Posts Tagged ‘Persian’

An Interesting Mughal Blade…

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

A while back, I had a reader ask for some information on Mughal period weaponry. Not knowing too much about it, I did some reading up and found that the Mughal period was a historic period in India that ran roughly from the 16th to 19th Century, where a large portion of the Indian subcontinent of Asia was ruled by Islamic Imperialists.

However I also quickly discovered that the Mughal period covered waaaay too much time and encompassed a large a geographical area that sported too many different but entirely indigenous weapon designs for me to single any specific one out. So due to my rather dwindling time resources, I wasn’t able to be much help (for which I apologize).

However during my travails, I did manage to turn up one rather unusual supposed example of Mughal weaponry:

The Sword of the Mughals

The Sword of the Mughals

This sword features a damascus blade that starts out fairly straight, but curves mildly towards the tip into a rather wicked looking point. The spine of the sword follows suit, except for the top third, which looks a lot like it was cut down from a much larger, wider deeply curved scimitar.

The hilt is also unusual for a Persian blade, featuring no cross guard, and almost straight grip, but a reverse curving pommel, molded into the head of a stallion. Overall an interesting (if a little perplexing) study in Persian weapon design.

This blade is an interesting mix of flavors, part scimitar, part broadsword, with an unusual hilt design. The weapon, as a whole seems to match little of the historical weapon patterns of the area that I’m aware of, but instead seems to be a variation of a mix of different Persian weapon styles that have themselves been modified.

As an example of Mughal style weaponry, I must admit to being a bit flummoxed by the design. Most of the authentic historical weapons I came across when I was doing my initial research on the topic, bore significant differences in design.

I’m tempted to say this is another fanciful but failed attempt by an overzealous weapon designer to create a historical Mughal blade with generous helpings of creative license thrown into the design process. But being no expert in Mughal specific blades, who knows…

But no matter. It does not look bad on it’s own merits, even if it’s just a little too tame by my standards…

The Sword of the Mughals – [Realm Collections]

Fun With Damascus Steel

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Today, I have a special treat for you. You may or may not know this, since it does not come up particularly often, but one of my favorite blade materials is Damascus steel. For two reasons. First, barring unfinished or tarnished steels, it is one of the only true “dark” finished steels that I know of.

The next reason is that, even though I have a great love for all dark weapons, (to me they have more character than most) the truth is that, most dark weapons are not inherently dark, and require special finishes, most of which rarely do any more than provide an aesthetic touch to a blade.

Damascus steel on the other hand, has an inherent dark aesthetic beauty that requires no artificial colorings or preservatives. Ok, so maybe there are some forms of Damascus that have artificial colorings. Some shades of Damascus require chemical treatments or the usage of special alloys or metals to achieve the desired effect.

But in the grand scheme of things, these are no worse than the coatings used to enhance the appearance of monosteels. Nonetheless, it is still the only type of steel that I know of, whose aesthetics are also functional, and whose enhanced cutting power does not really require any special finishes / treatments / coatings. Damascus steel has an inherent beauty all it’s own.

But the cool thing is that, in the hands of true metalworking artists, using these various other methods, Damascus can be made into patterns and colors of amazing beauty. I was quite thrilled to find a site that featured such beautifully wrought Damascus blades, each one uniquely and excellently finished to a level of detail that, much like J. A. Harkins work, totally blew me away…

I present to you a taste of the blades of Kevin and Heather Harvey of Heavin Forge. First up:

<_>

The Zulu assegai – In Damascus

Zulu Assegai in Gaboon Viper Damascus

[view full size]

Now obviously, as one of my favorite African weapons, this Damascus Assegai caught my eye. Definitely a thing of beauty. Due in no small part to the very eye catching Gaboon Viper Damascus pattern on the blade:

Zulu Assegai – Close up of Blade

Zulu Assegai Blade Close Up

[view full size]

Now this is a very unique spear, first because of the shaft style, which appears to have been carved to appear like a dark horn grip at the bottom, and smooths out the rest of the way up. Very cool. And the head sports a cool damscus pattern they have appropriately called called “Gaboon Viper”, as it emulates the characteristic diamond pattern found on the back of the aforementioned reptile… I’ve got two words for the head on this spear: Absolutely Awesome…

<^>

Persian Fighting Blade!

Persian Fighting Blade

[view full size]

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, I needn’t explain to you why I like this blade… It’s all about the points and curves… (I’m sure you can figure it out… ๐Ÿ™‚ ) And it doesn’t hurt that it has a Damascus blade. Which is actually appropriate since Damascus steel is reputed to have been developed in ye old Persia and was also called watered steel at the time. No surprise, as Damascus does look like Steel with waves in it…

<^>

Next we have a piece i like to think of as from the West. The Wild West. California gold rush and and all that jazz… It should be self explanatory why:

Gold Rush Bowie

Gold Rush Bowie

[view full size]

Yep, we have a bowie knife, perhaps almost the trademark of the wild west, (besides the ever ubiquitous revolver), in an amazing gold and almost cobalt blue Damascus hue… I’ve always like gold accents on black blades, but this just takes it to another level altogether…

Gold Rush Bowie – Close up of ricasso and top of hilt

Gold Rush Bowie - Ricasso and Hilt

[view full size]

There’s gold in that thar bowie!… I seen it with my own two eyes!!

<^>

Finally, but certainly not least, we find a weapon harking from the dark continent of Africa, an interesting little dagger that reminds me of an insect for some reason. A long wasp maybe? I dunno. But here is it, in all it’s insect like glory…

African Dagger

African Dagger

[view full size]

Now this particularly dark brand of Damascus is one of my favorites, perhaps the only true dark steel in existence. And this sample is particularly beautiful, complementing the overall theme of this dagger very well. Between the African styled hilt, and the really very cool horn sheath, it’s perhaps one of the most intriguing implementations of a Damascus dagger I’ve seen to date…

<^>

And that’s all I’ve got for today. You can see more of Kevin and Heathers’ work at Heavin Forge. Perhaps what really impressed me was not only the creative use of color in the steel, but also the overall attention to detail, fit and finish on every weapon. Absolutely beautiful. Make sure you swing by their page.

As much as they were all great works of art, after looking at them all, I discovered I had a favorite. Probably because I tend to gravitate towards more dark colors and organic shapes, I liked that last waspy dagger best. It just spoke to me. We had a grand old chat.

I think I’m gonna give it a name. I’m calling it the Black Stinger… Yeah… In fact I think i’m gonna have to make myself similar blade one of these days. It won’t be nearly as cool as this one, but If it has half the personality, I’ll be looking forward to quite a few great conversations with it…

P.S. I’d like to point out, for the record, that I am not insane. Just a *wee bit* loopy when it comes to certain blades… But I’m totally harmless, I assure you… No really… ๐Ÿ˜›

Kevin and Heathers Damascus Blades – [Heavin Forge]

A bigger, beefier scimitar…

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

In a couple of previous posts I talked a little about the design of the traditional Persian Scimitar, along with a few very good examples. Today, I ran into one of my favorite scimitar designs:

Persian Warrior Scimitar

Persian Warrior Scimitar
[view full size]

Now I like this design for a couple of reasons. While I find the traditional Persian Shamshir scimitar design appealing, I’ve always felt that they had a a little bit too much curve in the blade, and not enough blade width to back it up. While this made for a great, fast, compact, close quarters, slashing weapon, it also meant a sacrifice in thrusting ability and overall strength.

Fortunately some enterprising Persians figured this out, and another, beefier version of scimitar began appearing. This sword conforms to the basic design of a Persian scimitar, with a deeply curving blade, a simple cross guard, a small grip with a forward curve in the butt, etc. But this design has a little extra “oomph” in the blade department.

Namely, while the curve of the blade is not as deep, it has a much wider blade, and a large clip point at the tip, these changes completely change the dynamics of the blade. Because of the added weight and strength of the blade, this scimitar could now be used against lightly armored opponents, and could also be used for thrusts, abilities which were severely lacking in the old version. All positive improvements, though they came at the cost of decreased speed and maneuverability.

This replica captures the essence of that design, though it departs from it in areas, which is evident from the slightly more ornate than usual cross-guard, and the lack of a full tang, with grip scales and pins, a staple of traditional scimitar design. But at least it looks the part, and is suitably large and intimidating… ๐Ÿ™‚

Persian Warrior Scimitar – [Heavenly Swords]

The Persian Scimitar.

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Quite a while back, I did several pieces on weapons that had been labeled “Scimitars” but lacked the basic physical characteristics of one. Even more recently I did a piece on a Persian sword with some distinctly non-Persian design characteristics, such as a relatively straight blade, no cross guard, and a capped pommel. A Scimitar is supposed to look more like this:

Shamshir Scimitar

Persian Scimitar
[view full size]

But even this is a watered down version of the traditional Persian Scimitar. A reader, Al, responded to one of my previous posts about a Persian Scimitar, a Shamshir, that he just so happens to have in his possession:

Shamshir Vertical Shamshir Vertical 2
[view full size] [view full size]

This, ladies and germs, is what a Persian Scimitar is supposed to look like. While the word “Scimitar” nowadays generally includes any sword with a deeply curved edge, it is believed that it’s roots lie in the Persian Shamshir. And Als’ weapon, is an old, excellent example.

The Shamshir has some very distinctive features. Most notably the very deep curve of the narrow blade. This makes it excellent for close range slashing, but hinders it’s thrusting ability. Besides that shamshirs have simple cross guards, set atop grips with wood or ivory scales pinned to the full tang. A simple but robust combination.

Shamshir Grip Pins Shamshir - Horizontal
[view full size] [view full size]

The butt of the traditional Shamshir is usually left uncapped, and curves forward, provding a good tactile response on the position of the sword in ones hand. Al says this Shamshir is over 400 years old, and it certainly looks the part. He also says he’d be willing to part with it. For the right price of course… ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll throw his email address in below, in case any of you are interested…

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