The purpose of the kulak

Several historic archery thumb rings have some leather on the inside, which was glued in covers approximately two thirds of the length of the lip. In Turkish the leather attachment is called the kulak. This is generally thought to be to protect the thumb from the bowstring. For me the riddle was; why this tab is so long? If it’s only a thumb protection, it would be, in my opinion, much shorter. Until now I thought that the string was over the tab what I expressed in my book.

Currently after repeated analysis of two pictures showing the old ring (see two photographs of the thumb ring from the Grayson Collection. Museum of Anthropology, 100 Swallow Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-1440, link:  Museum of Anthropology and after having discussion with Adam Karpowicz I lean towards the thesis that the tab overlapped the string and then was pressed against the middle finger (while the string laid on the edge of the ring). This explains why the tab was so long – need to remember that the strings were very tick at that time and to overlap it the tab had to be long enough. Bowstring covered by the tab/ touching the leather, is subject to a greater degree of friction giving a better control over the shot. Previously I thought that the upper surface of the tab was abraded by the string (see the photographs), but now I think that it could be abraded by touching the middle finger (caused by the friction freed when releasing the string). Please note characteristic bulge on the tab suggesting that it was caused by the string which was under the tab. If you make a big close-up of the picture a white trace on the surface of the leather can be seen (I mean on the leather which cover the edge of the ring and which is the part of the inner fragment). As an evidence for above is lack of any kind of trace/dent left (on the upper surface of the tab or on the edge of the ring just before the tab) by resting bowstring. Please note that there is a certain analogy between some of the solutions used in modern flight archery and a way to use a kulak described above. Important part of the kulak it is not only the tab but also the section glued to the inside of the lip of the thumb ring. In Turkish, kulak means an ear. This refers to the rounded section inside the ring, not the pointed or scalloped tab on the outside. Considering the above, I have found five reasons that could justify the existence of kulak:

1. Main – increase the control over the shot
2. Stop a hard ring from moving around on the thumb while shooting.
3. Protect the inner part of the proximal phalanx of the thumb from the bowstring.
4. The tab when is pressed against the middle finger strengthens the clench, thus better prevents against an uncontrolled shot – the tab wrapped around the bowstring and pressed against the middle finger forms some kind of lock.
5. Leather glued onto the inside of the ring strengthens its construction; this extends
the life of thumb rings made of horn or bone.

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