Nara period, 8th century

Catalpa wood

長183.3 中央部径約2.5


Important Cultural Property

The Asuka-period statesman and scholar Prince Shōtoku was thirteen years old in 587 when the powerful Soga and Mononobe clans began to fight, spurred by the argument of whether Buddhism should be accepted in Japan. Prince Shōtoku was a part of the Soga army, and supposedly used this catalpa-wood bow and other weapons. This type of powerful bow was made by removing the bark from a catalpa tree and shaving it down into the desired shape before coating the surface with lacquer.
All of the arrows that were passed down with the bow are made of lacquered bamboo. Of particular interest are the signal arrows. A device with six holes would be attached to the base of an arrowhead, and when the arrow was shot, the air passing through the holes would produce a whistling sound. They were used to signal the start of a battle. It is rare for a temple to have weapons in its collection, but because Hōryūji was a center of the worship of Prince Shōtoku, weapons thought to have belonged to him were passed down through the generations.

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