Early Russian bow: From Russia with love


Gennady Filimonov reveals the origins of a bow made entirely from ivory

Discover more lutherie articles here

Read more premium content for subscribers here

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…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.