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Old 4th February 2019, 09:54 PM   #1
asomotif
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Default EUROPEAN BLADE PRE 1800 FOR ID

Good evening european forumites,

I would like to have information about the origin, age and model of this blade.

It is mounted in Atjeh sikin pasangang fittings, but the blade shows european style etching as well as damast pattern.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 8th February 2019, 12:19 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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While I am admittedly (and clearly) unfamiliar with the history and weapons of Indonesia and these archipelagos, I am disappointed in the lack of response so wished to at least venture suggestions here.

The basic pattern of the blade suggests obviously a cavalry sabre blade, probably East European and of the latter 18th century into early 19th. The etching style, though extremely worn and indiscernible in the photos is of course indicating an officers sword.

Without searching through references to match the interesting fuller arrangement to classify possible nationality of this blade, the key factor in its appearance in this Indonesian context is of course trade. While the Dutch predominated control in these regions, there are likely a good number of possibilities how this blade ended up in these Atjeh mounts. Only speculation by those more familiar with these trade activities and regional history can offer more viable solution.


Hopefully Willem, these people will step in with more detail.


Best regards
Jim
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Old 8th February 2019, 03:50 PM   #3
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... I am disappointed in the lack of response so wished to at least venture suggestions here....

A true disappointment would be if you didn't post your educated comments, Jim .
Let us see whether other folks know what Willem's blade appears to be and second your entry .
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Old 8th February 2019, 08:41 PM   #4
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Thank you Fernando.

I checked my copy of "Edged Weapons of the Habsburg Monarchy 16th-20thc" (Konipsky & Moudry, Prague, 1991) as I felt this blade resembled one of East Europe, and found two examples which seem plausibly connected.


The one with the coat of arms on the blade ( p.43 ; #14) is from Hungarian hussars c. 1751-54.

The other is Austrian light cavalry first half of 19th c.


What drew me to these types were the multiple fullers in the distal half of the blade, while the beginning of the blade is of hollow ground form. With these two blades, the later (19th c,) form has three fullers.....however the style of etching seems more in line with this example Willem has.


The earlier blade seems to be in line with the fuller pattern of Willem's but this type etching inconsistant.


There were of course many variants, and these blades were typically from Styria. According to some notable experts, Hungary did not have blade making centers but of course it was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

These blades were often found used in shashkas in the Caucusus, and were highly favored in Arabia and other regions, so there are any number of ways they may have entered trade networks which interacted with those of Indonesia.


I hope this will be of some help Willem, and I of course look forward to views of others with other information. In any case, a most interesting example with a very unusual blade in this context.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:38 AM   #5
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I think Jim is right in suggesting this is likely a trade blade in the style of Eastern Europe or Austro-Hungary, commonly used in Arabia or the Caucasus

I had a look in Eduard Wagner’s Cut & Thrust Weapons (1969) and found a number of similar 18thC blades from the Habsburg monarchy, with the initially hollow ground blade followed by two fullers. But these were either straight cavalry broad swords or curved hussar sabres. The sabres illustrated in the book are more curved with a more pronounced hatchet point, and fullers end in unequal lengths.

Identification is further complicated, as Jim mentions, in that the etching is very worn and indiscernible in the photos. But it suggests that the blade had been used and was intended to be recycled.

Last edited by Victrix : 9th February 2019 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:29 PM   #6
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Thank you Victrix. The Wagner reference is a wonderful one! and I have relied on it heavily for many years, in fact it was probably among my first books back when it first came out (1967).

The fact that this blade is so worn, suggests it was not necessarily a 'trade' blade, which would have been effectively 'blanks' or produced for specific markets. A worn cavalry officers blade from the suggested origins would have come into this Indonesian context through means outside such networks, suggesting this to be more of a 'one off' kind of situation. Perhaps a personally owned old sword or blade which was traded or sold to someone either bound for Indonesia or already there.

If there was some colonial presence of the nation from which this blade had provenance, then this amalgamation into local hilt form would be understandable, but as far as I know this is not the case here.

Truly an anomaly, but whether or not this marraige of blade into atypical hilt is from a historical situation or a modern contrivance is hard to say.
Interesting conundrum!
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Old 10th February 2019, 08:36 AM   #7
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Here is another picture of an Austrian husar sabre for officers about 1744 with similar details of the blade. The drawings of the blade in question, especially the shield and arms on one side visible have a very European aspect.
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Old 11th February 2019, 05:41 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the information !

I checked the database of the dutch army museum, but did not find matching blades. Unfortunately also the most swords on their website were pictured sheated in the scabbard ?!

I intend to give it a better etching in due time to see if that brightens the decoration as well as the damascene blade.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 11th February 2019, 09:17 PM   #9
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Hi Willem,

I’m sorry we can not be of more help. It would be useful to be able to view the engraving.

There could be a general Dutch colonial connection with the blade. Then there could be an Arabian connection (through Islam) where the blade could have been captured/sold from Hungary or marketed as a Hungarian ”trophy” blade to Arabic buyers (e.g. http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=hungaria). Damascene blades were not common in Europe so that also makes it unusual. The blade would then have found it’s way to Indonesia and recycled with local mount. An object with an Arabian connection/origin would probably be highly esteemed in Indonesia for cultural reasons.

In his book Wagner (1969, 2nd ed.) mentions the hussar blade discussed above as ”The blade is curved, 92cm long, hollowed out on both sides. It has two grooves of unequal length...” The width is said to be 3.5cm.Perhaps erosion on your blade made the grooves of equal length? Perhaps frequent sharpening made the tip more pointed? Or perhaps the blade was so customized to individual taste for an officer?
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Old 12th February 2019, 04:41 PM   #10
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I am always curious when I see the term 'damascus' describing a blade. In my very limited understanding of metallurgy, my impression is that the term has been loosely applied to various forms of 'watered steel' and was gauged by carbonization degree in forging. The effects gave various rippled effects resembling water and this steel was produced in India and Sri Lanka (termed wootz).
As far as I have known, this process of steel making was not known in Europe though some forms of design in the blade resulted from pattern welding. I think Russia later formed a simulated 'damascus' termed 'bulat'.

The thing is that the blade on this example displays what appear to be acid etched motifs (often seen on officers swords of course) . I don't believe that the designs or effects of 'watered steel' would be covered over with acid etched motif.....at least that would be my impression.

The Austro-Hungarian blades from cavalry sabres were among the favored types brought into Arabian entrepots and were termed 'Majar' , presumably from Magyar (= the ethnic group in Hungary). With the prolific trade of the Arabs, it would not be hard to imagine these blades, as noted, bundled with others in the routes which connected to Indonesian/Malaysian regions.
These regions are notably populated by those of Muslim Faith, and as such, there was certainly the ever present travel of Pilgrims to Mecca in their Hadj. Typically in these travels these Pilgrims often carried items to trade and sell to pay for their passage. Various weapons have diffused widely in this manner.

As this blade is well worn, it is known that in Bedouin use, blades were often polished and worked, so a 'Majar' that had been in this context for even a relatively short time would have had this motif well worn . I think it is more likely this scenario may have been the case here. While the Dutch indeed used Solingen made blades, this blade has more the character of the Styrian types well known in Austro-Hungary in 18th-19th c. and likely ended up in Bedouin context as a 'Majar'. From there is may have been acquired by a person on Hadj and taken back to Indonesian area, thus the cultural circumstance which Victrix has well noted.
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