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Old 13th December 2018, 07:07 AM   #91
ariel
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Jens and Fernando,
I think we ought to take into account that handling of elephants during peace or war must have been different.
For example, post #97 shows animals in holding pens/ stables or entertainment- driven pitched fights. It would be reasonably logical to assume that the ambience was directed at keeping them as controlled as possible. Chains were truly needed. One does not want to lose a precious animal just for fun.

However, on the battlefield aggression was prized, even at the expense of potential danger of loss of control. Freedom of movement was necessary, blood-thirsty behavior was encouraged. In this regard elephants were not different from human soldiers: tightly controlled, marching up and down in unison on the parade, but whipped to the point of frenzy during the real battle. In the latter case the attacking force could not and should not be restrained.
This explains Charney’s mention of elephants being “ drunk or drugged” (sic!) before the battle to reduce their sensitivity to fear and pain. Restricting their movements was counterproductive ( just like humans). The price was high: multiple sources report loss of control, turning around with destruction of one’s own forces in an attempt to flee the battlefield etc. If that happened, it was cheaper and unavoidable to kill them rather than administering gentle psychological interventions. Again, it was not different from from human fighters: soldiers on the battlefield are presumed to be killed anyway and are expendable. Sacrificing a unit for some tactical advantage or for preventing general panic and rout was and often still is routine at all times. One did not think about saving and re-educating fighters for the next battle: the current one is what counts.

Controlling frenzied elephants is an exercise in futility: they are too big and strong. This is why males in rut and “musth” were not used during the war: even in peaceful times they were held in isolation and tight confinement for up to 3 months every year ( again, Charney).

Thus, I am very doubtful about the use of movement restricting leg chains during real battles: an attacking elephant should be given maximal freedom to speedily strike the enemy, but an animal posing danger to its own army has to be neutralized on the spot. War is not a time for niceties. That is why sources mention the final task of mahout: putting a stake into uncontrollable animal’s brain or severing its spinal cord.
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Old 13th December 2018, 11:47 AM   #92
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Points taken Ariel ... and undisputed; restraining chains for captivity and restricted movimentation, such as parades or fighting sessions.
This brings a question; how do they 'store' elephants ? We can follow Alvaro Velho's description of how they teach the female to go find a male and entices him to follow her and falls into the disguised trapping pit; where he spends six days before they start feeding him, firstly with little food and more each following day until he starts coming to eat. This goes on for a month, when they start bringing him food while they soften him, up to when they lay (with him) on the pit ground. And this they do for as many days as needed to lay their hands on his teeth. After which, they go down and throw some gross chains on his feet, in having them placed they teach him so well that nothing they miss except to talk. And then they keep them in stables, like horses; and a good elephant is worth 2 000 cruzados.

Could the term used by Garcia de Orta, camaras (chambers) be equivalent to Velho's stables ?

However if we consider such stables resource to be consistent with the needs to lodge a couple civilian animals for working purposes, how would they do with a thousand war ones ? Open air, chains by the thousand ... pegged ?

Another subject yet to be (more) clarified is that of the use of whipping chains in war elephants trunks. It might be pure fantasy but, there is no smoke without fire ... or is there ?

PS:
Time to remind that, ongoing translations are passive of unwilling flaws; some of the posted episodes are picked from the original post-medieval scripts which contain, for a non expert, several 'awkward' expressions; and still one has to interpreter them and then convert them into a non native idiom; no language degree here. Efforts go for a reasonable transmission of the essential parts in context.
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Old 13th December 2018, 08:44 PM   #93
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Re. whipping chains:

I decided to conduct an experiment: found a thick rope, and held it in my right hand leaving about a foot loose. Then I started swinging my arm, left and right, up and down. About every third swing the rope hit my arm. Then I increased the length to ~ 2 feet: 2 out of 3 times I got hit in the head or in my right arm ( an equivalent of a trunk).

Thus, any elephant doing the same would hurt his trunk and head mercilessly.

Any forumite wishing to repeat the experiment with a medium size iron chain is welcome to it. Just do not say I did not warn you.

This is why Charney’s description of a chain attached to one leg, wrapped around the trunk with the end of it secured by the tip of the trunk seems more sound to me. In effect, the elephant would hit the enemy with a very heavy armored trunk without a risk of hurting itself by the free segment of the chain.
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Old 14th December 2018, 12:03 PM   #94
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Ariel, what i admire more (most) in your endeavor is the risk you took to rupture your biceps .
On the other hand, it could either be my poor(est) english or the method Mr. Charney described requires some juggling abilities from the part of the elephant .
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Old 14th December 2018, 01:23 PM   #95
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Ariel, it is an interesting experiment you have made.
When reading the description the old travelers give they are a bit loose, as to how the chain 'trick' was made, so it may have been as you say, the chain was wrapped around the trunk - an armoured trunk so to say.
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Old 14th December 2018, 01:45 PM   #96
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Very interesting experiment But the only thing he proves is that the person who does this experiment is not an elephant
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Old 14th December 2018, 04:11 PM   #97
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Fernando,
My guess is that the chain might have been wrapped around by the handlers, and teaching the creature to hold the free end in its trunk tip might have been relatively easier than teaching it to endure self-inflicted pain.

The bottom line, we shall never know exactly the particulars of elephants' training for war, their tactics, equipment, problems etc. We can only surmise and make our best guesses assuming that our logic is similar to the native one. However, when I try to read Elgood's book on Hindu rituals or discussions in our Kris Forum, I understand how far apart we are....

This art died more than 300 years ago, and we are left with only occasional hearsay accounts by European travellers and snippets of old local stories, both of unproven veracity. The locals did not leave us much: Charney ruefully describes virtual absence of written accounts from SE Asia due to humid climate and insects. Even more durable antiquities fare not better: I went to the Royal Palace in Bangkok to see their collection of old weapons. They were all nicely arranged outside in the open shelving and covered in red rust. Ain't no Louvre or British Library, folks....
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Old 14th December 2018, 04:44 PM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Ariel, it is an interesting experiment you have made.
When reading the description the old travelers give they are a bit loose, as to how the chain 'trick' was made, so it may have been as you say, the chain was wrapped around the trunk - an armoured trunk so to say.


I learned the art of constructing an experiment from my mentor and the stories about Enrico Fermi: make it simple, stupid:-)

During the first test of atomic bomb Fermi stood some kilometers away from the explosion site with pieces of torn paper in his fist. He raised his hand and opened his fist at the moment of the arrival of the explosion wave : the paper pieces flew away. He looked how far away they flew, made a couple of calculations in his head and announced the power of the explosion. His answer was >10 kiloton. Actually, it was 18.6.

He was famous for his power of estimation of unknown phenomena using intuitive information. His most famous question to Ph.D. candidates in physics at the University of Chicago was: how many piano tuners are in Chicago? No Yellow Pages were allowed.

I learned a lot from these lessons, but still wish I was half as smart.....
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Old 14th December 2018, 05:43 PM   #99
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This has been an interesting and "freewheeling" discussion but has strayed a long way from the original topic of "elephant swords." Chains and how to restrain elephants, etc. is some distance from the OP. Perhaps we could get back to Jens initial ideas.


Ian.
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Old 14th December 2018, 07:45 PM   #100
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I agree with Ian, and hope the discussion will come back to the elephant swords.
How would an elephant hold a sword?
Could the sword have had a 'katar hilt', which would have been more natural for an elephant to hold?
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Old 15th December 2018, 12:10 AM   #101
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Question:

Except for a cockamamie painting in post #42 ( the one with half-human monsters) and an even cockamamier tall tale that Afanasij Nikitin planned to tell his Tver neighbors in the middle of nowhere, do we have any reliable suggestion that trunk swords ever existed?

Again, I go to Wiki:

Kentar is an Indian and Arabic modification of Latin Centennarius further modified intoGreek kentenarion and Arabic kentar.
In different countries at different times it’s value was either 100 lbs or 100 kg.
Then, direct quote:
“ In India and Albania (kuintal), the quintal as equivalent to 100 kilogram was imported via Arabic influence and is a standard measurement of mass for agricultural products”

See post #6: estimate of Procopius was exactly the same.

So, are we to believe in 100 kg swords. attached to tusks and to trunk?

Any info on 100 kg patas or katars?
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Old 15th December 2018, 08:58 AM   #102
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It is very interesting for me, is the transmission of incorrect information - is it an inability to use the Internet or a conscious desire to distort the facts? (I am writing in advance for moderators that there are no insults in my words. This is a rhetorical question posed to the infinity of internet space )

I do not dispute the fact that in some countries, the kentar could be 100 kg. But Afanasy Nikitin was a Russian and used the Russian measures of weight, recognised at the time.

Kentar is a Russian measure of mass, weight, introduced in the 15th century. In the 15-17 centuries, Kontar was equal to 2.5 pounds or 40.95 kg.
100 kg and 41 kg is a noticeable difference.

http://sainfo.ru/units/info.php?t=400215
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Old 15th December 2018, 06:59 PM   #103
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I agree with Ian and Jens, the topic has freewheeled far from the original topic, which has often seemed troubling in many instances where aspects that indirectly applied to the topic at hand became the focus.

With the evidence for tusk swords apparently exhausted , I suppose it was inevitable that the scope expanded, but perhaps changing the title to 'use of elephants in warfare' would better serve the thread as it has evolved. The point is, just how much latitude should be extended in a discussion with ancillary factors brought in?

While the analogies of other instances of elephant weaponry were brought up it was primarily to test the feasability and credence of whether tusk swords were actually in abundant use, or fantasies appearing in art work.

As Jens has mentioned regarding the case for elephants holding swords in trunks, this seems very much an instance of either exaggeration or misconstrued account, much as most certainly the 'discussion' on erratic weights. If someone simply exclaimed.....the elephants HAD swords!!!!
Then how much would it take to PRESUME the elephant was holding a sword in its means of grasping. The exaggeration of weight of swords (either on tusks or held in the truck) would possibly be heavy in accord with the size and weight of these huge animals.

The question remains.......just how much EVIDENCE is there to support swords being used BY elephants? The profoundly digressed discussion has mostly revealed the questionability of the artwork and period accounts, but has not really provided much more on the tusk swords.
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Old 16th December 2018, 01:06 PM   #104
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Jim i would be rather surprised if you didn't enter at this stage, as in moments that you usually find opportune.
I dare say that your attributing the posted topic colateral research findings a label of 'profound digression' is a bit 'over gauged', even judging by your own inferrement that the tusk sword theme was exhausted; that which takes a short step to discern that, the conversation would risk to drop dead if it weren't for the (quote) ancillary factors which were brought to discussion, to which punctual feedback from the thread author took place. For one who spent hours paging books and burn his brains trying to translate and bring historic material to the thread, this is rather frustrating.
Allow me to correct your assumption (in bold) that there is no evidence of the use of war elephant swords. This is not a recurrent approach only because there is such evidence, as here (and not only) well established; only its precise method, or multiple ones, remain to be clarified but, isn't that what so often occurs to us Westerners, with phenomena that took place in the Orient centuries ago ?

Your humbly ...
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Old 16th December 2018, 01:36 PM   #105
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Thank you for your posts so far, but I find it is time to stop now.
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Old 19th November 2019, 01:54 PM   #106
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I know I asked that the posts should stop, but I find the text below too interesting not to post it.



In The Itinerary of Ludovico di Varthema of Bologna from 1502 to 1508. First published 1510. The Argonaut Press, 1928. This copy by Da Capo Press, published 1970.
The author describes below his travels in India [here from Vijayanagar] in the early 16th century, and on page 51 he describes elephants at war.
"When an elephant goes to battle he carries a saddle, in the same manner as they are born by mules of the kingdom of Naples, fastened underneath by two iron chains. On each side of the said saddle he carries a large and very strong wodden box, and in each box there go three men. On the neck of the elephant, between the boxes, they place a plank the size of half a span [about 10 cm], and between the boxes and the plank a man sits astride who speaks to the elephant, for the said elephant possesses more inteligence than any other animal in the world; so there are in all seven persons who go upond the said elephant: and they go armed with shirts of mail, and with bows and lances, swords and shields. And in like manner they arm the elephant with mail, especially the head and the trunk. They fasten to the trunk a sword two braccia long [one braccia is from 46 - 71 cm], and as thick and as wide as the hand of a man. And in that way they fight. And he who sits upon his neck orders him: "Go forward", or "Turn back", Strike this one", Strike that one", Do not strike any more", and he understands as though he were a human being."

Last edited by Jens Nordlunde : 19th November 2019 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 20th November 2019, 01:00 PM   #107
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Hello Jens,
I wonder whether you have suggested that it was time to stop posting in this thread beause of critics (read complaints) over freewheeling material or if you were yourself tired with such contextually inevitable digressions.

Now if i may ...Your present citation of Ludovico di Barthema describing war elephants in the kingdom of Bisnaga (Vijayanagara), while bringing nothing particulary new on the subject, confirms something that the skepticals would reject as being a real fact and, at same time, shows consistency with approaches alread contained (even quoting Barthema) in this very thread;the inteligence of the animal, his ability to understand human comand voices, the sword/s he carries in battle and all.
The difference in the manner the animal is sadlled, mounted and equiped with weapons (swords) may obviously depend upon the region of the Indin sub-continent where this takes place ... or even differ from one arsenal to another.

If this is not too soon, enjoy a Merry Christmas .
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Old 20th November 2019, 02:21 PM   #108
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Now, with these data ( and hints) we can approximate the weight of an “ elephant sword”.
Using Enrico Fermi’s approach ( guesses will correct each other), let’s assume that the average length of braccia is 55 cm, i. e. Blade 110 cm long, width of 10 cm ( width of human palm) and thickness 2 cm ( thickness of human palm), the volume of the blade will be ~2200 cm3. Steel has density of 7.85 g/cm3. Thus the weight of the sword is ~17 kg. Quite manageable, especially for the elephant, but massive enough to cut a soldier thru and thru.

Nikitin, as I suspected , exaggerated a bit even by Russian standards, but this is common to all travelers. Still, it was not an Indian kentar.

Now, we just need a Bollywood movie showing the elephant in action. Blood and gore galore, followed by song and dance on the body-strewn battlefield! I have popcorn ready.

Last edited by ariel : 20th November 2019 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 20th November 2019, 03:37 PM   #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
If this is not too soon, enjoy a Merry Christmas .


Fernando,
It’s never too soon for good wishes! Same to you and yours!

But... we have Thanksgiving coming next Thursday and are sentenced to chew on a mass of semidigested cardboard popularly known as “turkey”.

This year I am making Leg o’Lamb! With dried apricots and cherries, a touch of Jamaican Jerk ( don’t tell my daughter!), a lot of garlic ( do tell her that!) and a twig of rosemary on the side.
Side dish: basmati rice with real Persian saffron and a lot of almonds.

Our son is bringing over his fiancée. Proposed her month ago, and got enthusiastic “yes”. Yuoo-hooo!!!

Memo to myself: thou shall not overcook lamb.
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Old 20th November 2019, 03:40 PM   #110
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Fernando, I could not bring anything other than what I have read. I am sorry if you dont find it interesting.
All the best for Christmas and New Year to you.



Ariel, yes your weight suggestion could be correct - about 17 kg.
I think most woud have lost their fighting spirit, if knocked at the body or on the head, by an elephant with such a sword.
The dish you are making sounds fantastic:-).

Last edited by Jens Nordlunde : 20th November 2019 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 20th November 2019, 03:49 PM   #111
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Do i see some misunderstanding with the braccia interpretation ?

One braccia, italian for fathom, is equivalent to approx. 1,83cm.
Reason why i commentd in my post #63 that two fatoms, allegedly mentioned by Barthema, was surely an exageration.
In a copy of this traveller's Itinerary translated to Castillian in 1526 by Christoval de Arcos, the author mentions 'dos codos' (two cubits) which gives us a more rational length for such swords; a cubit measuring 44-52 cms.

Hopefuly no criticism pops up for freewheeling entries .


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Old 20th November 2019, 04:04 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahratt
Kontar was equal to 2.5 pounds or 40.95 kg.


http://sainfo.ru/units/info.php?t=400215

Russian kentar was equivalent to 2.5 POODS , not pounds. Pound is 0.45 kg, ; Russian pood is 16 kg.
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Old 20th November 2019, 04:10 PM   #113
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Fernando,
Your info re. Braccia as cubit just validates Fermi’s approach:-)
15-20 kg is a realistic number.

Personally, I like freewheeling entries. They relax the atmosphere and add some human touch. Second, quite often they turn discussions into unexpected and very productive directions: Jens quotation gave us an opportunity to quantify the size of elephant swords.

Last edited by ariel : 20th November 2019 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 20th November 2019, 04:32 PM   #114
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Ariel, i confess i wouldn't realize that being a Chef was within the range of your abilities. I take it that skipping the plastified turkey and opt for (not over) cooking leg of lamb is a strategy to captivate your future daughter in law .
We don't have Thanksgiving day over here ... but we do have lamb, basmati, lots of smashed garlic and lots of spices (that our navigators brought from India whereabouts).
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Old 20th November 2019, 04:42 PM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Ariel, i confess i wouldn't realize that being a Chef was within the range of your abilities. I take it that skipping the plastified turkey and opt for (not over) cooking leg of lamb is a strategy to captivate your future daughter in law .
We don't have Thanksgiving day over here ... but we do have lamb, basmati, lots of smashed garlic and lots of spices (that our navigators brought from India whereabouts).


Yup, you guessed it:-)
And do not short-change Mozambique’s Piri-Piri!
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Old 20th November 2019, 04:49 PM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
... Thus the weight of the sword is ~17 kg. Quite manageable, especially for the elephant, but massive enough to cut a soldier thru and thru ...

A bit too heavy, though ... despite Fermi's formula. No hollow parts ?
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Old 20th November 2019, 04:59 PM   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
... And do not short-change Mozambique’s Piri-Piri!...
Which i and my wife* are fans of; half dozen varities in the spices chest.
*She is a Caucasian but has grown up in Moçambique ... were she caught me, during my army service.
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Old 20th November 2019, 05:56 PM   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
A bit too heavy, though ... despite Fermi's formula. No hollow parts ?


Well, no real sword is an ideal rectangle. It might have been curved and narrowing toward the tip, might have had fullers, the “thickness” likely reflects the back and could have had narrowed down toward the edge etc.
You are correct: 17 kg might be an idealized maximum, that’s why I put a range 15-20 kg.
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Old 20th November 2019, 06:33 PM   #119
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For your continued enjoyement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpx4QTeMKk
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Old 20th November 2019, 08:42 PM   #120
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Very funny Knocknew, you really must be a person with a lot of humor:-).


As none of us have an elephant sword, we are guessing, but when it comes to the weight, I think Ariel is close.


Fernando, you must temember that measurers/weights were more floating centuries ago - and we are speaking about the 16th century.
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