Object Title

Bowcase and quiver (gongdai and jiantong)

Bowcase and quiver (gongdai and jiantong)



Object Number



Purchased from Armoury Antiques, 3 December 1982.

Physical Description

The bowcase is shaped for a composite bow, with a curved upper and a straight lower edge. It is open at the wide, forward end, where there is a cutaway for the grip of the bow, and at the narrow backward end. It is made of buff leather covered with purple velvet. The velvet is covered in turn with thin black leather cut in 'ruyi' scallops at the narrow end and at either side of the broad end. The leather is sewn with double rows of white thread, and bordered with green silk-covered piping. At the centre is a spiral rosette of the same black leather and piping, decorated with a central gilt brass disc fretted with a flower in foliage, around which are riveted seven small gilt brass rosette discs. The corners of the forward end are reinforced with gilt brass fittings, in 'ruyi' shape and fretted with flowers and foliage. That at the open corner has an oval hole at the top, and is matched at the rear by a plain gilt brass fitting, with a matching hole. Beside the upper corner is an oval gilt brass loose ring, half its circumference flattened and cast with foliage, and with a small cutaway at the middle, which is retained by a 'ruyi'-shaped staple.

The quiver is roughly rectangular, with a double curved opening at the top. It is made in one piece of the same materials as the bowcase, and decorated with another spiral rosette decorated with six rosette discs, below three archaic 'shou' characters. Around the corners and long sides are six gilt brass mounts, the two at the upper front corner and that next to it having plain mounts at the rear, and have oval holes containing pale blue silk cords for attachment to the belt. Separating these six mounts are twelve small gilt brass rosette discs. The central one of these by the front opening holds the quiver tightly closed, for it is fitted at the rear with a long screw fastened by a simple gilt brass wing nut. Inside the quiver are several folded layers of thick, red felt, for the secure retention of the arrows. At the rear, attached by three plain gilt brass hinges are three small pouches for special arrows, together with an extra, double pouch wrapped around the bottom. Beside this group of pouches are two small gilt brass staples with loose rings, to which pale blue silk cords are attached to the belt. Two short thongs of buff leather depend from the quiver; these may be for the thumb ring when not in use.

The Belt is of buff leather covered with dark blue silk and lined with tawny cotton. It is fitted, from right to left, with a belt hook, three mounts with loops at the base for the suspension of the quiver, one mount with a loop at the base, but fitted on two rectangular sliding loops to the belt, for the bowcase, and five mounts with loops towards the end of the belt for the belt hook. The belt extends substantially beyond the last of these, and terminates in a dark blue tassel. Each of these fittings, except the one for the bowcase, is attached to the belt by two narrow shanked, flat headed, brass rivets in the plain of the belt. Each is of gilt brass, cast with flowers and foliage.

The belt is damaged twoards its end, and its lining is detached in the region of the quiver suspension points. The black leather on the bowcase is cracked and worn in parts. The buff leather appears entirely unworn, with no sign of a bow having been inserted. Some of the wear on the fittings, however, conforms to natural wear. All the velvet appears very fresh.


Dimensions: bowcase 53.0 x 31.2 cm (20.9 x 12.3 in), quiver 26 x 22 cm (10.2 x 8.6 in) over extra pouches, belt length 133 cm (52in) Weight: bowcase 0.64 kg (1 lb 7 oz), quiver and belt 1.03 kg (2 lb 4 oz), total 1.67 kg (3 lb 11 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks



Places China

Bibliographic References

Dorling Kindersley, Weapon. A visual history of arms & armour, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, London, 2006, p. 146


An almost identical example, from the Stone collection, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (G. C. Stone, 'A glossary of the consruction, decoration and use of armor and arms', Portland, 1934, fig. 174. Similar examples are illustrated in 'Zhongguo bingqi shigao', Beijing, 1957, pl. 87.5 and 92.1