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Home > Books > Additional Notes on Arrow Release > Part 20
Additional Notes on Arrow Release
Part 20 of 21

Having appealed to Indian classics for information about the arrow release of the early people we turn to Chinese classics and find in the ancient writings of China indisputable evidences of the use of the thumb-ring. In the Shi King, or book of ancient Chinese poetry the following allusions are made to the use of the thumb-ring, which was also called a thimble, and a pan chi, or "finger regulator." "With archer's thimble at his girdle hung," and again "Each right thumb wore the metal guard."

In the Chinese Chrestomathy, translated by E. C. BRIDGMAN, the rules for archery gives, for the eyes: "Never look at the thumb-ring," and "The thumb-ring is made of ivory and fitted to the thumb of the right hand; by it the string is held and the bow bent." In these two records we learn that in ancient times these rings were made of metal and ivory. From the above consideration I cannot find any evidence that archers' rings were made in India and those objects in European museums and in private collections labeled as such were probably made in Persia or in Turkey. HANSARD (p. 136) in a foot-note quotes another author as saying, "One of the early Turkish Sultans occupied his leisure in manufacturing these rings "distributing them as presents among his favorites and adds that the carnelian thumb-rings may be easily procured in the bazaars of Constantinople.

An invariable accompaniment of the Mongolian release is the thumb-ring. This may be made of bronze, iron, brass, ivory, deer-horn, jade, agate, carnelian and glass. There are two distinct types of thumb-rings; one type is cylindrical, long, thick, rarely ornamented. This type belongs strictly to China; the other type is shorter, oblate, never cylindrical, one side flaring and in profile resembling, more or less the visor of a cap. This type is found in Persia, Turkey, Asia Minor and Syria. The horn-ring of the Koreans belongs to this type, the flaring part being greatly elongated. The Persian rings of jade are occasionally inlaid with gold, or with emeralds and rubies, or, when of metal, with incised floral designs. The jade rings beautifully inlaid with gems show no signs of wear, they have never been used and were worn as ornaments to the person. In the same way the Japanese inro, or medicine box, of the Japanese, at first a simple and serviceable box for stomachics became finally a marvel of gold lacquer work and was worn as an ornament by Daimios and wealthy Samurai.

A very old ring of the flaring type was dug up by DR. FELIX VON LUSCHAN four hours out from Damascus, between that city and Palmyra. He graciously gave it to me remarking that it was an unicum. Having reason for believing that the Hittites used the Mongolian release and the region in which this was found coming well within Hittite territory, is it possible that this ring might prove to be a Hittite ring? The ring is of bronze and deeply worn and marks of a scroll design coarsely engraved is seen on its face, though nearly obliterated by wear, yet enough remains to show that the design is bi-symmetrical. My daughter, MRS. RUSSELL ROBB, endeavoured to interpret the intentions of the artist, and the enlarged drawing here given with the ring (Fig. 33) is the result. If her interpretation is correct it may aid in ascertaining the age and provenance of the object.

I am not able to find distinguishing differences between those rings marked Persia and those marked Turkey; it would seem, however, that the highly decorated ones were made in Persia when one considers the gorgeous swords with bejeweled handles known as Persian are worn by Indian Rajahs. In the illustrations to follow the original labeling will be preserved, bearing in mind, however, that those marked India were probably Persian in origin.

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