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Old 19th August 2018, 09:29 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Nomadic swords

Having read Kirill Rivkin's book about Eastern swords and a chapter by Bashir Mohamed in his Furussia book as well as having written a paper about the penetration of sabers into the Arab/Islamic realm, I got an irresistible urge to have a couple of nomadic sabers.

So, here they are:

First, a classical Khazar saber 8-9 centuries with its crossguard and circular tunkou ( or habaki, as Kirill prefers to call them). Pay attention to the false edge at the very distal part of the blade that had been forged in a diamond-shaped pattern to create a strengthening rib: this saber could not just cut/slice, but stab as well.
It was preserved by tannic acid, that's why it is black.
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Old 19th August 2018, 09:40 PM   #2
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Default Nomadic swords, Part 2.

And here is most likely an example from the Qipchaq armamentarium.
This one is in an unbelievably well-preserved condition: the soil must have been highly "hospitable" for a 10-11 century steel.
Here the tunkou is L-shaped with the longer arm going next to the edge. The last pic shows how it was made: a thin plate of iron was wrapped around the ricasso and the two were forged together. This one is diamond -shaped along the entire length and again, the distal part of the blade is double -edged.
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Old 19th August 2018, 11:32 PM   #3
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Hi Ariel:

I assume you are familiar with the Siberian Sword discussion published on this site in 1998, http://www.vikingsword.com/vforum/for01.html, and with additional information and comments here, http://www.vikingsword.com:80/ethfo...ssages/405.html

These blades seem very long. Can you provide dimensions please.

Ian.

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Old 20th August 2018, 12:36 AM   #4
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Ariel,

It seems that Mr Peabody is away from his desk and the WayBackMachine is not accepting certain links, so I have posted replies to the original Siberia Sword thread here. These discussions date to the late 1990s and were among the earliest on these forums. At the time folks had to email their questions and comments to Lee, who would then post them online. We've come a long way since then. It's good to see the Archives are still relevant, and perhaps Jim and Rich will have something further to add ...

Ian

------------Posted by Oleg Kirsanov (via Lee Jones) on April 13, 1999 at 22:30:14:-------------

Dear colleagues

In this message I can inform you the shape, size & basic components of this saber:
-the length of the blade is 720 mm
-the length of the hilt is 75 mm
-the thickness of the middle part of the blade is 5,5 mm
-the widths of the middle part of the blade is 29,4 mm
-the length of the cross-section is 105 mm
-the widths of the cross-section in the middle part is 8,2 mm.
The shape of the cross-section is ellipse, very sharp & refined.
The blade of the sabre is rhombic shape & single-edged the side of the brand.

The curving of the blade is minimum - 4 mm from the straight line.
The whole shape of the blade, cross-section & the hilt let us refer this sword as a sabre.

The condition of this 1000 years saber is perfect, the structure & the property survived completely.

The steel is one of the shapes ( kinds ) of Damask steel.
In middle ages in South Siberian there was a high level technology of output & treatment of iron, excelling Chine & the other civilizations.

The sabre is at my disposal now but it may be sold. That's why I want to finish this scientific investigation of the saber & ask you for saving time contact me in E-mail. The origin and the age of the saber are being exactly established. The difficulty which we have faced concerns the brand on the saber. Is it an ornament used as a decorative pattern those days, or it has some shades of logical meaning?

That is the reason why we decided to consult the specialist and owners of medieval weapon collections.

Best regards,

Oleg Kirsanov, the collector.


--------------Reply by Jim McDougall----------------

Mr. Kirsanov,

What a beautiful example of what appears to be an
early Altaic sabre, judging by examples shown in
drawings in books by David Nicolle Phd,. notably
The Mongol Warlords 1990, and Attila and the Nomad
Hordes, Osprey 1990, and examples shown are
similar noted as Turkish 6-10th century and others
as Khirghiz 10-12th c.

These suggest provenance from Sibero-Mongol borders
where nomad tribes belonged to all three
branches of the Altaic group Turkic,Mongol and
Tungusic.

Although I cannot make out clearly what appears to
be a triangular geometric motif at the forte
if it is at the cutting edge, it is likely a choil
or terminus of the sharpened edge.If it at the back
of the blade of course it is a backpiece as
is seen on many of these as a support piece.
The triangle is of course an ancient symbol which
usually represents fire as well as power, divinity,
etc, etc. As these nomads were typically Shamanistic
such symbolisation may have simply been adopted to
sanctify the blade.


Trying to be definitive on identifying this sword
accurately with the complexities of the vast area
and movements of these nomads is difficult but can
be done with some work.In a communication with
David Nicolle, he suggested Dr.Michael Gorelik of
I believe Kiev. I will check for an address on him.
I know I have it. He is an expert Oriental Arms and
Armour including Central Asian and early
weapons of the steppes.

If you would please contact me directly at my E mail
and we can discuss further research and getting
valuation established. I will start putting
together contacts if you are agreeable.

I would like to know more about provenance on this
sword if possible as well.

Looking forward very much to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jim McDougall

----------------Comment by Rich----------------

This is a wonderful looking blade; however, I
don't recall ever seeing a tang notched like
that in any of Oakshott's books or any other -
of course memory fails (more and more .
I used the notches when I made knives to get
better glue adherence in the hilt. Also, the
tang strikes me as very, very short for a blade
of this length. Something strikes me that it
would not be a particularly strong hilt mount
especially for slashing type cuts. Just my
$0.02 worth. Rich

-----------Additional images from owner------------
.

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Last edited by Ian : 20th August 2018 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 20th August 2018, 01:03 AM   #5
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Ian,
First, thanks for the references and the missing posts.

The lengths of blades:
Khazar 29.5"
Qipchaq 40.5" ( yes, this is no typo:-)
Both very slightly curved.
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Old 20th August 2018, 09:15 PM   #6
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Nice swords Ariel, I especially like the Cuman period one, which is not only extremely well preserved but is also of beautiful proportions. I have been interested in these ever since I read a book about archaeological arms and armor finds from First Bulgarian Empire. With the additional knowledge from the Furusiyya Foundation book and of course Rivkin's most recent excellent book I can now see how many of these finds were from the 12-14th centuries and misidentified as earlier.

The good news is that there are quite a few "digging" entrepreneurs in Russia and Ukraine, who are finding a lot of these swords from the Khazar all the way to the Golden Horde and even the Crimean Tatar periods, including some really well preserved examples like your Cuman period saber. What is better, they can be obtained for prices that are comparable to those of lower end replicas, and so I am trying to acquire a few as well. For whatever reasons these are neglected compared to other medieval swords, but I do not mind it, as it makes collecting these less competitive.

My understanding is that Rivkin called these swords after the dominant entity in the Steppe region during a particular period, not necessarily implying that it is the only group/entity to use the type. For example, you can find Khazar period swords all the way from the Northern Caucasus (Khazars, Alans) to Central Europe (Avars), the Balkans (Bulgars) and even Asia Minor, as the Eastern Roman Empire was quick to adapt these (the paramerion?), not to mention anything of mercenaries in service of the Basileus.

I do not have much to add to your swords, other than what you have posted, but we are still in the early process of learning about these swords and I hope to see more examples in this thread.

Teodor
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Old 20th August 2018, 11:20 PM   #7
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Teodor,
You are correct: these sabers are attributed mainly ( not exclusively) by the site of their final " unearthing". Upper Volga - Bulgars, Western Ukraine- Qipchaq/Cuman, North Caucasus/Don - Khazars, etc. Because of that, attributing and dating them is extremely difficult and imprecise.

From the moment of their first appearance, nomadic sabers went into a static period as cleverly noted by Kirill. Then, often in another location, they suddenly mutated into something different, such as Mamluk swords.

As an example, the L-shaped tunkou with the long arm covering the edge was completely inverted sometime in the 12-14 centuries as seen on the frescoes from Ayyubid Egypt, Aravia/Iran and even Serbia ( St. Nikita in the Gracanica church). We may still see the vague reminescencies of tunkou on Mugal tulwars ( indian ricasso), Persian and Turkish blades where instead of a collar there is a triangular decorative element, etc.
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Old 30th September 2018, 04:58 PM   #8
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Here is a later sword, probably from the 14th century, from the period the Golden Horde was at its apex. It is of diamond cross section as well, there is no tunkou/habaki and the guard is asymmetrical. The whole sword is 105 cm/41 inches.
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Old 20th October 2018, 07:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
And here is most likely an example from the Qipchaq armamentarium.
This one is in an unbelievably well-preserved condition: the soil must have been highly "hospitable" for a 10-11 century steel.
Here the tunkou is L-shaped with the longer arm going next to the edge. The last pic shows how it was made: a thin plate of iron was wrapped around the ricasso and the two were forged together. This one is diamond -shaped along the entire length and again, the distal part of the blade is double -edged.


Just thought you'd like to see a polished section of a very similar blade in my collection, was fortuitously preserved with some surfaces including the crisply-defined ridges with virtually no corrosion (albeit with a thick patina) interspersed with the usual pitting. So I polished a "window" on one stretch, and it reveals a distinct and rather attractive lamellar pattern. There does not seem to be any sign of differential heat treating of the edge; the steel offered the same resistance to the whetstone across its width. Indeed the blade, which is thick but narrow and has little if any distal taper, appears to have little resilience since it is bent in several areas.
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Old 20th October 2018, 03:33 PM   #10
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Very interesting!
A variation of the pattern welded blade.
I also recall Anne Feuerbach's paper about North Caucasian production of crucible steel, a real wootz.
Those old cutlers were much more sophisticated than we imagine.
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Old 20th October 2018, 06:33 PM   #11
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Default the tunkou concept, carried forward

Ariel,
'Thought you might like to compare the tunkou (sleeve at the forte of the blade) on your Qipchaq saber with a couple examples from later in history. The concept had a long shelf-life. The upper image is a saber blade, probably Seljuk, ca 1200 (image and historical identification from Haase, et al, Oriental Splendour: Islamic Art from German Pvt. Collections, 1993.) The lower one is an early 18th cent. Qing liuyedao (willow leaf saber) formerly in my collection. As on your blade, the tunkou on both examples is fashioned from iron sheet and is a friction-fit onto the blade. On other examples from the Mamluk/Ottoman sphere, and Ming/Qing China, it is chiseled in relief from the steel of the blade and there serves more as a decorative motif, but that is another topic for discussion.
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Old 21st October 2018, 12:10 AM   #12
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Hi Philip,

Thanks for addressing the issue of Tunkou.
I want to pick your brain a little deeper.
First, a seller's pic of a Khazar saber from the Ukraine, allegedly 7-9 century. Hope to have it in my hands within a week or two. Its tunkou is of a traditional early form: long arm goes along the edge.
Next, 2 figs from David Nicolle's book ( presumably Daghestan , 13-14 century), ##645 and 646
One tunkou is just like yours and mine, another is kind of a square with a slit in the middle ( some later Chinese ones have it)
After that Iran, ~1306-1304. Something happened, tunkous flipped over: the long arm goes along the spine, ##626f and 626o.

The last one is a fresco of St. Nikita from Serbian Gracanica church, finished in 1321. Again, the long arm is on the top.

After that all tunkous , both functional and decorative, from Mughals, Iran, Ottoman Empire follow the same pattern.

Seems like the westward migrating Turks changed their Tunkous sometimes ~12-13 centuries, whereas eastward migrating ( China, SE Asia) stayed with the classical pattern. Japanese habaki may be an analog of a plain sleeve-like type.

Any thoughts?

P.S. Sorry, my computer has a mind of his own and the order of pics is mixed. But they are labeled and self-explanatory.
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Old 21st October 2018, 12:36 AM   #13
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Teodor,
I cannot see any rivet holes in the tang. Do you think the original owners used some kind of mastique, akin to Indian tulwars, or was the tang damaged badly and the only way to fix it was with some kind of black steel epoxy? My original Khazar's tang was broken ( the seller was negligent) and I had to use a little bit of that epoxy to secure broken ends. It holds well, and the color matches the tannate solution, so I am ( almost) OK with it. I guess that 1300 years from now we will look worse than that. Some plastic surger-ized celebrities look worse even now, when they are still alive.
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Old 21st October 2018, 02:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Hi Philip,

Thanks for addressing the issue of Tunkou.
I want to pick your brain a little deeper.
First, a seller's pic of a Khazar saber from the Ukraine, allegedly 7-9 century. Hope to have it in my hands within a week or two. Its tunkou is of a traditional early form: long arm goes along the edge.
Next, 2 figs from David Nicolle's book ( presumably Daghestan , 13-14 century), ##645 and 646
One tunkou is just like yours and mine, another is kind of a square with a slit in the middle ( some later Chinese ones have it)
After that Iran, ~1306-1304. Something happened, tunkous flipped over: the long arm goes along the spine, ##626f and 626o.

The last one is a fresco of St. Nikita from Serbian Gracanica church, finished in 1321. Again, the long arm is on the top.

After that all tunkous , both functional and decorative, from Mughals, Iran, Ottoman Empire follow the same pattern.

Seems like the westward migrating Turks changed their Tunkous sometimes ~12-13 centuries, whereas eastward migrating ( China, SE Asia) stayed with the classical pattern. Japanese habaki may be an analog of a plain sleeve-like type.

.

Ariel, you raise some very interesting issues.

The matter of specific shapes, especially whether the long side is on the edge or dorsal side of the blade, is interesting. I tend to put more confidence in what the surviving objects show. Works of art are a valuable tool for the arms historian, but there is always the consideration of artistic license. Especially in cultures and eras in which fidelity to minute details did not approach the standards set by the figurative art of Renaissance Europe and subsequent eras (at least until our modern age of abstract art!). Which is not to dismiss it entirely; it's just that we must be prepared, on occasion, to take elements cum grano salis until we have the occasion to let surviving examples of the objects speak for themselves.

The tunkou or its equivalent on Ottoman arms is worthy of further study. I will resize some images for my next post to show that a survival of the original concept (edge side longer) can be seen on some Mamluk and early Otto saber blades. But then we have the case of yataghans, on which a similar component is oriented the other way -- long side along the spine. I wonder if we should consider these disparate designs as coming from the same origin, or perhaps growing from disparate roots. Let's look at proto-yataghan blade shapes (recurved, single edged) from earlier cultures to see if antecedents exist for this specific component. Do you know of any such recurved blades being made and used in those same Eurasian nomad cultures that gave us the saber and pallasch? I recall seeing something like this in a Soviet publication on the Yenisei watershed finds, but need to dig it out and check. You are perhaps more familiar with this material than I am!

As re the Japanese habaki, which is the same length on both edge and dorsal sides (with a straight or slightly convex frontal contour), perhaps we need to regard that as an independent development, sprouting on its own on Japanese soil. Or perhaps sharing a common origin with the same feature on Korean single-edged swords, since the two cultures do seem to have common cultural-political-linguistic threads in archaic and early medieval epochs. Another feature which distinguishes the habacki from its continental counterpart is its distal (side-to-side) dimension. There is a notable taper, from rear to front, in thickness. Also, many of them tend to have a lateral "step" from having each face constructed of two pieces of metal, so that the posterior portion is actually two plates one atop the other. A tunkou lacks both these distinguishing characteristics.
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Old 21st October 2018, 06:03 AM   #15
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Default tunkous, from Eastern and Western territorial limits

You might want to see how the concept survived the post-medieval period, here illustrated by examples from the Mamluk and Chinese culture-spheres. To keep things more evenly comparable, these are all made by chiseling the shape in the steel of the blade, not by installing a separate component made of sheet iron or other metal. And all have the long side towards the edge of the blade.

The Islamic ones retain the feature in a stylistic sense only. By the end of the 15th cent. when these two blades were made, the original functional purpose of the device that inspired its use in medieval Eurasia had morphed into a stylized, decorative element. The two examples are identified as Mamluk; both are in the Topkapi Sarayi Museum. In the Furusiyya Foundation collection, there is a blade (inv. no. R-229) identified as Ottoman, 17th cent. that has a very similar feature (see The Arts of the Muslim Knight, 207, cat. no. 30, p 66)

The two Chinese ones are in private collections; the earlier one 16th-17th cent., the other one a century later. As with the Islamic ones, they have become more stylistic than functional. Indeed, by the 19th cent., tunkou fell largely into disuse on Chinese sabers.
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Old 21st October 2018, 05:03 PM   #16
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I know the Mamluk ones.

Do you have Kirill Rivkin’s book on Eastern swords?
There are tons of data and very intelligent discussions of Nomadic, Mamluk and Ottoman tunkous.
And, yes, I do have pics of some Golden Horde yataghan-like blades. AFAIK, some have tunkous. Will post later.
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Old 21st October 2018, 05:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I know the Mamluk ones.

Do you have Kirill Rivkin’s book on Eastern swords?
There are tons of data and very intelligent discussions of Nomadic, Mamluk and Ottoman tunkous.
And, yes, I do have pics of some Golden Horde yataghan-like blades. AFAIK, some have tunkous. Will post later.


This post is extremely interesting, thank you Ariel.

I have Rivkin's book. I like it, but a lot of data are in fact personnal judgment and opinions. The whole diffusion process is not supported by scientific arguments. Then one part of the book is very similar to "Arms and armor of Caucasus". I have this book too and I prefer this book more grounded in the litterature...

Nomadic swords means what in fact?
Steppic swords? Central Asian swords? Or Horsemen Swords?
The Tuaregs were also nomadic...

Kubur
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Old 21st October 2018, 05:37 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Teodor,
I cannot see any rivet holes in the tang. Do you think the original owners used some kind of mastique, akin to Indian tulwars, or was the tang damaged badly and the only way to fix it was with some kind of black steel epoxy? My original Khazar's tang was broken ( the seller was negligent) and I had to use a little bit of that epoxy to secure broken ends. It holds well, and the color matches the tannate solution, so I am ( almost) OK with it. I guess that 1300 years from now we will look worse than that. Some plastic surger-ized celebrities look worse even now, when they are still alive.


Unfortunately I cannot tell for certain. It is very possible that there was a hole (or holes) but those were closed by accumulation of rust/dirt when the sword was berried and then sealed when it was restored after it was dug out.

As for Kubur's question of the word Nomadic, I assumed that it is used in the context of this threat to refer to the Pontic-Caspian steppe, as defined in Rivkin's book.
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Old 21st October 2018, 06:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV

As for Kubur's question of the word Nomadic, I assumed that it is used in the context of this threat to refer to the Pontic-Caspian steppe, as defined in Rivkin's book.



Correct.
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Old 21st October 2018, 07:33 PM   #20
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Do we have any reliable evidence of the presence or absence of Habakis on Japanese swords before 13 century?
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Old 22nd October 2018, 04:39 AM   #21
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Default Origins of habaki in Japan

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Do we have any reliable evidence of the presence or absence of Habakis on Japanese swords before 13 century?


Per Leon Kapp, The Craft of the Japanese Sword, 1988: The chapter on habaki contains this historical background,

"Exactly how the habaki developed in Japan is not known. Like much of sword technology, it may have come from China by way of Korea. All steel swords in Japan, even the oldest straight blades from about the eighth century, have habaki. Early examples are welded onto the hilt, and are short compared to the ones seen today.

Habaki were a separate metal fitting by the Heian period. A few extant examples date from that time. The earliest habaki were probably made from iron, and later from pot metal, most of which was copper. Copper remains the metal of choice today... Unlike habaki today, however, these Heian-period habaki do not have foil coverings or decorations, and their sides are very thin and flat."

These two paragraphs are worthy of comment and analysis.
1. The author states that the habaki was a hallmark of Japanese sword construction from the beginning, and proposes a continental origin. I am searching for images of examples of very early Chinese and Korean steel swords (the backswords or pallasches that were the inspiration for the earliest swords made in Japan) that corroborate this. Unfortunately, all those that I am aware of are excavated pieces so seriously corroded (often rusted into their scabbards) that blade details are not discernible.

2. He states that the earliest habaki were of iron and have "very thin and flat" sides. This is in keeping with the proto-tunkou sleeves which we see on so many of the so-called "nomad swords" which are the focus of this thread. Thin and flat sides do little if anything to provide the function of a later habaki which is to seal the mouth of the scabbard (with sword fully sheathed) AND to keep the sides of the blade from rubbing against the wood of the scabbard channel and thus degrading the finely polished finish. The fully-developed habaki addresses these needs in an admirable fashion due to its complex lateral contours and distal taper. Likewise for the fully functional tunkou of substantial gauge as seen on many Ming / Qing transitional era sabers -- the thickness of the metal which is in relief to the blade surface, and the extended "tongue" along the edge, both stabilize the blade quite well within the scabbard.

3. Mr Kapp makes an interesting comment in that the earliest habaki "are short compared to the ones seen today". A modern habaki is also quite short compared to just about any Chinese tunkou or its functional and stylistic equivalents seen on medieval Eurasian (OK, "nomad") sabers, or on some of their Ottoman or Persian descendants. Furthermore, the extended "tongue" along the edge side which is a common feature of these continental types is not seen in Japan. This consideration leads me to suggest that perhaps the habaki had an independent origin in Japan and that an historical analysis should distinguish it from the tunkou (and its Inner Asian antecedents).

Ariel, to answer your previous question, yes I have Rivkin's book. I like the range of material covered and the quantity and quality of its illustrations but I also share some of Kubur's critiques. All in all, it's a valuable contribution to the literature and we are the richer for it.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 11:02 AM   #22
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Not only Korean, Japanese or Chinese have this feature but all S-East Asian sword like this guom for example.
Not only sabers but also swords, look at the Tuaregs swords for example...
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Old 22nd October 2018, 11:38 AM   #23
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Philip,
Thanks for the answer. I am not, and have never been, knowledgeable enough about East Asian weapons ( China, Japan, Korea etc) and am glad for the opportunity to be educated by the “gurus”.

As to your reluctance to rely on images:
History of anything is an in exact science, if it is a science at all. It lacks the cardinal defining scientific instrument: ability to conduct an experiment. Historians have to operate with remaining materials and with testimonials by long-dead witnesses of uncertain veracity. And the further back we wish to dig, the less actual materiel we have at our disposal. Necessarily, we have to engage our personal opinions formed on the basis of very meager data sets. Most of what Khudyakov and other wrote about early nomadic swords is based on a limited number of rock carvings. Artistic imprecision was always a problem , even with Rembrandt and the Orientalists, but we have to take artistic images at their face value if they are reproducible across and along the sources. Of course, actual objects are better, but even they have uncertain provenance and datability. In his chapter on nomadic swords Kirill has acknowledged it time and time again.
I trust Iranian images ( ##626 f and o) because in the same book there are other similar images. As to the sword of St. Nikita, it conforms in all details ( blade, handle, pommel) to actual examples and the entire image is highly realistic. Again, the “ inverted tunkou” is seen on thousands objects from that and later eras. I would view this images as fully confirmatory of the real state of affairs.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 12:13 PM   #24
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Kubur,
I do not know much about Tuaregs, and am not sure whether the decorated area has anything to do with tunkou, but the Ottomans were there for ages.
Even if your assumption is correct, it does not prove much: Tuaregs were recipients of Eastern tradition, not its originators and donors.

Guom’s tunkou is not surprising: Vietnam , just like Korea and Japan got their inspiration from China. And Mongols were there also, 13 century.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 06:44 PM   #25
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I do not see a tunkou/habaki on the wide bladed takouba. It is not unusual for takouba blades to be mounted with a sandwich construction to the hilt, especially older and re-used blades where the tang may have been compromised precluding being pinned. Per Iain's research, the wide bladed takoubas were status symbols, usually carried by Emir's bodyguards and all I personally see is extra decoration at the base of the blade, aimed at enhancing the prestige of the owner.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 08:32 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
I do not see a tunkou/habaki on the wide bladed takouba. It is not unusual for takouba blades to be mounted with a sandwich construction to the hilt, especially older and re-used blades where the tang may have been compromised precluding being pinned. Per Iain's research, the wide bladed takoubas were status symbols, usually carried by Emir's bodyguards and all I personally see is extra decoration at the base of the blade, aimed at enhancing the prestige of the owner.



Totally agree, and that this hilt extension/sleeve on this wide bladed Tuareg sword appears to provide an elaborated panel for decoration.


As noted as well, Briggs (1965, pp.43 and 49, plates X and item T5) says,

"...occasionally blades were joined to the hilt by two plain or engraved plates of iron, sometimes almost as long as what remained of the blade proper.Although in some cases this seems to have been done to make possible use of a broken blade there are others in which there was no apparent use for it".

I believe the term for these sleeves or support plates to be 'adabel'.


While these seem to have some degree of functionality as a bolster, they are not directly related to the tunkou/habaki despite the obvious similarity.

Another instance of similar application are the bolster plates/hilt extensions in India on certain Hindu swords such as khanda and pattisa in the South.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 09:20 PM   #27
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To answer to Jim, Arial and Teodor posts I have to quote Philip.

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these are all made by chiseling the shape in the steel of the blade, not by installing a separate component made of sheet iron or other metal. And all have the long side towards the edge of the blade.

The Islamic ones retain the feature in a stylistic sense only. By the end of the 15th cent. when these two blades were made, the original functional purpose of the device that inspired its use in medieval Eurasia had morphed into a stylized, decorative element.


and to add

Sometimes it's not chiseled in the blade but added on the blade like cooper plates on the yatagan for example or the Tabouka.

Clearly decorative but as Philip noticed, the remain of an ancient practise, most probably functionnal.

Why, how and when I don't know.
It just notice that it happens on curved blades but also on straight blades...

I don't have any answer but additionnal comments...

Saying that I have my opinion
First it's to fix blade, guard and hilt alltogether like the nihonto
Second to absorb shocks during a fight
Third to maintain the blade in the scabbard

Last edited by Kubur : 22nd October 2018 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 12:16 AM   #28
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Kubur,
Guom’s tunkou is not surprising: Vietnam , just like Korea and Japan got their inspiration from China. And Mongols were there also, 13 century.

If guards similar in style to Japanese tsuba appear in Vietnam no later than the 13th century, then we can see the sleeves on the blades much later. In my opinion, habaki were borrowed in the first third of the 17th century, when Japanese weapons became incredibly popular in Vietnam, especially in its central part, in the possessions of the chua Trinh.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 02:42 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ren Ren
If guards similar in style to Japanese tsuba appear in Vietnam no later than the 13th century, then we can see the sleeves on the blades much later. In my opinion, habaki were borrowed in the first third of the 17th century, when Japanese weapons became incredibly popular in Vietnam, especially in its central part, in the possessions of the chua Trinh.


Agreed. A large number of Japanese swords were exported to not only Vietnam but to Siam as well as early as the 16th cent., when expatriate colonies of Japanese merchants existed in towns such as Hoi An near the coast in central Annam. Their popularity continued into the following century. Stylistic influence in the form of serrated seppa (washers inserted between the habaki and the tsuba , and the apertures known as hitsu-ana cut into the tsuba, remained characteristic of many Vietnamese hilts into the end of the 19th cent. This, despite the lack of a functional rationale on a Vietnamese hilt since they were not made to be readily disassembled, and no provision was made in the scabbard for a by-knife and skewer. Their presence is purely stylistic but speaks to the persistence of a Japanese aesthetic in the arms culture of the region.

Yes, the disc shaped guard appears earlier in mainland SE Asia, you see it widely on the bronze-hilted steel-bladed sabers found in large numbers in Vietnam and Cambodia and thought to date from the 13th to 15th cent. as you propose.
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Old 24th October 2018, 12:08 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Philip
Yes, the disc shaped guard appears earlier in mainland SE Asia, you see it widely on the bronze-hilted steel-bladed sabers found in large numbers in Vietnam and Cambodia and thought to date from the 13th to 15th cent. as you propose.

First of all, I have to apologize - of course in central Vietnam, power belonged to the chua Nguyen, the chua Trinh ruled in the north of the country.

I think that the influence of the Japanese arm culture was common to all parts of Vietnam. Chinese influence was also significant in the north part Tonkin. The influence of Cambodia and especially the state Champa is very noticeable in Annam, the central part of the modern territory of Vietnam. Unfortunately, I know only one article by Peter Dekker devoted to the study of the weapon of Champa.
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