Friday, February 24, 2012


Blowpipes story

Blowpipes are used as weapon in many parts of Borneo. It is believed that the Muruts of Sabah first used them more than a thousand years ago. They would not have been able to live without these weapons. They did not know how to plant rice at the time  but they planted tapioca on the hillsides near their houses. They only way for them to obtain enough to eat was to hunt wild animals and birds with their blowpipes and poisonous darts.
It is said that the first blowpipe was made from bamboo. It was sharpened at one end. The point was then hardened over a fire. This weapon could be used both as blowpipe and spear. However, bamboo blowpipes were not very accurate. The hole in the centre of the bamboo was too big, which made it impossible to shoot the darts straight. So blowpipes were made of hard wood, sometimes nine feet long, with a small hole bored down the centre. These wooden blowpipe were more accurate than bamboo blowpipes, but it was difficult to make the hole. Then a clever man thought of the idea of using a hot iron to make it. Even then, it sometimes took several weeks to make a blowpipe. Sometimes a sharp knife was tied tightly with rattan to the end of the blow pipe, and a metal mouthpiece was fixed at the other end.
Blowpipe darts are similar to arrows. They are usually made from wood or bamboo. They are about ten inches long and very thin and light. One end is sharp and the other end is shaped like a cork. This cork-shaped end helps to make sure that the dart travels in a straight line. The darts are dried in the sun and later hardened by fire. The pointed end is often dipped in poison which is made from the sap of a tree and the fangs of a poisonous snake. It looks like a black sticky paste.
Poisonous darts are placed ready for use in a bamboo container, which is hung above a fire so that darts are kept dry.
When an animal is killed with blowpipe, a hair is pulled out from its fur and stuck on the blowpipe, and a drop of blood from the animal is rubbed on the weapon.
Muruts can shoot very accurately with blowpipe. They can even hit a small bird from thirty yards away.

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