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Home > Books > Arab Archery > Appendix 10. Knots
10. Knots

It is most unfortunate that the author did not describe the manner of tying these three knots, for we are now unable to prove exactly what they were. There are many kinds of knots on bows all over the earth but those which do not permit of quick and easy disengagement may be dismissed by us. Of the knot which the author calls Khurasanian, we have practically definite knowledge. We also have source proof of another knot which may be the Ṣa‘dīyah, or very near it. The Turkish knot still eludes us but we offer a rather poor possibility as being better than no guess at all.

We believe the Khurasanian to be what is usually known as the Asiatic Bowstring Knot, both because it fits the author's statement that it is the best and finest of all knots and because it seems always to have been used on composite bows. It is, in fact, ubiquitous over the whole continent of Asia. Some Chinese bowstrings in our possession are tied with it; the eyes being eight inches long so that the knots rest on the knees of the bow (see page 15). It is almost indispensable when the string is formed of fine strands, as of silken thread, which are strong in tensile stress but, because they are not adapted to withstand the friction of the bow nocks, must be supplemented by eyes made of some tough material like rawhide or thick cord of sinew or hemp. The body of such a string is really an endless skein of thread, and the knot is designed to join such widely different elements. To make it:
1. Hold the skein near the end with the left hand, making a loop in the form of a hairpin.
2. Take the piece to make the eye-a few inches in length-and bend it into a circle with overlapping ends.
3. Lay one of these overlapping ends on the front side of the loop and the other on the back.
4. Lead the front end around the side of the skein and push it from behind forwards through the loop; then lead the rear end around the other side and push it from before backwards through the loop.
5. Pull all taut.

It is interesting to observe here that we have never met a sailor who could tie this knot, and we have tested high officers of both the American and British navies as well as of the merchant marine, many of whom spent their early lives on sailing ships.

A knot that is used for strings of a single coarse material, like the camel's hide of the text, has been given us by Mr. Ingo Simon of England. We suggest it as the Ṣa‘dīyah, though all we know definitely is that it was used by inhabitants of the Near East. To make it:
1. Tie a single knot, leaving several inches of free end.
2. Form the eye out of the free end.
3. Push the end through the upper aperture of the single knot on the opposite side of the cord.
4. Bend the end sharp around, thus embracing two strands of the single knot, and push it again through the upper aperture in the opposite direction.
5. Pull all taut.

The third knot that we offer is the Timber Hitch, which is really more of a slip noose than a knot and has to be loosened every time the bow is unstrung. While we do not claim that it is the Turkish knot which is mentioned in the text, it does have the attribute of being "good for coarse strings with weak bows because of the ease with which it is undone." In fact, it is incomparably more easy to undo than any other knot. In Europe and America, bowstrings that have one end furnished with an eye laid in the making and the other end left free invariably use this hitch to secure the free end. It is one of the best known knots and is described in most dictionaries. To make it:
1. Lead a short end of the bowstring around the string itself so as to form an eye.
2. Pass the free end back through this eye and wrap it twice around the far part of the string that forms the eye.
3. Set the eye in the bow nock and draw taut.

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