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Old 29th September 2006, 12:30 PM   #1
Ann Feuerbach
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Default Review Arms and Armor from Iran, one scholars view

Book Review: Arms and Armor from Iran
One Scholar’s Personal View by Ann Feuerbach

The book, Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the Qajar Period, by Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani, is, in one word, inspirational. As an academic whose work is referred to in the text, is undertaking active research in the subject area, and is teaching University courses in the archaeology and history of the Middle East and Central Asia, my knowledge of this vast field is strong (yet ever growing). I have no affiliations with the book. I was not consulted by the author or anyone affiliated with the book in any way. This is my personal opinion. As the foreword by Richard Dellar states, it “is a work that will immensely increases our knowledge and understanding of the arms and armour of Iran throughout the ages” (Khorasani, 2006, 13). I know it increased my knowledge greatly and I have not yet studied the contents of the book in great depth!

Mr. Cooksey’s contribution discussing the relationship between art, technology and long term cultural change is very important and a topic I am heavily involved with researching. Iranian and Persian weapons often fall under the topics of either Sasanian or Islamic arms. In Islamic studies, the Middle East and Arab influence is often stressed, whereas the influence of pre-Islamic Iranian and Central Asian lands is often ignored by scholars. Coorsey (p14) correctly states that the Arab conquest “did not swallow or overpower native culture and artistic traditions”. The book illustrates that and, although the arrival of Islam influenced the art of Iran, it did not eradicated traditional artistic themes and styles. For example, the use of images of people and animal for decoration remain after the arrival of Islam particularly in the artwork of the people of Iran and Central Asia.

I find Dr. Farrokh’s section “Iran’s Silent Legacy” to be an accurate short summary of the very complex situation of Persian history. It is well known that there are cultural connections between the early people of Iran and those of India. This is exemplified by the fact that Zoroastrianism (the religion of the Persian before Islam) and Hinduism (the religion of India) have the same roots. Although, I would have left out the suggestion that the so-called Aryan warriors of Iran “invaded” India, as the evidence of an “Aryan invasion” is a hot topic for debate. However, the influence of proto Indo-Europeans on India’s culture is evident from the archaeological and historical literature. Furthermore, the influence of the Persian Empires (Achaemenids, Parthians, Sasanians, in the sense of people who lived in that area under their rule, not an ethic group) on world history has been downplayed in European scholarship. If it was not for the Persian Empires, much of the knowledge of “The Classical World” would have been lost.

A large part of scholarly research is reliant on the accuracy of work of others. I admire that the author does not reiterate all the myths and misinformation regarding “Damascus steel”, but rather takes an objective and scholarly presentation of the available evidence. Too many publications state the same generalizations but do not provide the evidence or the sources of the information. In my view this is one of the great strengths of the book…it concentrates on primary sources of information, texts and objects. For an academic like me, this is wonderful and it is what makes the book inspirational. It inspires me to undertake new paths of research. Even a book this size does not answer all the questions about the Arms and Armor of Iran. Indeed it would be sad if it did… it would leave no room for new insights and debate. In one passage, the author states that one of my research statements is not entirely correct (p 102). Does this upset me? Does it make me less of a scholar, no. Quite the opposite. It shows that my research has been read, considered, and built upon!

Are all the dates of manufacture of the objects correct? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Dating blades can be tremendously difficult; blades were reused, new grips, new styles, old “revival” styles etc. Unless an object has an unquestionable provenance, the date is debatable from an academic standpoint. Those who find fault with any information present in the book should research where the author gathered that information from, and prove the information wrong, rather than basing your judgment on your opinion, rather than on hard evidence and facts. No true scholar minds being proven incorrect, provided they did the best they could with the information that was available to them. Research is all about challenging existing ideas, assumptions and preconceptions.

Unfortunately, many of us will not be able to visit Iran and see the objects for ourselves. Apart from the production of a CD where I could enlarge the photos to see small details, the author gives us the next best thing. While some of the photographs may not be perfect, I am glad they are given. Having taken photographs of swords in foreign museums myself, I am well aware that time is often at a premium. (Once, I had one hour to document, photograph and sample 18 blades!). One takes as many photographs as one can for documentation, because one is well aware that the opportunity may never arise again. The result can be often be “less than perfect” photographs, however, I would much rather see a imperfect photograph than none at all or, the ever frustrating and almost useless, single photograph of the overall object with no close-ups!

Personally, I do not like the use of the term “wootz” in many of the descriptions of the blades metal. The term implies an Indian origin for the steel. The text gives many examples of the production of crucible steel (pulad) in Iran and neighboring regions. The term crucible steel should have been consistently used until more research allows us to confidently state where the steel was made.

As a person who does most of her reading on public transportation I do feel the book may have benefited for being in two volumes. However, the use of a Table Mate II (“as seen on TV”) eliminated the weight issue and allowed me to take notes without having to balance the book on my legs. Perhaps, if the publishers mistook the book as a “coffee table book” the size would be justified, but it is a scholarly publication which will be used by all those interested in the Arms and Armor of Iran, for many years to come. My only protest is the book leaves me wanting more (like a good meal or a visit from an old friend). The early Persian and Sasanian blades beg me to analyses them to determine if they are crucible “Damascus steel”. I want the complete translation of Omar Khayyam Neishaburi, not a teaser! It inspires me by highlighting avenues of research which I want undertake. The book provides a strong reliable foundation upon which further scholarly research can be built.
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Old 29th September 2006, 01:17 PM   #2
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Thumbs up A great review!

Dr. Ann
What a great review! You did good.
It shows that a book review can be made without any personal or hidden agenda's. Your in depth analysis and knowledge of the subject is just outstanding. when one can learn from (as I did ) a review you know that the review was "right on". I look forward to any of your ongoing projects with great anticipation.
Gene
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Old 29th September 2006, 05:06 PM   #3
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A good honest review. I am tempted to buy this book. It is rather out of my budget so I a going to asking questions that might seem a little awkward. I do not need another sword porn book, lots of pics of unavailable swords that also usually means a lack of interest in culture and movements artist and social in that region. Art is not just gold and gems. Can you advise?
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Old 1st October 2006, 02:08 PM   #4
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Dear Sirs,

This is a great book about history and solid research and the pictures are very high quality. I would really like to recommend this book to anyone...

Regards

Hasan Cataltas
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Old 1st October 2006, 08:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
I do not need another sword porn book




Tim, you're making history!
From now on., that would be the official term for books like Orez Perski, Islamic weapons,...

Well, I just recived the book and it took me two hours to go thru it. I've found it very fascinating reference. The most complete reference book on Persian arms. And yes, there is a lot to read....

God only knows when a similar book on ottoman arms will arise...

Exellent review Dr. Ann!
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Old 4th October 2006, 02:34 PM   #6
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Hi Tim and all,
Sorry for the delay. It is not a sword porn book (I too like that name) however, it does contain actual porn, well, handles with erotic images.
This may be a surprise to those only casually aquantied with Islamic art. Although not primarily not a book on historic and social developments, social issues ect. of swords, it is far from just pictures. It is a book of substance (in many ways). There is more text than pictures (rare for a sword book). Hope this helps in your decision.
Ann
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Old 4th October 2006, 05:48 PM   #7
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Thank you Ann you make it sound quite ground breaking. I will keep an eye out for a copy. This may take a little while as today I was very naughty and spent money on a throwing knife. I am sure I will get it, like in a years time as I did with Elgoods Hindu arms. Which I have to say I was really more than a little disappointed with.

PS, I like pictures but not of the same old thing and there kind.

Last edited by Tim Simmons : 4th October 2006 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 6th October 2006, 08:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann Feuerbach
Those who find fault with any information present in the book should research where the author gathered that information from, and prove the information wrong, rather than basing your judgment on your opinion, rather than on hard evidence and facts. No true scholar minds being proven incorrect, provided they did the best they could with the information that was available to them. Research is all about challenging existing ideas, assumptions and preconceptions.


Words casted in 24k gold.
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Old 7th October 2006, 12:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valjhun


Tim, you're making history!
From now on., that would be the official term for books like Orez Perski, Islamic weapons,...

Well, I just recived the book and it took me two hours to go thru it. I've found it very fascinating reference. The most complete reference book on Persian arms. And yes, there is a lot to read....

God only knows when a similar book on ottoman arms will arise...

Exellent review Dr. Ann!

Oh, puleeezeeee! Not another snotty remark about Tirri's book. We had enough of those. His book was a personal account of his collection and most of those swords were far from unobtainable: very much meat and potatoes collector grade. Not "academic" and not pretending to be one: just what a beginning or mid-level collector is going to see and needs to recognize. Orez Perski is quite a good book, limited to Polish collections and very thorough in descriptions and background it intended to cover.
And, as to Ottoman arms... wait until Astvatsaturyan's book is translated into English. Exactly what a "weapon" book is supposed to be and written by highly experienced professional. I like her Caucasian one better, though.
Pity Tito broke up with the Russians otherwise your Russian would have been good enough to read these books in the original
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Old 7th October 2006, 03:57 PM   #10
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Just for the record I have not mentioned Tirri's book. Especially as I rather like it. Most of all because it is a plain record with some interesting pieces the kind one is most likely to have a chance of owning, sometimes even better examples. I like the fact he can value a weapon just for what it is and where it came from.
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Old 7th October 2006, 04:41 PM   #11
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Tim,
I did not refer to you. I am in complete agreement with your views on Tirri's book: I like it.
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Old 7th October 2006, 05:49 PM   #12
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Well, I'm not discussing again on such pubblication as Islamic Arms as it is exactly what a sword porn book should be.

As for Orez Perski, it is a very, very nice book with a lot of photos, BUT the descriptions are not accurate at all. There are a lot of pieces miss-dated and some also missplaced. Again, its use is nothing else than a sword porn book.

Well, as we use to say here, Tito's made his biggest mistake in uniting Yugoslavia and his biggest achievement lies in breaking up with Soviets. Among other, it results that I can't understand what Astvatsaturyan has to say. I'm not sure if tht is a pitty

And Ariel, you definetly have too much time
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Old 9th October 2006, 01:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann Feuerbach
Hi Tim and all,
Sorry for the delay. It is not a sword porn book (I too like that name) however, it does contain actual porn, well, handles with erotic images.
This may be a surprise to those only casually aquantied with Islamic art. Although not primarily not a book on historic and social developments, social issues ect. of swords, it is far from just pictures. It is a book of substance (in many ways). There is more text than pictures (rare for a sword book). Hope this helps in your decision.
Ann

Thanks for your support... i buy the book arms and armor from iran... this is one and only historical book

@ Tim this book is not a pornbook... when you want a pornbook, please buy a Playboooy or Playgirl
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Old 9th October 2006, 01:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thai-Kickboxing
Thanks for your support... i buy the book arms and armor from iran... this is one and only historical book

@ Tim this book is not a pornbook... when you want a pornbook, please buy a Playboooy or Playgirl


This book is being either sold or advertised on your website .
I'd consider this a conflict of interest and I believe this post( seeing as how it's your second plug for the book) belongs in the SWAP Forum .
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Old 9th October 2006, 01:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
This book is being either sold or advertised on your website .
I'd consider this a conflict of interest and I believe this post( seeing as how it's your second plug for the book) belongs in the SWAP Forum .

www.legat-verlag.de you can buy the book
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thai-Kickboxing
www.legat-verlag.de you can buy the book



Is the book being sold on YOUR website, Thai-Kickboxing? Is Rick correct?
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thai-Kickboxing
Thanks for your support... i buy the book arms and armor from iran... this is one and only historical book

@ Tim this book is not a pornbook... when you want a pornbook, please buy a Playboooy or Playgirl

Sounds like you know you way around porn; do you also dress like a pimp?
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Is the book being sold on YOUR website, Thai-Kickboxing? Is Rick correct?

I am not a publisher... i give my support for this excellent book... Iam not a seller... Visit homepage http://www.thai-kickboxing.de/news.htm and thank you for you interesst...
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:36 PM   #19
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Why do you insolt? It is not proffessional...
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:42 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thai-Kickboxing
I am not a publisher... i give my support for this excellent book... Iam not a seller... Visit homepage http://www.thai-kickboxing.de/news.htm and thank you for you interesst...


I see, you have a link to the Legat site on your site. I assume you would make no profit off the sale of the book. If so, please advise and repost in Swap.
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:44 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
I see, you have a link to the Legat site on your site. I assume you would make no profit off the sale of the book. If so, please advise and repost in Swap.

Hi Andrew,

i don´t have profit, i give only my support...
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Old 9th October 2006, 04:45 PM   #22
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Default Thanks for the clarification ...

Thai-Kickboxing:

Thank you for clarifying your position regarding this book. I am sure the author appreciates your support.

Ian.
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Old 9th October 2006, 07:08 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Thai-Kickboxing:

Thank you for clarifying your position regarding this book. I am sure the author appreciates your support.

Ian.

Hi Ian,

i am new here and this Forum is very interessting (and sorry for my bad english)

Thanks a lot...
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Old 10th October 2006, 02:26 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thai-Kickboxing
Why do you insolt? It is not proffessional...

I apologize: mistook you for a "troll" well-known around here.
By the way, since you like this book so much and even call it "historical", why wouldn't you tell us what did you like there, are there any particular parts that made especially deep impression on you, or something you would disagree with?
Go ahead, share your views with the rest of us!
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Old 10th October 2006, 05:42 PM   #25
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Default sharing impressions

Ariel, you should make the same. Don't you ?
Or there is really nothing that you like in this book ?
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Old 11th October 2006, 12:09 PM   #26
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I do not know for sure what it is about this book that brings out the worst in people on this forum, though I have my suspicions that it has nothing to do with the book iteself. I am closing this thread because it has been corrupted. Members are welcome to start new threads to discuss the book objectively, but the moment I see anyone else launch a personal attack, jibe or flame about this, the offenders may rest with confidence that they will no longer need to use any of their own or their computer's memory storing the password to post on these forums, as I'll have used some of the server's memory to ban them.
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