Mughal Lacquered Kaman (Bow)

India, 18th century

Lacquer-painted wood

47.5cm high, 30cm wide

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Full Description

Mughal Lacquered Kaman (Bow)

This exceptional kaman bow, also referred to as "crab" bow due to its crab-like appearance when unstrung, is made of wood and painted in lacquer to prevent deterioration from the humid weather of northern India. Of typical form, the shape is deeply reflexed with tips that are overlapping. The gold decorations include floral and geometric patterns throughout; in addition, horn inserts are spliced into the tips to prevent breakage.

Such bows were the most common form of the Mughal period in India.[1] Closely allied to the Turkish hilal kuram, the limbs of Indian crab bows are wider, allowing the bow to be left strung for extended periods of time. This was often desirable because the process of stringing and unstringing such a bow could be both exhausting and somewhat perilous. The broader limbs also meant that it did not quite have the ultimate performance of its slender Turkish cousin.[2]  

Similar examples of this kaman can be found in the British Museum, see Museum Accession Numbers: As1981,Q.42 and As1981,Q.43.

References 

[1] Charles E. Grayson, Mary French, and Michael J. O'Brien. 2007. Traditional Archery from Six Continents: The Charles E. Grayson Collection. Missouri: University of Missouri Press.

[2] Mike Loades. 2019. War Bows: Longbow, Crossbow, Composite Bow and Japanese Yumi. Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing. p.166.

 

Mughal Lacquered Kaman (Bow)


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