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Old 3rd March 2016, 08:46 AM   #21
Philip
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 615
Default spurious markings

Jim,
Musicians and artists have a well-known reputation for "cribbing" their competitors' and predecessors' ideas, and the blade-making centers of Europe were up to the same shtik as well. As Solingen surpassed Passau in output at the beginning of the 16th cent., its workshops imitated the latter's renowned running-wolf mark in order to cash in on its sterling reputation (I've seen the wolf on blades mounted up as far afield as India and China). In the 19th cent., swordsmiths in the Caucasus were putting the same wolf on their blades; you can see some examples of the originals and the knockoffs in E. Astvatsaturyan, ORUZHIYE NARODOV KAVKAZA (armament of the Caucasian peoples), St Petersburg 2004, fig. 33, p 53. Some of them are pretty true-to-form, but the truly humorous ones display a good deal of artistic license: one of them is more a kangaroo rat or mutant gerbil than anything remotely lupine.

Pp 56-57 of the same book show comparisons of original European blade motifs (the familiar religious figures, hussars on rearing horses, crosses, and Latin inscriptions) and the copies seen on blades forged in the Caucasus. The Muslim artisans did a very credible job depicting subjects like the Virgin Mary, and the Hungarian royal arms, but their attempts at copying Latin text were even clumsier than those of the typical illiterate workman in Western countries -- letters reversed, oddly spaced, or transposed. Sometimes the Caucasians simply gave up trying to imitate the florid cursive German hand, and stuck an Arabic inscription inside the same baroque scrollwork cartouche seen on a typical blade from Germany.
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