Story of Making a Chinese Bow
© Stephen Selby 2002


The following is a draft storyboard to help in the preparation if an exhibition and a documentary film.
People featured in the storyboard are Mr Yang Wentong and Mr Yang Fuxi of Ju Yuan Han, Beijing.



1 Raw materials:

2 Working wooden components into basic shape (wooden ends of bow = ‘siyahs’, wooden build-out at grip.)

Main tool: saw and adze


3 Using adze to cut two siyahs into knee-shape.

4 Assembly of wooden/bamboo parts ready for gluing (photograph below was taken in Mongolia, showing a Mongolian bow.)


5 Components after gluing, ready for horn





6 Prepare glue for gluing parts.

7 Where the horn (brown) will go:



8 Cutting the horn: we don’t have enough detail on this.



9 The scraping tool.

10 Scraping the surfaces of the horn and bamboo with the scraping tool to ensure firmer bonding with glue.

11 The bamboo after treatment with the scraping tool.

12 Gluing the bamboo and the horn prior to joining: we don’t have enough detail on this.



13 String walker






14 Horse

15 Holding the bamboo and horn in the press and squeezing with the string walker.

16 After the horn has gone on, the wooden build-out for the grip is attached. The assembly is left to dry for about one month.

17 Sinew holder and sinew comb.

18 Washing the tools for the sinew.

19 Washing gluing board

20 Combing the wet sinew on the board.

21 Soaking the sinew in the glue.

22 Heating the back of the bow before applying the sinew.

23 Laying the sinew down on the back of the bow.

24 Smoothing the sinew onto the bow back.

25 Curing the glue and sinew over a flame.

26 After gluing the sinew is left to dry for three months.

27 Preparing to put birchbark over the sinew.

28 The surfaces are glued and allowed to dry. Then both surfaces are licked with the tongue like sticking on a stamp.

29 Bark strip applied obliquely to the limb.

30 A hot iron is used to stick the bark firmly on the limb.

31 Finishing and polishing the horn. : we don’t have enough detail on this.



32 Painting and Decoration. : we don’t have enough detail on this.


33 Making the string: the string whipping tool.



34 Whipping a string on a jig.

35 Finished product.

36 Arrows?