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Old 8th August 2016, 03:03 PM   #1
Ian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
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Default Classifying shashka--a serious discussion of typology

Let's try something different!

A recent thread got sidetracked into a discussion of the terminology of shashka (pseudo-shashka, Buchara shashka, Afghan shashka, etc.) that did not advance our understanding of these swords. The debate about which name is correct, whether these are truly shashka, and so on became a circular discussion of yes it is, no it's not.

I am inviting the participants of that discussion and all others wishing to contribute to a serious rethinking of the question: what is a shashka, and what are the distinct sub-types that fall under that name?

The approach to be used here is a typological one, similar to that used by Ewart Oekeshott in his classical description of medieval swords. This method looks at how the weapon is constructed as it relates to its function. Decorative elements may help to define sub-types within a broad class.

You are being asked to look at these swords with a blank mind--no prior concepts of what they are or where they are from, starting with a completely blank sheet of paper. Then start building a new and logical concept of what a shashka is and is not. For those of you who have been discussing these weapons for a long time this may be difficult. In support of the arguments you present, there should be pictures posted here to illustrate the point(s) you are making.

Here are the questions that you are being invited to address:

1. What defines a shashka? Answers should focus exclusively on the essential elements of a shashka as a cutting sword--blade shape and length, hilt shape and length, whether a guard may be present, etc. You decide the essential elements.

2. What are the clearly identifiable sub-types? Again, this needs to be based on the structure of the sword. You should avoid discussing where you think the sword is from, just focus on the swords themselves and how they may be similar or different in their structure. At this point you may consider decorative elements also if this helps to define specific sub-types.

3. Define the sub-types in neutral terms, such as Type A, B, C ..., based on their clearly defined structural characteristics. Avoid defining more than a small number of sub-types.

4. Having defined these name-neutral sub-types of shashka, indicate the "common names" that have been applied to each sub-type.

Participation in this thread requires particular attention to the following Forum Rules.
  • Treat all opinions with respect
  • Avoid sarcasm and attempts at humor
  • No baiting of other participants
As a Moderator with super powers I reserve the right to edit posts that are off topic or do not follow the Forum Rules closely. Corrective actions will be prompt and without further warning.

[If this sounds like an assignment for a University paper it's probably because I'm a retired professor ]
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