Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/94

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WEAPONS. 81

long and three inches broad, being formed flat towards one of its ends; at the other end is a hook. The principle on which the wommera is used has been compared to that of the lever, but the sling appears a more familiar and more correct comparison. The mode of using this projectile is as follows : — The hook at the end is fixed into a hollow at the butt-end of the spear formed for the purpose, and being thus held in a line with the spear, the latter at the top, it projects it in precisely the same manner as the sling projects a stone. In addition, however, to the projectile powers of the wommera, another apparent advantage by which its use is accompanied is that it balances or levels the spear, ensuring a direct flight, and enabling the thrower to take aim with more certain precision. This instrument is made to serve another purpose besides that of a throwing-stick, viz., that of a knife. At the end held in the hand, in projecting the spear, and which is formed, as before remarked, flat and broad, a piece of sharpened shell, flint, or quartz is fastened by means of gum, and is made to answer all the purposes of a knife and chisel; the wommera being thus employed to shape the spears which it afterwards assists to despatch on their errand of death. Another weapon never wanting in the armoury of the aboriginal is the fishing spear. This instrument is in general about twelve to fifteen feet in length, and is armed with four prongs; sometimes it has three, and is then occasionally a rude imitation of the trident of