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Blowpipe Maker Shares Rare, Ancient Craft

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In “Balan the Blowpipe Maker,” filmmaker Ross Harrison introduces viewers to an indigenous Malaysian elder and craftsman. “Only a few elders of Borneo’s Penan tribe still know how to make their unique hunting tool, the blowpipe. The Penan tribe of Borneo traditionally hunts with blowpipes and poison darts, but only a few elders still know how to make their unique hunting tool.

image/text credit: National Geographic 

Balan is the last person in his village who practices the craft,” says Harrison.This short video incorporates footage from Harrison’s 30-minute documentary “Sunset Over Selungo”, which focuses on rain forest protection and land rights in Malaysian Borneo.

image/text credit: National Geographic 

Blowpipe is a weapon made with a piece of strait-grained wood, roughly shaped to about two metres with a 15-centimetre diameter.From time to time, water is poured into the hole to float out wood chips. The pipe is trimmed and whittled to a diameter of about five centimetres after the drilling is completed.

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Then the finished weapon is polished with a tough-grained, slightly waxy leaf. The bore of the blowpipe is very slightly curved to compensate for the weight of the weapon in use as it is horizontally held. The bore is polished by means of pulling lengths of rattan through it.

One writer calls the blowpipe a weapon of the natives of Sarawak, used as an aid to track through the rainforest, and as a hunting tool for live food such as squirrels, wild boar and birds.

VIANational Geographic
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