Important Cultural PropertyCatalpa bow

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  • Catalpa wood
  • L 183.3
  • Nara period/8th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-133

This Azusa-yumi (a catalpa bow) is "Maruki-yumi," referred to in the "Gohomotsu-zue" (The Illustration of Imperial Treasures) as "Azusa-no-mayumi, the bow used by the Prince when he got rid of the enemy." A Maruki-yumi is a bow made by stripping the bark off a log and making it into a bow in the log. "Azusa" refers to a hard wood (catalpa), called "Minebari" or "Onnore," which was used as a material for a bow like "Mayumi" (Spindle tree) and "Tsuki" (keyaki, a kind of the genus Zelkova). Both ends of the bow are cut into a convex shape, which are called "Hazu" to make the shoulders for stringing the bow. The lower end and upper end are called "Moto-hazu" and "Ura-hazu," respectively. As the wood of the Moto-hazu side, which is near the root of a tree, is close-grained and hard, a shallow groove is cut from the Moto-hazu to the inside of the bow to balance the tensile force between the Moto-hazu and Ura-hazu. Lacquer is applied all over the bow.