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Old 5th July 2008, 02:24 PM   #7
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 521

Originally Posted by fearn
Hi All,

We might want to be more precise about how weapons diffuse. The reason is that Indonesia and the Philippines are all on millenia-old trade routes (remember the Spice Islands), so a lot of people were moving back and forth through the region, and not all peacefully.

Thing is, there are a bunch of ways weapon designs can move, and I think if we distinguish among them (preferably with examples), it will be useful.

In no particular order, ways a sword design can move:

1. "Stealing with your eyes"--I love this phrase from the martial arts. Basically, someone sees a sword they like and order something similarl from a local smith. In this case, the shape of the blade comes from elsewhere, but the construction techniques are strictly local.

2. Shipwreck or trade: someone physically acquires a weapon, and either redecorates it (i.e. the ornamented spanish blades dug up from Indian graves on Catalina), rebuilds it (new sheath, hilt, etc--the classic trade blades), or reverse engineers it and makes copies (i.e. the Andrea Ferrara blades of Africa, complete with bogus markings).

3. Movement of smiths. In these cases, the whole technology and terminology moves. I'd suspect that in this case, it's more than the blade term (for instance "kalis" might become "keris"), but the mountings, steel type, and most importantly terminology, all move.

Obviously these blend in with each other, but I think there's something useful in distinguishing them. The thing to "watch out for" is "convergent design," where weaponsmiths independently come up with blades of the same shape to do the same job, without talking with each other. There are only so many ways to make a sword, after all.

Comments? Getting back to the thread, can we tell how blades moved, from the evidence?


Good points I would add captured/trophy blades from battles, perhaps that would fit in with your #2
RhysMichael is offline   Reply With Quote