Warwick Bray discusses the long-range weapons among the Aztecs, such as the bow and atlatl; calls the Macana a "two-handed sword" which was said by Díaz to cut better than Spanish swords.

Warwick Bray

Warwick Bray, Everyday Life of the Aztecs (New York: Dorset Press, 1968), 190

Dorset Press
Warwick Bray
Reading Public

Long-range weapons were the javelin, bow, and sling. The javelin was a lightweight throwing-spear with a fire-hardened tip or a point made of chipped obsidian, and it was propelled by means of an atlatl (spear-thrower), a device which gave added range by artificially lengthening the thrower’s arm(93). The spear-thrower consisted of a flat piece of wood, between one and two feet in length, with a groove down the centre in which the shaft of the javelin rested. One end of the atlatl was provided with a peg which engaged with the butt of the spear, and at the other end were finger-grips, sometimes in the form of loops made out of pieces of shell(94). Some javelins had more than one point and were occasionally provided with cords for retrieval.

Bows were really more than five feet long, and arrows were, either fire-hardened at the ends or else were tipped with bone or obsidian points.

Slings made of plaited cotton threw stones of eggs, and were the favourite weapon of the Matlatzinca who wore them tired around their heads when not required.

At close quarters the most deadly weapon was a kind of two-handed sword, consisting of a massive hardwood blade about a yard long with razor-sharp blades of obsidian set in grooves along the edges (77). This sword-club inflicted terrible wounds. It would decapitate a horse, and Díaz comments that it cut better than Spanish swords and was so sharp that an Indian could shave his head with it. The edge was soon lost, however, and the obsidian blades needed frequent replacement.

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