Language: Mandarin Chinese
Source: Period dictionary


Gōng nǎo (弓腦) literally means "bow brain". It is the part that connects the working limb to the ear.

In English, also called "bow knee". The gōng nǎo was often a separate piece of wood that was spliced into the core of the working limb on one side and spliced into the ear on the other. In some cases, the "ear" and "brain" were made of a single piece that was heavily reinforced with sinew.

It is the brain that forms the first rigid section on the end of a composite bow's working limb, and creates the bend on which the ear is placed.

Bow parts

Parts from several stages of the bow making process.
3 and 4 are unfiished "brains".


The above plate if from: Tan Danjiong's (T'an Tan-Chiung) "Investigative Report on Bow and Arrow Manufacture in Chengdu" published in Academia Sinica Language and History Review, Taipei, 1951, and then again by the Society of Archer-Antiquaries in 1984.


Bow ear

A bow ear where the nǎo and shāo are made into one piece.


Other terms


Qing bow glossary




Pinyin transliteration

  Bow Gōng
1. Bow grip 弓弝 Gōngbà
2. Sides of bow grip 弓弝膀子 Gōng bà bǎngzi
3. Arrow slipping spot 箭溜子 Jiàn liūzi
4. Bow ear 弓弰 Gōng shāo
5. Tip 弰頭 Shāo tóu
6. String notch 扣子 Kòuzi
7. String bridge 弓墊子 Gōng diànzi
8. Bow knee (lit. "brain") 弓腦 Gōng nǎo
9. Painted birch bark 畫樺皮 Huà huà pí
10. Bow face 弓面 Gōng miàn
11. Bowstring 弓弦 Gōng xián
12. Bowstring knot 弦挌搭 Xián gé dā



All terms are from the Wuti Qingwen Jian (五體清文鑑)or "Five Languages Mirror", a Qing imperial dictionary in Manchu, Mongolian, Uighur, Tibetan and Chinese of circa 1790. Commissioned by and published under the Qianlong emperor.

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