Jakaltek Mayan Blowgun or Blowpipe with Clay Pellets and Shoulder Bags

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This Item was Sold on 17 April 2015 for $350

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I acquired this Jakaltek blowgun nearly 30 years ago. This type of blowgun was made illegal for use in Guatemala in the 1930s, so it could be older than 1940, but if the law was not enforceable away from civilization, then the blowgun could be of lesser age. I have seen nearly identical blowguns for sale since acquiring this one and some of the claims have this type of blowgun as coming from Indonesia or other cultures. I can promise that this is an authentic Jakaltek blowgun from Guatemala. It is in excellent condition and it includes a large shoulderbag for carrying birds and small animals as well as the shoulderbag for clay pellet ammo. The small bag has a rifle bullet shell attached for burnishing the clay pellet before use as well as numerous clay pellets in the bag. The two shoulder bags are rarely offered for sale and these are on indigenous construction using cordage made by twisting fibres. One end of the blowpipe has a thick ring of pitch and 3 small bright red seeds embedded into the pitch. I think that these red seeds are used as a sight for aim and the other end is the mouth piece. The mouth piece is a smaller diameter and it is incised with fine lines to insure a good grip with the lips. Very nicely constructed and it is in excellent condition. There is some fraying of the cordage on the bags, but they are mostly intact.

Blowpipe : Length = 140 cm ; Diameter = 3.5 cm ; Weight = 478 gm

Ammo Bag with Clay Pellets: Length = 60 cm ; Weight = 107 gm

Shoulder Bag for Game: Length = 109 cm ; Weight = 345 gm

A blowgun (also called a blowpipe or blow tube) is a simple weapon consisting of a small tube for firing light projectiles or darts. The weapon is used by inserting the projectile inside the pipe and using the force created by one's breath to give the projectile momentum. Its propulsive power is limited by the user's respiratory muscles. Many cultures have used this weapon, but various indigenous peoples of South East Asia, the Amazon and Guiana regions of South America, and Guatemala in Central America are best known for its use. Projectiles include seeds, clay pellets, and darts.

Blowguns are depicted in paintings on pre-Columbian pottery and are mentioned in many Mesoamerican myths. Back then and today, the Maya use a blowgun to hunt birds and small animals with spherical dry seeds and clay pellets. The clay ammunition is made slightly larger than needed (to allow for shrinkage and refinement) and stored in a shoulderbag. The outside of the dry clay pellet is shaved off and burnished right before use.

Jakaltek wooden blowgun averages 1.29 m long with a sight placed 30 cm from the end. Clay pellets are the most common type of ammunition and clay is sometimes added under the sight when the diameter of the blowgun is too thin for more stability and a better aim.

A law was passed in Guatemala in the 1930s outlawing the use of the blowgun in an effort to protect small game. It was difficult to enforce in rural areas, but was one of the reasons for the decline of blowgun use in Guatemala.

The Jakaltek people[pronunciation?] are a Mayan people of Guatemala. They have lived in the foothills of the Cuchumatán Mountains in the Department of Huehuetenango in northwestern Guatemala since pre-Columbian times, centered around the town of Jacaltenango. Located on a plateau overlooking Mexico, Jacaltenango is 1,437 m above sea level and its surrounding villages are located at both higher and lower elevations. The town of Jacaltenango is a governmental, religious, and market center of the region. In the Jakaltek language the town of Jacaltenango is called Xajlaj[pronunciation?], or "place of the big white rock slabs."

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