Composite bow from Pakistan, Asia. Collected by Charles James Longman. Given to the Museum in 1907.
Although clearly related to the Turko-Persian Asiatic bow form, composite bows from the Indian Subcontinent tend to be smaller in size and less masterfully crafted than those further west. One reason for this is that they use more sinew than bone in their construction. The sinew must be softened by being immersed in water, but over-soaking can sometimes also affect the springiness and power of the bow. Thus, many Indian bows, such as this one, prioritise decoration over functionality.
Being from the Sind Province of Pakistan, this bow is of the Islamic tradition, with intricate patterns in green, red, gold, black and white on both the back and belly. However, the use of composite bows by mounted warriors had been well established in Hindu India, the master archer Sarngadhara writing a famous treatise on the practice in the 15th century.