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Old 24th October 2018, 03:09 AM   #31
ariel
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You can also look here:
http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=183
Very good introduction: short and to the point ( pun intended).
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Old 24th October 2018, 04:08 AM   #32
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One potential explanation for the ascendance ( not the appearance) of the " inverted tunkou" may be purely artistic.


At some stage of the game ( my guess 14-15 century), in the Islamic areal tunkou lost its engineering meaning and became purely decorative. Inscriptions on the blade became popular. Stamps and cartouches were far too small to accomodate a dedication, a prayer or even a motto. Necessarily, they had to be oriented longitudinally. Also, they had to utilize a " less-working" part of the blade, the lower quarter or so, adjacent to the handle/ handguard. On top of that, placing them along the edge would mean an inevitable loss of the sacral inscription as a result of repeat sharpening. The solution was simple: place them along the spine. And here, cutlers could combine the above practical points with the existing fashion of tunkou: short segment of decoration occupying the entire width of the blade adjacent to the handguard and a long inscription along the spine. A quick example is shown.

This was a homage to the traditional tunkou, that utilized the " upside down" pattern. From that point on the majority of single-edged Islamic blades were decorated in that manner and the "classical" tunkou simply vanished.

Of course, this does not explain the initial appearance of the inverted tunkou, but perhaps it explains the later popularity of it.

Just a thought...
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Old 24th October 2018, 10:30 AM   #33
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Good point Ariel. I currently have two sabers here with Mamluk inspired blade decor, chiseled in relief from the forte. Both have a long inscription on the longer, upper part.

As for the habaki (鎺) / tunkou (吞口, literally "swallowing mouth"), I agree with Philip that they are most likely of different origin. They are both solutions to the same problem but were developed independently.

The earliest form of habaki I've been able to find so far is on a Japananese sword now held in the Metropolitan Museum, accession number 32.13.2a, b. It is attributed by the museum to the 6th century A.D., however Japanese sources don't mention this type, called kabutsuchi until the early 8th century. (See Markus Sesko; Koshirae) Either way, it seems to far predate the tunkou and there has been no instance in Japan that the shape of this piece had any protrusion going up the blade.

The antique record hasn't left much for us from China, and those pieces that are found are hard to access and often not cataloged well. But, such tunkou are also seen on Chinese statues of the 8th century, suggesting that like the art of forging swords, this particular piece also originated in China and reached Japan directly or through Korea.

See picture for the Met's example.
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Old 27th October 2018, 01:42 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
One potential explanation for the ascendance ( not the appearance) of the " inverted tunkou" may be purely artistic.


At some stage of the game ( my guess 14-15 century), in the Islamic areal tunkou lost its engineering meaning and became purely decorative. Inscriptions on the blade became popular. Stamps and cartouches were far too small to accomodate a dedication, a prayer or even a motto. Necessarily, they had to be oriented longitudinally. Also, they had to utilize a " less-working" part of the blade, the lower quarter or so, adjacent to the handle/ handguard. On top of that, placing them along the edge would mean an inevitable loss of the sacral inscription as a result of repeat sharpening. The solution was simple: place them along the spine. And here, cutlers could combine the above practical points with the existing fashion of tunkou: short segment of decoration occupying the entire width of the blade adjacent to the handguard and a long inscription along the spine. A quick example is shown.

This was a homage to the traditional tunkou, that utilized the " upside down" pattern. From that point on the majority of single-edged Islamic blades were decorated in that manner and the "classical" tunkou simply vanished.

Of course, this does not explain the initial appearance of the inverted tunkou, but perhaps it explains the later popularity of it.

Just a thought...


Ariel, your train of thought is quite plausible, it makes perfect sense in light of the aesthetic requirement of making room for long inscriptions. But when I look at the image, I think of something else. The long panel at the spine is not really joined to the element at the base of the blade. Well, they may be touching at a corner of each element, but if we were trying to look at this as a subsequent adaptation of the "traditional" tunkou shape (i.e. in its original, functional guise), the theory loses some steam because an actual tunkou would have to be of unitary construction in order to serve its purpose. The confluence of shapes defined by the inscription panels on the shamshir blade does not seem to be a realistic carry-over from an actual fabrication made of metal sheet and attached via a friction fit around the base of the blade.

Rather, what I see on this Persian example is the traditional tunkou outline (with tongue extending forward on the edge side) SUPPLEMENTED BY an elongated panel ahead of it, along the spine, serving as a border for the extended inscription. You could even think of the space for the dorsal inscription as the visual equivalent of those chiseled elongated panels containing animals that you see on the Seljuk blade whose image I posted on this thread previously. Just that in the case of your shamshir, the two areas are scrunched very close together with no significant empty space in between them.
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Old 27th October 2018, 06:15 PM   #35
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Well, it depends how one looks at it:-)
As you say, the 2 panels may be a "clasical" tunkou with a separate inscription panel, or an analogy of a "Chinese" tunkou with a slit in the middle.
But how about my own example? It is dated 1217, the koftgari is worn and partially lost, but the base-located wall-to-wall decoration and the " upside-down" orientation of a very long inscription at the top is obvious.
And, of course, one should not forget the tunkou on the great majority of Persian khanjars and the yataghans from Turkey: they all have the "upside-down" pattern. In the latter case, tunkou became just a triangular element with the long side along the spine , including just the cheap crude incision of the outlines.

My point is that with time the orientation of tunkou flipped over from the edge-located to the spine-located. What was the reason I have no idea, but a placement of long inscriptions along the spine fits nicely with the general idea.
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Old 25th November 2018, 12:48 AM   #36
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Folks and Philip in particular:
I understand that actual dated examples are significantly more reliable than primitive drawings. But when the same feature appears in more than one quality image, the index of "believability" goes up.
Earlier, I have shown a fresco from the Gracanica monastery showing St. Nikita holding a saber with an "upside down" tunkou.
Recently, I have found another one, also from Serbia: Archangel Michael with an identically looking sword . This fresco is dated 1346, and is located ar Pec Partiarchate, Church of St. Demetrius in Kosovo.

What do you say?
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Old 25th November 2018, 01:37 AM   #37
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The more we see, whether in art or "in the flesh", the more complete our knowledge will be. Why not take these various depictions as "suggestive of the possibility that..." even though the surviving material strongly indicates otherwise. Personally I put more credence in an actual example of something as opposed to a hand-drawn depiction. Especially a work of art produced within specific traditional canons (religious iconography certainly qualifies) and whose primary "big picture" focus is not the miniscule details of weapons or costume.

However, we can't pretend at this time to have seen every archaic sword that has continued to exist down to our time -- discoveries are being made all the time and I'm sure there are plenty more still buried. Let's hope that future uncovering is done within an archaeological context (as opposed to "dig and grab" by amateurs) so that we can be more precise in our attributions and chronology. We can adjust our conclusions about tunkous, or any other point as more physical evidence becomes available for our examination.
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Old 25th November 2018, 08:19 PM   #38
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Philip,
You are a hard man to convince:-)

In my defense I can mention David Nicolle’s books, Indonesian and Indian temple statues, Persian and Indian miniatures, Khudiakov’s books on South Siberian weapons etc, etc. All of them are based on artistic depictions of various weaponry, religious included.

I fully agree that material objects trump them evidentially. On the other hand, their relative value is limited by their scarcity, preservation state and , most importantly, their attribution and dating: most of them, at least the nomadic ones, come from Russian and Ukrainian “ black diggers”. Come to think of it, even the most famous of them, the Charlemagne’s one, is of uncertain provenance. They are like a proverbial girl with a curl on her forehead:-) But when they are good, they are very good: I could not agree with you more.
We do have plenty of “upside down” examples belonging to the descendants of nomadic warriors: Persia, Turkey, Mamluks, Moghuls, But all of them are late and have only approximations of the pattern seen on Serbian frescoes.

Let’s keep our collective eyes peeled for a good one one with the “upside down” tunkou. After that we have plenty of iconographic and actual evidence to build a stronger case.
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Old 9th June 2019, 03:05 AM   #39
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Here is another typical late Khazar period sword, 8th-9th c. AD. The double edged pointy tip is clearly visible.
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