Thumb Rings


17th Cent. Persia (Ivory)
Museum of Anthropology, Missouri


17th Cent. Persia (Nephrit)
Museum of Anthropology, Missouri

Since the 3rd century archers who used the thumb technique have worn a thumb ring for protection. These rings were made out of metals such as bronze, iron and silver, out of stones like jade, nephrite and jasper or even simply out of leather. High-ranking individuals wore a ring out of gold or ivory on special occasions – these were often richly decorated with jewels and ornaments. There were many different shapes of ring that varied by region. However, regardless of its shape or material, the purpose of the ring was always to protect the tip of the thumb against the bowstring as it snapped back.

Even on a strong bow you can pull the string without the protection of a thumb ring – after lots of training has created a callus – but a thumb ring made out of a hard material ensures the release is always clean and exact. The naked thumb or a soft leather covering do not have a fixed groove for the string, so that holding the string at the same position is practically impossible; on release the string rolls across the soft skin of the thumb or leather. If the string is resting on the small groove in a thumb ring made out of a hard material, the thumbrelease can be compared to a modern compound bow.


18th Cent. Turkey (Bone & Leather)
Museum of Anthropology, Missouri

Bogen Daumenring

2012, Germany (Bone & Leather)

Two popular materials used to make thumb rings past and present are horn and bone. These are the traditional materials I use for my rings. Black buffalo horn or white cow bone gives the ring an elegant appearance.

Choose your personal thumbring according to your taste – out of buffalo horn or bone, decorate it with an engraving, with stones or perhaps even in gold?