Language: Manchu

Origin of term: Classical literature

Manchu word beri

 

Description

Manchu word for "bow". The word beri, like the Chinese word gōng could be used for any type of bow.

Usually, it refers to the typical Manchu bow, which was an Asian composite reflex bow with long rigid tips.

 

Manchu bow

The archetypical Manchu composite bow.

Manchu bow unstrung

A Manchu bow in its unstrung state.

A Manchu archer in full draw

A Manchu archer in full draw. Photo by H.R. Kress.
Date unknown, probably late 19th century.

Context

When the Manchu invaded China and founded the Qing dynasty, they introduced their archery culture into China. Manchu archery equipment got widely adopted also by Chinese soldiers, and the Manchu style bow became the standard Chinese bow. For the Manchus, archery remained a defining part of their cultural identity and they were the last major empire to use archers to good effect in the field, defeating armies largely relying on firearms with a mix of Manchu archery and Chinese musketeers as late as the 18th century. Chinese military examinations with heavy bow pulling and target archery tests were only abolished in 1908.

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