Indian Culture

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As we walked back to the longhouse, Chabok, who was in front of me, suddenly stopped on the track and raised his blowpipe, quickly inserting a dart into the mouthpiece and packing the end with a small twist of raw cotton. To one side and above him, about twelve meters away, a squirrel was scampering on a branch. I wanted to see Chabok bring it down with a dart but at the same time I had an almost uncontrollable urge to cry out and frighten the animal away. It seemed such a small squirrel. Chabok aimed his blowpipe, and I felt myself holding my breath until he shot. 'Thip!' went the dart as it left the end of the tube, and I didn't see it go. The squirrel stayed on the branch unmoved, and I was sure that he had missed and called to him, "You've missed it! You've missed!" and he began to run forward shouting, "I haven't, Master! I haven't! I haven't!" And as he ran, the squirrel toppled over like a rag doll and hit the ground with a soft thud. It was still alive when Chabok picked it up - he poisoned splinter sticking right through its neck - but it was quite paralyzed and unable to move. It died some minutes later. On the way back to the longhouse Chabok sang happily for the first time since leaving the River Yai and in the evening, everyone had a small piece of squirrel meat. My own piece, no more than a mouthful, tasted like stringy rabbit. The Temiar blowpipe is normally some two meters long and made from one single length of bamboo. It has a slender inner tube inside the outer covering so that one length warps against the other and it always remains true. From it they shoot a small dart, a splinter of wood some twenty or twenty-five centimeters in length; a pith cone at one end, the other sharpened end tipped with poison. Most aborigines are extremely accurate with a blowpipe up to a range of nine to ten meters, though for some reason they are more accurate if the target is moving vertically than if it moves horizontally. Several times I have put a cigarette...
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