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Home > Books > Additional Notes on Arrow Release > Part 18
Additional Notes on Arrow Release
Part 18 of 21

In gathering material for a chapter on archers' thumb-rings I made hasty sketches of these objects in European museums as opportunity offered. On writing up these notes I was amazed at the scant literature on the subject.[5] With the exception of DR. FELIX VON LUS-CHAN'S paper on African thumb-rings in which he illustrates two from Africa and a new type from Korea, I found only a few archers' rings figured. In MEYRICK'S "Ancient Armour," 1842, is figured a ring accredited to Persia. HANSARD'S "Archery," 1845, copies it and in my "Ancient and Modern Methods of Arrow Release," 1885, I reproduced it from MEYRICK'S work. I may add that the figure bears but little resemblance to the archer's thumb-ring, doubtless owing to poor drawing. In a work entitled "Projectile-Throwing Engines of the Ancients," with a treatise on the Turkish and other oriental bows, by SIR RALPH PAINE-GALLWAY, 1907, an archer's ring is figured on a hand supposed to represent its attitude. The ring is on the thumb upside down and the attitude of the hand is entirely wrong. Most detailed and elaborate descriptions and illustrations are, however, given of the catapult, balista, trebuchet and other ancient engines of war.

DR. BERTHOLD LAUFER, in his memoir on Jade (Field Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Series, Vol. X.) figures an archer's thumb-ring from a tomb of the Han period. It is flattened on one side, the flattened surface being slightly rounded. MR. LAUFER in quoting from a Chinese book by WU TA-CHENG, says: "These thumb-rings are still used in archery and manufactured in Peking from the antlers of an elk." "WU TA-CHENG figures also a specimen of pure white jade.....and arrived at the conclusion that this particular piece was reserved for Imperial use, on the ground that such rings of white jade were permitted to the Emperor only, while those of the officials were of ivory." "The mode of wearing the ring may be seen in a Chinese illustration given by P. ETIENNE ZI (Pratique des examens militaires en Chine, Shanghai 1896). Father ZI remarks that the most prized rings are those made of jade of the Han period, of a white gray with red veins and green stripes; those taken from the graves of students who have graduated at the time of the military examinations are reddish in color, and a notion that they afford protection against spirits is attached to them."

In the Pitt-River's collection, University Museum, Oxford, DR. HENRY BALFOUR called my attention to a white jade ring accredited to India which is the only one I have ever seen of its kind. Its peculiarity consists in having a deep groove on the face of the ring to engage the bow string. A blunt projecting ridge is seen on the back of the ring. It is probably Persian in origin. Fig. 32. It is somewhat flat in form like a number of the Persian rings figured in the following plates.

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