In volume second of the two huge volumes forming the Catalogue of the Bishop Collection of jade a figure is given of an archer's ring, brownish in color, with the statement that it was found in an ancient tomb of the Han period.
In BADMINTON'S "Archery," COL. H. WALROND, contributes an exhaustive bibliography of works on archery including treatises, not only books but society reports, magazines and even newspaper articles. On an examination of this voluminous list I failed to find any reference to an archer's ring.
LORD EDGARTON published "A Description of India and Oriental Armour", in 1896. The volume is illustrated with beautiful colored plates besides many in black. Over one thousand catalogue numbers are given, comprising those of the Indian Museum of London, and those of his own collection, yet no reference to an archer's ring is mentioned. This seems the more strange as I sketched two thumb-rings in the Indian Museum. It is true that the collection of the Indian Museum has been transferred to the South Kensington Museum, but one should have found the rings mentioned in the numbered catalogue in LORD EDGARTON'S book.
I have sketches of archers' rings from the British Museum accredited to India. Some of them are beautifully inlaid with rubies and emeralds. They showed no sign of wear and were worn only as ornaments. In the work above mentioned it is stated that the swords of Persia are generally worn by the Indian Rajahs, and in the same spirit the Nabobs of India secured the bejeweled thumb-rings from Persia to decorate the person. On the borders of Persia and Tartary the composite bow and the thumb-ring might have been introduced, but the aboriginal bow of India was the long bow. I have already shown that the Bhils and other aboriginal tribes of India practiced the Mediterranean release.
In the earliest records of India no allusion is made to the thumb-ring. PROF. E. WASHBURN HOPKINS, the author of a profound memoir on the Hindu Epic going back to Buddhistic times, writes me as follows: "In so far as I know about the matter the Hindu archer wore 'hand-guards' and 'finger-guards' (talatrana and anguitrana respectively) and the latter may have been in ring shape, but they are spoken of as made of iguana skin, not of metal. The warriors all wore 'finger-guards' as protection from the bow string. (Jour. Am. Oriental Soc., Vol. XIII, pp. 304 and 308.) Rings are for seals, but metal rings for bow-men are not mentioned."
It is significant that the ancient people of India used finger-guards made of iguana skin, in other words, leather tips for the fingers, as used by all European archers today, and shows that these ancient people practiced the same release that is used by the aboriginal tribes of India at the present time.