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Subject: The Mythology of the Indian War-Bow
Vritra    1/24/2007 8:40:30 PM
The Indian Great War-Bow plays a very large role in its mythology and national identity, but has largely disappeared from the pages of its history. A vast number of greatest Indian heros - from gods like Rama and Shiva, to mortal heros like Arjuna and Karna - boast the Great Indian War-Bow as their primary weapon. Indians outside Indian armies - like Cyrus the Great's Army, for example - were largely famed for their infantry (or chariot mounted infantry) armed with massive war-bows. Leadership - as gods (protecting Dharma), mortal princes, or mere captains - depended on the archer's prowess. But within Indian history itself one finds only instances of bamboo bows used by very low-class/low-priority troops. Wonder why is that? Why no history of Indian Cercy or an Indian Agincourt? India had always had its worst enemies in form of superior horsemen, so why did it not deploy those war-bows in great numbers? TECHNICAL QUESTION: Does the very high humidity of most of India render the bow useless except in seasons an army is sure to find dry weather?
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Vritra       2/5/2007 3:50:47 PM

Something I came across while researching the Gupta Empire:

"Like Indian kings before them, and The Guptas seem to have relied heavily on infantry archers, and the bow was one of the dominant weapons of their army. The Hindu version of the longbow was composed of metal, or more typically bamboo, and fired a long bamboo cane arrow with a metal head. Unlike the composite bows of Western and Central Asian foes, bows of this design would be less prone to warping in the damp and moist conditions often prevalent to the region. The Indian longbow was reputedly a powerful weapon capable of great range and penetration and provided an effective counter to invading horse archers. Iron shafts were used against armored elephants, and fire arrows were also part of the bowmen's arsenal. India historically has had a prominent reputation for its steel weapons. One of these was the steel bow. Due to its high tensility, the steel bow was capable of long range and penetration of exceptionally thick armor. These were less common weapons than the bamboo design and found in the hands of noblemen rather than in the ranks. Archers were frequently protected by infantry equipped with shields, javelins, and longswords."

The Indian War-Bow

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