Tag Archives: horseback

Lukas Novotny / Saluki Bow

22 May, 2014



Was led to an interesting older article from 2003 about bowyer Lukas Novotny’s attempts to recreate composite bows. He is still handcrafting and selling them, by the looks of it. It features the sort of difficult, pernickity, single-minded attention to detail that never fails to impress me.

The full PDF with lots of pictures is here: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/pdf/2000/200305.pdf

The text only version is here: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200305/history.s.curve.htm

Most bows made with dustars and siyahs as single elements are Turkish. To make them, Novotny cuts 76-centimeter (30”) sections of wood and soaks them in cold water for three days. Then he steams the two pieces into curves of some 60 degrees. For bows in which the dustars and siyahs are separate elements, typically known as Persian five-element bows, he steams the dustars into a gentle curve and finds branches growing at the desired angle for the siyahs. To assemble the parts, he tapers both ends of the handle and, if needed, the ends of the siyahs. He then cuts V-shaped splices into the dustars and, after brushing on glue, fits the pieces snugly to form a strong, undetectable joint.

Next comes the horn; Novotny uses water-buffalo horn. He prepares it by shaving off the surface ridges, cutting it roughly to size, then steaming and flattening it. He can now shave the horn until he has twin strips of uniform thickness the width of the wood core. He glues the horn strips onto the bow’s belly so they meet in the center of the handle. Then he winds a rope around the bow using a traditional tool called, in Turkish, a tepelik . Unlike modern clamps, the tepelik creates an even pressure along the curve, squeezing out excess glue. The bow is now left to dry for several weeks with its ends tied to maintain a soft curve….