Thread: Elephant swords
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:32 PM   #147
Jim McDougall
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Very well responded gentlemen, as well as great descriptions and explanations. I will say that for me personally, my understanding of these factors in elephants as well as 'tusked' mammals has been greatly expanded.
If ever there was a case to illustrate the wide scope and diversity of studies and knowledge required to study arms and armor, this thread serves well.

The subject of the trunk swords still eludes me, and it would seem that the dental/tusk factor has been extremely well explained, while justifying or understanding the possible attachment of any bladed weapon to the trunk remains a baffling question for me.

It is well understood that the elephant is about the farthest thing from a brutish or dumb beast, and their intelligence is extolled constantly.

It seems that extra precautions were taken to ensure that male elephants would not be in situations in use during the musth period to ensure that their behavior would not become an issue. However, when in groups it would seem that the elephants' own herd characteristics would prevail outside any sort of conditioned training, regardless of gender.

In warfare this certainly was the case, and it seems that I had read somewhere that the use of elephants in actual combat was often avoided for this reason. Combat can result in insurmountable fear and reaction with any being animsl or human, and the sheer size of the elephant creates a terrible situation if they react adversely and unfortunately indiscriminately.

In my understanding, the elephant could essentially serve as a kind of 'tank' in knocking down enemy fortifications, but I do not see them being ridden into direct interaction of massed forces such as cavalry. Which brings me again to the case of the 'trunk sword'. Elephants of course would not wildly harm themselves with a bladed weapon, nor would they use this in the dexterous manner required of a sword obviously. Yes, they have used items in blunt force against threat or even perhaps as a tool in necessary action, and the strength of the tusk I think Fernando well illustrated.

However, I personally think the tusk 'swords' were an element 'worn' in parade or events to impress. While the tusks of course, would not need 'improvement' in their natural and instinctive use, but I believe that these were cut off while these animals were in captivity to avoid aggressive action from them. The 'swords' were in my view, a kind of cap, serving as an impressive addition to the armor. It would seem on maneuver in battle they might have been worn accordingly .

While heavy chains are described as placed on trunks, it seems they might have served in effect as a 'wrecking ball' against emplacements, but again I feel concerned that any adverse disturbance among elephants might have produced a threatening situation for all in their presence. Any sort of bladed weapon would equally have been a nightmare.

Most of the time it seems that accounts of battles and such events are embellished and or distorted to serve the intended effect of the material, and often far from the actuality of the details which actually occurred.
I think it is prudent to assume there is a degree of license involved as we use these sources to investigate subject matter in focus. That was the point I was trying to make earlier toward these descriptions.
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