/bloh"gun'/, n.
a pipe or tube through which darts or other missiles are blown by the breath. Also called blowtube.
[1800-10, Amer.; BLOW2 + GUN1]

* * *

Long, narrow pipe through which darts or other projectiles are blown.

Primarily a hunting weapon, it is rarely used in warfare. It has been used by aboriginal peoples in Malaysia and elsewhere in South Asia, southern India and Sri Lanka, Madagascar, northwestern South America, and Central America. Blowguns vary in length from 18 in. to more than 23 ft (45 cm to 7 m) and are often made of cane or bamboo. Darts are usually made of palm-leaf midribs or wood or bamboo splinters 1.5–40 in. (4–100 cm). The dart must fit the tube snugly, so that a puff of human breath will cause it to fly from the tube. To be effective against quarry larger than small birds, blowgun darts require poison.

* * *

      tubular weapon from which projectiles are forcefully propelled by human breath. Primarily for hunting, it is rarely used in warfare. Employed by Malaysians and other Southeast Asian aboriginals, in southern India and Sri Lanka, in Madagascar (Malagasy Republic), in northwestern South America, in Central America north to central Mexico, among southeastern American Indians, and in Melanesia (rarely), it also may have been used prehistorically in the Antilles. Apparently invented by Malaysians, blowguns were Pre-Columbian in both hemispheres; whether their occurrence in the New World represents reinvention or introduction remains uncertain.

      Blowguns vary in length from 18 inches to more than 23 feet (45 centimetres to 7 metres). The simplest of the four basic types is a single tube, usually a section of cane or bamboo. If the bamboo internodes are short, the septa may be burned or punched out and the interior polished. Single-tube bamboo blowguns occur widely, often in peripheral regions of use or where the weapon serves as a toy. Another variety has an inner and an outer tube. In the Old World (notably Malaya) these are usually bamboo, the inner tube commonly being made of two sections fitted into a short length of bamboo; the outer tube also may be composite. In northernmost South America, a palm stem (pith removed) is the usual outer tube; occasionally another serves as the inner tube. A third major variety is made by splitting a length of wood, carving half the bore on each face, and binding the halves together. This split type is found in scattered locations including Malaya, Borneo, the Philippines, Japan, south India, and South America on the Pacific Coast and between the Negro and the Madeira rivers and has also been reported from Louisiana. Apparently unknown to New World artisans, the most difficult type of blowgun to construct is made from a single block of wood about 2.5 m (8 feet) long. After the bore is carefully drilled with a chisel on the end of a long rod, the block is trimmed to a cylinder. This type is most common in Borneo, with a spear usually attached. Single-piece wooden guns are known from Bali and the Celebes; in Madagascar the bore is burned out with a heated iron rod.

      Darts are the most common blowgun missiles. They are usually made from palm-leaf midribs or from wood or bamboo splinters, and they may vary from 4 to 100 cm (1.5 to 40 inches) in length. A conelike bit of pith or a twist of fibre at the base of the dart makes it fit the tube snugly, ensuring that it will fly out of the tube from a puff of human breath. Clay pellets or bits of bone are also used as darts by some peoples. A hunter usually carries his darts in a quiver made of bamboo, basketry, wood, or leaves.

      To be effective against quarry larger than small birds, blowgun darts require poison. The darts often are notched so that the poisoned tip will break off in the victim. The most common Old World poison is made from the sap of the upas tree (Antiaris toxicaria) and kills by cardiac effects; also used are the lianas Strychnos strychnos and Strophanthus. In South America, curare, whose action is paralytic, is widely used, though obtained from relatively few tribes, who prepare it largely from the Strychnos toxifera vine. Other poisons are made from snake venom, insect poisons, and decaying flesh. Dart poisons are not recorded for North American peoples.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Blowgun — Blow gun , n. A tube, as of cane or reed, sometimes twelve feet long, through which an arrow (sometimes poisoned) or other projectile may be impelled by the force of the breath. It is a weapon much used by certain Indians of America and the West… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • blowgun — ☆ blowgun [blō′gun΄ ] n. a long, tubelike weapon through which darts or pellets are blown …   English World dictionary

  • Blowgun — Blowpipe and blow tube redirect here. For other uses of the terms, see Glassblowing A blowgun (also called a blowpipe or blow tube) is a simple weapon consisting of a small tube for firing light projectiles, or darts. The wielder blows into one… …   Wikipedia

  • Blowgun — Sarbacane Pour les articles homonymes, voir Sarbacane (homonymie). Démonstration de sarbacane au village amérindien Ocanaluftee, Cherokee La sarbacane est un tube creux avec …   Wikipédia en Français

  • blowgun — dulkintuvas statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. blowgun; diffuser; sputterer vok. Diffusor, n; Sprühgerät, n; Zerstäuber, m rus. распылитель, m pranc. atomiseur, m; diffuseur, m; pulvérisateur, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • blowgun — dulkintuvas statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Įrenginys (mašina arba aparatas) augalams dulkinti sausomis jų apsaugos priemonėmis (pesticidais). atitikmenys: angl. blowgun; diffusor vok. Diffusor, n; Zerstäuber, m rus.… …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • blowgun — noun Date: 1810 a tube through which a projectile (as a dart) may be impelled by the force of the breath …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • blowgun — noun a hollow tube through which a dart or similar missile may be blown Syn: blowpipe …   Wiktionary

  • blowgun — Synonyms and related words: automatic, bellows, blower, blowpipe, blowtube, firearm, flamethrower, gat, gun, handgun, heater, musket, peashooter, piece, pistol, repeater, revolver, rifle, rod, sawed off shotgun, shooting iron, shotgun, six gun,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • blowgun — n. hollow tube through which a dart is blown, blowpipe …   English contemporary dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”