Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Portuguese navigator sword for comments (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=23464)

fernando 17th December 2017 06:50 PM

Portuguese navigator sword for comments
 
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I have just bought this one for Christmas. One only picture so far. But unless something goes wrong that i can only notice when i have it with me, this is a good example of a pattern used by Portuguese navigators as from mid XV century. Not the more refined pattern used by nobility and wealthy members but by the basic soldier. Being studied, for one, in modern works like a monograph published by the Navy Museum (author Armando Canelhas) there are only some three dozen examples known to exist, this considering all four classified variants.
Some call these swords 'hilted a la Portuguese', some call them 'crab swords', aparently rank and file used to call them 'Colhonas' (testicles) due to their pronounced rund guard discs and even others called 'African' the more rustic ones, as those might have been produced in Africa by or under Portuguese smtiths orientation.
I have to wait until i can handle it, to try and classify it among the said four types (A to D). So far it has a tendence to be type C but, to fall into such, its round discs would have to be sharpened, consistent with what is written about those being used as a weapon in close combat. I also have to (try and) judge on its grip cover authenticity, but i know now that the way the pommel is peened with its bent tang end corresponds to a true original system found in some of these swords.
The blade has a high probability to be good material, possibly German as often seen in the period.

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Kubur 17th December 2017 07:41 PM

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Hi Fernando

Look the nice birthday present that I got from my wife.
It looks very similar to yours.

Best,
Kubur

fernando 17th December 2017 08:06 PM

Oh, i can't believe !!!
Where did your wife find this one ?

fernando 28th December 2017 05:55 PM

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So i have it with me and tried to take some decent pictures ... such a hard task for a photo amateur, specially during an ever lasting cloudy sky.
I would conclude this is a type C, from a classification given by the National Navy Museum technical consultant. Although types from B to D are not so easy to distinguish, as their difference resides mostly in forging details, from fair to poor, all such produced for rank and file, type A refers to those made for a different users universe, practically having nothing to do with these humble navigators/soldiers battle swords.
The guard discs having a 35 m/m diameter are indeed sharpened; not razor blade but, reasonably sharp, nothing rejecting that they have in time been sharper. The 81 cms. blade is more to the slim side, but with a rather sturdy and well forged ricasso, 40 m/m wide and 7 m/m thick. The grooves are rather superficial. All in all i would assume it is genuine, potentialy German, with the Christogram IHS in both sides and a two digit mark also in both sides of the ricasso, i guess some kind of lot number. The grip cover wrap looks (looks) original, made with narrow strips of leather.
I am a bit lost at figuring out the use of the counter guard turn ups. One source calls them protection buttons but, protecting from what; i fail to see them as parrying appendixes. Another source says they are to create a space when you lay the sword on the ground, so that makes it easy to instantly pick it up when in an eminent atack; i don't know if i swallow such hypothesis, either. I ought to have this riddle cracked.
This sword has 9a cms. total length and weighs 803 grams.
Anyone care to comment ?


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Philip 28th December 2017 09:14 PM

Parabens, amigo! Uma excelente acquisição!

Filipe

fernando 29th December 2017 04:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Parabens, amigo! Uma excelente acquisição!...

Obrigado, Filipe :cool:

kronckew 29th December 2017 04:27 PM

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Sharpened guard disks, usage?

How about the 'Mordstreich' - Murder Strike? The disks make it a nice double axe. Punching would be effective too.

I've seen Italian falchions with the upturn on the finger guard, not being symmetrical, the turn-up was on the right. On mine, it (experimentally) did not increase the ease of picking up the sword whichever side it was on. Didn't try it with a gauntlet tho. It did seem to offer a bit more protection to the second joint on my finger in a parry.

Cerjak 30th December 2017 06:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
So i have it with me and tried to take some decent pictures ... such a hard task for a photo amateur, specially during an ever lasting cloudy sky.

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Congratulations Fernando ,The pictures are much more better ! Interesting sword and very special hilt a bit crudely made.
best

Jean-Luc

fernando 31st December 2017 02:16 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerjak
Congratulations Fernando ,The pictures are much more better ! Interesting sword and very special hilt a bit crudely made.
best ...

Merci Jean-Luc,
Indeed these were battle swords for low rank soldiers, and forged en masse in both homeland and colonial arsenals to cover for large needs in the period; there are versions even more crude... but still the genuine stuff.


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fernando 31st December 2017 03:36 PM

Protection buttons ... or pitones for Spaniards
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
... It did seem to offer a bit more protection to the second joint on my finger in a parry.

I take it that there must be a more "convincing" explanation. In some cases these buttons existed in both hilt sides.


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shayde78 1st January 2018 03:52 AM

Please have your wives call mine to advise her where to shop for my presents!!

Madnumforce 1st January 2018 05:41 PM

I'm sorry, but as much as I'd like it to be true (because this kind of folded tang is very often seen on French billhooks, and I search every bridge I can find between tools and swords), I find this tang to be a bit suspicious. The patina doesn't seem to be right at all, like if it was just a few years old. Can you confirm?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attac...id=174797&stc=1

Philip 1st January 2018 06:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
because this kind of folded tang is very often seen on French billhooks,

The issue of patina aside, I note that tangs folded over the pommel at right angles is an aspect of tool construction not restricted to parts of Europe. I've seen it on any number of native-made bush knives and agricultural implements from SE Asian and Far Eastern cultures, and the practice spills over into tool designs modified for use as weapons as well. It's almost universal on the handles of kitchen utensils and knives from China and Vietnam as well. It's a practical and simple assembly method, albeit lacking in visual elegance. Looseness in the grip caused by wood shrinkage is very easily remedied by tapping the bent portion of the tang with a hammer until it seats tightly again.

I wouldn't be surprised if this system was used in parts of Africa as well; I am not familiar with the material cultures there so perhaps other forumites can address this.

The point is that, considering the nascent Portuguese empire's exposure to African and Asian cultures in the wake of the early voyages from the Atlantic and across the Indian Ocean to the East China Sea, there are all kinds of way that various aspects of material cultures encountered along the way could have been adopted. Also significant is the fact that the Portuguese utilized the resources and labor of local craftsmen wherever they went to provide the tools and infrastructure needed to further their conquests and colonial endeavors.

kronckew 1st January 2018 07:38 PM

I ca't say for african swords, but african axes frequently have a tanged head that is burnt into the haft and the end bent over. (yjey also can be peened over a keeper)

fernando 1st January 2018 08:14 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
... I find this tang to be a bit suspicious. The patina doesn't seem to be right at all, like if it was just a few years old. Can you confirm?...

Well Geoffroy, the only thing i find suspicious is the quality of the picture i took, rather 'astonishing'; besides a bit of a cleaning, due to some local top rust. But i would not doubt the sketch shown in post #1, drawn by the Nany Museum technical consultant, where this fixation method is shown as a system.
I will upload here pictures of two examples shown in the same publication, belonging to private collectors, added by a couple citations written by the said expert. I don't expect you read portuguese, but i trust that you trust the quoted evidence ;) .

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Madnumforce 1st January 2018 10:47 PM

All this is rather interesting. Thank you Fernando for the complementary information. I'm not that surprised that finally I discover a type of sword with a bent-over tang, but just the aspect of it, the lack of patina, which looks like it was just forged, with scale in just-out-of-the-forge condition. This was puzzling me.

I agree with you all that this method of fixation is extremely commonplace on tools in general, but precisely it is never seen on swords, despite its obvious advantages. Well, not exactly "never" have I just discovered.

fernando 2nd January 2018 05:29 PM

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The picture i took from the pommel had the flash activated, after been rubbed with a slightly abrazive washing sponge soaked in WD40 and oiled afterwards; maybe this contributed for a looking as new aspect. It was all me trying to rub off some rust near the tang bent end.
There certainly must be a metallurgic explanation for the apparent lack of patina. In any case it is visible that it has not been tampered with; and so far i am confident over that.

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Philip 2nd January 2018 09:34 PM

sooner or later one will pop up
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
All this is rather interesting. , but precisely it is never seen on swords, despite its obvious advantages. Well, not exactly "never" have I just discovered.

You may as well stay tuned to the Ethnographic forum because someone is bound to post some weapon that has utilizes a bent tang to anchor its hilt. The tribal cultures of Asia or the Pacific Rim come to mind, I distinctly recall encountering it on certain short swords of the Taiwan highland aborigines, and other groups in mainland SE Asia. It's surprising how certain elements become associated with just one thing, or area, but turn out to be fairly widespread. I used to associate ring-shaped pommels with China, but found out later that they are perhaps developed from such on bronze-age knives unearthed in southern Mongolia, and are also seen on some early Celtic long swords.

Philip 2nd January 2018 09:44 PM

mill scale
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
There certainly must be a metallurgic explanation for the apparent lack of patina. In any case it is visible that it has not been tampered with; and so far i am confident will over that.

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Hi, Fernando
Thanks for explaining it. Question: In "real life" does the metal on the exposed part of your tang have a somewhat bluish tinge?

If so it might be mill scale, a tough oxidized "skin" that forms on iron when hammered or worked at forging heat. The stuff is surprisingly durable, it clings tenaciously to the underlying iron and retards corrosion. I've noticed, when experimenting with a file on pieces of old junk iron which has the layer intact, that this thin layer tends to be harder than the underlying metal. So it is quite abrasion resistant. I have removed loose handles from damaged swords which I know to be 18th cent. or even earlier, and been surprised to see patches of this bluish skin intact in places not attacked by the rust which you would expect from something that old. Often, the undisturbed scale and the rust pitting are right next to each other. I am sure that if the tang was ground or polished so that all the scale was removed at time of manufacture, the entire tang would have rusted more consistently.

fernando 3rd January 2018 07:07 PM

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Hi Philip,
I think i know what you mean and subscribe such reasoning.
Mind you, the soft rubbing i gave it, with a deliberately worn sponge, may hardly be considered abrasive, for what the term means; the 'blueing' remained intact ... only brighter. I wonder whether at the time to mount these sword hilts, the tang ends receive another heat up to make it easy to bend them over the pommels. Such silly thought is due to the fact that these blades were stored in bundles until the moment they neded to be mounted. In the Paço dos Duques de Bragança collection there are a few of these swords that were gathered together with their guards but were never mounted, as they were kept in such condition in one of the arsenals, waiting for action days


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Philip 3rd January 2018 08:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Philip,

Mind you, the soft rubbing i gave it, with a deliberately worn sponge, may hardly be considered abrasive, for what the term means; the 'blueing' remained intact ... only brighter. I wonder whether at the time to mount these sword hilts, the tang ends receive another heat up to make it easy to bend them over the pommels. Such silly thought is due to the fact that these blades were stored in bundles until the moment they neded to be mounted.


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Obrigado pelas fotos! Now I see the distinction that collection curators make in the quality of the various blades -- I have always wondered about the fact that it varies, and that some have ricassos that taper at an angle to the tang rather than having a distinct "step" -- so un-European in flavor.

It's not a silly thought -- military armorers who assembled the blades onto completed hilts were wise to heat the end of the tang again before bending and beating it down with the hammer. This would remove any stresses in the metal; also, with blades from disparate sources and qualities, it would be hard to judge from looking at the tangs "as is" whether the hard steel layer that comprised the "heart" of the blade extended all the way to the end of the tang, or if (in the case of cheaper quality blades), a soft iron tang was lap-welded to the billet that comprised the blade itself while it was being shaped into a blade. In the former case, it would be advantageous to heat again because bending steel while "cold" to such an angle might cause it to fracture.

Also, the difference in the surface appearance of your pommel might be explained by the fact that your hilt may have been recycled from a broken sword, and fitted to a newer blade during its service life. My impression from reading about Portuguese martial history is that a lot of equipment, from armor to ships, sometimes remained in use for a very long time.

Reventlov 16th February 2018 01:33 PM

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Does anyone (Fernando?) recognize this sword shown on the cover of another of Daehnhardt's books, and have any more information about it? I could not find an image credit in the few pages available online as a preview...

https://issuu.com/apeironprojecto/docs/enigma

Mark

fernando 16th February 2018 03:19 PM

Hi Mark,

I am not so keen in memorizing specific items, and i don't see this one in Daehnhardt's books, namely "Homens Espadas e Tomates", where he shows a few specimens and typifies a few styles in drawings. But i wouldn't doubt this one also belongs (or belonged) in his collection.
I have just bought a copy of this book you mention, for a cheap price (used ?). The only chance is that he mentions the sword inside the cover.

Reventlov 16th February 2018 08:08 PM

Obrigado, Fernando. :)

fernando 22nd February 2018 10:12 AM

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The book has arrived. The sword is magnificent.
Not much detail on its provenance, except for the observation (in text) that it is from the period of this navigator (beg. XVI century).
I will try and get further detail through some source.


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Reventlov 22nd February 2018 01:32 PM

Thank you again, Fernando! The form of the hilt is familiar of course, but the surface decoration seems very different from other swords of this type...

kronckew 22nd February 2018 01:53 PM

Interesting, the ricasso area on one side is radiused , i'm guessing for a finger over the guard, tho the protective ring on that side seems to have been broken off...

fernando 22nd February 2018 03:02 PM

So i got an answer from my source, which humble translation follows:

"This is a sword of Portuguese fabrication, of the transition XV to XVI century, more specificaly speaking betwen 1495-1520, therefore purely "Manuelina" (1495-1521). Pommel and guard are from the same artist, well sculpted and very well embedded in silver. One of the button guards is missing, but it is not restored, as it is preferred to stay as it is. The blade is from one of the German smiths who then worked in Lisbon. Its inscription is characteristic: “ JVAN DE ALEMÃO” , that is “ João o Alemão” or “JOHANN DER DEUTSCHE”. The blade has a recess in the ricasso to lodge the index finger. An excelent combat sword, both fit fo thrust and cut, used by a person of social status, once it should have been rather expensive in the period. The pommel shape most modern for the period, already with the initial renaissance features, thus abandoning the late gothic. It shows a good blend of Portuguese and German sword, as it was appreciated in Lisbon at the time. "

fernando 22nd February 2018 03:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
... tho the protective ring on that side seems to have been broken off...

Nothing you miss, Wayne ;).

alexish 23rd February 2018 03:06 AM

Influence on Sri lankan Kastane sword
 
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Dear Collectors,

I think that the guard and quillon design on the Portuguese Navigator Sword must have somehow influenced the design of the elaborate Kastane sword of Sri Lanka. I hereby attach some pictures:


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