Cupid´s, Apollon´s or Armors bow

Diana breaking Cupids bow

Some years ago I was involved in a research- project, guided by Prof. Erhard Godehardt,  focused on Greek archery of the Antique. We did some reconstructions of different types of Greek bows,  most of them based on the design of Scythian bows. The Greek were very impressed by the performance of Scythian bows and they adopted them soon for to replace their former wooden bows.

Among the reconstructions was a type of a Greek bow attributed to Apollon, the Greek god of love and the later Roman God Armor or Cupid, the god of love or of to fall in love.

cupid riding a dolphin

We did 2 Cupid bows as hornbows succesfully. I´ve found them a challenge to do, cause of the shortness of these bows. During the making of the bows I got very interested in all the myths about Apollon and Cupid, but above all I was very attracted by all the legends about Apollons sister Artemis, the later Roman godness Diana. I got a feeling of the so- called Amazons, the times of matriarchy and some actually negated aspects of feminity.

2 years ago I got a fax of a customer of mine, with the pics you see above: Diana breaking Cupid´s bow and Cupid riding a dolphin…………….Michael, I want such a Cupid´s bow made as a hornbow, 100cm in lenght drawing about 50lbs at 26″, further instructions soon…………… further instructions were telling me to make the limbs heavily reflexed. I´ve to tell that this guy knows to do selfbows very well,  he´s an artist and former physicist and I´ve several got some very useful advices in the physics of different bow- designs.

So we cooperated and ended up in making the bow as a usual horn- composite with a spliced in handle, the limbs made of mountain- maple, horn as belly and sinew backed. The bow is based on some paintings done during the Renaissance, when a lot of Italian artists painted scenes of the Roman and Greek Antiquity. So it is not historically prooved, no findings.

The lenght measured over all the bows curvature is 103cm, the non- bending handle is 30cm in length, 2.5cm in width, 2.8cm in depth. So the limbs are 36.5cm in length, 3cm in width with the last 6cm tapered to 1cm, the thickness of the limbs is about 0.6cm midlimb.

I cut the horn- slats from the inner curve of a pair of waterbuffalo- horns, with a radius of 12cm. It took me some hours to go into the woods for to find a mountain- maple grown in the fitting shape.  I don´t take care to much on the growthrings of the handle- piece, cause it would not bend, I just cut  it from a piece of mountain- maple too.

At first I glued the horn and the core of the 2 limbs, than I v- spliced them into the preformed handle, when the 3 parts were fitting, I glued them. A week later I did a pre- tiller, I drew the horn- maple- lamination to about 15″, for to see if it works without any problems(twisting, breaking glueline………), everything was working well. The client wants me to splice in 5cm long slats of horn with a cross- section of 1cm x 1cm for to shape the nocks as he has seen them on the paintings. Finally the bow was backed with 3 layers of leg- sinews from deer. Now we decided to give the bow a drying- time of 13 month( 13 is the lucky number of the Ancient times).

When I began to tiller the bow, I was quite nervous, cause of the shortness and the heavily reflexed limbs, the limbs were reflexed almost allover their whole length. After 3 trials I drew the bow to 25″, no cracks, no explosion, drawweight as desired, great to see almost the whole limb unrolling, like a fresh grown shoot which has just penetrated the soil as my wife noted…………………….Anyway we decided to sew the bow limbs completely into canvas for safety reasons. Additonally the canvas is a great base for to paint the bow. It is very obvious that the sea and diving is another passion of the client: Cupid loved it to surf with dolphins, for those of you interested in totem- animals, the dolpin means joy of life, harmony, social behaviour,  the squid means the art of disappearing, our inner monsters, the depth of our being…………………

This Cupid´s bow draws 48lbs at 26″, it shots a 340grs. arrow at 151f/s. due to its big handle this bow is so comfortable to shoot, no handshock, the “unrolling” of the limbs makes a very smooth and  even draw. But don´t be to much attracted by the exciting curves of this Cupid´s bow, it is a beast. Imagine a 70lbs- version.

The shape of the bow is like the human upper lip, drawn the bow looks almost like a heart.

Keep in mind Cupid´s guiding theme: amor vincite omnia- love beats everything.

Some of you know that I´ve been involved in the research of horn- bows for some years, anyway I prefer selfbows again, cause I´m seriously in doubt about the efficiency of hornbows.Even the Cupid´s bow is a great example of what the horn/maple/sinew- gang is able to withstand.  But the Cupid´s bow will ever be one of my favourites, I love its charming shape turning into a beast when drawn and released.

cupid braced

cupid unbraced
cupid with dolphins on its back
carving at the handle
Cupid string bridge- silencers
cupid at 25

For those who like to look intelligent and charming movies: go for the TV- Series “Cupid”, created by the maker of the “Veronica Mars”- series, Rob Thomas. He creates a modern version of a Cupid, damned to live in our actual human world…………I love it.

For those who like deeper insights in squids, go for Martin Moyniham, the famous evolutionary biologist, look for his book: communication and non- communication.  A summary of it at, look for octopi as a metaphor( there is a search), really interesting.

For those who like unserious pics and  some hoax, here we go, a modern Cupid visited me today:

a modern cupid?
modern cupid: love beats everything

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.