Page:Firemaking Apparatus in the U.S. National Museum.djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


556 REPORT OP NATIONAL MUSEUM, 1888. bits of wood. Sometimes handles are dispensed with. Mr. Warren K. Moorbead found some perforated teeth in an Ohio mound that in every respect resemble the Eskimo cord handles. They have also been found in caves in Europe decorated with concentric circles like those on the Eskimo specimens. The bows are among the most striking specimens from this people. They are pared down with great waste from the tusks of the walrus, taking the graceful curve of the tusk. The Museum possesses one 24^ inches long. It is on their decoration that the Eskimo lavishes his ut- most art. The bow does not lend itself w^ell to sculpture, as does the mouth-piece; so he covers the smooth ivory with the most graphic and truthful engravings of scenes in the active hunting life in the Arctic, or he tallies on it the ])ictures of the reindeer, whales, seals, and other ani- mals that he has killed. Professor Baird was interested more with these bows than with any other Eskimo i)roducts, and desired to have them figured and studied. The distribution of the bow is remarkable. It is not found south of Norton Sound, but extends north and east as far as the Eskimo range. The Chukchis use it,* but the Ostyaks use the ancient breast drili.t The bow is used by individuals in boring holes. It is i)resumed that its use as a fire-making tool is secondary, the cord and handles being the older. The difiiculty of making fire is greatly increased when one man attempts to make it with the compound drill ; at the critical mo ment the dust will fail to ignite; besides, there is no need of one man making fire; a thing that is for the common good will be shared by all. Hence the cord with h^uidles, which usually requires that two men should work at the drill, is as a rule used by the Eskimo. Though the Sioux, and some other North American tribes, made use of the bow to increase the speed of the drill, they did not use the thong with handles, nor was the bow common even in tribes of the Siouan stock that had attained to its use (see remarks p. 549). The bow may be termed a more advanced invention, allowing one man with ease to bore holes. The hearth is made of any suitable wood. It is commonly stepped and has slots. The central hole with groove is also found. These hearths are preserved carefully, and fire has been made on some of them many times. The distribution of the central-hole hearth (see fig. 21, pi. i.xxiv), and the slot-and-step hearth (see fig. 3G), is rather striking. The central holes are found in the specimens observed from the north coast of Alaska, In- sular British America, and Greenland, exclusively. The stepped hearth with edge holes and slots is by far the more common in western Alaska, though the other method crops out occasionally ; both ways are some- times used in the same tribe. More often, the central holes are bored

  • Norden8kiold. — Voyaije of the Vega. Loudon, 1881. ii, p. 121.

tSeebohni. — Siberia in Asia. p. lOi).