EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Fernando, thank you as always for your informative and well noted responses, which are constantly intriguing and well supported and present thought provoking perspectives.
Actually we are not really digressing from the subject matter and talking points of the discussion as examples of compared swords to those in the OP often had 'crosses' which were a salient factor considered in their character as far as decoration.
The mention of the ankh was brought up in the Daehnhardt reference, but it seems in a broader sense as the reference was to use of the 'cross' in Pharaonic Egypt, suggesting possible association or influence to use in these rather distant contexts. The equilateral cross is quite distinct in its simplicity so its origins and use most certainly did develop quite convergently in many cultures and civilizations well into prehistory.
Like a number of simple ideographs and pictographs which evolved through prehistoric times, these of course had varied interpretation in accord with local beliefs and tradition while their simple forms were alike.
The equilateral cross was as noted not a Christian invention, but very much present as noted long before those times. It was adopted in numerous forms and interpretations in that Faith and others with these added accordingly in various representations.
As we are travelling through many states here and seeing significant American Indian historical areas, I would note that the equilateral cross is seen in various tribal symbolism. While there is a large degree of similarity in its interpretation it is referred to as a 'medicine' symbol (power) and usually the cardinal directions signifying 'universality' or ecumenical notion.
These occurrences of course have nothing to do with Christianity, early explorers, the Greeks, Crusades, or Egyptian ankhs. They exist on petroglyphs which are seen from Montana in to the desert southwest and probably further.
The occurrence of the cross pattee (commonly referred to as the Maltese cross) on the Abyssinian shield is not at all surprising, as the Abyssinians had considerable contact with Christianity (Coptic) long before the Portuguese arrived as you noted. These crosses evolved most likely in their form from variations from times of the crusades into these more commonly used type as on the shield, which appears to be of latter 19th c.
I guess we are indeed digressing in a sense, though I do think it I helpful looking into the devices and elements we often consider in classifying and identifying arms examples as seen here. It sometimes entails almost a forensic examination to qualify the admissibility of these features, but it presents fascinating results to those of us who wish to pursue these in more detail.
I know that many in our fields do not chose to pursue these factors in such detail, but always hope that our discussions will be of benefit not just to those of us on these paths, but others in better enjoyment of the inherent value of their items.
I always very much appreciate the time and effort you spend in the responses and observations you add in these discussions as they integrate important perspective and evaluation of the material being discussed. The often key entries from the often hard to obtain resources as well as the much valued references from Mr. Daehnhardt are essential to these also.
With many thanks,