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

At the Royal Toxophilite Society of London, where I had the pleasure of shooting with MR. LONGMAN, I found in the collection of the society some archery implements presented by Mumford Effendi, Secretary of the Embassy, from the Sublime Porte in 1794. Among these objects was an ivory thumb-ring (Fig. 34). A curious leather flap issues from the base of the ring to prevent the string from slipping off the ring into the angle of the thumb formed by the bent joint. In the National Germanic Museum at Nuremberg there was a Turkish thumb-ring of ivory with a similar leather attachment. The date of this ring was marked 1683 (Fig. 35). The guide book of the Museum stated that the Turkish objects were secured at the raising of the seige of Vienna which had been taken by the Turks and retaken by German and Polish armies under the command of GENERAL JOHN SOBIESKY. A tent also in the collection belonged to the Grand VIZIER KARA MUSTA-PHA. The bow was typically Mongolian. The arrow had four barbs and was beautifully made. It is interesting to observe that a time space of one hundred and eleven years separates the two rings above figured and yet the free border of the leather flaps are identical in shape. An ivory Turkish ring of a later date, in the collection of MR. GEORGE C. STONE, of New York city, has a leather edge cut squarely across (Fig. 36). In the case with these objects at the Nurem-burg Museum was a drawing showing the attitude of the hand in holding the bow. A semi-tube of horn was grasped against the bow; a device made to enable the archer to pull the arrow within the bow in flight shooting, this was turned outward as if its purpose was to guide the arrow. The thumb-ring which should, of course, be on the right thumb is here shown on the thumb of the left hand upside down and backward! I informed the Director of the errors in the drawing and mention it now for the purpose of showing how little attention had been paid to these minor details. As this was nearly thirty-five years ago these errors have probably long since been corrected.

While the Japanese practiced the Mongolian release I have never seen a thumb-ring, ancient or modern, in Japan. Instead of a ring they use a glove in which the thumb is greatly enlarged and grooved to admit the string. The glove may have the first and second fingers or all the fingers, the palm and back of the hand being uncovered. MR. GEORGE C. STONE, to whom I am indebted for the privilege of drawing a number of archers' rings in his collection, in a letter to me, says, "I presume you have a collection of archers' gloves with re-enforced thumbs, if not I have them with two and three fingers and one pair of full gloves. The latter are peculiar, the right thumb has an extra thickness of leather on the inside where the bow string would bear and the second and third fingers on both gloves are of a very much softer and lighter colored leather than the rest of the gloves. Both have ventilated openings in the palms." The Japanese archer's glove figured in the Badminton Archery is decorated with leaves on the thumb side. The Japanese archer's glove figured in my memoir represents the typical form in Japan.

In closing I wish to express my obligations to MR. LAWRENCE WATERS JENKINS for hunting up important references; to GEORGE C. STONE Esq., of New York, for permission to figure a number of interesting archers' rings from his collection; to DR. W. P. WILSON, Director of the Commercial Museum of Philadelphia, who while Chairman of the Philippine Government Board, St. Louis Exposition enabled me to study the Negritos from the Philippine Islands; to MR. KOJIRO TOMITA for translations of Chinese characters and to those whose names are mentioned in the pages who helped me in various ways without whose kind assistance this contribution to the subject could not have been made.

The following plates represent archers' rings drawn natural size, many of them hasty sketches. The first three plates are supposed to be Turkish and Persian rings, some of them attributed to India. MR. GEORGE C. STONE informs me that on his last visit to the South Kensington Museum he saw a collection of possibly fifteen jade rings inlaid with rubies and emeralds, labeled India. If made in India it would be interesting to find out precisely in what place in India they were made.

In the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is an archer's thumb-ring of green jade with incised floral design in gold and rubies, a band of gold encircling each ruby. It bears no sign of wear and must have been worn purely as an ornament for the hand. It is exquisite in its beauty and workmanship. See plate III, Fig. 5.

The last two plates represent archers' rings from China.

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