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Home > Articles > The Journal of the Antropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland > On the Structure and Affinities of the Composite Bow > Part 7
On the Structure and Affinities of the Composite Bow
Part 7 of 17

Turning now to the bow known as the "Tatar" bow, which has given rise to the so-called "Kung"[18] bow of China, an advanced type is reached, and better workmanship displayed, than in any of the preceding examples. The backward curve when unstrung, and the "Cupid's bow" shape when strung, are strongly marked in this type. Externally it shows a thick and strong rounded layer of black horn lying along the belly, completely uncovered and extending to the base of the "ears." Each "arm" has a single piece of horn. The "ears" are bent down sharply at the "elbows," and are nearly straight; at the extremity of each a wedge of horn may be let in to strengthen the nocks, and the actual tip beyond the nocks may be entirely of this horn, but in the commoner examples the occasional presence and desirability of this addition is indicated by painting the wood black beyond the nocks, thus giving the appearance of horn.

The back is covered with birch bark, applied in rhomboidal pieces, giving the appearance of a spiral winding. The bark extends as far as do the backing sinews, and completely conceals them. In the commoner specimens the bark is left in its natural state, but in finer examples, and especially in the better Chinese bows, it is covered wholly or partially with paint and with elaborate designs in thin cardboard stuck on to the surface and varnished over. Along the edges run narrow strips of horn or cane, which conceal much of the inner structure. The central grip is usually bound round transversely with sinews and in the better examples covered with thin cork or leather. The ridges are always well marked. The nocks are occasionally at the extreme tips as in the Tungus bow above. I dissected one of these bows, of the rather commoner sort, in order to show its structure more in detail. Plate VI, Figs. 4-8, refer to this specimen, and the description may, I think, be taken as fairly characteristic of all bows of this type.

Fig. 4 shows a tranverse section through the middle of one of the "arms." Along the centre runs a flat piece of cane (a1) of the same width nearly as the "arms"; to this, on the belly, is neatly and firmly glued a thick piece of horn (b), flat on the inner and convex on the outer side. On the back there lies firstly a layer of sinews (c1), longitudinally disposed, partly mixed with glue, and adhering very closely to the cane; over this is a second layer (c2) of mixed sinews and glue, the proportion of glue being greater in this than in the lower layer. These two layers are turned round the cane so as just to meet the horn at the sides, and here are seen the two thin strips of horn (dd) which conceal externally the point of juncture of the several component materials. Over the second stratum of sinew is a layer (e) of fine, delicate inner bark of birch, overlying which is the external layer of coarser bark. The region at which this section has been cut is that where the greatest flexibility is required, and where the bow is flattest and widest, though in this type the width does not vary greatly along the "arms."

Fig. 5 is taken from a dissection of the same part showing the succession of the layers, a portion of each layer being removed to display the one lying immediately below. The letters correspond with those in Fig. 4.