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Old 15th March 2018, 08:07 AM   #1
Tatyana Dianova
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Default South-East Asian sword with a Persian trade blade for discussion

This sword has definitely many stories to tell. It has a Wootz Persian blade that travelled really far from the origin and was finally mounted somewhere in South-East Asia. The blade is battered, with many nicks, old repair and a heavy rust damage.
The handle has a Malay Sundang form. Both the handle and the scabbard are painted with translucent lacquer. Can this sword originate from Malaysia? I think that lacquer design is the clew.
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Old 15th March 2018, 12:12 PM   #2
kai
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Hello Tatyana,

Thanks for posting this wootz blade in Southeast Asian mounts!


Quote:
The handle has a Malay Sundang form. Both the handle and the scabbard are painted with translucent lacquer. Can this sword originate from Malaysia? I think that lacquer design is the clew.

Palembang was famous for similar lacquer work and certainly in line with heavy Chinese influence across eastern Sumatra, the Straits area, etc.

I hesitate to narrow down the pommel style. And the lacquer work does not seem to be old-style Palembang (nor Chinese/Japanese), too. The ferrule is very crudely done for what should be a status piece and the thin guard-like scabbard throat (rather than it being attached to the hilt and more sturdy) does raise an eye-brow: IMHO this ensemble is post-19th century, probably karmadikan.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 15th March 2018, 12:16 PM   #3
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P.S.: Any hints on provenance, Tatyana?
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Old 15th March 2018, 08:20 PM   #4
Norman McCormick
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Hi Tatyana,
Unusual and interesting piece and yes if only these could talk and tell their stories. Here is my rather battered Persian trade blade of similar style for comparison.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 15th March 2018, 08:38 PM   #5
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Thank you Kai for your comments and ideas! Yes, the fittings may be later than the blade, although they have some age.
The sword has no provenance. It was bought from the auction, with the blade heavily rusted. Please see the original pictures.
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Old 15th March 2018, 08:40 PM   #6
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Norman, you have a great Persian sword that deserves a careful restoration!
The blade is in much better condition than mine was, and it will polish very well. All these trade blades have great Wootz pattern!
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Old 15th March 2018, 08:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatyana Dianova
Norman, you have a great Persian sword that deserves a careful restoration!
The blade is in much better condition than mine was, and it will polish very well. All these trade blades have great Wootz pattern!



Thank you Tatyana. A Forum Member translated the script on my blade which if you look at yours and mine side by side look very similar. The transition was as follows: The long inscription panel roughly translates, "There is no might, nor will, save with God, the exalted, the Almighty". On the opposite side, the smaller cartouche reads "Oh fulfiller of needs".
My Regards
Norman.
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Old 16th March 2018, 09:49 AM   #8
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You are absolutely right Norman - the beginning of the inscription is identical, but mine is a couple of words shorter. Thank you for the translation!
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Old 16th March 2018, 10:58 AM   #9
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These blades are very interesting. I have one of my own so I have read about these kind of blades when given the chance. It is facinating beacause these blades really seem to have ended up almost everywhere. In Robert Hales "Islamic and oriental arms and armor" page 192, there is a sumatra sword with a blade that has the lion and "fulfiller" text, and on page 201 there is a indonesian parang that has a blade with the long quranic inscription. According to Hales these blades ended up in that region when turkish fighters answered a Jihad call, when the dutch occupied Indonesia.

It would seem a lot of these blades ended up in India. There are two examples in "Rajput arms and armour by Robert Elgood. He dates the blades to mid 19th century and being made in Caucasus for export
The quranic verse on one of those blades is translated to "Praise be to Allah, there is no strength nor power exept Allah" (page 529)

There is yet another such blade with indian fittings on page 219 in "A passion for indian arms" by Jens Nordlunde. That blade has the inscription "If it is the will of God, no power, no authority without God, the biggest the most powerful".

There is also lots more information in: the Arms Collecting Journal, Vol. 40 #1, 2002, The Persian Shamshir and the Signature of Assad Allah by Oliver Pinchot

Below picture of my trade blade. Its a heavy Kilij style sword, with the quranic inscription one one side and the lion and "fullfiller" on the other. As Tatyana wrote there is a good chance that these blades are wootz, mine is wootz but it has faded a could use an etch. But....etching swords is hard. I does however "ring" like a tuning fork if you strike it agains something (not hard of course )
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Old 16th March 2018, 04:24 PM   #10
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Hello Tatyana,
Yes the blade really is interesting, and the text seem to be on a number of blades. The text translates a bit differently, but that must be how the translater sees it.
See A Passion for Indian Arms, pp. 219-221. Here a detail is shown.
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Old 16th March 2018, 09:14 PM   #11
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Great info on these blades (and great swords too)!
The Sumatra story seems true for my sword, since Kai means the lacquer work is Sumatran.
The Caucasian origin is a new theory for me, but I still wait for my copy of Rajput arms.
I have a feeling that these blades are always of good quality and made of good Wootz. They have similar decoration and inscriptions, but the general geometry and the fullers vary greatly, which makes me wonder.
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Old 16th March 2018, 11:27 PM   #12
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Is that a scarf weld I see there?
Not uncommon with wootz blades.
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Old 17th March 2018, 12:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Is that a scarf weld I see there?
Not uncommon with wootz blades.


Rick,
Being a retired engineer/machinist, it looks like a modern weld, either oxy acetylene, or even electric arc. But I could be wrong.
Interesting sword!

Steve
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Old 17th March 2018, 08:31 PM   #14
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It is definitely a repair, not a scarf weld.
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Old 17th March 2018, 09:30 PM   #15
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Drabant1701,
The kilij you show. How long is the blade and how broad? It looks like an inpressive blade, and it is a very nice sword.
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Old 18th March 2018, 11:59 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Drabant1701,
The kilij you show. How long is the blade and how broad? It looks like an inpressive blade, and it is a very nice sword.


Im posting a picture with the blade measurments. The whole sword is 87cm long.
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Old 18th March 2018, 12:05 PM   #17
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Beautiful examples!

I join Steve and Tatiana: it is repair, and likely modern welding.
That was a problem with wootz blades: they were gorgeous but brittle. I donít remember the source, but there is an old casually-reported story of a young Caucasian prince whose Persian wootz blade fell on the floor and broke in half. Al-Biruni mentioned a tendency of wootz blades to crack and break in very cold weather. I have seen several re-welded wootz swords.

I imagine what could have happened in the heat of a battle, if a warrior attempted to parry a blow with his sword or tried to hit a heavily armored opponent.

No wonder why the locals of every location, from India to Aravia, readily exchanged their wootz blades for European ones.

They were mostly suitable for daggers, but the long-bladed weapons were only questionably reliable.
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