Tolkien Gateway

Bows

Elven Bow by John Howe

Bows were a common weapon in Arda. All peoples, Good and Evil, were known to have used them, most notable of them being the Elves, the Númenóreans, Rohirrim, Orcs and even Hobbits.[1]

Contents

[edit] Overview

Bows varied in shape, size and material. While Elven flawless bows were made from wood, Númenórean bows were made of hollow steel, forged in armories.[2] It is said in a poem that Eärendil wielded a bow "made of dragon-horn".[3]

[edit] Bows by faction

  • Elves of Doriath and Lothlórien used longbows which were, as their name suggests, longer bows which could shoot farther and higher than any other types of bows. Elves were the first race to develop and master the use of bows, and later passed their knowledge to Men.
  • Númenóreans used a type of bow called the steel-bow, which was made of hollow steel, as its name implies. "In later days, in the wars upon Middle-Earth, it was the bows of the Númenóreans that were most greatly feared. 'The Men of the Sea,' it was said, 'send before them a great cloud, as of rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel...'". It was used to shoot black-feathered arrows that were a full ell long from point to notch.[2] It was much feared by their enemies.[4] Among the royal heirlooms of the Kings of Númenor was the Bow of Bregor.[5] The Númenoreans were also the only known culture in Arda to have developed crossbows, used primarily for bird hunting. [6]
  • The Gondorian army contains units of archers who use a longbow. The bows are made of heartwood, about 68 inches tall. The arrows are about 28 inches long with four-inch steel tips. They're accurate up to 200 yards. The longbowmen of the army wear their quiver (the case that holds the arrows) on their hips rather than on their backs like most archers. Bows were also the primary weapon of the Rangers of Ithilien.[7]
  • Rohirrim archers used shortbows, possibly because they fought mounted on horses. The shortbows were much less powerful than those used by other Men, having a range of only 125 yards.
  • The various Northmen nations, including the Men of Dale and Lake-men, used bows for hunting and warfare alike. Bard the Bowman was a notable archer from Lake-town and played a key role in the slaying of the dragon Smaug with the Black Arrow.[8] Beorn, a skinchanger affiliated with the Beorning people, supplied Thorin and his company with a few hunting bows before they headed east towards Mirkwood.[9]
  • Dwarves used bows less prominently than the other races, but had them among their military weapons. Dwarven bows were shortbows made of horn, or of a composite build, using horn and wood. Thorin Oakenshield used a bow to threaten the Mirkwood Elves and the Men of Dale when he was reluctant to part with the treasures of Erebor.[13]
  • Orcs used bows for hunting, as well as weapons of war. Orcs primarily used bows that were made of horn, although the Uruk-hai of Isengard were known to use longer bows in the fashion of Men, which were made of yew.[14]

[edit] Notable bowmen

[edit] Other names

The forms quinga, ping are cognates deriving from the Primitive Quendian kwingā.[15]

The form cogn, is derived from Primitive Quendian kuȝnā, itself representing the root KUȜ.[16]

[edit] Inspirations

It is possible Tolkien's fascination with bows came from Red Indian stories:

Red Indians were better: there were bows and arrows (I had and have a wholly unsatisfied desire to shoot well with a bow)
On Fairy-Stories
But he [Tolkien] liked Red Indian stories and longed to shoot with a bow and arrow.
Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

The idea of steel bows wielded by Númenorean military elites was likely inspired by historical steel bows from India, similarly expensive and rare archery weapons. [17] [18]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2001-2003: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Bows, just like all weapons from the films, were designed during the pre-production by artists like Warren Mahy, with aid from Alan Lee and John Howe. The majorty of them were hand-crafted by Weta Workshop employees.[19] Races seen using bows include Men, Elves and Orcs. In The Two Towers, the Uruk-hai use crossbows in the beginning of the Battle of Helm's Deep (non-canonical to orcs). [20]

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bows are available to player characters as handheld ranged weapons.[21] There are also crossbows, less common.[22]

2012-2014: The Hobbit (film series):

Bows, just like all weapons from the films, were designed during the pre-production by artists like Warren Mahy, with aid from Alan Lee and John Howe. The majorty of them were hand-crafted by Weta Workshop employees.[23] Races seen using bows include Men, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs.

[edit] See also

References

  1. Anthony Burdge, Jessica Burke, "Weapons, Named"; in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (edited by Michael D.C. Drout)
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", p. 170
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", Song of Eärendil
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", p. 273
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", "Notes", p. 171
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 340
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Departure of Boromir"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "KWIG" (in that source the first word is spelled qinga, and the second is Noldorin.
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "KUȜ", p. 365
  17. Steel Bows in India. Orig. publ. in Society of Archer-Antiquaries, 1969. Sagittarius Twente University Archery Club website. Margo.student.utwente.nl (archived version, Archive.org)
  18. Indian Steel Bow discussion. MyArmoury.com discussion forums, 13 February 2010.
  19. ''The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) , Weta Workshop featurette
  20. ''The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition) , Weta Workshop featurette
  21. Category: Bow Items, The Lord of the Rings Online Wiki
  22. Category: Crossbow Items, The Lord of the Rings Online Wiki
  23. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Editions, Weta Workshop featurettes