Author Topic: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.  (Read 557 times)

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Online wstanley

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Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« on: May 20, 2020, 04:30:07 pm »
There is a picture of Ishi attaching wooden barbs to a long harpoon with cordage. I have seen photos of similar artifacts in California. Is anyone familiar with exactly how it worked? I'm familiar with detaching harpoon points and I am guessing its similar? I have an interest in making one. Thanks.

Wes

Offline GlisGlis

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 02:38:51 am »
it seems from the pictures that ichi used a forked arpoon
probably it was fixed

Have a look at "tuktu the magic spear" (search youtube)
very well documented original eskimo fishing with both fixed and detachable arpoon

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 10:31:04 am »
I have seen the Tuktu video. Those harpoons are awesome. The Inuit people (I know that's horribly broad and vague term) made some intricate tools. Their drift bow woods, sinew, and ivory bows are ingenious.

I thought it was fixed too, but then found this photo from the Hearst Museum of Anthropology - Ishi's harpoon from his trip with Saxton Pope back to Deer Creek. Should have posted this first!


Offline GlisGlis

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2020, 05:23:05 am »
the points attached to the ropes look like detachable foreshafts
I dont think they are barbs

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2020, 08:37:33 am »
That makes sense! Iíve been struggling with how they would stay on but I can see that the fatter end is probably drilled out a bit to fit on to those forks. Thanks

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2020, 11:39:54 am »
I'm guessing the lighter colored attached 11'' forks are intended to stay on though? Is that correct. If so, I wonder why not find a forked stick instead of making them and tying them on. Is this way stronger; or if they break then you just replace it? Sorry I am slow to understand the whole system here going on. Thanks for your feedback. 

Offline GlisGlis

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2020, 10:40:50 am »
Quote
the fatter end is probably drilled out a bit to fit on to those forks

yes I think that too

Quote
I'm guessing the lighter colored attached 11'' forks are intended to stay on though?
to my understand yes

Quote
I wonder why not find a forked stick instead of making them and tying them on. Is this way stronger; or if they break then you just replace it?
I dont know. maybe it's very difficult to find a stick strong, without knots and with correctly positioned branches. they also seems pretty easy to replace that way

probably once  passed through the body of the fish the foreshaft will slid off and place crosswise (mind it's retained by the string in its middle point) and retain the fish
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 10:48:56 am by GlisGlis »

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2020, 12:40:40 pm »
Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

Been doing more research and the long shaft was likely made of bull pine (also know as grey pine, and a derogatory name attributed to natives of California which I wont repeat). The immature trees grow nice and straight, few offshoot branches, and holds massive amounts of sap (which is why its not logged for lumber). That heavy sap would have been useful in providing some degree of waterproofing is my guess. The trees grow all around me, and I can see that finding one with a closely symmetrical fork in it would have been very difficult, if not impossible.

I've got the cordage material collected (dogbane), next step is find a straight 12' long bull pine, cut it, and dry.

Offline GlisGlis

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2020, 04:05:04 am »
curious to see the result  :OK

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2020, 11:35:24 am »
A few neat pictures. The top two pics are the same harpoon. The last one is a harpoon shaft which Ishi left behind when in hiding and was relocated by them (Kroeber, Ishi, and Saxton Pope) again during their trip back up to Ishi's homeland/hideout of Deer Creek. Interesting its much stouter and shorter than the top one. Both appear to be heat treated. Especially the longer one.

This weekend I'm headed out to find a nice straight bull pine.




Offline GlisGlis

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2020, 07:36:47 am »
that's a nice item
When you watch cheap survival series you see the participants grab the first crooked limb they find and pretend to use it as spear or arpoon
Our ancestors clearly put alot of work and thinking and care to make their tools

Offline DC

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2020, 10:31:20 am »
I keep looking at the first picture. The forks that are attached to the shaft really don't look like they are that securely attached but I can't understand why. They are not tethered to anything so they would just head off downstream if they came loose. But they just don't look like they were meant to stay. They look like they are just poked into the binding.

PS After a second and third look maybe the're in there better than I thought but that area just looks fragile.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 10:34:45 am by DC »
Vancouver Island
If you don't have any questions you must not be paying attention.

Offline GlisGlis

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2020, 10:50:23 am »
I see your point and here is my theory
the harpoon is real long
A well transfixed fish would probably be too heavy on the end of such shaft with the risk of breaking the forks or torn out of the fisherman hands the harpoon
maybe if the fish wont slid out of the forks the forks also is meant to detach from the main shaft
the bond between the two forks could be there to avoid divergence and to occasionally retain the other
sort of an extreme insurance

As all theories it's all BS until proven they're true   (lol)
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 10:57:02 am by GlisGlis »

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2020, 01:13:55 pm »
I think the cordage has just come loose while in storage and therefore looks weak. There is another picture of Ishi actually attaching those forks with cordage. 

Here is my theory : ) :

As can be shown by the bottom shaft picture the business end has been tapered flat on each side to accommodate the forks, which themselves are tapered flat (assumed I cant actually see this). With proper tying and perhaps a litte pine pitch that would hold fairly strong. Add the small binding halfway between the forks, this helps to further squeeze the forks against the shaft and tighten the hold (this seems essential too keep those forks rigid). Those forks I think do very little other than to hold the tips which (I assume) are meant to come off immediately with the struggling of the fish. Like Glis said, I don't think you want a 5-8lb salmon wiggling at the end of a 10' pole. All a guess of course : )

Online wstanley

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Re: Ishi fishing spear head attachment.
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2020, 02:07:01 pm »
Here are my thoughts for the detachable points:

-The piercing end of the detachable point appear to be metal. I will use the long bone of a deer instead.
-The wooden portion is likely drilled out on both ends to accommodate the piercing point, and the other is socketed out to fit on to the forks. Not sure what wood would be best, but I'm thinking perhaps mountain mahogany. This grows all around the Deer Creek area. This wood is tough and hard which is why I want to use it.
-I am assuming Ishi used sinew and pine pitch glue to attach the piercing end to the wooden portion (drilled out) as well as the cordage. The pine pitch glue serving to waterproof the sinew of course and add strength to the binding. In first photo it looks like sinew is unraveling (to me) on the point to the right.

Went out yesterday to look for a nice straight bull pine. Didn't have much time and although I saw quite a few decently straight ones, nothing that was good enough to match the straightness of Ishi's. I am being very picky and want one in which I have to take off as little material possible to reach the 1.5'' diameter shaft.