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Additional Notes on Arrow Release
Part 16 of 21

I have already called attention to the fact that in indistinct rock sculpture or drawings the attitude of the hand resembles more or less a closed fist, while in the Mongolian release the fingers appear to be bent downward, the back of the hand being uppermost. In a stone sculpture of a Hittite archer discovered by DR. LUSCHAN, and with his permission figured by Mr. Longman in "Badminton's Archery," p. 67, the attitude of the hand indicates the Mongolian release. This figure was discovered in Asia Minor. The expression on the face of this Hittite figure recalls ROGER ASCHAM'S description in his Toxophilus, written in 1544, of his squad of awkward bowmen. Among other grotesque expressions, he says, "Some make a face with wrything theyr mouth as though they were doing you wotte what." (Fig. 29).

MR. RUDOLPH VIRCHOW permitted me to make a drawing of a bronze ax in his possession which was dug up in the Caucasus. It was believed to date a thousand years, B.C., the age being determined by coins associated with it. Upon its face was an incised outline of an archer of which I made a rubbing. Both hands were upon the string but the outline was so faint and so roughly drawn that it was impossible to determine the method of release; the bow was very short but certainly not Mongolian. The peculiar head-dress or helmet may be identified by some classical archaeologist.

MR. F. W. GOOKIN, of Chicago, has kindly sent me a copy of a Persian archer from ALFRED MASKELL'S "Hand book of Russian Art and Art Objects in Russia." The archer is delicately engraved on an ancient silver bowl of Sassanian workmanship in the Hermitage Museum, Petrograd. MR. GOOKIN, in a letter, says "The description of the bowl which is very meagre states that it bears an inscription in Pehlir characters (the ancient writing used in Persia under the dynasty of the Sassanians) which has not been deciphered, the date therefore is uncertain, but from a comparison with a monument known under the name of Takt-i Bostan situated near the modern town of Kerman-schat, which was executed during the reign of BAHRAN KERMANSCHAT (A. D. 389-399) it is supposed to have been made about the same period." MR. GOOKIN'S exquisite drawing is difficult to reproduce on account of the delicacy of the lines. He has made an enlarged copy of the right hand showing clearly the Mongolian release (Fig. 30). The thumb is seen curving up and the forefinger is locked over the end of the thumb. The bow is strictly Mongolian in character and hence a composite bow. This evidence of the Mongolian release establishes a date showing at least how early the method was introduced from China, for unquestionably being Aryan, in still earlier times the Mediterranean, and before this the primary release must have been used.