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Chapter 11 - Day 5

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2022

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Summary

MM40/69/1353 Miniature Bow and Arrow Set

We presented the elders with a miniature bow and arrow set and asked them if they knew anything about it (figures 11.1–11.2). They replied that this set was not from their group, but they knew about it by word of mouth. In the past, when a ‘witch doctor’ wanted to kill someone, and knew that the person was at a certain village, he would use the little bow to shoot a small arrow in the direction of that village. Even though the little arrow would not travel very far, it would result in the death of the targeted person. They would also have used it to make someone become a healer. The person could be far away when the arrow was shot and it would not hit him, but the power would get into him and he would immediately become a healer. We mentioned that in Western culture miniature bows and arrows were shot by a mythological being called Cupid, to make somebody fall in love with you, and asked whether the bow and arrow might have been used for anything like that. They said that they would never have used it for that purpose. We asked what the black material was and they said it was oryx (Oryx gazella) horn. What about the little reeds attached to the pieces of horn? That’s the shaft, they said. Would the set have been used by a man or a woman? Both, they answered.

MM40/69/1628 Miniature Bow and Arrow

We presented the elders with another miniature bow and arrow set (figure 11.3) and asked what they thought about it. They replied that it was the same as the previous one and that this set was from their group. We asked what the function of the beads was and they said they did not know, it was just supposed to be like that.

MM40/69/1 Quiver and Arrows

We presented a quiver with a set of feathered arrows to the elders and asked them if they were from their group. They said no, they never use feathers for their arrows. Figure 11.4 is a photograph taken by Louis Fourie of a man with feathered arrows, and figure 11.5 is a photograph of a selection of quivers, made by hollowing out the branches of the quiver tree (Aloidendron dichotomum).

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San Elders Speak
Ancestral Knowledge of the Kalahari San
, pp. 195 - 210
Publisher: Wits University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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