Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
New book by Kirill Rivkin and Brian Isaac
Their book " A Study of the Eastern Sword" is out.
I leafed through it at first, and for the past several days I am reading it nonstop.
This is an astonishing book, comparable in depth and knowledge IMHO only to Elgood's " Hindu arms and ritual", but on a more grander scale.
The authors confronted an impossible task: to construct a unifying picture of the origins and the evolution of the Saber. Up until now we could get just glimpses of information on Persian, Turkish, Arabic etc. sabers with some degree of similarity, but without any coherent connection.
Rivkin and Isaac went ten steps further. Theirs is a Darwinian view of the evolution of the saber, with careful descriptions of its mutations, dead ends, unexpected twists, borrowing, absorbing etc.
On top of that, it has informative and sometimes funny stories of the " Legend of Assadulla", a very idiosyncratic view of wootz, and an amusing aside : whether Albrecht Durer was a son of Martin Schongauer ( I am not revealing the punchline:-)) With a single illustration it utterly destroys the myth of Shah Abbas I inventing the karabela handle ( no punchline either:-)) In short, despite this book's heavy load of new information it reads like a novel.
On a serious note, the authors specify 2 areas of "trendsetting": the Khazar Kaganate and the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate, that heretofore were virtually never mentioned in the professional literature, and provide a highly professional discussions of the history, the technology and the attribution of the examples coming from those areas.
The book contains almost 200 high-class photos of the sabers, most of which had never been presented to the general public. Some came from private collections ( and one of them, of Khazar and old Mongolian sabers, belonging to Ruslan Ohlablyn, is simply astonishing), while even more came from the storage rooms of world class museums: Moscow Kremlin, Hermitage, Metropolitan etc.
To say I just " recommend" this book would be an understatement of the year. Many of you ( I hope) already have Kirill's book on Caucasian weapons.
This one complements it and vastly expands its scope.
We have never seen anything like that before!