Originally Posted by Ian
I've watched this discussion unfold in a manner similar to previous issues of nomenclature. Each time we arrive at a consistent set of themes--the collector who wants precision mainly for cataloging purposes, and the collector with broader ethnographic and cultural interests who wants to understand how we arrived at a particular name for a specific weapon. I would suggest that these are not necessarily competing approaches, but rather complementary.
The early descriptions of cultural items by Western authors were often incorrect. Sometimes the items had various names in the original culture which makes their description more complicated.
In this case, Ariel has made a strong case that the word karud is actually a misidentification of the Persian word kard. Perhaps if the early Western scribes had written the word they heard as kar'd—with the apostrophe representing the short, soft vowel in the spoken form—then this confusion would have been avoided. However, we are left with the word karud that has now found general acceptance in the collectors' lexicon, and we are unlikely to expunge it.
Some of you have pointed to other examples where a general term meaning "knife" has been applied more specifically to certain weapon forms. I would add to this list the Philippine words bolo, itak, and sundang, each of which are generic words for "knife" but have taken on more or less specificity according to where the term is used.
Slight differences in pronunciation in the local cultures also contribute to confusion. For example, the familiar Moro barong (with a short "o") is also pronounced barung (where the "u" is pronounced as a long "oo", as in moot) in some areas of the southern Phlippines. I use the less familiar spelling when describing the weapon because this avoids confusion with the barong tagalog, which is a shirt commonly worn by Filipinos.
I'm sure this is not the last time we will be discussing terms for weapons and coming across the errors of the past. Each time we go through this exercise I think it's important to ask, what are we trying to achieve in terms of clarity of description?
What's in a name?
Absolutely perfectly reasoned and eloquently written Ian, and well describing what most of us are trying to establish, the parameters that surround properly describing ethnographic and historical arms and armor forms.
As has been noted, the monumental work by George Cameron Stone in 1934 has stood ever since as the cornerstone (with its heft almost literally) in the world of arms study for both scholars and collectors. I think it has long been wished that an updated version could be accomplished, and there have been numbers of attempts in degree. Even Herculean falls short of illustrating the huge challenge in achieving such a task.
As Eric has noted, the problem in researching, compiling and writing a book even on a single often limited field or form is difficult as there are constantly new examples, material and more accurate perspectives arising. This is because of, thankfully, our cadre of enthusiasts in the study of arms and armor, constantly probing, investigating, evaluating, discovering...and this is part of the fiber of the passion of collectors in our chosen fields.
I think Lofty has well expressed the circumstances involved in the study and the struggle to more accurately describe and understand the many conflicts and nuances which arise in the progression of research.
There is indeed a considerable spectrum in the character of collectors, who well augment the necessary examples and evidence required by scholars who are deeply involved in such research. I think Fernando has astutely observed (coincidentally in the theme of this discussion) the misfortune of a word or term inadvertently placed in an otherwise beautifully explained text.
I think the term 'hoarder' is probably a bit strong, however it does apply to the character in some cases of some who strive to collect impressively, focusing less on the history, details and background of items they amass. What they seek is an impressive and concisely worded description which will be resounding in the volume of examples proudly exhibited in carefully organized categorization.
While this type of collector is quite different than most, it should be recognized that they are characteristically with somewhat different ajenda and goals than others in many ways.
To our benefit, these individuals by sheer volume often turn up key examples which provide valuable evidence as they are proudly displayed.
To be fair, a 'hoarder' is one who amasses things in huge volume but usually secretively and without specific purpose. A collector who amasses often huge volumes of arms and does not exhibit specific interest in their history in depth, is simply a collector, rather than a historian.
Conversely, I personally do not collect any longer, and am a historian, who deeply appreciates the opportunities to view, study and discuss the amazing spectrum of arms here, and shared by those who DO collect, regardless of WHY.