This page is a listing of known old original Ottoman-Turkish composite bows together with their signatures and or dates. The bows are kept in various collections around the world. The intention is to create a better understanding of the various types of Turkish bows, including their age and who made them. Contact Ivar Malde if you want to contribute to this page. 

Target/warbow by Halil (1730-1763)


This birch bark covered short Turkish bow is likely a target or war bow. It measures about 43 inches nock to nock along the belly. It has an estimated draw weight of 80 pounds at 28 inches (sal dimensions: 33x12,5mm). It can be typologically dated to the 1700s. It has black water buffalo horns, with some white towards the kasan. The date has been worn off, but the signature is still there. Evran Irnek has interpreted the signature to mean: "amel-i Halil" (made by Halil). Ünsal Yücel writes in his 1999 book (excerpt, page 372) that he knew of five different bows by a bowyer named Halil. These bows included ones covered with birch bark, and had dates between 1730 and 1763. It is likely that this bow was made by the same Halil, some times during the mid 1700s.

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Target or warbow by Salih, 1789/90


A leather covered target or war bow with gold decoration. 108,8 cm (42,8") nock to nock along the belly, and 31,5 x 12,5 mm in the middle of the sal, which gives an estimated draw weight of about 75 pounds at 28 inches. It has gray horns. Signed "amel-i Salih", and dated 1789/90. Signature and date interpreted by Evran Irnek.

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Ünsal Yücel writes about a bowyer called Salih, and Evran Irnek has kindly translated the passage. (Ünsal Yücel, Türk okçuluğu/Turkish archery, page 391):

"Salih Usta was one of the best known bowyers of his time. Çuhadar Ahmet (a master archer who has menzil record) said that "He is the best puta (target) and Tatar (Crimean) bowmaker of his time. After Usta ibrahim, he is the best of all times."

 

Salih Usta was born in Damascus and worked as a bowyer in "cemaat-i kemangeran" (The Community of Bowyers) under the central army Craftsmen Organisation (Orducu Esnafı). [These bowyers were the best of their time in the Empire, and were no more than one or two dozen people at most, alongside their apprentices, numbering the same.] He worked in the Community of Bowyers during 1763-1788.

 

Ünsal Yücel identified 19 "sağrılı" (horsehide covered) target (puta) bows, 9 flight (menzil) bows with timar and toz (birch bark), 2 kepade (training) bows, 2 Crimean Tartar bows, one children’s boy and one bow circle(?) (yay halkası). He had two bows in İstanbul Okspor (1937-39) during the Republican Era. His bows are in Topkapı Palace Museum, İstanbul Military Museum, Manchester University Museum, British Museum."

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