Indian ‘Kaman’ Bow
Place of Origin: Mughal India
Date: 17th or 18th century
A very fine late 17c - early 18C Mughal lacquered composite bow. It is made of buffalo horn, sinew, and wood (mango or rain tree) glued together, possibly covered with birch bark (or other materials), and then lacquered. Sometimes 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.
This bow is entirely covered on both sides with beautiful copper/ gold-coloured motifs of flowers on a black background. The tips are signed with Arabic letters, likely the name of the maker or owner.
Hidayat-al-rami (‘Guide for Archers’) by Muhammad Buddah’I dated 1134 AH (1722) in the British Library (14143, ff.6v-7) reproduced in the book ‘The Mughals, Life, Art and Culture’ (p.54-55) shows detailed colour paintings of five methods of stringing a recurve Mughal bow.