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John Howe - Elven Bow

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]


[edit] Overview

Bows varied in shape, size and material. While elven flawless bows were made from wood, Numenorean 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 steelbow, which was hollow and made of steel, as its name implies. It was much feared by their enemies.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • 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 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.[source?]

[edit] Notable bowmen

[edit] In other languages

The forms quinga, ping are cognates deriving from the Primitive Quendian kwingā.[8]

The form cogn, is derived from Primitive Quendian kuȝnā, itself representing the root KUȜ.[9]

[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

[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.[10]

[edit] See also


  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, 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
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  8. 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.
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry KUȜ, p. 365
  10. Weta Workshop (featurette)