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http://www.chinese.cn 15:02, January 21, 2010

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A kind of ancient weapons and mechanically shooting bows. The legend has it that Chu Qin invented crossbows in the Warring States Period. "Putting the crossbow horizontally under one arm, mounting an arrow on it and shooting the arrow far with strength." Development of crossbows was much emphasized in the Song Dynasty and there are many records about manufacture and improvement of crossbows in the History of the Song Dynasty: Military Records. There were Tazhang crossbows and Chuang crossbows at that time. The former includes black paint crossbows, yellow birch crossbows, white birch crossbows, Cihuashao crossbows, Tiaodeng crossbows, wooden crossbows, etc. Arrows used are called point steel, wood feather, phoenix feather, Putou and Santing and are firmer than ordinary arrows. For example, both rods and feature of wood feature arrows are made of wood and the arrows cannot be pulled out after being shot into the body. "The arrowhead will be left in the body even after the rod is removed." In the first year of Song Emperor Xi Ning (1068), Li Hong invented a kind of Tazhang cudgels called holy arm bows. According to the record in the History of the Song Dynasty, "They are 1.1 m long and the bowstring is 0.5 m long, with arrow wood feature dozens of cm long. They can be shot more than 340 steps away and half into an elm."

Due to their long range, high penetrating power and light weight, they were handed down to the Ming Dynasty from the Song Dynasty. Chuang crossbows were popular in the North Song Dynasty. The Summary of Martial Arts records many crossbows, such as Chuang crossbows, big Hechan crossbows, small Hechan crossbows and sub-crossbows, which have double bows, and hand-shot crossbows, three-bow crossbows, small three-bow crossbows and sub-three bow crossbows, which have three bows. Double-bow crossbows contain a bow in the front and a bow in the back and are twisted tight with ropes and stretched by seven people to shoot arrows 150 steps away. Three-bow crossbows have two bows in the front and one bow in the back and stretched by 70 people for the big ones to shoot arrows over 300 steps away and by 20-30 people for the small ones to shoot arrows 250 steps away. According to the record in the General Study of Literature: "The emperor ordered a test of the Chuang crossbow in the suburb and the arrow was shot from 700 steps away. Then he ordered to makeing of a crossbows which could shoot arrows 1000 steps away and the test result was three li." The History of the Song Dynasty: Biography of Wei Pei says: "The old Chuang crossbow shot arrows 700 steps away and Wei Pei was ordered to make one which could shoot 1000 steps away." It can be seen that there were bigger Chuang crossbows in the Song Dynasty than those described in the Summary of Martial Arts.

Arrows used with Chuang crossbows include big chisel head arrows, small chisel head arrows, three simultaneous arrows, Tajue arrows, etc. These arrows are especially sharp and firm and people can step on, for example, Tajue arrows to climb a city wall after they are shot into the wall. There is a sub-crossbow in both double bows and three-bow Chuang crossbows. A special iron case is tied to the string and dozens of ordinary arrows can be put into the case to be shot together. Canisters with gunpowder can be tied to all crossbow arrows to make fire arrows and the loaded quantity of gunpowder depends on the power of a crossbow. But such big crossbows have their shortcomings. The Record of Weapons says: "Although sub Chuang crossbows are powerful, they need more people. They can be used in defense but not in field operations."

Source: Encyclopedia of China Publishing House


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