M435 | Bow

 
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Bow
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal
1800-1813, 19th century
Wood, pigment
5.1 x 158.5 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
M435
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  bow (72)
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Keys to History

WARFARE

Aboriginal people used bows and arrows both in warfare and for hunting. Arrows were originally tipped with flaked stone points, but these were gradually replaced by metal arrowheads obtained from Europeans or cut from trade kettles. Some early European drawings show Aboriginal people wearing wooden slat armour and carrying hide shields as protection from arrows. The introduction of European firearms, beginning in the late 16th century, greatly decreased the use of bows and arrows in warfare.

This wooden bow would have originally been strung with an animal (sinew, gut or twisted rawhide) or plant fibre bowstring. The bow is elaborately incised with a mix of traditional Aboriginal and European-influenced motifs. A Thunderbird, crane and catfish can be seen, which are representations of clan identification animals called dodems. Four men are also depicted - two holding bows and arrows and two armed with guns. Decorative elements include floral motifs and triangular chip carving. The incised designs are filled with alternating black and red pigments to increase their visibility.

  • What

    This is a wooden bow that would have originally been strung with an animal (sinew, gut or twisted rawhide) or plant fibre bowstring, and used to shoot arrows. The bow is elaborately incised with a mix of traditional Aboriginal and European-influenced motifs.

  • Where

    We have no information on where this bow was made, however, the style in which it is carved, the shape of the nocks (or tips) and the iconography engraved on the surface suggest that the bow originally came from the Great Lakes or Eastern Woodlands region.

  • When

    This bow probably dates to the early 19th century. Although we do not know exactly when the bow was collected, the distinctive iconography compares favourably with similar pieces dating to the first quarter of the 19th century.

  • Who

    David Ross McCord, the founder of the McCord Museum, acquired this bow. He believed that it had been owned by the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, born in 1768 and killed in 1813 at the Battle of Moraviantown.