The horn composite bow, horn bow, composite bow, or Asiatic recurve bow is constructed from horn, wood and sinew, and glued together with animal glue. With its common ancestor most likely originating in central Asia, the horn composite bow has evolved into many different types, shaped over time by different cultures and bow makers. The Assyrians are one of the first cultures to have depicted horn bows. These ‘angular bows’ as they were called have also been found in the grave of Tutanchamun dating back to ~1300 BCE (McLeod, Bows from the tomb of Tutanchamun, 1970). Another early type hornbow was the Scythian horn bow, a complex bow, constructed from multiple horn strips around a wooden core and wrapped with sinew. These bows have been found dating back to as early as 500-1000 BCE (Karpowicz and Selby, Soc. of Archer-Antiquaries, vol 53, 2010).
Most horn composite bows seen today in museums are relatively modern bows, dating back to 150-600 years ago. Most of them were collected as war tribute or part of trade gifts. As an example, the extraordinary collection of composite bows in the Dresdner Museum, Germany, was partly created because of the king’s fascination for the Ottoman empire. Mostly all museum bows can be traced back to Chinese, Ottoman, Persian or North Indian origin, and are most gifts from trade relations.
The different types of horn bows I have build so far are listed below.
The 13/14th century Mongolian bow
These bows are based on several Mongolian bows found in the Šiluustej sum and the Cagaan Chad grave findings.
The Ottoman turkish bow
The Mughal Crab bow
The Persian bow