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SOLD Antique Islamic Composite Bow Turkish Ottoman or Indo Persian


SOLD Antique 17th-18th century Islamic Composite War Bow Turkish Ottoman or Indo Persian. Of characteristic form with a rounded hand grip, painted on the exterior and interior in black and red, bordered with gold bands, and adorned with painted in gold and green shaped panels.

The process to make a composite bow was very long and complicated, different horn was used, wood, and sinew, and a correct balance between these different components provided a highly efficient bow, therefore composite bows were very expensive compared to other weapons. The composite bows were a powerful weapon of the Islamic, Tatar and Eastern European armies. These types of bows were made in Turkey and Persia from the 15th to the 18th century. Since bows were 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 17th century were still used during the 18th century.

CONDITION: The bow is in its original condition, chips in the lacquer surface, some losses to the paint, one edge is slightly split.

Overall length: 77 .5 cm (30 1/2 in).

REFERENCES: A similar bows are published in the book: “TÜRK OKÇULUĞU” (Ataturk Kultur Merkezi yayn) (Turkish Edition).Illustrations 150,151,152.

We do not want to make a judgment if the bow is Turkish or Indo Persian, however we provide our clients with a certificate of authenticity to ensure that the bow is 100% authentic antique made in the 17th-18th century.

There are three layers in the composite bows: sinew on the back (the side under tension), wood for the core and horn on the belly (the compression side facing the archer). Turkish and Indo Persian bowyers purchased green wood or bamboo. 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 horns were used almost exclusively, with an exception of longhorn cattle horns for some Turkish bows. Cattle horns had to be boiled heated and pressed into a correct shape in special wooden molds. Buffalo horns are also more flexible and resilient than cattle horns and provide thicker strips. It is probable that in Indo Persian bows, instead of a solid strip, many thin ones were glued together into one wider strip. 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 centre 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 (Turkish, other fish for Chinese) or isinglass (sturgeon air bladder, Chinese) were soaked in water and heated into solution. The Turks mixed this glue with tendon glue, made from boiled tendons. A glue of lesser quality was made from boiled skins. Such glues readily absorb moisture rendering the bows useless in relative humidity above 70%. 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. The finished bows were decorated with painted and gilded ornamentation. Wooden or horn "bridges" were glued on the belly side where the ears join the siyahs/knees as supports for string loops.

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