Journal of the Anthropological Society of Nippon
Online ISSN : 1884-765X
Print ISSN : 0003-5505
ISSN-L : 0003-5505
On the Aconite Arrow Poison of the Ainu
Microchemical Studies
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1958 Volume 66 Issue 3 Pages 116-127


It has been said that the arrow poison (ayyop in Ainu language) used by Ainus in Hokkaido (Yeso) is prepared from the root of Aconite. However, no studies have been made on the chemical components of the arrow poison itself, especially from the point of Ethno-Botany.
The author obtained some samples from a dozen or so of poison arrows stored in Anthropological Institute, Faculty of Science, University of Tokyo, and submitted the substances assumed to be arrow poison to chemical analysis. These samples were obtained from three poisoned arrow heads, two attached to two poisoned arrows (Sample Nos. F-259 and F-263), one from an arrow case (Sample No. F-407. Called pus-ni in Ainu language and probably collected in the Iburi area). The dark brown substance, assumed to be arrow poison, was obtained in an amount of 3, 1.5, and 260mg. respectively, from which poisonous principles were extracted and were identified as alkaloid by color and precipitation reactions.
Further examination of their ultraviolet absorption spectra indicated that the alkaloid extracted from the arrow poison was a mixture of alkaloids of benzoic or anisic acid esters. Since alkaloids of this type are characteristic of aconite alkaloids, there seems to be a great possibility that the alkaloid extracted from the arrow poison originated in aconite.
Animal experiments on toxicity could not be made due to the small amount of the samples available.

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