Object Title

Composite bow

Composite bow



Object Number


Physical Description

This bow takes the shape typically associated with Manchu-style bows and Chinese archery during the Qing dynasty. The belly of the bow (facing towards the archer when strung) is covered with albino horn. This is translucent and the painted surface beneath shows through, allowing pictures of clouds and immortals to be seen quite clearly. The bark covered back (facing away from the archer when strung) is colourfully painted with human figures, dragons, flowers and clouds, as well as decoration at either end of lotus blossoms and similar. The ears are covered on top and bottom with ivory, with black lacquered or painted decoration on top, and on either side with tortoise shell. The string bridges appear to be made from bone or antler. They are shaped with angled flutes and held in place by metal straps. The grip is of cork with rayskin bindings at either side and bordered by panels of applied decoration.


OverallLength182 cm
OverallLength730 mm
OverallWeight0.64 kg
OverallWidth540 cm

Inscriptions and Marks

Near the top of each limb is a panel containing a large seal character in the centre and four smaller characters around it. The main central seal character represents happiness, while the surrounding characters seem to be referring to a New Year's day party and golden retirement.


Places China/Asia


This bow is of the finest quality and must have belonged to someone of the highest rank.