Tuktut nogait bow

Right now I came across this highly interesting post on the ELFSHOT- blog run by Lori White and Tim Rast, here is the link.

The ELFSHOT- blog is in my blog- roll since 2 years, but Lori and Tim are doing such great jobs, so I want to highlight their work today.

My interest in Inuit- bows has been heavily raised when I’ ve had finished my very fast osage- bow, maybe you remember it.


Some original Inuit- bows often made as a composition of woods and bones tied together and enforced with a cable at the back, an art at its own.

Some News and a sale…………..

Getting more and more involved into flightarchery and bow-classes with kids I´ve decided to sale some of my longtime personal favourite bows- I don´t need them anymore. I´ve posted  3 of them here, this is my german speaking blog, if you´re interested in one of these bows or if you want more details and pics post a comment here or send me a mail. The next days there will be more offerings.

Next posts are dealing with a new retro-styled flightbow made of yew, some new flightarrows and the final tillering of the crossbow.

The summer has finally begun to be hot and our family has grown- 3 young sheep, a very rare breed, an endangered species, the alpine stonesheep, actually there are less than 1000 of them alive. They will provide us with wool, milk, maybe with horn( I even can´t imagine to slaughter the ram, his name is Carlos and he´s such a smart and tough guy).

And I´ve seeded flax for the first time, even the summer had been wet and a bit cold, the flax is in flower now- what a great blue-, now I´ve to wait some days before harvesting and drying it for to split into fibers and to make my first homegrown bow- strings. I´ll post the whole procedure in details.

Sorry, I´ve lost the pics somehow, I promise they will be posted tomorrow.

Scythian bows- short update fall 2010

Stephen Selby, the founder of the ATARNet, has recently taken part at a meeting of archaeologists, historians……. for to discuss the excavations of xianjiang. Look for: yanghai bow

There´ve been Scythian- style bows, with a similiar curvature to the saka bows of shanshan, but done in the usual hornbow- manner: horn as belly, wooden core, sinew- backing.

The yanghai- or subeixi- bow technique is not the only way to make a Scythian bow, as I thought it to be and some ” strongheads” are repeating it again and again.

The subeixi bow- technique was obviously predominant from 800- 200BCE, the excavations of the more “usually” done Scythian bows are related to 1200- 800BCE.

So, the Scythians had been aware of different techniques to make bows, there had never been any “one and only Scythian bow”.

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 http://www.deviantart.com, 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

The bow- finding of olon kurin gol- some additional experiences and thoughts

go to:  The bow- finding of olon kurin golthis is where you´ll find a  report about the first reconstructions of the olon kurin gol -bow, details and measurements as seen in the findings. SORRY, this page is currently not available!!!!!!!

In the meantime I´ve done another reconstruction,  I succeded in tillering it at 25″ with 43lbs, it shots a 300grs. arrow with 148f/sec. But the money ran out for the researching project, I wasn´t satisfied too much, I would like to do another stronger one. This bow- design is a working design, very delicious to do. I highly respect the craftmanship of the Scythian bowyers.

Fortunenately some weeks ago a Swiss guy has ordered a 65- 70lbs- version of this bow, I could go on and will keep you update!

We did a big mistake in completely ignoring the fact, that the bow has to be wrapped with sinew- fibres all over its length, even we noticed the tracks of the wrappings. But we didn´t like the nice wood to be covered and wrapped it only at the sharp curves. This bow has to be wrapped allover for to keep all those slats together.

Finally Adam Karpowicz ended up in having to wrap his reconstruction of the Subeixi- bow completely too.

Due to the facts of the findings we assume that the wooden Scythian bows have been made and used by the Western Scythians, the Eastern Scythians made and used their bows with a center- piece of horn running all over the length of the bow, like a component of stable shape.

It is also thinkable that the wooden version of the Scythian bow is made for the use on horseback, Adam Karpowicz´s exact reconstruction of the Subeixi- bow has turned out to be very strong, 115lbs at 28″. According to the statements of nowadays mounted archers this is not to handle on horseback?

The tiller of the olon kurin gol bow is different from the tiller of the Subeixi-  bow. The Subeixi bow bends heavily in its sharp curves just beside the grip- section and in its grip itself.

The olon kurin gol bow is 3cm in width at the grip- section, the longer limb is tapered from 3cm to 1.5cm at the recurves, the shorter lower limb is tapered from 3cm to 2.2cm. So the main bending takes place in  the limbs, not in the sharp curves and the grip.

According to the findings and the reconstructions of the Scythian bows it is fact that they are made of wooden and horn- slats.  Recently some other bowyers have come up with reconstructions of Scythian bows made as hornbows are usually done: horn as the belly, wooden core and sinew-  backing, it works, but it is not according to the findings. Anyway the Scythian bow is an eye- teaser.

scythian hornbow, but done as a usual hornbow

Anyway the successful reconstruction made me proud, I have to admit that I didn´t got a feeling for the making of a bow like this, it is so strange to make such a delicious and weird construction consisting of 12 wooden and 2 horn- slats, so many glue- lines. Why did the Sycthians bowyers have made bows like this, I thought over this question, discussed it with other bowyers. From a bowyers point of views it is a deflex/reflex bow with sharp recurves, a still popular design. I guess the Scythian craftspeople liked to do filigree works, look at their jewelry. Above all its a question of the preference for special designs, design as a kind of a “language” of a certain culture or tribe…………..

With much less effort a bowyer could do a better performing selfbow in one day……………….

But we´ve experienced the making of Scythians bows, I guess we really know it now.  Scythian bow- reconstructions according to findings having been done by Adam Karpowicz,  David Betteridge, myself,  Jack Farrell is still waiting for the drying of the sinew- backing. There´s a reconstruction made of sinew- backed osage  the German bowyer Wolfgang Schwerck did some years ago, a very nice bow, even it is not made of slats I like it, sorry, but I can´t find the pic……………..if you ignore or don´t try to understand history, you´re doomed to repeat it………….

Some additional pics:

scythian bow- and arrow case, according to the olon kurin gol findings
from R.Toelle- Kastenbein´s book: Greek archery, quivers, unbraced scythian bow



1st trial of a Scythian wooden bow, sorry, it is broken
2nd trial of a Scythian wooden bow, 25lbs at 22" only, but she´s nice