Antique 17th-18th century Turkish Ottoman Islamic Reflex Composite Bow And Arrow

Antique 17th-18th century Turkish Ottoman Islamic Reflex Composite Bow And Arrow

SKU: ES980

A very rare superb quality Antique 17th-18th century Turkish Ottoman reflex composite bow, of characteristic traditional Turkish form with the back covered with black leather distinctive for Turkish Ottoman bows.


DETAILS: A composite bow of curved form with raised ridges and rounded hand grip with small rectangular white bone “chelik” on the middle separating the two strips of horn. Bow made of several elements of horn, sinew, wood and leather. The inner side (belly) covered with strips of horns Buffalo or Cattle) and applied with horn nocks with string notches bound in leather. The outer side is covered with black leather and extending over the inner sides of the ears and outer sides of the horn nocks.



The bow comes with a set of four 17th-18th century arrows.


Ottoman archery equipment is very hard to find on the market and rarely reveal for sale on the international antiques and art market and over decades only a few ottoman Turkish bows appears for sale on the international market.


1.Sotheby’s. Property from the Royal House of Hanover05 October 2005 - 15 October 2005

Lot 3605. An Ottoman embroideed leather quiver, last quarter of the 17th century, complete with its belt, an Ottoman bow, 17th century and two arrows (4)

Sold Price. 24,200 EUR


2.Christie’s London Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds 10 April 2014. Lot 220.

Sold Price. GBP 11,250


3.Dorotheum Auktion Vienna. Historische Waffen, Uniformen, Militaria. 12.12.2016.Lot Nr. 246


Sold Price: EUR 4,250 - USD 4,700 


4. Auctions Imperial USA March 15, 2008.Lot 0285.

Sold Price:$5,900



We searched the Internet for any Turkish Ottoman bow for sale; unfortunately, I didn't find any, neither at auction nor in private sale.

It is therefore quite possible that this is the only antique Turkish Ottoman bow that is available for sale on the global market.


REFERENCES: For related Turkish Ottoman Bows please see:


1.An almost identical bow is published in the book: “Turkish Archery and the Composite Bow “written in 1947 by Paul Klopsteg publish in 1947. CHAPTER IV. Page 36. Fig. 3 (This Bow is from the author’s collection). Please see the last picture in the listing


2.TÜRK OKÇULUĞU (Ataturk Kultur Merkezi yayini) by Unsal Yucel)


3. Traditional Archery from Six Continents: The Charles E. Grayson Collection: Charles E. Grayson, Mary French, Michael J. O'Brien, Daniel S. Glover

3. Islamic Arms and Armor - In The Metropolitan Museum of Art av David Alexander, Stuart W Pyhrr, Will Kwiatkowski

4. Sultanlarin Silahlari by Hilmi Aydin


We will also provide the buyer with photocopies of the pages from the mentioned references together with a certificate of authenticity.


The composite bows were a powerful weapon of the Turkish ottoman army ,good quality bow was very expensive, and would not go out of fashion or style, they were passed from father to son and were used by the next generations, so bows made in the 16th-17th century were still used 200 years later. Please see “Turkish Archery and the Composite Bow “by Paul Klopsteg CHAPTER IV. Page 35


Turkish Ottoman composite bows were the finest and most expensive compared to other eastern composite bows. To make good quality bow was a long process. The parts were shaped and reflexed as needed, seasoned for about a year, fitted, joined with glue and dried for another year. Pre-shaped horn strips were glued onto the belly of a bow. Both wood and horn were scored with a special toothed tool and glued together (clamping was achieved by tight binding with rope). Matching pairs of water buffalo or Cattle horns were used almost exclusively, with an exception of longhorn cattle horns for some Turkish bows. Horns had to be boiled heated and pressed into a correct shape in special wooden molds. The back of a bow was then covered with sinew, leaving most of the ears/tips bare. Sinew usually came from cow leg tendons, possibly neck (back) tendons. Tendons from wild animals (deer, moose etc.) must have also been used, and, in the authors opinion, are better, leaner, stronger, longer and easier to work with. The dried tendon is pounded until separated into fibers, which are sorted into bundles of similar length. The bundles are soaked in glue and laid onto the back of a bow. 2-3 layers are used for a dry thickness of approx. 3-6mm. On Turkish flight bows a ridge along the center of siyahs was formed to increase cast. Bows were always seasoned after this last operation from 6 months to at least a year. Due to shrinkage of sinew and glue (and from deliberate, progressive reflexing betw. layers of sinew in case of Turkish) bows were at this point very strongly reflexed with tips touching or even crossed. The reflex made the tillering and stringing, which followed, a rather long and complicated operation. Glue was an important component of the bows, the amount of glue in a finished bow was almost equal to the relative amounts of sinew or horn. Only three kinds of collagen-based glues were used: fish, tendon and skin. For the fish glue, either dry skin from the roof of the mouth “of Danube sturgeon or isinglass sturgeon air bladder, then were soaked in water and heated into solution. The Turks mixed this glue with tendon glue, made from boiled tendons. The bows had to be stored as dry as possible, kept by the fire, in the sun, or in heated cabinets. The tillering was accomplished by gradual bending a warmed bow with minimal scraping of the horn layer to balance the arms. The arms were also given the desired curvature and/or weight by warming and tying to special wooden forms until cooled. Turkish flight bows were heated in "conditioning boxes" for 24 hours up to 4 days before competitions to thoroughly dry them (the sinew, glue and horn acquire very high strength and elasticity when very dry). Of course, the bows were never shot when warm; heat, as well as moisture, would make them weak and follow the string. Wooden or horn "bridges" were glued on the belly side where the ears join the siyahs/knees as supports for string loops.


CONDITION: The bow is in its original untouched condition; showing age and usage, they are some wormholes in the horn (as typical in old horn), edges of the join horn with leather are slightly split as is common in antique composite bows made of several elements of different materials which dried up over centuries. This is the sign of its age and is proof that the bow is, in fact, an authentic antique.
Please see the photos as they are a part of the description.




Length over belly tip to tip :115 cm (45.28 inches)

Height: 58.4 cm (23 inches).

Overall length: from the nock to nock: 34.8 cm (13.7inches)


WEIGHT: 258 grams (9.101 Ounces)