Topic: Info on Korean horn bow and horn bow maker

I recently discovered who made my gak-gung and was given the bowyer's name in Korean characters (Kim Gwang-deok (김광덕)).  I ran a query using the characters and found an interesting article written up on him in Korean.  The article mentions some interesting facts about the gak-gung.  I used google translate here so its not perfect but would like to share.  Where there are question marks is where I note uncertainty in the translation:

Hanmok Palace is made of a single wooden or bamboo pyeon and is mainly a longbow (?). Complex bows are made of a variety of materials such as wood pyeon, bamboo pyeon, gakpyeon, and tendon, and are mainly short bows.

In terms of combat function, bows are divided into Yeongung (軟弓) and Ganggung (剛弓). Yeongung was mainly used by horsemen because it was convenient for shooting quickly from close range, and Ganggung was mainly used by infantry because it was capable of shooting from a distance. The bow in Korea is a composite short bow, a 'gak'-bow made of horns (角弓). The gakgung is named accordingly because it was made from the horns of a water buffalo called heukgak (黑角).

There were 7 types of bows that were used until the Joseon Dynasty including for display, for hunting, for Yeonak (?), and for wet use (?). Ye-gung, Mok-gung, Iron-gung, Cheoltae-gung, Donggae-bow, and Gak-gung. It is called a corner bow of use (?).

Craftsman Kim first learned how to make Korean archery (Gakgung) from Master Kim Bong-won in Jinhae. After the teacher's death, I wondered if there would be any shortcomings, so I went to Yecheon to learn. Craftsman Kim Gwang-deok, who makes about 150 bows a year, works (?) constantly, and when the process is complete, pulls the bow to measure the elasticity and pressure.

A note in the article on what the heat box is used for:

Since the bow is affected by temperature and humidity, it is stored in a separate box that controls the temperature and humidity by lighting a light bulb to maintain and restore its condition.

Some info on the restoration work he's done on historical bows

In addition to making 150 short bows per year, craftsmen with strong tenacity also restored bows such as Ganggung, Donggaebow, Mokbow, Yangjeonggung, Iron Palace, Concubine, Bangoong, Yeongung, and Yegung based on literature.

The article briefly mentions some mind and body aspects too in gungdo:

Archery was also important to the royal family as archery, and it was a martial art [射藝] that the yangban's self-control must be mastered in order to train mind and body and cultivate hoyeonji (浩然之氣).

I'll be looking more into hoyeonji.  Sounds intriguing.


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2 (edited by geoarcher 2020-11-23 04:50:21)

Re: Info on Korean horn bow and horn bow maker

More from a different article I found:

[Chungcheong Ilbo Reporter Shin Hong-gyun] If Japan is a country of swords, Korea is a country of bows.

Some info about the bowyer and the state of bow-making in Korea:

According to Kim, there are fewer than 20 people in the country who make gongs.

“I went to Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do while walking around because I was in feng shui area, and I saw a bow making in a workshop. I first learned to make a bow from a craftsman Kwon Yeong-gu there. I didn't teach them, so I spent over 100 million won in 5 years and learned the technique."

Better translation of info discussed in previous post:

......Bows that were used until the Joseon Dynasty were 7 types in total, including for exhibition, hunting, soft music (all music played at court ceremonies or feasts), and dynamism (exercise of archery).

Interesting categorization of the gak-gung type commonly used in Korea today:

The bow that has been handed down to this day is said to be a horn bow for wet and exercise.

'Wet' in this context is obviously a bad translation.  Perhaps too literal.  Wonder what is really meant here?

Source: … xno=936724

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Re: Info on Korean horn bow and horn bow maker

One other good article I'll source here.  Shows the bowyer in action pretty well:

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Re: Info on Korean horn bow and horn bow maker

A whole short documentary featuring the bowyer making a gak-gung from start to finish:

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