Ancient Weapons: the Blow or Pipe Gun, Its Use and History Down the Ages

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The blow or pipe gun is an ancient weapon from the Stone Age. It was used by tribals to hunt small animals. The blow gun worked on lung power and was made from a hollow bamboo. It fired darts tipped with poison. The blow pipe was used by tribes for thou

Man has always needed weapons to help him in his fight with the wild animals. This was because he did not have the strength of bigger animals and as such he made use of his superior intelligence. One of the ancient weapons perfected by man was the blow pipe or blow gun. This was a weapon perfected by tribesmen who had a primitive civilization and culture. In advanced civilizations like India the blow gun or pipe was not used and there is no record of it being used as a weapon.

The Original Blow Gun

The blow pipe or blow gun is a primitive weapon that works on lung power of a man. Stronger the lungs, greater the range. The weapon itself is very simple and consists of a hollow pipe in which at one end a poisoned dart is inserted, while the man blows at the other end to provide propulsion to the dart. The darts are light weight and aerodynamic and follow the principles of flight.

One point stands out is that this weapon was perfected by primitive tribes and aboriginals. Thus the tribes of the Amazon Basin, South America as well as the African tribes made use of blow pipes. The blow pipe was also used by the tribal’s in South East Asia.

Ancient Blow Guns

The blow gun is the most ancient of weapons and the simplest. There is no standard measurement for blow guns and the weapon had different dimensions as per the requirement and the relative lung power of the user. The origin of the blow gun is lost in antiquity. Most historians however agree that the weapon originated from the Stone Age. The weapon remained in its primitive form till the advent of the modern civilization.

The earliest type of blow gun consisted of a bamboo cane. A bamboo has a natural hollow and serves the purpose of a blow gun. The earliest reference to a blow gun is from Peru where it was probably used in the 6th century AD.

Blow gun and is Use

The blow gun was used to hunt small game like rabbits and other small creatures. There are Mesoamerican paintings which depict blow guns used for hunting birds. The blow guns fired small darts which were tipped with poison usually curare.

 Blow guns have survived to the modern age and modern blow guns are used to stun and capture elusive lizards and similar animals. Modern blow guns are lightweight and made of plastic or durable polymer. Their use is however restricted.

Modern Law Regarding Blow guns

Owning a blow gun is illegal in England as per the 1988 Criminal Justice act and as far back as 1930 Guatemala had outlawed blowguns in an effort to protect smaller animal species. In the USA there is no bar to owning a blow gun except in the states of California, Massachusetts, Columbia and New York City. In India there is no reference to blow guns in the Arms act of 1959 presumably as there are no blow guns as Indian tradition has no history of any blow gun.

 The blow or pipe gun is an ancient weapon from the Stone Age. It was used by tribals to hunt small animals. The blow gun worked on lung power and was made from a hollow bamboo.  It fired darts tipped with poison.  The blow pipe was used by tribes for thousands of years. The blow gun can be lethal weapon and is classified as a weapon and many nations have banned it.


Posted on Aug 1, 2012
Madan G Singh
Posted on Jul 31, 2012
Peter Curtis
Posted on Jul 30, 2012