Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Noloholo, Day 39: Arrow-making, part 1

Every day begins gray, now. Our ascari (Maasai guards) prowl like ghosts in the cold air, bright red shukas wrapped tightly around themselves. It remains cold well into the afternoon; today is the first in some time that the sun never makes her appearance.

I spend the day reading, with a break to meet about monitoring and evaluation of APW’s courses. As always, I learn a lot just from listening and watching; I try to sit back but can’t resist putting a few feelers out with my ideas, just to learn a little more. I feel alert and thoughtful these days; I hope I strike a balance between sitting and speaking.

In the evening, Andrew and I go down and the Hadza begin our arrow-making lesson. It is HARD. Of course the Hadza make it look easy. First we take a branch that has been heated in the fire, and strip the bark off. Then, using an enormous kitchen knife that I acquired from Tuma, I cut one end down into a point. Afterwards, you smooth it out, holding the knife at a 90 degree angle to the wood. Then, the hardest part – cutting a notch in the non-pointy end. Alagu does most of mine for me.. he is afraid I will cut my fingers off :P

The next step is straightening. The arrow goes into the flames once more, and then the kinks are bent out of it. The Hadza do this by gripping the arrow with their teeth just after the kink, and tugging the rest of the stick downwards. Andrew and I combine our hands and teeth, but my arrow comes out looking like a dribbly piece of spaghetti, instead of the straight line it ought to be.

Once all that happens, you can decorate. The Hadza take the knife, set it at an angle to the wood, and rotate it slowly. This action draws a curving line up and around the arrow. They do this twice. Then, we draw horizontal cross-bars in between the two lines. Sometimes they will put circles around the arrow…in general their designs consists of these three patterns. Next, oil the decorated part and rub it over with charcoal. Take a piece of rag or skin, and rub the entire arrow, hard. This leaves charcoal inside the grooves of the design, and polishes the rest clean.

We didn’t get pictures today. Maybe tomorrow! Tomorrow we will fletch our arrows, and begin on the bows. It’s my dad’s birthday today, so my first arrow will be a gift for him!
Tags: travel - tanzania
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