Language: Mandarin Chinese
Source: Period dictionary


The gōng shāo (弓弰) is the rigid section at the end of a composite bow. In English, also called "bow ear". In the Qing dynasty, the composite bows used were of Manchu design with characteristically long shāo.

The rigid ear of a Qing composite bow.

The characteristically long ear of a composite bow of the Qing dynasty.
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2019.


Purpose of ears

Bow ears help bend the limbs of the bow. From a design perspective, a longer rigid section at the end of a bow can help bend a thicker and stronger limb while using the same force as with which a shorter eared bow bends a less substantial limb. In practice, this usually makes a longer eared design better capable of launching heavier arrows. On the downside, the longer ear is dead weight that can reduce the amount of acceleration in the limb. In other words: Long-eared bows tend to be slower.

The above is just a generalization. Many other factors are at play, like ear angle, presence of string bridges, grip setback, etc.


Other terms


Qing bow glossary




Pinyin transliteration

  Bow Gōng
1. Bow grip 弓弝 Gōngbà
2. Sides of bow grip 弓弝膀子 Gōng bà bǎngzi
3. Arrow slipping spot 箭溜子 Jiàn liūzi
4. Bow ear 弓弰 Gōng shāo
5. Tip 弰頭 Shāo tóu
6. String notch 扣子 Kòuzi
7. String bridge 弓墊子 Gōng diànzi
8. Bow knee (lit. "brain") 弓腦 Gōng nǎo
9. Painted birch bark 畫樺皮 Huà huà pí
10. Bow face 弓面 Gōng miàn
11. Bowstring 弓弦 Gōng xián
12. Bowstring knot 弦挌搭 Xián gé dā



All terms are from the Wuti Qingwen Jian (五體清文鑑)or "Five Languages Mirror", a Qing imperial dictionary in Manchu, Mongolian, Uighur, Tibetan and Chinese of circa 1790. Commissioned by and published under the Qianlong emperor.

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An exceedingly rare set with fine mother of pearl inlaid string board


With a golden damascened lock of the Indo-Portuguese type.


Very good example with a finely carved warrior scene.


Probably of Southern origin, with a straight blade and flaring tip.


In the style of northern work of the 16th and 17th centuries


A standard pattern Qing military saber, but with the rare addition of a label in Manchu.