Asian Traditional Archery Research Network (ATARN)

A1, Cloudridge,
30, Plunkett’s Road,
The Peak,
Hong Kong.

Tel: (852) 2895-4488
Fax: (852) 2808-2887
16 December, 1998

Letter from Peking (September 1998)
Letter of November 1998
Letter of December 1998

Dear Friends,

    Here is an image of a faithful copy of the decoration from a Chinese archery bow by Wu of Peking (c. 1880). You can transfer this image to a light-coloured piece of thin birch bark or leather. Place another piece of the same material in a contrasing colour underneath it and hold the two in place with a light brush (in odd places) of latex glue. Cut out the contours of the design carefully with a scalpel or craft knife, cutting cleanly through both layers. Then separate the two pieces of leather/bark and carefully insert the excised pieces of the design from the dark piece into the the holes left in the light piece, and vice-versa. After cutting into shape, these designs are ready to be glued to the surface of the back of the bow over the exposed sinew.

BOWDEC.TIF (314868 bytes)

    The illustration also shows the placing and proportions of the designs on the back of the limb. The moth-like thing (a Chinese stylized picture of a bat, symbolizing 'prosperity') is adjacent to the grip, and the other design (the symbol of the bat combined with the characters for 'boundless happiness') are near to the base of the sayah, starting just below the v-splice. Between these two, the back of the bow is decorated with further pieces of birch-bark in a herring-bone pattern radiating from the centre-line of the limb. After the birch-bark has been glued and has dried completly, it is waxed or lacquered.

    The outer part of the grip is a 3/4" ring of green shagreen (dyed, tanned and sanded stingray (not shark) skin), and the main part of the grip is chamois leather. The two Chinese characters in a cartouche are the maker's mark, which are burned into the horn bow-tips with a hot iron.

    I place my copy of this design in the public domain: it can be freely copied and used without copyright restrictions.

    Best wishes for 1999.


Yours faithfully,


(Stephen Selby)