky poisonous sap of the Upas tree. (weapons called sumpitan.)
- Iroquois of New York state,
- Mississippi valley
Central American Tribes
Several used poisoned darts, but these used clay pellets:
Other South American Tribes
Preparation of Curare
Supposedly no white man has learned how to make this most hastening of deadly concoctions, and among those people, only a handful were allowed its secret. Curare is not a single substance, but a combination of natural (and to these people inludes supernatural) items which by themselves, or even in an incomplete mixture are no where near as toxic as the finished product. The poison is made by a different tribe than the ones that make the blowgun. The Akawoin and Patamonan make the best poison. Some of the chemical maybe part of the strychnine family (and ironically, unlike strychnine, curare can be swallowed more safely). This batch, however, works virulently (can paralyze in 5 minutes and kill in 10) when entered directly in the bloodstream -- especially when it hits someone's soft spots with a vein
- Inocuous Substances
- Confuse would-be copycats
- Impress the audience
- variety of earth
- miscellaneous items
- mystic pot
Items placed in this large kettle over a fire
- mystic paddle
- Must be specially shaped
- Must be burned afterwards in the fire beneath the receptacle
To stir the brew
- Dart points are wrapped tightly in bark fabric
- This roll is kept in quiver
- Waterproofed with wax
- Specialized basketry stored suspended from huts' rafters with curare gourd out of reach
- Quiver is slung on belt
- Ceiba tree pod silk in small basket on belt- this is rolled on the tail of the dart for the airtight fit, and serves as stabilizer in flight.
- Perai (Caribe fish) jaw
The teeth cut a groove on the projectile -- to cause its breaking off in the target (eliminating less chance for being stepped on by unshod hunters
Care and handling
These folks may not be rocket scientists, but they are masters of their natural environment -- surviving in harmony like we never could -- and they have got it down pat what to do with these darts after the tips are dipped in the venomous soup. Extra curare is carried in a gourd or calabash carried and stored with the weapons.
On the trail:
The Blowgun Manufacture
inferior made ones are just grooved out large sticks lashed and glued together.
The Central and South American Tribes demand perfection,
The Myagong tribe excel in this endeavor
They make blowguns that can reach 15 feet.
- Straight cane reeds chosen
- They are dried delicately.
- suspended over hot ashes
- weighted to keep true
- Special Palm species
- Pitch removed
- Barrels centered on stock
- Cemented on that frame with wax and gum
Agouti (Small mammalian) teeth
placed 12 to 24 inches from breech.
Narrow, delicate palm-leaf midrib
Sighting by looking through the barrel at some mark that shows concentic circles within the bore
- If cutting an end off corrects the out of true -- then kept, but considered cheaper
- Incorrectable inaccurate weapons destroyed.
- Six darts in quick repeat put in target
- Penetrate fourth of an inch pine board - protrude half inch other side.
- Hit a hummingbird almost hidden in the jungle
Source: Strange Customs, Manners and Beliefs A. Hyatt Verrill; 1946