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Chapter 10 - Day 4 Afternoon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2022

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Summary

MM40/69/178A, B, E, H Toy Arrow Points And Linkshafts

When presented with this collection of arrows and linkshafts the elders identified them as toys made of wood for children (figure 10.1). They explained that the dots were made by putting something in the fire to burn into the toys, to replicate the dots of poison that a hunter puts on an arrowhead. We asked if the metal points were real and they replied no, all of them are toys. The metal-tipped arrow would have been made for a boy to shoot birds and lizards with. They explained that these are not made for boys to practise real hunting; for that purpose the arrows are made from the root of a bush called g/urube (Rhus tenuinervis or Searsia tenuinervis, Kalahari currant). We noticed that some of these objects were made of bone, and that the dots on some of them appeared to be spots of a dried black liquid, in some cases well preserved, and on others only present in the form of a stain.

In Fourie’s notebook he writes at length about how young boys learn to use a bow and arrow, and follow an extended process of education culminating in initiation into the role of hunter:

Young boys at an early age are provided with miniature bows and arrows as play things by their fathers. With these they wage mimic warfare against each other amidst encouragement or derision of parents. If one should happen to be struck by an arrow and cry, there are cries of mockery and derision from the grown up people. These toy implements serve to acquaint them with the use of the real bow and arrow. The little boys stand in two rows facing each other and shoot at each other. This is done under the supervision of their fathers or other grown up men. Should the youngsters run away after having been hit or because of being afraid, the grown up people yell at them and tell them not to do so.

When a young boy is able to walk well he accompanies his father to the veld and even from an early age learns everything about veld craft. He sleeps under a tree from an early age and goes out every morning with his father.

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San Elders Speak
Ancestral Knowledge of the Kalahari San
, pp. 183 - 194
Publisher: Wits University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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