Thursday, March 27, 2008



"You know I was thinking about how to go about knapping one of those, and I bet if a guy took a hit at the bulb end to set up a platform, then you'd have one chance anyhow for your best peice thru the solid bulb end, keeping half or so of the hollow part, maybe wouldn't be that hard to do, but I think you'd only have the one chance at the biggest peice with maybe the other half for a smaller point."

Blue Green Insulator Glass Point Made By Ishi.

Native Americans and Australian Aborigines both made arrowheads out of Insulators. The telegraph companies got fed up with the knappers steeling their glass isolators that they would leave free ones piles up by the poles so they wouldn't have to repair the section taken down by the knappers.This style insulator, nicknamed "signal", is one of the most diversely colored styles produced by Hemingray. Colors exist in practically the entire spectrum! The example shown above is blue/green and you can see the point made by Ishi, at the museum is the same color
Primary Embossings:
No Name

Style Number:

Date Produced:
Rare Ishi Points From Private Collections
Through a shadowy maze of secret connections and back room meeting and a plethora of mass mailings fallowing up on leads and dead ends. Here is a portion of the Ishi points given away or sold by Ishi from his museum flintknapping demonstrations. All on this first post verified as authentic by chain of position and eye witness testimony and expert lithic technology diagnostics.

This point is extremely rare, made by Ishi from MAN MADE blue-green insulator glass
Point one is a classic side notch point with uncharacteristic wide notching,Inulator glass is brittle and tends to brake away on delicate tear drop notching.

Today Ishi is well known for the arrowhead named after him, a
stylized side notch type, he commonly knapped at his museum home, In
this case, Ishi's short five-year stay at the Museum of
Anthropology, University of California, a legend born of an odessy
that began August the 9th, of August 1911 ending on Ishi's death
March 25, 1916. According to Nelson (1916) . Nothing gave Ishi, and
the visiting public, as much interest and satisfaction as his
arrowhead chipping. The Ishi Point type discussed, he made several
varieties, is as follows: The classic Ishi point is best known for
its symmetrical tear drop notches in the lower margin of the point.
The notch enters at less than a thirty-second on an inch at the
entry point then expand to an eighth of an inch wide or more in the
body of the point. The deep teardrop notches extend three eighths to
a quarter of an inch deep into the face of the basal region. This
gives the neck area, between the notches, a similar diameter of the
prospective arrow shaft creating the perfect haft.

The classic Ishi point has a blade edge that is either straight or
incurvate. The base is concave. The point has sharp angular ears
below the characteristic notches. The point has a triangular form
giving the point the overall delicate but deadly outline. The point
has diffuse diamond cross-section created by a medial ridge. Ishi
points have closed tear drop notches.

The medial section of the Ishi point has subtle oblique flaking
patterns, more pronounced on the elongated specimens. Oblique or
parallel flaking is done, according to Errett Callahan, to create an
extremely sharp edge, as oblique edges do not have delta flakes and
therefore less final retouch is necessary and the blade edge is
razor sharp. The blade edge on an Ishi point is usually incurvate,
this a result of the final pass of oblique medial flakes. The clear
glass material gives the point an ice crystal look, that combined
with its' oblique parallel pattern flakes and near perfect symmetry,
transcends all description of beauty.
Most of you have heard the story of Ishi a thousand times, the tear
filled tale of the last natural American. Ishi wandered out of the
wilderness in 1911, starving. confused and mourning the loss of his
family and race. The last Yahi-Yana of Dear Creek, California.
Rescued and given sanctuary in the Museum at University at California
Berkley where he lived doing odd jobs and demonstrations until his
death by TB in 1916. Ishi was said to be a reserved and intelligent
gentleman, and an excellent flintknapper. Ishi's friend Dr. Saxton
Pope wrote this of Ishi when he died; "He closes a chapter in
history. He looked upon us as sophisticated children, smart, but not
wise....He knew nature which is always true. His were the ualities of
character that last forever. He was kind; he had courage and self-
restraint, and though all had been taken from him, there was not
bitterness in his heart. His soul was that of a child, his mind that
of a philosopher."
Of late, Ishi has been in the news quite a bit, Researcher Steve
Shakely, of Kroeber Hall at Berkley, states that Ishi may not have
been a Yana after all but, based on physical and anatomical
measurements of Ishi himself and the point type he made, he may have
been a Wintu, a neighboring tribe. Furthermore in the news, the
California Indians have been trying to get the existing remains of
Ishi back from the Smithsonian for burial. Originally Ishi wanted to
be buried in the traditional Yahi-Yana fashion, but the powers that
be at the time had dismembered and burned his body. Before they
burned his body they cut out his brain and sent it to the
Smithsonian. In recent news releases it appears that Ishi's remains
may be returned to his Dear Creek home for burial. The delay in
returning the remains had to do with the fact the Ishi had no living
relatives, recent DNA testing has resolved the issue. In addition,
another bit of Ishi news came about when researcher, Dennis
Torresdale discovered a small cash of authentic Ishi points in Ishi's
waste flake collection in an old coffee can in the basement of the
museum at Berkley. Dennis was extremely noble and turned the points
in to the museum, according to Ishi collector Charlie Shewey, the
last authentic Ishi point sold at auction for a cool $27,000.00.

nsulator knapping is no different than selecting core material of a lithic type that shows
an angular unenterprising form. I don't recommended destroying insulators to test this theory.
There are dozens of historic accounts of knappers in America and especially Australia
using insulators as core material to craft projectile points. I am in the process of hunting these down and will post them
next week.

Unfortunately for this topic there is no mention in the Ishi literatures of insulator knapping however,
Kroeber's accounts (1961) of Ishi's practices collecting knapping
glass are quite vivid, and this particular passage captures the
event in detail: " Plate glass, brown glass from beer bottles and
the blue glass of "Milk of Magnesia bottles" were among Ishi's
favorite lithic materials. " As a final irony of the time of Ishi's
concealment, Ishi was cut off from trade to the north and south and
Yana country had no obsidian or flint. Painstakingly and silently,
Ishi had visited the length of Lassen Trail, every campsite of
emigrant, hunter or camper, up and down Deer Creek, and the cabin
middens and ranch dumps of whatever dwelling he could reach by light
and return from by night, combing them for the discarded bottles
they were likely to contain. Once back home, he shaped at his
leisure, the pieces of glass into his ammunition."

Glass knapping is more complex than it seems on first observance.
There are several techniques, some cultural and some based strictly
on the shape of the mass of glass to be reduced and subsequent
unique strategies that lend themselves strictly to shape of core
materiel (i.e.. Bottles, plate glass, insulators). The glass object, when
collected, is the basic core material.
According to Mark Moore (2000) "The methods
used to manufacture glass bottles at the turn of the last century
were not equal to the mechanized bottle-making innovations seen in
the US today, bottles in the older bottles were relatively thick
(better for knapping), compared to modern bottles".

“The story goes that the first telegraph lines across Australia ran into trouble because the native people discovered that glass insulators flaked well. A good many telegraph lines went suddenly dead when someone shinnied up the poles and removed the insulators. The problem was ultimately solved by leaving extra insulators at the base of the poles” (Tindale 1985:24; Flood1983:188 and Whittaker 1999: 67)

1 comment:

Snoozzin said...

my grandfather gave me one when I was very young.there is not a scratch on it.willing to anytime.3364208547I'm in North Carolina.USA