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Old 30th January 2007, 12:50 PM   #1
B.I
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Question Sword Production in Persia?

Hoping for some help with a specific question.
Is anyone aware of any primary sources, or quotes that refer to actual sword making in Persia.
It is not my field, and so my library doesnt cover anything in-depth. I am not interested in names or locations on blades, nor mentions in later books. What I am looking for is either direct evidence of a manafacturing centre for swords, or a quotation that states swords were made in a specific place (ie not Persia, but a district within).
A brief look through Al-Kindi and most the the blades were imported. He does mention Khorassan, and I wonder if anyone can provide more information that backs this up.
BTW, any period in Persian history, but preferable iron age onwards ie sword culture. Bronze foundaries is of related interest, but more medieval, rather than bronze age (ie art as apposed to arms)
I seem to recall some discussions that touched upon this (possibly starting from wootz exporting) but cant find anything that answers this question.
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Old 30th January 2007, 01:09 PM   #2
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Manouchehr Khorasani's book "Arms and Armour from Iran" comes to mind. Though I haven't read it myself, I understand that it discusses swordmaking itself, as well as swords.
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Old 30th January 2007, 01:37 PM   #3
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Hi Mark,
I skimmed through the section on early 'muslim' sources, but nothing clear is stated. Most of the information is lifted off other work, and so nothing definate can be used. He mentions Wullf's Al-Kindi work, and Khorossan being a place where swords were made, but this reference seemed too weak (ie no direct quote was given, just an overall 'fact'). I was hoping for a cross reference from somewhere else. Most of the manuals used, refered to India or Ceylon, or they just mentioned blade shapes.
I would think with the amount of weapons and metalwork we know as being Persian, there must be known locations found in early work.
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Old 4th February 2007, 08:08 AM   #4
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Are there no opinions on this?
This is a genuine enquiry (and not cloaked to talk about Manouchers book).
Someone I know has written a paper on Persian metalwork (not just arms, but brass/bronzework as well), and I wanted some ammunition before I go over to discuss it. The basis of his paper is this question.
Rivkin? Jim? Ariel? Ham? Mark C?
Anyone?
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Old 4th February 2007, 03:40 PM   #5
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Well B.I, there is one who will know, and that is Ann. She excavated in Marv/Merv where they found ovens and crucibles, so here they made it – at least the ingots. If you follow the Silk Road, you are likely to find other places where they worked iron/steel, but it would be safer to ask Ann about this, as she has read books, new as old, which I have never even heard about – but I am still looking.
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Old 4th February 2007, 03:47 PM   #6
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The book "Persian Steel, the Tanavoli Collection" by Allen and Gilmour goes into steel production, swordsmithing, manufacturing and trade, and is heavily footnoted to allow tracking back to original sources. If you don't have access to the book, I can locate my copy and get you the original sources and locations/people they refer to.
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Old 4th February 2007, 05:03 PM   #7
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Hi Jeff,
Thanks. I have the book, but am away from home right now. The guy who wrote the paper has presented it to James Allen, and so I assume he has picked through that book. So, I was looking for other sources that he may have missed. I will, of course, check the book when I am home.
Thanks Jens, I will send Ann a mail to prompt her participation.
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Old 10th February 2007, 01:32 PM   #8
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Hi B.I,

Medieval Islamic Swords and Swordmaking, Kindi’s treatise ‘On swords and their kinds’, by Robert G. Hoyland and Brian Gilmour, 2006.

On page 54 I have found this. ‘Kindi now lists the five sub catagories of muwallad or indigenous swords, which are given as the Khurasani (north Iranian), Egyptian, Damascan, Basran, and a group of other less numerous types, including Baghdadi and Kufan. He says that the iron was worked and forged in these places, which in this context must also mean local production of the crucible steel. Kindi’s comments that steel-making and sword production had been carried out in ‘olden times’ at Damascus, suggesting much earlier production here, Possible in the late pre-Islamic and/or early Islamic period. He later states that it had more or less ceased by his time’.

There may be other references to Persian iron production and sword making in the book, which is translations of what Kindi wrote in the 9th AD century. The question is, if you consider Khurasani to be part of Persia in the period you are interested in.

Jens
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