Archery Equipment

Let talk about Peter’s private collection of what the Manchu soldier once wore. The items are a silent testament to the Manchu warrior culture. Listen to the intro and match the descriptions with the image.

A rare antique Manchu bow that is still in strung condition. Laid out around it are the materials used for its manufacture.  Manchu bow core, seen from the top. The top slab is the horn glued on the belly. At the bottom is the core, with the ear spliced in. 3 The lamination of the limb and splicing of the ear, seen from the side. Top is sinew, the core in this case is bamboo but could also be wood, and the “belly” is made of a horn plate. 4 At the inside of the handle is often a bone plate, to take the compression of the limbs. On the other side is wood, once covered with a thick layer of sinew. The whole would be covered with cork, to provide a good grip. 5 A small schematic drawing of a Manchu bow, unstrung (top) and a Manchu bow strung (bottom). The layering of the materials makes these bows stand a lot more bending than a single material bow could stand, resulting in great power for a bow that physically didn’t weigh much. 6 A Qing bannerman’s helmet. These would be fitted with armored flaps on the back and sides, and a plume on the top that would denote rank. Manchu soldiers were encouraged to hunt a lot, this kept their skill high and helped the food supply while on campaign. Here is a Manchu “fish fork” arrow that was used for shooting fish in shallow water. 8 A Manchu target practice arrow, such arrows were also used for small game.  A Manchu broadhead, used primarily for larger game like deer 10 A Manchu whistle arrow. Contrary to popular belief these were probably not used in the heat of battle. The noise of the firearms common around this time would make it hard for a body of thousands of troops to hear. Yet, commanders did carry them. They were probably used for signaling when it was still quiet, like a distress signal from a guard or scouting party. 11 Saber. The standard Manchu side-arm was a curved saber called “yaodao”. This particular one, with brass openwork mounts with dragons was owned by an officer. 12 A Manchu quiver. They were very short for the large arrows, only holding the heads and the uppermost section of the shaft. This spread them out like a fan, and made it easy to take the arrows from it, one by one. The size of Manchu arrows limited the amount of arrows a Manchu soldier could take. Usually they only took about 30 arrows to the field, so their shots had to count. No long-distance hails of arrows for them, but a series of concentrated shots from reasonable distances. 13 Manchu thumb rings. These rings are found in every material imaginable, from precious stones or jade to silver, or even fancy glass with gold flakes in it. For actual use the Manchus -even the emperor himself- preferred a simple bone or antler ring, because the porous part prevents it from slipping. The many sumptuous rings were probably worn in daily life, it was a statement: “I am an archer.” 14 Knife and chopsticks. Manchus and Mongols traditionally ate meat by cutting it directly off the bone with a knife and eating it with the chopsticks. After the conquest, many Manchus got used to having their food pre-cut for them by Chinese chefs. The Qianlong emperor encouraged Manchus to not forget their old ways and in an edict obliged his Manchu subjects to wear a knife and chopsticks like this at all times in order to be able to eat in the Manchu way.