In Mongolia, the thumb is referred to as Erhii Mergen, the name of a famous archer of Mongol legend. The significance of the thumb in Mongol culture has everything to do with its use in the Mongolian archery technique.
In Mongol Archery, as well as archery styles of other Asian cultures such as Indian, Korean, Japanese, Turkish and Chinese archery, the thumb is used to draw the string of the bow. A ring made of horn is most often used by Mongols to protect the thumb in this method, but stone and metal rings have been known, as well as experienced archers using no ring at all. In modern Mongolia, beginning archery students often use a home made ring out of leather before they come into their own professional set of equipment. References to use of a Thumb Ring made out of leather have been cited from the Middle Ages (thanks to Kay's Thumbring Book) and as early as two millenia ago in the Indic epic Mahabharata.
"At the command of the preceptor, the youthful Arjuna, equipped with leather protector for the finger, his quiver full of arrows, bow in hand, and wearing golden armor, performed the initial rites of propitiation and entered the arena like the evening cloud reflecting rays of the setting sun."
- Mahabharata, Book 1, Adi [Origins]
This is a pattern for making your own Thumb Ring. The pattern is a trace of a homemade Thumb Ring used for beginning archers in Mongolia. It is to be made of thin leather or some other suitibly smooth surfaced, tough and pliable material. The tabs labelled 'A' and 'B' are to be made long enough to be sewn together into the ring worn on the thumb with the remaining tab to protect the tip of the thumb while shooting. When used to draw a bow, the string is to rest about where the joint of the thumb is marked on the pattern. Print this page to use the pattern for making your own thumb ring.
Selby, Stephen. Chinese Archery.
Koppedrayer, Kay. Kay's Thumbring Book. Ontario: Blue Vase Press, 2002.
Narasimhan, C. V. (trans.) Mahabharata. in The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Volume A, ed. Sarah Lawall (New York: Norton, 2002)
Selby, Stephen. How do I use a Thumb-ring with a Mongolian Draw? 1998.
http://www.atarn.org/FAQ/thumbring.htm (Sept. 2, 2003)
Dwyer, Bede. Early Archers' Rings. 1997-2001.
http://www.atarn.org/chinese/thumbrings/archers_rings.htm (Sept. 2, 2003)
Duvernay, Thomas. How to Make an Archer's Thumb Ring Using Simple Tools, Instinctive Archer Magazine. 1997.
http://www.atarn.org/korean/IA_kr_2.htm (Sept. 2, 2003)
(a slightly more difficult technique)
Saluki Bow Company
3 Rivers Archery
© 2003, by Luigi Kapaj, in the SCA: Gülügjab Tangghudai (Puppy)
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