Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/92

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WEAPONS. 79

forty-five degrees, and striking one corner with a piece of wood, it will advance several feet and return to the spot from whence it proceeded. I find, however, that this form is not essential to produce a similar effect, although the most convenient to throw from the hand. Any thin flat body of a semicircular or rectilinear figure will return in the same manner if a rotative motion be communicated to it in conjunction with the projectile force at a considerable angle of elevation.

Next in order comes the spear a weapon made more or less thick and heavy according to the strength or taste of the owner, and in general measuring from ten to twelve feet. There are several varieties of spear. The spear proper, which is about to be described, and which seems to be the most common and universal weapon among the blacks, appears to be the pike or lance of European nations, consisting of a shaft and a head; the latter is sometimes formed of a piece of hard wood, sometimes of a piece of shell, flint, or glass. The common spear is never barbed; it is commonly thrown by the hand, with or without the aid of the wommera, although sometimes made so heavy among certain tribes as to lead to the belief that it is used in the same manner as the lance or pike. Another description of spear, somewhat smaller than the former, is always thrown by the wommera; this differs from the last only in its size, and is cast a distance of one hundred yards with unerring precision. A third, the jagged spear,