----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Selby
To: crossbow@jump.net
Sent: 31 December, 1999 9:25 AM
Subject: Fw: Need Chu Ko Nu Research

----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Selby
To: Gwenhwyvar
Sent: 30 December, 1999 9:59 AM
Subject: Re: Need Chu Ko Nu Research

Now I have reviewed the material I have got on the Chu Ko Nu. It is quite extensive. As you are researching for a novel, pehaps you don't need documentation and all the technical details. But I will be happy to supply them if you do.
The "Chu Ko Nu" existed. It was named after the famous Chinese military strategist Zhuge Liang (AD 181 - 234) who is credited with having invented it. (Note that in the standard transliteration of Chinese we use here, it would be spelled 'Zhuge Nu'. It is the same word, though.) But in fact, well-developed examples of this crossbow design were excavated from a Chu culture tomb dating from about 250 BC, showing that it had already been invented well before the time of Zhuge Liang. I think it would be safe to put it into the hands of a Chinese fictional characted dating any time from 300 BC onwards.
The Zhuge Nu belonged to a group of crossbows which could fire a succession of darts from a reservoir without the user having to handle the individual darts. In some versions, it could fire two darts simultaneously, as the reservoir had two channels of arrows which would fall onto a pair of arrow guides on the top of the crossbow stock. The attached picture was drawn in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and shows a single-loading, multiple shot Zhuge Nu.
After the darts had been loaded into the reservoir (which in the Ming Dynasty held up to ten darts), an iron lever was drawn back and this allowed the next dart to fall into the arrow-guide and at the same time drew back the reservoir with the string caught underneath, over the guide below the dart to where the string was held in a small trough in the top of the stock. After the lever was drawn back to the fullest point, the string was released with a trigger made of deer-antler, propelling the dart along the arrow guide towards the target. The lever was then pushed forward and drawn back again repeatedly, and the trigger released until all the darts had been fired.
The Ming Dynasty text says, "The Zhuge Nu is a handy little weapon that even the Confucian scholar (i.e. a weakling) or palace women can use in self-defence. It fires weakly so you have to tip the darts with poison. Once the darts are tipped with 'tiger-killing poison', you can fire it at a horse or a man and as long as you draw blood, your adversary will die immediately. The draw-back to the weapon is its very limited range."
From this, I would assume that the draw-weight is about 25 pounds, no more. The darts were quite small  (8 inches.) The body of the crossbow and the prods were made of mulberry.  Although the only part of the illustration for which a measurement is given is the arrow, we can interpolate from that that the overall length was 30.7 inches.
The string was subjected to the friction of the mechanism, so the centre part of the string was reinforced with goose-feather quills which had been split and sanded down and tightly bound on.
From these notes, you will see that you can put the weapon into the hands of either a man or a woman; that the weapon was defensive, not offensive, and the attacker would have to be quite close in. The poisons were probably based on Aconitum Carmichaeli .
From: Gwenhwyvar
To: srselby@atarn.org
Sent: 28 December, 1999 12:32 PM
Subject: Need Chu Ko Nu Research

To Stephen Selby,
I am looking for research and especially pictures of a Chinese repeater crossbow called the "Chu Ko Nu". I read about it initially in a role-playing game book and I wish to incorporate it in a novel I am writing. However, all of my research has proved fruitless and I was really hoping you could help me out.
Does the Chu Ko Nu exist at all? Is that the proper name? Was it used extensively or was it merely a fluke invention.
I deeply appreciate any help you can give me on this subject.
Gwen Lorraine Huskins