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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Oct, 2011 8:22 am    Post subject: East Asian Archery         Reply with quote

I'm working on a bibligraphy for a comparative project. I have some resources handy on European longbows and Turkish bows, but I don't have much of a background in East Asian archery. What are some good references on:
- The physical properties of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean military bows in the 15th-17th centuries (length along the belly, length from nock to nock when strung, draw length, draw force, arrow types, arrow weights and lengths, etc.)
- The use of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean military bows in the 15th-17th centuries (draw techniques, training, tactics)?

There seem to be two or three members who have a strong background in that area, and I would appreciate their advice.

Thanks,

Sean
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Oct, 2011 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Selby's Chinese Archery provides a wealth of primary sources on the subject.

From what I've read, draw weights for decided archers fall into two basic ranges across the world: 140-180lbs for infantry and 80-120lbs for cavalry.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Oct, 2011 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll second the recommendation for Selby's Chinese Archery. He also has another book, Archery Traditions of Asia, which might be useful (I haven't seen it, so can't say for sure, and I don't know how much it overlaps Chinese Archery).

For some first-hand accounts of Chinese/Manchu archery in action, The Diary of a Manchu Soldier in Seventeenth-Century China is, as far as I know, a unique source.

For Japanese archery, George Cameron Hurst III, Armed Martial Arts of Japan: Swordsmanship and Archery is the best I've seen. It covers the transition from military archery to sporting archery, which sits right in your period of interest.

For Korean archery, Eugene Y. Park, Between Dreams and Reality: The Military Examination in Late Choson Korea, 1600-1894 has the best coverage I've seen of the archery component of the Korean military examinations (which was, essentially, target archery, flight archery, heavy bow archery, horseback archery, lance, and polo). But it doesn't have much.

For more Korean stuff, the Imjin War/Hideyoshi's Invasion is in your period, and the various books on that might be of some use. The classic 3 are Kenneth M. Swope, A Dragon's Head and a Serpent's Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592-1598, which has a little but not much, and Hawley's and Turnbull's books, which I haven't read.

There is a book on Korean Traditional Archery which might be of interest. I don't know how relevant it is (haven't read it); it looks to be focussed on later sporting archery. However, Korean sporting archery was closely connected with military examination archery.

For size of bows, Traditional Archery from Six Continents has measurements, and excellent photos.

The various papers I've seen tended to deal with earlier archery, the origin of the composite bow, etc., rather than the later period you ask about.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Oct, 2011 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Stephen Selby's Chinese Archery provides a wealth of primary sources on the subject.

From what I've read, draw weights for decided archers fall into two basic ranges across the world: 140-180lbs for infantry and 80-120lbs for cavalry.

Thanks for the reference.

I suspect that that was true in the Old World around the 16th century, but there is a lot of evidence that things were very different in the Iron Age. I will know whether I am right or not when I am done this project!
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Oct, 2011 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
I'll second the recommendation for Selby's Chinese Archery. He also has another book, Archery Traditions of Asia, which might be useful (I haven't seen it, so can't say for sure, and I don't know how much it overlaps Chinese Archery).
<Snip 8 excellent resources>

The various papers I've seen tended to deal with earlier archery, the origin of the composite bow, etc., rather than the later period you ask about.

Thank you very much. It will be interesting to see how much steppe influence there was on archery in these countries at that time.
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Nadeem Ahmad




Location: Nottingham / Sheffield, UK
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2011 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean

I recommend you get in touch with Stephen Selby and Peter Dekker. Both (and other knowledgeable people) can be contacted on the ATARN message boards.
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Lloyd Winter




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2011 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll second the ATARN web sites for Stephen Selby

http://atarn.org/frameindex.htm

http://atarn.net/phpBB2/index.php
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2011 12:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just ran into another Chinese source: T'ien-Kung K'ai-Wu, , by Sung Ying-hsing (1587-1663). This book is an encyclopedia of technology, discussing grain growing, metallurgy, ceramics, silk, paper, and weapons. The weapons discussed are bows, crossbows, and firearms.

He writes that the typical bow for strong archers is 120 catties in draw weight (1 catty = just under 600g), so 72kg or 155-160lbs. For average archers, he says about 10-20% lower, so 125-140lb, and bows for weak (military) archers, about 1/2 (of 120 catties), so about 80lb.

For very strong archers (with the "strength of tigers"), more powerful than 120 catties.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2011 1:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

theres a man called bede dwyer who has a fair bit of experience studying the history of asian archery, from persian to chinese http://www.atarn.org/whatis.htm he apears to be part of this research network, see how it goes.

http://www.atarn.org/magyar/niya_2.htm heres ONE webpage showing his thoughts
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2011 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
I suspect that that was true in the Old World around the 16th century, but there is a lot of evidence that things were very different in the Iron Age. I will know whether I am right or not when I am done this project!


Judging by both Spanish and English accounts, it was also true in at least parts of the New World in the 16th century. In what's now the northeastern United States you had Amerindians using bows identified as equivalent to the English longbow in size and power. In the what's now the southeastern United States, you have incredible tales of armor (and wood) penetration from Cabeza de Vaca, Garcilaso de la Vega, and company. De la Vega wrote that no Spaniard could successfully draw Amerindian bows. He also wrote that one Englishman and one Spaniard raised in England participated in the expedition, and both were excellent archers. I can't remember the proximity of these two passages in question, but if the English-trained Spaniard couldn't draw the Amerindian bow(s) that would be a particularly telling testament to their strength.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2011 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Might I suggest contacting Peter Dekker from mandarinmansion(dotcom)?

Peter is an expert archer in the Manchu, or Qing Dynasty style, and very knowledgeable about the whole thing. He'll definitely be able to offer a wealth of knowledge. I've only had short discussions about Archery with him (mainly we discuss Chinese military sabres), and always come away with almost more info than I can process... Big Grin

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2011 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
From what I've read, draw weights for decided archers fall into two basic ranges across the world: 140-180lbs for infantry and 80-120lbs for cavalry.


I've heard this a few times, but wonder what the source for this is?

Plus there are many infantry bows that have been found that have draw weights in the 70-120 pound range, from neolithic to Viking age bows to trdaitional English Longbows.

And I hvae read from a manufacturer of Eurasian Bows that there are bows of these types in museums estimated to be 150+ pound draws, and they are of the short "horse bow" types.

Is this an estimated maximum, or an assumed average?
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2011 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the other references. That Chinese book should be useful because they let us compare contemporary measurements of draw weight to modern calculations and measurements of old bows.

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:
I suspect that that was true in the Old World around the 16th century, but there is a lot of evidence that things were very different in the Iron Age. I will know whether I am right or not when I am done this project!


Judging by both Spanish and English accounts, it was also true in at least parts of the New World in the 16th century. In what's now the northeastern United States you had Amerindians using bows identified as equivalent to the English longbow in size and power. In the what's now the southeastern United States, you have incredible tales of armor (and wood) penetration from Cabeza de Vaca, Garcilaso de la Vega, and company. De la Vega wrote that no Spaniard could successfully draw Amerindian bows. He also wrote that one Englishman and one Spaniard raised in England participated in the expedition, and both were excellent archers. I can't remember the proximity of these two passages in question, but if the English-trained Spaniard couldn't draw the Amerindian bow(s) that would be a particularly telling testament to their strength.

Do you have a source for "identified as equivalent to the English longbow in size and power." I don't know of any surviving North American bow that is anything like that strong, however. Admittedly, archers in the 19th century could have used lighter bows (perhaps because armour was no longer used and the archers and bowyers tended to be less skilled as guns became the main weapons) but I don't know of any evidence for that.

Gary Teuscher wrote:
"From what I've read, draw weights for decided archers fall into two basic ranges across the world: 140-180lbs for infantry and 80-120lbs for cavalry."

I've heard this a few times, but wonder what the source for this is?

Plus there are many infantry bows that have been found that have draw weights in the 70-120 pound range, from neolithic to Viking age bows to trdaitional English Longbows.

We know that the bows that went to sea with Mary Rose had an average draw force at around 150 lbs at the likely draw length. See Hardy and Strickland, The Great Warbow (2006). The problem is assuming that all bows used in wars must have had similar properties ... a lot of historical bows don't look anything like longbows, Turkish bows, or Japanese bows, but clearly they did the job they were designed for.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Thu 17 Nov, 2011 12:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
We know that the bows that went to sea with Mary Rose had an average draw force at around 150 lbs at the likely draw length.


I agree there, though a drawlength of 30" was used, I believe? This was longer than the average arrow found though IIRC, when allowing for arrowhead and the body of the bow.

Quote:
The problem is assuming that all bows used in wars must have had similar properties ...


Exactly, and there have been a fair amount of footbows found that do not equal these draw weights. The Flodden bow, as one example, was a 16th century bow that is reported to have been used as a warbow, with a 90 lb draw.

There are many other examples, this is just one.

Quote:
but clearly they did the job they were designed for.


That's another issue, what indeed was their job? and this could factor in on draw weights IMO. Native American bows from what I have seen can have draws of over 100 lbs, though 80 or so seems more common.

These were not designed to penetrate metal armour, though they still had a reasonably high (by today's standards) draweight.

Same goes for the Neolithithic bow found in a bog, I forget the name. A reproduction of it had a 90 pound draw, though it broke while tillering and was repaired with a hickory brace. It's thought that without the brace the draw would have been lighter, perhaps more in that 80 pound range.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2014 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The specific connection between English and Native American bows comes from Garcilaso de la Vega's La Florida del Inca. This is an English translation. Cabeza de Vaca likewise described Native warriors what's now the southeastern U.S. as wielding massive bows: supposedly 7-8ft and as thick as an arm, though that seems exaggerated. English observers in what's now the northeastern U.S. additionally noted similarities between their bows and Natives as well as the power of Native bows. This book has a number of insightful accounts. In one case during the Pequot War, an a Native arrow struck a English captain's breastplate "as if it had been pushed by pike."
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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Posts: 411

PostPosted: Mon 25 Aug, 2014 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
The specific connection between English and Native American bows comes from Garcilaso de la Vega's La Florida del Inca. This is an English translation. Cabeza de Vaca likewise described Native warriors what's now the southeastern U.S. as wielding massive bows: supposedly 7-8ft and as thick as an arm, though that seems exaggerated. English observers in what's now the northeastern U.S. additionally noted similarities between their bows and Natives as well as the power of Native bows. This book has a number of insightful accounts. In one case during the Pequot War, an a Native arrow struck a English captain's breastplate "as if it had been pushed by pike."

Thanks for the references. While its certainly true that many long self bows have a powerful draw and shoot heavy arrows, I don't know of much evidence of bows like that in the classical Mediterranean. The most widespread archery tradition was the western Scythian, with small composite bows and short reed arrows with light heads. One reason why I was interested in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditions is that they used composite bows (but bigger ones with heavier and perhaps longer arrows).

Could you tell me what comparison between English bows and New World bows you are thinking of? I flipped through those Google books and I see lots of anecdotes about powerful shots by native archers and the resistance of armour, but anecdotes can always be read in different ways.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Aug, 2014 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In de la Vega's account an Englishman, a Spaniard raised in England, and a Native American all fought on the Spanish side with bows and arrows. (None of the other Spaniards fought with bow and arrow, but rather with the crossbow.) De la Vega made no distinction between the weapons of these three but wrote that they all did good service.

Back to composite bow, Peter Dekker continues to do great work on Manchu archery, such as this treatment of the Manchu bow. The evidence so far indicates that Manchu bow perform much better per unit of draw weight than English-style yew bows, though I'd like to see further tests.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Aug, 2014 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, I see it on p. 524 of "The De Soto Chronicles." The other book by Harold Leslie Peterson has a reference to cotton armour which I can add to my collection.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep, 2014 3:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do Eastern-style thumb draw archery myself, though the source I'm working from (Taybugha's late 13th/early 14th Syrian Mamluk archerty manual) is probably too early and too "Western" for your specific inquiry. For something more particularly Chinese, I'd recommend Stephen Selby's video series here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frY5RolIAlE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5MeKDnjtmg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKY9qILBrH4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFPssNiSvOg
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X Zhang





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Sep, 2014 12:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

in Ming dynasty(1368~1644), the Chinese bow can be viewed as a variant of Crimean Tatar bow, light arrow, high muzzle velocity, flat trajectory, long range



And in Qing Dynasty(1644~1912), the Chinese bow has become a radically different kind of weapon, heavy arrow, low muzzle velocity....but high momentum and awesome stopping power.....
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