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Balista or Demon’s Head

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Axe and Balista - Plate 15

Axe and Balista – Plate 15

Algonquin tradition affirms, that in ancient times during the fierce wars which the Indians carried on, they constructed a very formidable instrument of attack, by sewing up a large round boulder in a new skin. To this a long handle was tied. When the skin dried, it became very tight around the stone; and after being painted with devices, assumed the appearance and character of a solid globe upon a pole. This formidable instrument, to which the name of balista may be applied, is figured (Plate 15, Fig 2) from the description of an Algonquin chief. It was borne by several warriors, who acted as balisteers. Plunged upon a boat, or canoe, it was capable of sinking it. Brought down among a group of men on a sudden, it produced consternation and death.

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