Asymmetrical bow- designs Vol.1- what´s harmony?

I´m somehow hooked on disharmonies, some chaos, ways out of the boring mainstream, checking news…………….

So I´ve had to met asymmetrical bow- designs heavily. I guess a lots of bowyers and archers know the traditional Japanese yumi bows, made of horizontally and vertically arranged strips of well- chosen bamboo. A delicious job to do, demanding a long apprenticeship and experience. Actually Japanese master- bowyers are highly reputated. The forerunner of the the yumi made of bamboo was a selfbow- made of a single piece of wood- the maruki- bow- done in an asymmetrical design too.

Nowadays the art of Kyudo is well known as a kind of shooting a bow- the yumi- bow- in a meditative way. Kyudo is a very important exercise of zen- buddhism. The yumi- bow is well known as the bow of the famous Samurai- warriors too.

I met asymmetrical bow- designs when I was ordered to reconstruct Scythian bows excavated in Siberia and posted on ancient Greek crockery. I had to think over the sense of  asymmetry in bow- designs, after a good deal of considerations I decided to ask my bowyer- collegues around the world. A bad surprise: heavily uninterested! During my research in Siberia I was faced to hundreds of cardboards full of bow- findings, about 60% of them are snatchings of asymmetrical bows. All done as 2 wood- laminated bows, the basic principle of construction of bows of the Siberian tribes.

The follow- up model of the Scythian laminated wooden bows(look for my olon kurin gol- article), the Scythian hornbow retained unchanged the asymmetrical shape. Up to date hornbows have been done the asymmetrical way more or less.

A closer look to the subject tells us very clearly, that a symmetrically made bow, transforms into an asymmetrical shape when drawn. Imagine: the handle is the center of the bow, grasp it,  the arrow is lying on the root of your index, just above center. That´s the reason why even the famous English longbows were done in a slight asymmetrically version, the lower limb of the bow is a bit shorter for to assure a real center- shot bow. The ” center- or off- center- shot- question ” is a hot topic among bowyers and archers. Reasons enough for to get the bottom of asymmetrical designs.

Anyway what is asymmetry? Being in disharmony? Could it be measured, even calculated? The ancient bows I studied don´t look at all to have been made in a somehow chaotic way. For get a proper working bow, no other way as to follow the growing of the wood.

I decided to ask some people I was sure to be able to hit the bull´s eye.

Finally it was James Harrod, the founder of the “originsnet”(look for the link at my blogroll), who showed me the way. I´ve asked him:……….did you think, that our ancestors have had a kind of asymmetrical mind……………at first he felt somehow dumb-folded, but he thought over my question and discussed the topic with a friend of him, the artist Michael Winkler, who was just preparing a book focused on the Golden Ratio.

That´s it! As a naked figure: 1.681… two quantities are in the Golden Ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller quantity………got it? This is the epitome of esthetics and harmony and a basic principle in nature. Euklid and Fibonacci were the first mathematicians, who made the Golden Ratio public and attached a greater importance to it, finally Leonardo da Vinci came up with his famous drawing of the “Vitruvian Human”.

the Vitruvian human by Leonardo da Vinci(wikipedia)

asymmetry makes the world go round? A painting I did at the upper limb of an asymmetrical bow

1.61 becomes the base of my making of asymmetrical bows: the length of the upper longer limb divided by the length of the lower shorter limb.The base for to tiller the bow is the maximum gap between the string and the bow´s belly when braced: the gap at the upper limb divided by the gap at the lower limb. Tests with my first asymmetrical bows confirmed my assumptions, the asymmetrical bows made according to the Golden Ratio outperformed the others  “somehow” done asymmetrical bows.

An additional insight of James Harrod about this topic is the fact, that in martial arts the 3rd chakra is dedicated to the power of fighting. There ar 7 chakras, the 3rd chakra is placed at the navel, so the distance of the 3rd chakra to the 7th chakra divided by the distance of the 3rd chakra to the 1st chakra is again about 1.61. Even considered to be unscientific the teachings of the chakras are very worth to keep in mind in that case.

some asymmetrical bows- from l.to r.: a snaky hawthorn-, an osage-, a splitted limb black locust-, a wide black locust-, an ash- bow

All done according to the Golden Ratio.

same bows braced- I´m still missing the string of the wide black- locust bow

Next volume is focused on staves and woods qualified for asymmetrical bows and on their performance.

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