Language: Mandarin Chinese
Source: Period dictionary
Gōng miàn (弓面) literally means "bow face". It covers the "belly side" of a bow, that side facing the archer when in use. Its function is to take the compression of the working limb.
The gōng miàn was usually made of black water buffalo horn. These were also called: shuǐniújiǎomiàn gōng (水牛角面弓) or "water buffalo horn faced bow".
Normal bows would have polished black horn faces, while the more expensive bows would make use of horns of exceptional quality or with rare effects in the horn. Examples of rare and prized horn include white semi-translucent horn, black horn with white streaks, or horn that goes from black to amber color near the tips.
Bows that appear in the Wuti Qingwen Jian of circa 1790:
Yěniújiǎomiàn gōng (野牛角面弓) or "wild buffalo horn faced bow".
Huāshuǐniújiǎomiàn gōng (花水牛角面弓) or "patterned water buffalo horn face bow".
Yěyángjiǎo miàngōng (野羊角面弓) or "wild goat horn faced bow". (Probably ibex.)
A few very rare bows have horn faces that run from knee to knee, made out of one very large piece of horn. These were called tōngmiàngōng (通面弓) or "all face bow".
The horn face of a Qing bow.
A rare and high quality Qing bow with translucent horn bellies over a red painted core.
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2018.
|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|
|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|
|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.