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Old 20th June 2005, 02:42 PM   #1
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Default Eastern Arms in Armeria Reale di Torino

the armeria reale di torino has a fabulous collection of eastern and islamic arms. although not a big collection, its quality is very high. the museum is closed at the moment for refurbishment, but thought i'd share some of the pieces, in case i inspire anyone to make the journey.
two pieces attached are a taster (i finally got someting to get andrews attention) and will post more. the collection caters for all tastes, with a few great examples from all cultures inc kris,dha,ottoman,african, persian and, most importantly, south india ( )
sorry for the poor images.
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Old 20th June 2005, 04:06 PM   #2
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Whoa! The straight sword looks very arab in blade, very turkish in hilt. Very much like the swords in Topkapi. Thanks alot for the pics.
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Old 20th June 2005, 04:30 PM   #3
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another
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Old 20th June 2005, 04:34 PM   #4
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and another
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Old 20th June 2005, 05:41 PM   #5
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Wow. Thank you, Brian, for sharing these.

That first dha looks particularly nice. Is that gold set with jewels? Hard to tell much of the blade from the photos. I'll have more thoughts when I have some free time to look at this again.

The last sword you posted looks like a very fine version of the Vietnamese sabers presented by Philip Tom at Timonium this past March. However, I think this looks like a Thai sword. The decorative themes look Thai (I'm away from my sources, so I'm going on memory), as does the elephant. Is that, perhaps, a Thai royal seal? I'll check later tonight and see if I can find it.

Outstanding.
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Old 20th June 2005, 05:52 PM   #6
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A quick Google search indicates the symbol on the scabbard of that saber is, indeed, royal. It depicts a crown/pavilion eminating rays from the top. The elephant (?) below it didn't turn up, but I have the feeling I've seen it before.

Perhaps a personal seal/coat of arms.
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Old 20th June 2005, 06:58 PM   #7
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Old 20th June 2005, 07:26 PM   #8
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Beautiful swords Brian. I feel the decoration on the straight sword has more of an Iranian feel to it. I couldn't see it very clearly, but is that a simurgh beneath the hilt?

I think you know what's coming next.

I believe the museum also has a very small number of beautiful Turkish or Iranian armours, which I have only ever seen as very poor quality black and white photos. You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of them by any chance?
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Old 20th June 2005, 08:28 PM   #9
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Thumbs up Thanks Andrew

Andrew has done a good job of nailing down the time period of your Thai sword to 1891-1910, the period of King Rama V of Siam. The three-headed elephant on the scabbard seems unique to the reign of Rama V.

The sword itself resembles quite closely the "parade swords" of Vietnam from the late 19th C., when that country was part of French Indo China, and I have thought that this style was heavily influenced by the French presence.

Not at all surprising to see a Thai version of this "parade sword," or "court sword," and this one has nicely worked cut out areas along the blade. Otherwise, the inlay work and jeweled handle show less refinement than seen on earlier dha, somewhat in common with the Vietnamese parade swords whose blades are really quite shoddy compared with the hilts and scabbards.

Ian.
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Old 20th June 2005, 09:18 PM   #10
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i'm glad you were all impressed, although i would be both shocked and disappointed if you werent.
the last sword is from siam and apparantly made for umberto 1st (?).
outstanding andrew and ian, giorgi dondi dates the siam sword to circa 1897
ive had the catalogue for the museum for some time, and my girlfriend booked a surprise trip to the turin for me to see the museum. unfortunately, she didnt realise it was closed for refurbishment.
i was in contact with the author of the the catalogue and the museum director, but it was a weekend and there was no way they could open it up for me, although i have been promised full access should i go back on a weekday.
the author, (giorgio dondi) did come into turin and spent the whole day with me, showing me the fabulous city. we exchanged gifts and struggled through the language barriers, but he gave me the text of the catalogue on disc, (as well as his latest book), so i could get it (badly) translated online. if anyone can speak italian, i can put some of the descriptions up.
giorgio is a researcher and spent much time with the pieces from this collection, and so the desriptions seem well thought through and very thorough. the catalogue i have was from a temporary exhibition on oriental arms and it lists 36 pieces, all of which were fully researched and described.
aqtai, they do indeed have some very important ottoman armour. i only have one image, unfortunately, which i will try and post soon.
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Old 20th June 2005, 10:12 PM   #11
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The last sword (Thai/ Vietnamese-like) looks very much similar to the one from Leeds we've discussed earlier.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=758
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Old 20th June 2005, 10:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B.I
if anyone can speak italian, i can put some of the descriptions up.

B.I.

Good idea. If you scan the Italian text I'm sure someone will be able to translate it. Put it up and see who steps forward.

Ian.
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Old 20th June 2005, 10:56 PM   #13
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this was the text for the siam sword. this was an early draft, i believe one of the first which was ammended and shifted around by giorgio, but its the only one i have on disc.

G.386
Siam, circa 1897
Sciabola presentata da Rama V, re del Siam, a Umberto I, re d’Italia

Lama piuttosto stretta, poco curva, regolarmente rastremata, acuta, a un taglio, a sezione di cuneo, traforata lungo la mezzeria fino in prossimità della punta così da risparmiare un motivo sinuoso, lungo il quale corre una decorazione fogliata a koftgari d’oro; al tallone è un altro motivo, sempre a koftgari d’oro, racchiuso in un perimetro di forma peculiare formato da un rettangolo più un triangolo. Fornimenti e fodero in rame interamente coperto da smalti champlevé verdi, blu e rossi trasparenti e bianco opaco, con setti dorati a koftgari e inframmezzati da piccoli diamanti, smeraldi e qualche rubino a taglio irregolare (alcuni spezzati dall’origine) in castoni d’oro. L’impugnatura, molto lunga, ha la base a profilo di campana segnata da foglie discendenti e delimitata da una modanatura, poi si fa affusolata e un po’ curva, coperta da un motivo a squame in smalto, ogni squama contenente una gemma come già descritto, e termina con tre teste crestate di Naga in funzione di pomo, fissate con una vite passante. Guardia molto larga, traforata e smaltata a foglie lanceolate e grappoli. Sul fodero, d’identico lavoro, è raffigurato un viluppo di foglie e piccoli fiori, tra i quali si distinguono una conchiglia, un vaso e lo stemma del Siam (di rosso all’elefante bianco a tre teste) affiancato da due parasole a sette piani e cimato dalla corona siamese raggiante; al rovescio sono rappresentati una sorta di labirinto sovrastato da una corona (?), un bufalo ingualdrappato, un bastone di comando (?) e una ruota fiammeggiante; il piccolissimo puntale si è perduto.

Misure: arma: mm 822 x 120; g 760; lama mm 615 x 26; fodero mm 665 x 37, g 570

LETT. DONDI CARTESEGNA 1982, n. 377; DONDI 1995, tav. in copertina e passim

CFR.: FOSSATI DONDI 1981, n. 1174; DONDI 1998

Le dha, spade tradizionali di tutta l’area indocinese (cfr. le schede G.356 e T.40), hanno impugnatura molto lunga ma non posseggono quasi mai elsa né guardia. La linea dell’arma in esame mostra, invece, l’introdursi degli usi occidentali in quei Paesi (un fenomeno analogo alla stessa epoca si verifica anche altrove, in particolare in Giappone), con l’assunzione di un modello generale che è la sciabola, arma militare divenuta anche di rappresentanza in tutto l’Occidente a partire dall’Ottocento, interpretata però secondo i canoni locali, con l’impugnatura molto lunga ad attacco allargato che, per l’occhio occidentale, crea una sproporzione tra gli elementi. La lama ha una forma che non può dirsi né occidentale né orientale, ma la decorazione di essa (tolto il traforo) applica tecniche e temi classici: il koftgari, anche se non raffinatissimo, è di uso antico, mentre il motivo a tralcio con fogliette è comunissimo nella decorazione del ferro, sia semplicemente inciso, sia ageminato in argento o (di rado) in oro; del pari tipico è il motivo in un contorno trapezio al tallone. Insolito, anche se non unico, è l’uso dello smalto, mentre i temi raffigurati sono in parte classici, come il Naga, serpente mitico, in parte assunti secondo l’uso occidentale, come lo stemma dello Stato. È arma sontuosissima, e si deve ritenere che questo sia lo stile adottato dal Siam nel tardo Ottocento per le armi da presentazione, almeno nei confronti di personalità occidentali. Il Museo Siamese di Cagliari possiede un’arma (inv. n. 1174) meno ricca, ma del medesimo stile.
Rama V (Chulalongkorn) regnò dal 1868 al 1910 e, seguendo la strada segnata dal padre, Rama IV (Mongkut), ampliò l’apertura e la modernizzazione del Paese, attuando riforme e stipulando ulteriori trattati con numerosi Stati. Il Siam deve a questi due sovrani se non divenne, come gli altri Stati all’intorno, una colonia occidentale. A rinsaldare i legami con l’Italia nel 1881 era giunto in visita Tomaso di Savoia, duca di Genova, che fu accolto magnificamente (una lancia con ferro decorato in oro e asta d’argento, donatagli in quell’occasione, si conserva nel castello di Agliè, presso Torino, già di proprietà dei duchi di Genova). In seguito la presenza italiana nel Siam divenne numerosa e importante. Architetti, pittori e scultori italiani (non pochi di Torino) furono attivi a Bangkok, interpretando con grande acutezza e sensibilità lo spirito di quel Paese, e a loro si devono molti edifici e altre opere che tuttora vi si ammirano (cfr. Ferri de Lazara e Piazzardi, Italiani alla Corte del Siam, TCI, 1997). Di speciale importanza, poi, fu la presenza del maggiore Gerolamo Emilio Gerini (1860-1913), istruttore della Guardia Reale e creatore della Scuola militare, autore di manuali militari in lingua siamese, ma soprattutto studioso instancabile e scrittore prolifico di opere sulla storia e le tradizioni del Paese, stimatissimo dal sovrano che gli affidò numerosi incarichi d’importanza.
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Old 20th June 2005, 11:00 PM   #14
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one for s.e.asia and one for aqtai.
again, sorry for the quality
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Old 21st June 2005, 01:14 AM   #15
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Brian,

It looks like two descriptions there? One for the dha, one for the saber?

Mark Bowditch is traveling, but I believe he speaks Italian. If not, his wife does. I anticipate he'll be eager to translate.

A royal gift, indeed: http://www.answers.com/topic/umberto-i-of-italy

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Old 21st June 2005, 01:25 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
The last sword (Thai/ Vietnamese-like) looks very much similar to the one from Leeds we've discussed earlier.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=758


I do see some similarities, particularly about the pommel.

Here is a photo of the type of sword Ian and I are talking about:

Courtesy, Oriental-Arms
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Old 21st June 2005, 01:31 AM   #17
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hi andrew,
no, its all for the siam sword (i know the 'le dha' reference at the beginning of a new chapter is confusing.)
although the catalogue is in italian, each description is seperated which helps the non-italian speaking world.
there is another dha in the book which i'll try and post.
also, i'm happy to post the italian description of the dha if i can find it.
nice link, btw. what a strange looking guy.
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Old 21st June 2005, 01:38 AM   #18
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Default Indra's Steed

Just to add my two cents. I think the three headed elephant on the Thai coat of arms represents Erawan, the steed of the Vedic god Indra. There is a strong Brahmanic Vedic undertone to Thai Buddhism and royal customs.
The kings were named Rama after the hero of the Ramayana and if I'm not mistaken, Ayyuthayya was named after Rama's Ayodhiya in India. Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu sent to the world to destroy the evil Ravana.
I think this is in keeping with the Southeast Asian concept of the Devaraja or the divine qualities associated with the ruler through which he commands prestige and reverence.
Even though the Thai king is considered above politics, his views are still very much respected by all.
It is interesting to see the crossed dagger charge which represented the states of Northern Malaya, which were once under Thai suzerainity.
On some photographs of the grand palace in Bangkok, one could see the same coat of arms, and in place of the dagger, a proper keris with several luks and a kerdas style hulu crossed with its Malay style sampir.
Methinks the trisula is Javanese.
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Old 21st June 2005, 02:30 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqtai
Beautiful swords Brian. I feel the decoration on the straight sword has more of an Iranian feel to it. I couldn't see it very clearly, but is that a simurgh beneath the hilt?

I think you know what's coming next.

I believe the museum also has a very small number of beautiful Turkish or Iranian armours, which I have only ever seen as very poor quality black and white photos. You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of them by any chance?


After some reading, it seems to me that the straight sword is almost a copy of Plate.16 in "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths". Even the gold inlay is similar.
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Old 21st June 2005, 08:41 AM   #20
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Thanks B.I., much appreciated.

Lovely piece of armour with some interesting features. The small plates on the shoulders, laminated vambraces (similar to the ones on the complete Turkish armour in the Metropolitan), rather than the more usual bazu bands, and laminated lower leg defences as well, the word 'greave' just doesn't seem right somehow. I'm guessing from the style of the helmet that the armour is Ottoman?

M. Carter, I've just had a look at the sword you were referring to. Very similar, although not identical. It does have downward curved quillons and a simurgh on the upper part of the blade. The Topqapi sword is one of the "Blessed swords", the holy relics attributed to the Prophet and his companions. I think that unless the sword was redecorated later, the style of the inlay sort of rules out a date that early.

The sword in plate 21 of ISAS is also similar, I'm almost wondering if B.I.'s sword from the Armeria Reale and the 2 in the Topkapi are a particular sub-type of Islamic sword...

B.I., since this is your thread, is it OK if I post scans of the Topkapi swords for comparison? Also is there a date and provenance on the straight sword with the gold inlay?
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Old 21st June 2005, 09:45 AM   #21
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hi aqtai,
the armour is indeed ottoman and their are many varieties in style of the armour of the period. its because of this that a few of the mannequins in the stibbert have armguards placed on the legs, as the thought then was that the arguards were not of the 'solid' plate type, but rather the small 'lamelar' plates.
although i started this post, its down to anyone participating ot steer it whichever way they want. however, there are a few examples of this early sword blade (which is of a well known type), normally rehilted in the 16th/17thC. poland (especially wavel) has a few, with its strong links with the turks. maybe this sword deserves a post on its own, as i'm sure michal (and i) can show other examples outside istanbul. i have quite a few more images from this museum so if you start a post on this particular sword, we can do it more justice.
there is a stunning example in a private collection, that has never been published and if i ever manage to get an image, i will gladly post it.
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Old 21st June 2005, 09:47 AM   #22
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another dha
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Old 22nd June 2005, 04:32 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
B.I.

Good idea. If you scan the Italian text I'm sure someone will be able to translate it. Put it up and see who steps forward.

Ian.


I'll get right on that. I remember visiting the Armoria Reale has a youngster, but it was before my all-consuming passion for swords, and dha in particular, developed, so I don't remember much except for the katana. I have wanted to get back there for several years, and often wondered what they had in the way of dha. Maybe next spring. I used to live over the hills east of Torino, in a little town called Pecetto.

BTW, the Thai saber is a "krabi," and is more likely inspired by a European saber that the Vietnamese, IMO. I think they both developed more-or-less contemporaneously.

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Old 18th August 2005, 03:39 PM   #24
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I just stumbled over this again. I am normally not this slow when I say I'll "get right on" something. Here is the translation of the Italian text that goes with the krabi (saber). The question marks in parenthases are original; I have added a few comments in brackets.

G.386
Siam, circa 1897
Saber presented by Rama v, king of Siam, to Umberto I, king of Italy

Blade fairly narrow, slightly curved, evenly tapered, pointed, single-edged, with wedge cross-section, pierced along the center line up to the tip to contain a sinuous motif, along which runs a foliar [or vegetal] decoration in gold koftgari; at the forte there is another motif in gold koftgari, enclosed in a border of unusual form made up of a rectangle and a triangle. Fittings and scabbard in copper completely covered by champleve’ [?] enamal of transparent green, blue and red, and opaque white, with septa [dividers] of gold koftgari and interspersed with small diamonds, emeralds and some irregularly cut rubies (some broken originally) in gold settings. The very long grip has at the base a bell-shaped profile marked with descending leaves and set off by a moulding, and is tapered and somewhat curved, covered with a scale motif in enamel, each scale containing a gem as already described, and terminating with three crested Naga heads for a pommel, held in place by a heavy screw. A very wide guard, pierced and enameled with spear-shaped leaves and clusters. On the scabbard, worked in the same manner, is shown a tangle of leaves and small flowers, among which is seen a shell, an urn and the crest of Siam (in red, with the three-headed white elephant) flanked by two seven-tiered parasols and surmounted by the radiant Siamese crown; on the reverse are shown a kind of labyrinth overlaid with a crown (?), a saddled buffalo, a commander’s baton (?) and a flaming wheel; the very small tip [i.e., of the chape] is missing.

Measurements: weapon: 822 x 120 mm; 760 g; blade 615 X 26 mm; scabbard 665 x 37 mm, 570 g

LETTERS [notes?] OF DONDI CARTESEGNA 1982, no. 377; DONDI 1995, cover table and passim [throughout]

C.f.: FOSSATI DONDI 1981, no. 1174; DONDI 1998

Dha, the traditional swords of the entire indochinese area (c.f. file cards G.356 and T.40), have very long handles but almost never possess hilt or guard. The form of the weapon in question shows, however, the introduction of Western fashions into those countries (an analogous phenomenon is found elsewhere in the same period, in particular in Japan), with the adoption of the general model of the saber, a military weapon which also came to embody, beginning in the 19th century, all that was Western, however interpreted according to local canons, with a very long grip with enlarged furniture [lit. “point of attachment” or “junction,” I am assuming reference to the knuckle-guard] which, to the Western eye, causes a loss of proportion between the parts. The blade has a form that cannot be said to be either Western or Eastern, but the decoration of the same (minus the piercing) applies classic techniques and themes: the koftgari, even if not highly refined, is of ancient custom, while the vegetal motif with small leaves is very common in the decoration of iron, whether simply engraved, or whether damascened in silver or (infrequently) in gold; equally typical is the motif within a trapezoidal edging at the forte. Unusual, possibly unique, is the use of enamel, while the themes shown are in classical, such as the mythical Naga serpent, and in part taken from Western fashion, such as the state crest. It is a very luxurious weapon, and it should be considered that this would be the style adopted by Siam in the late 19th century for presentation weapons, at least with respect to Westerner personages. The Siamese Museum of Cagliari possesses a weapon (acc. no. 1174) which is less rich, but of the same style.
Rama V (Chulalongkorn) reigned from 1868 to 1910 and, following the path laid out by his father, Rama IV (Mongkut), increased the opening and modernization of the country, instituting reforms and entering into further treaties with a number of states. Siam owes it to these two sovereign that it did not become, as other states around it, a Western colony. To solidify ties with Italy, in 1881 Tomaso di Savoia, Duke of Genoa arrived for a [state] visit, which was magnificently received (a spear with head decorated with gold and a staff of silver, gifts on that occasion, are preserved in the castle of Aglie, near Turin, a holding of the Dukes of Genoa). Subsequently, the Italian presence in Siam became significant [lit. “numerous and important”]. Italian architects, painters and sculptors (no few from Turin) were active in Bangkok, interpreting the spirit of that country with great skill and sensibility, and to them are owed many buildings and other works which are still admired (see Ferri de Lazaro e Piazzardi, Italians in the Siamese Court, TCI, 1997). Of particular importance, thereafter, was the presence of Major Gerolamo Emilio Gerini (1860-1913), instructor of the Royal Guard and creator of the Military School [academy], author of military manuals in Siamese, and most of all tireless student and prolific writer of works on the history and traditions of the country, greatly admired [esteemed] by the King, who entrusted to him numerous important tasks [can also mean “commissions,” “charges,” “assignments” or “missions”].
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Old 18th August 2005, 04:01 PM   #25
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Brian, could you be convinced to part with a copy of that catalogue? I'll translate it for you if you do ...

It is great because it not only describes the sword, but gives the provenance and historical context as well. Excellent material.
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Old 18th August 2005, 04:20 PM   #26
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hi mark,
i spent the day with giorgio, and found him a fascinating character. he was a full time researcher, and once he undertook a 'subject' he just ploughed into it. i dont know how far his knowledge is on eastern arms, as his publications cover a much wider scope. he does have a pssion for it though, and i know he would have at least used every available resource at torino.
i have a 'hard copy' of his book, but he kindly gave me the text (an early version, pre-edited) so i can attempt to translate chunks.
i would rather not put it directly on-line, as he was a little embarrassed about showing his corrected mistakes, but i will happily send it to you if you pm me your email address, and bear with me whilst i try and find it on my system. you can translate the necessary bits and do with as you wish. there is one item on there i would love translated for my own study, at some point in my lifetime if you have time. no hurry though.
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Old 19th August 2005, 04:00 AM   #27
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Thanks BI and athe rest for the nice pics. Helps in my research and understanding when I do restorations for people. One the other side of the coin, it depresses me a little when I see these and know that to acquire similar quality toys, no one takes my $5 offer seriously.
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Old 24th August 2014, 04:08 PM   #28
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Hello all,

Just wanted to open and old thread. I'm wondering which catalog it is that B.I was mentioning? these images came from. I know it was in the draft versions when he first posted. Does anyone have a copy?

When I was searching I found these two books:
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Old 24th August 2014, 04:11 PM   #29
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and this one...published in 2005
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Last edited by Robert : 25th August 2014 at 03:37 AM. Reason: Read the rules on posting links to items that are for sale.
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Old 25th August 2014, 02:28 AM   #30
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I was looking at this thread again and there was allot of attention to the European influenced Thai saber with the knuckle bow (Krabi), but I thought the ruby studded daab was equality interesting...
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