blowgun

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blowgun,

hollow tube from which a dart or an arrow is blown by a person's breath. The arrow was usually tipped with a poison, such as curarecurare
, any of a variety of substances originally used as arrow poisons by Native South Americans in hunting and in warfare. The main active substance of curare, tubocurarine, is an alkaloid extracted from Chondodendron tomentosum, Strychnos toxifera,
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, which would stun or kill the struck prey. Blowguns were widely used by prehistoric peoples. In modern times they are still employed in SE Asia and by some indigenous peoples of the Amazon and Guiana regions of N South America.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Blowgun

 

an ancient weapon used for hunting (primarily birds) and sometimes for fighting. The blowgun is a tube measuring 1.5–3 m long, usually enclosed in another larger tube. Darts coated with a plant poison are ejected by the pressure of the air blown into the opposite end of the tube. The darts travel a distance of 30–40 m. Blowguns are still used in the inland regions of the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, in the tropical forests of the Malacca peninsula, and in South America. The blowgun was used more widely in the past; it was used, for example, by a number of tribes in the southeastern part of North America.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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