Centuries on, the humble catapult lives on

Aim n hurl

Through the centuries, the humble catapult, immortalised by poet Panje Mangesh Rao in his “Huttari Haadu” has been a favourite toy for children and a fearsome weapon of war for the medieval armies.

The simple device used to hurl projectiles to great distances has evolved through the medieval era as Ballista, Mangonel, Springald, Onager, Trebuchet, but it remains the basic slingshot, with the v-shaped wooden handle, the rubber strings tied to the horns of the catapult that end up in a leather holder for the projectile.

The armies have no longer any use for it, but is still around, doing the job for which it was probably developed, scaring away birds and pesky animals. The fancy air guns of Chinese make cornering the market, have not been able to drive it into extinction. And you can still buy it. Tribals from Andhra Pradesh sell it. Seeta Singh from Palamner is one.

Seeta Singh and members of his tribe, banjaras from Rajasthan make and sell the catapults on the streets here. And the business has not been bad either.

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