Arrowheads have been found in ancient tumuli, where it is believed they were placed as protective offerings to the deceased. Consecrated arrows were thought to possess the power to destroy an invisible enemy. To serve this function for the living, an amulet in the form of an arrowhead was tied around the neck of the wearer. Simulated arrowheads retained the form of the original, functional one and were believed to be no less effective. As ideological arrowheads, they did not have to be made of the flint commonly used in making actual arrowheads. What mattered was that their arrowhead form be unequivocally recognizable to both humans and spirits. Sharpness became a visual metaphor implied by the form. Scale did not necessarily have to be realistic, and miniaturization or enlargement were both possible without any risk or loss in effectiveness.
Eventually the simple arrowhead evolved into more elaborate decorative forms. Embellishments were inevitable but had the effect of obscuring the identity of the arrowhead as the origin of the form. New meanings were given to the amulets, even when the original form was used. For example, often in India today the ancient arrowhead form is said to represent a pipal tree leaf (Ficus religiosa) associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which developed at a much later date than when this form originated. Such an idea is an example of accretion that supplants the original, often forgotten meaning.