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Old 18th October 2006, 12:49 AM   #4
ariel's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 4,072

My understanding is that the differential tempering of Japanese blades made them resistant to acute stress, such as blow by another sword. This was not the case with Persian/Indian wootz. Their system of swordplay emphasized a single drawcut (cavalry use) and minimal contact with other blades or hard objects. They were not designed to be "elastic" but hard and keen-edged. The European swordplay required multiple parrying and, thus, very resilient blades.
Modern steels were, of course, far better mechanically than wootz, but it would be unfair to compare them just like one cannot compare HK submachine guns with handmade Turkish guns. But.... which one was more beautiful and surrounded by legends?
Just for comparison, here are some of the official requirements for the Polish mass-produced cavalry saber pattern 1934:
1. When released from the height of 2 meters, the blade had to penetrate a 2 mm thick sheet of steel.
2. Cut steel bar 5 mm in diameter 5 consecutive times without being nicked.
3. No damage to the handle when the sword was hit flat against hard object
4. No deformation of the blade after repeat bending it 15 cm off the axis in both directions
5. No deformation of the scabbard supported at both ends after applying a 120 kg load in the middle.
As we can see, all of them are very practical and imitating real battlefield conditions.
Could it cut a silk handkerchief like famous Persian swords? Who knows and who cares? Few hussars were ever attacked by handkerchiefs.....
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