Inheritance record of Yusuf Beshe,
an Ottoman bowmaker of late 17th century
Şinasi Acar & Murat Özveri
The article is based on a court record dated 1705, and is about the inheritance of a Janissary bowmaker, Yusuf Beshe. This document reveals the bows made in 17th-18th century İstanbul, the tools and the materials a bowery needed and their cost. This information not only confirms our knowledge about the traditional Turkish bowmaking technique, but the related material and tools. It also proves that Crimean Tartar bows were made in the Ottoman capital city. Crimean Tartars were the allies of the Ottomans and contributed the Ottoman army in the battle as fronteers. This document shows that these bows that are structurally different from the classical Ottoman bows, were also made in İstanbul, a fact that would bring an explanation to some old reports about long-draw Turkish bows. Another important point about Turkish bowmaking history is a bow type called the Mameluke bow which had not been mentioned yet in known sources. This article provides an evidence-based analysis about its possible identity and its use.
Key words: Ottoman bow, Crimean-Tartar bow, fish glue, Mameluke bow, Turkish bowery, archery, bow, arrow; Anahtar kelimeler: Osmanlı yayı, Kırım Tatar yayı, balık tutkalı, yay-ı Mısrî, Türk yaycılığı, okçuluk, yay, ok.