The primary weapon of the Scythians was their short composite bow, which could fire an arrow up to eighty yards. When they hunted birds, the Scythians used a fine arrowhead, as they aimed for the eyes. When they shot at other warriors, however, the Scythians used barbed arrowheads designed to tear a wound open on the way out. They also brewed their own poisons for their arrow tips, a mixture of snake venom, putrefied human blood, and, to hasten infection, dung.
Indian composite bow, 17th to early 18th century. Mughal lacquered composite bow. It is made of horn and sinew glued together, entirely covered on both sides with beautiful copper/ gold colored painting of flowers on a black background. The tips are signed with Arabic letters.
Scythian recurve bow. Because the way wood and sinew were bonded with horse glue in composite bows, the Scythian bow is often found with a leather wrap to waterproof the bow. Scythian bows are also the bows found in most depictions of Cupid. Korean, Scythian, Hungarian and Mongolian bows all share their reflex design though historic interactions.
A very fine and rare gothic crossbow, Southern Germany. The composite bow is covered with parchment decorated in monochrome to simulate fish skin or snakeskin. Part of the panel represents” Eve holding the fruit of the tree of knowledge”. Dated cross bows before the 16th century are extremely rare, ca 1475.
Indian (Mughal) ‘Kaman’ composite bow, 17th to 18th century, made of buffalo horn, sinew, and wood (mango or rain tree) glued together, covered with birch bark (or other materials) then lacquered, also referred to as a ‘reflex bow’ due to the natural un-strung position the bow takes, or a crab bow, again due to its shape, copper/ gold-coloured motifs of flowers on a black background. The tips / gushas are signed with Arabic letters, probably the name of the maker or owner, a sign of quality.