Gennady Filimonov reveals the origins of a bow made entirely from ivory
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L’ Archet, the seminal two-volume work on bow makers by Bernard Millant and Jean-Francois Raffin, contains many examples of bows from down the ages. A most intriguing example, which appears on pages 186–7 of the first volume, is an ivory bow commissioned personally by the Russian empress Catherine the Great. Made entirely from mammoth tusk, the stick has a swan-bill head while the frog is made from a single piece of nacre (mother-of-pearl), decorated on each side with four small diamonds. The audience side features the inscription Catarina II Russiarum Imperatrix Fecit . et dedit A. Lolli. 1776 (‘Catherine II, Empress of Russia: made [for] and given [to] A. Lolli [in] 1776’). The bow has retained its original case, apparently crafted by the same maker as the bow…
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