A Bushman Collection

By: H. U. H.

Originally Published in 1931

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A bow, three poisoned arrows, and an axe
Plate X — African-Bushman Bow, Arrows and Poison Stick and an Axe with Head of Iron Obtained from the Ovambo
Museum Object Numbers: 31-2-95
Image Number: 959

THE Museum has received, through the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Rodolphe M. de Schauensee, a valuable collection of objects illustrating various phases of the life of the Bushmen living near Etosha Pan, in the northern part of the South African mandated territory of Southwest Africa, and in the district of Ghanzi in the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

The collection shows how well these intelligent little yellow men, pushed into a most inhospitable environment by their better organized and more numerous Bantu neighbors, have made use to the utmost of the scanty resources of the scrub. A discovery, vital in the pursuit of game and for their survival in the face of their powerful enemies, was that of the poison which they apply to their arrows and which made them a terror to the surrounding Bantus. The group of weapons shown in Plate X with the arrangements for applying the poison to their peculiarly futile-looking but deadly arrows, well illustrates the importance the Bushmen attached to a contrivance which reinforced the guarantees for survival given them by the forbidding nature of their waste retreat.

A tortoise shell vessel, two gourd vessels, and an ostrich egg vessel
Plate XI — A Tortoise-Shell Cosmetic Box and Three Water Vessels Used by African Bushman
Museum Object Numbers: 31-2-145 / 31-2-130 / 31-2-131
Image Number: 961

Not less vital was access to water, which in many places can only be reached by digging. The cane tubes through which the scanty underground supply was sucked up and the ostrich-egg vessels for storing what was so painfully sought and won are represented in the collection, along with other simple vessels and utensils, ornaments made of ostrich-egg-shell discs, women’s cosmetic boxes made from the shells of small tortoises, and so forth [Plate XI].

There are also a number of articles from the Ovambo, western neighbors of the Bushmen, as well as some things which the Bushmen receive from them, knives, for example, either made by the latter or by Bushmen from iron supplied by the Ovambo.

The collection was made on an expedition undertaken by Mr. and Mrs.. de Schauensee for the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.


Cite This Article

H., H. U.. "A Bushman Collection." Museum Bulletin II, no. 4 (February, 1931): 130-131. Accessed April 15, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/676/

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