A Manchu war arrow | Mandarin Mansion

A Manchu war arrow

Overall length: 105.5 cm / 41.5 inch
Shaft length: 95.4 cm / 37.5 inch
Shaft thickness: 12 mm
Weight: 94 grams

After the Manchus invaded China, the military of their newly founded Qing dynasty all adopted Manchu archery equipment. The Manchu war arrow thus because the standard military arrow of the Qing imperial army. This large and imposing war arrow is often compared to a small spear. They were long and heavy arrows, of standardized length, with a flattened triangular point on a long and slender steel neck. The Manchu bow is completely designed around such arrows, and it is the only bow that can shoot them as fast as it can for a given poundage. This bow-arrow combination was designed to deliver the greatest possible punch to the target, demobilizing it if not killing instantly. This focus on hard hitting single shots emerged from the Manchurian large game hunting tradition, where downing an animal with one shot was preferred over the ability to cast many lighter arrows. Also, these arrows are so large and heavy that not many of them could be carried, so they had to make their shots count. Originally their points were designed to hunt thick-skinned game like wild boar. The thick shoulder-plates of boar are like armor that protects its vital organs, and these arrows were designed to go through them. At some point, they must have noticed that these arrows went through human-devised armor with the same ease, and so over time the arrow became the standard war arrow of choice.

Read all about Manchu war arrows on the Fe doro - Manchu archery website.

A heavy Manchu war arrow, of standardized length. Over time it has lost its feathers, but one can still see remains of where the pens were attached. The space between the feathers, or "cresting", is painted cinnabar red. The nock is covered with birch bark. It has the characteristic Manchu warhead: triangular in shape and deliberately not sharpened to create more of a "punch" at impact. The front end of the shaft, holding the arrowhead, is wrapped with black peach bark. All these elements are according to Qing military regulations. Some losses to the birch bark and peach bark, which is often the case because most of these arrows we find today were taken back from battlefields by European soldiers as war trophies.

A rare chance to own a real Manchu war arrow.


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The Manchu war arrow compared to a Mughal war arrow.