Tolkien Gateway

Bows

"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
This article or section needs more/new/more-detailed sources to conform to a higher standard and to provide proof for claims made.
John Howe - Elven Bow

Bows (Sindarin: ping, , Quenya: quingar or ) were a common weapon in Arda. All peoples, Good and Evil, were known to 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, Numenorean and Orcish bows were made of steel, forged in armories.[source?] It is said in a poem that Eärendil wielded a bow "made of dragon-horn".[2]

[edit] Bows by Faction

  • Elves of Doriath and Lothlórien used longbows which were ,as their name suggests, longer bows and shot farther and higher then 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 steelbow, which was hollow and made of steel, as its name implies. It was much feared by their enemies.[3]
  • 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 aslo the primary weapon of the Rangers of Ithilien. [4]
  • 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.
  • Orcs used bows for hunting, as well as for a weapon in war. Orcish bows were made of steel, and probably were much heavy and difficult in use. Bows and crossbows were used as a weapon by the fierce Uruk-hai in the Battle of Helm's Deep.

[edit] Notable bowmen

[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."
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

The Numenorean steelbows are perhaps paralleled to the medieval arbalest: probably required much strength to pull, and thus perhaps a lower rate of fire.

[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.[7]

[edit] See also

[edit] 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. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", Song of Eärendil
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  7. Weta Workshop (featurette)