Friday, September 11, 2009

Copper Inuit Bows in the CMC

Lori's trip to Ottawa last weekend prompted me to revist some photos I took at the Canadian Museum of Civilization last year. I found a few photos of Copper Inuit Cable backed bows.

The Tuktut Nogait bow would have been cable backed, like these and you can see how there is extra lashing at the bend in the limb for the recurve. This is necessary for the cable to follow the line of the bow, but it also reinforces joins in the wood. I can't be certain from the photos, but it looks like the bow in the display case has a limb spliced on in exactly the same way as the Tuktut Nogait bow.

But there are also many differences. The CMC bows are much thicker limbed and the bows have quite square cross-sections. The Tuktut Nogait bow has very flat, delicate limbs by comparison. There doesn't seem to be an isolated grip in these bows either, whereas the Tuktut Nogait bow has a narrowed grip that protrudes on the belly side of the bow. Nevertheless, references like these will be useful when it comes time to assemble my bow, there is a lot of detail visible in the cable backing.

Here's a quick look at the bows I'm working on as of this morning. I've narrowed the staves a bit and tried to layout the length of the bows to avoid as many knots as possible (the Tuktut Nogait bow has no knots in the wood at all). Right now I'm working the backs. The growth rings on yew are so narrow that its a real challenge to plane the back down to a single growth ring, when they are only 1 mm thick. Once I get the backs properly planed, the rest of the shaping of the bows will be on the sides and the belly.

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society has more great information on making these kinds of bows on their website.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top, Inuit Cable Backed Bows at the CMC
Second, Copper Inuit Bow and Hunting Case on display at the CMC, dates to before 1916
Third, Same bow, different view
Fourth, Yew staves in progress

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