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Old 8th December 2018, 04:03 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Talismanic Devices and Imbuements on Islamic Arms

In two recent threads, one on Shamshir markings and the other on Arab spears, certain elements of markings found on them were interesting as they suggested talismanic properties which would be an interesting topic for discussion. In the spears case, there was a lozenge design which seems to have been widely used in such manner, and served as an apotropaic against the evil eye.

On the shamshir, the usual dual cartouches, the upper an ogival spheroid typically with ruler of the time or other information or other exhortations , while the lower typically had the makers name and date....are seen.
However to the left and above is a square with abjad letters in a grid, and known as a 'Beduh' square. These talismanic devices are often regarded as 'magic squares' and represent various number combinations which invoke the appropriate properties required.

I would like to look into these 'Beduh' squares further here, and determine more on how they are typically intended on sword blades; how widely were they used (if outside the Arab world and Mughal India) and examples of blades bearing them.

I would also like to learn more on the lozenge device and its significance in motif and designs on weapons in the Arab world.

Attached is the blade of the shamshir posted by William Fox with the typical cartouche configuration and the 'Beduh' square upper left. I am curious about the grid of only four squares, it seems most have nine.
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Old 8th December 2018, 06:29 AM   #2
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Hello Jim, In dealing with the Buduh magic square it seems the Arabs or Indians worked in this medium and also in numbers whereas the Chinese who invented the magic square only used numbers. It appears that a sort of techno bounce back occurred where the essence of the numerical system was exported in some cases incorrectly numbered but the Arab mathematicians figured it out and sent back corrections so to speak... In addition they invented a letter equivalent structure the Chinese never had.

Please See;
http://www.chinesehsc.org/downloads...es_in_china.pdf

The above reference was written by a specialist American master; Professor Camman, and is very much worth reading as he refers to the Arab influence to and from China through trade via India and direct . In consequence the system was given by the Arabs to the Europeans via Spain thus we have pollination of magic squares right across the known world at the time..

http://hypernumber.blogspot.com/201...in-islamic.html describes an interesting narrative and in the final paragraph offers the potential name of an Arab philosopher who may have been one of the people to give this technology to the Europeans.

I placed a Biography at http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...thropologically of the author to the paper above on the Chinese link and the thread also has interesting examples of other magic inscriptions / marks.

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Old 8th December 2018, 07:15 AM   #3
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Old 8th December 2018, 07:17 AM   #4
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Reading my own references again I note that the Buduh square is the one with the letters and is logically named Buduh as per the detail at Reference below according to the letters inscribed in the corners of the Buduh square.

http://hypernumber.blogspot.com/201...in-islamic.html


The numbers were written in the abjad letter-numerals, and because the four corners of this square contained the letters ba', dal, waw [or u], and ha', this particular square became known as the buduh square.


Note; (The Abjad numerals are a decimal numeral system in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are assigned numerical values.) but for finer detail please look up abjad letter-numerals on the web.

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Old 8th December 2018, 08:43 PM   #5
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The inscriptions read as follows:

Upper cartouche: Abbas, Servant of the Ruler of the Nation

This is a very typical formula and is found on the preponderance of such blades.


Lower cartouche: Work of Zaman Isfahani


A known, but not common, maker. Zaman of Isfahan is often referred to as the "son of Assad Allah" but that, like most of the lore, should be taken as praise, rather than representing a literal relationship.


The lateral inscription: Victory from Allah and conquest nigh!

This is a popular Islamic phrase often found on weapons.

An above average blade, congratulations to its owner.
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Old 10th December 2018, 07:48 PM   #6
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Great topic, Jim.

I could add what Julie Anderson describes as a waqf 3X3 Magic Number block and Koranic text on an elaborate Ali Dinar kaskara sword in her article available on the EAA Geographical Index.

Snakes have talismanic qualities including stealth and quickness as shown on one of Reed's sketches as well as examples submitted by EAA members.

Silver dress on swords are supposed to protect users from knife attack, and copper wire and inlays will work to a lesser extent.

The fly, cross & orb, and rampant cat, Solingen blade makers marks have been given qualities of manliness and bravery by Kassala bladesmiths.

These examples are from only Sudanese kaskara motifs within the Islamic context. No doubt other observers will other symbolic meanings including the cross motifs in Christian contexts that call on Higher Powers for protection and success in battle.

Regards,
Ed
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Old 10th December 2018, 08:13 PM   #7
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Thanks Ed! and great input on the Sudanese aspects of the talismanic elements in the motif on these swords. The folk religion and superstitions are often melded together with Islamic invocations etc. just as is the case across North African regions.
In the Berber regions such as with the flyssa in Kabyle and adjacent areas, the geometric designs in the Byzantine style motifs are thought to represent the fibula or as described 'Hand of Fatima' apotropaic against the evil eye.


Good notes on these aspects of the metals used in the dress on these swords as well. Thank you!
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Old 10th December 2018, 08:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
The inscriptions read as follows:

Upper cartouche: Abbas, Servant of the Ruler of the Nation

This is a very typical formula and is found on the preponderance of such blades.


Lower cartouche: Work of Zaman Isfahani


A known, but not common, maker. Zaman of Isfahan is often referred to as the "son of Assad Allah" but that, like most of the lore, should be taken as praise, rather than representing a literal relationship.


The lateral inscription: Victory from Allah and conquest nigh!

This is a popular Islamic phrase often found on weapons.

An above average blade, congratulations to its owner.




Oliver thank you so much for giving us this translation from the shamshir blade I posted, which is presently being discussed as well on the concurrent thread 'shamshir translation'. It is interesting to see the Buduh square along with these cartouches.
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Old 11th December 2018, 10:52 AM   #9
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PLEASE SEE http://islamic-arts.org/2011/amulet...-islamic-world/ for a good general description of Islamic Talismanic artefacts.
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Old 11th December 2018, 04:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
PLEASE SEE http://islamic-arts.org/2011/amulet...-islamic-world/ for a good general description of Islamic Talismanic artefacts.
YES and buy this book!!
excellent

Power and Protection: Islamic Art and the Supernatural (Paperback)
by Francesca Leoni, Christiane Gruber

Last edited by Ian : 12th December 2018 at 07:47 AM. Reason: Removed link to commercial site
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Old 18th January 2019, 11:38 PM   #11
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A huge thank you to Oliver Pinchot for Kindly translating the calligraphy. It has enhanced my appreciation of this beautiful sword.

If anyone has photos of other magic squares used on blades, please post them. This is a fascinating topic!
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Old 26th January 2019, 11:58 AM   #12
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THIS REFERENCE CARRIES 173 JAW DROPPING REFERENCES ~ I would place this near the front of any research on Talisman related issues and in particular on Ethiopian structures, silver ring engravings, and other 7 stars related marks encountered across Islamic frontiers.
For the actual page full of research notes see https://www.bing.com/search?q=ISLAM...qs=ds&form=QBRE
While the pinpoint research document by LLOYD Graham is http://www.academia.edu/1999297/In_...th_the_Pleiades
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Old 26th January 2019, 03:26 PM   #13
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Ibrahiim,

Thanks for posting these two great links. The Graham article may have unlocked the mystery of the silver grip govers in my Kaskara Silver Dress essay!! The Star & Comet motif may be explained in the Dotted Cross and Stars within the Seven Seals. Likewise, the Squares could be an interpretation of the Dotted Cross as well. This may be a stretch, but so far it's the best explanation available. I'll revise the essay to include this speculation.

William,

The Sotheby's image of an Ali Dinar sword (c.1916) from shows magic squares on the blade.

(Help. I cannot attach images (Figs. 10a, 8 & 1) from the Kaskara Silver Dress essay) to this reply. The Manage Attachments button does not open.)

Ed


ESSAY HERE


.
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Last edited by fernando : 27th January 2019 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 27th January 2019, 10:56 AM   #14
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William, That is great news !! Good luck with your thesis and I look forward to seeing it.
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Old 27th January 2019, 11:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
--- (Help. I cannot attach images (Figs. 10a, 8 & 1) from the Kaskara Silver Dress essay) to this reply. The Manage Attachments button does not open.)---

This should not happen; why don't you try again later, Ed ?
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Old 27th January 2019, 12:24 PM   #16
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Fernando,

It still doesn't work, even on this post. Would you be so kind as to extract those three images from my essay and insert them in the post?

Ibrahiim,

BTW, I communicated with Dr. Graham and he didn't see the relationship with the Seven Seals. A derivation, the dotted cross, may work, but its traditional meaning relates to illness and is a stretch to warrior concerns. I'll address this issue when the essay is updated as it is converted to .PDF.

Best,
Ed
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Old 27th January 2019, 01:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Fernando,

It still doesn't work, even on this post. Would you be so kind as to extract those three images from my essay and insert them in the post? ...

Done !
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Old 27th January 2019, 01:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Ibrahiim,

Thanks for posting these two great links. The Graham article may have unlocked the mystery of the silver grip govers in my Kaskara Silver Dress essay!! The Star & Comet motif may be explained in the Dotted Cross and Stars within the Seven Seals. Likewise, the Squares could be an interpretation of the Dotted Cross as well. This may be a stretch, but so far it's the best explanation available. I'll revise the essay to include this speculation.

William,

The Sotheby's image of an Ali Dinar sword (c.1916) from shows magic squares on the blade.

(Help. I cannot attach images (Figs. 10a, 8 & 1) from the Kaskara Silver Dress essay) to this reply. The Manage Attachments button does not open.)

Ed


ESSAY HERE


.

Hi Ed

Well as i wrote previously but clearly nobody look at it
read this book, one Sudanese sword is mentionned...

Power and Protection: Islamic Art and the Supernatural (Paperback)
by Francesca Leoni, Christiane Gruber

Kubur
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Old 27th January 2019, 02:54 PM   #19
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Fernando,

Thanks!!!

Kubur,

Magnificent Ali Dinar style sword. That must be a great book you recommend. Unfortunately, it's too expensive for me to buy and isn't available free online or via my favorite pirate site, Lingen.io. Is there anything therein that might inform the basis of either the star & comet or dotted-cross motifs?

Best regards,
Ed
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Old 27th January 2019, 03:12 PM   #20
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Here are two more Buduhs.
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Old 28th January 2019, 11:20 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Ibrahiim,

Thanks for posting these two great links. The Graham article may have unlocked the mystery of the silver grip govers in my Kaskara Silver Dress essay!! The Star & Comet motif may be explained in the Dotted Cross and Stars within the Seven Seals. Likewise, the Squares could be an interpretation of the Dotted Cross as well. This may be a stretch, but so far it's the best explanation available. I'll revise the essay to include this speculation.

William,

The Sotheby's image of an Ali Dinar sword (c.1916) from shows magic squares on the blade.

(Help. I cannot attach images (Figs. 10a, 8 & 1) from the Kaskara Silver Dress essay) to this reply. The Manage Attachments button does not open.)

Ed


ESSAY HERE


.


Hello William.. Indeed interesting as the 4 and 5 dotted cross are applied to the hilt. the budu square is excellent and clearly placed. I note the square is placed above and left of the main cartouche and this seems standard. It is interesting that the letters are related to a numerical progression which I think was first indicated after magic squares were transmitted to the Arabs from the Chinese and then relayed in the other direction back to China later.
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Old 28th January 2019, 11:40 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Here are two more Buduhs.


On the lower sword I note the inclusion of the three dots on the 4 points of the cartouche .

Three dots appear on all manner of blades and including Nepalese and Persian as well as Indian. These marks appear to indicate the Trimurti form yet evidence also points toward something else; Tamerlane.

On Islamic blades the geometry seems to be one of protection against evil spirits and in other regions the dots placed not only on blades but on hilts presumably blocking evil from entering the blade from either direction.

Tradition indicates that on a set of Islamic prayer beads there are often three beads included at the end of the string to stop the devil climbing up!

Below; Islamic beads plus 3 to ward off evil spirits and the Tamerlane three dots...
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Old 28th January 2019, 12:02 PM   #23
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Reference A;

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=TULVAR

In support ...a sort of world order of three dot insignia I searched for three dots on a blade and extracted this from http://greatdreams.com/three/three.htm ~

Quote."This symbol a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit. The symbol is of universal significance - it is found throughout history and all over the world. It was popularized early in this century by the Russian-born artist, philosopher and scientist Nicholas Roerich. (http://www.roerich.org). It can be interpreted in many different senses: spirit/mind/body in a circle of synthesis; past/present/future enclosed in the ring of eternity; art/science/religion bound in a circle of culture

The oldest of Indian symbols, Chintamani, the sign of happiness, is composed of this symbol and it can be found in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It appears in the Three Treasures of Tibet; on the breast of the Christ in Memling’s famous painting; on the Madonna of Strasbourg; on the shields of the Crusaders and coat of arms of the Templars. It can be seen on the blades of the famous Caucasian swords called "Gurda" and on the swords of Japanese nobility.

It appears as a symbol in several philosophical systems. It can be discovered on the images of Gessar Khan and Rigden Djapo; on the "Tamga" of Timurlane and on the coat of arms of the Popes. It can be seen in the works of ancient Spanish painters and of Titian, and on the ancient ikon of St. Nicholas in Bari and that of St. Sergius and the Holy Trinity. It appears on the coat of arms of the city of Samarkand, on Ethiopian and Coptic antiquities, on the rocks of Mongolia, on Tibetan rings, on Buddhist banners, on the breast ornaments of all the Himalayan countries, and on the pottery of the Neolithic age.

The symbol of the triad or trinity has existed over immeasurable time and throughout the world. It can be understood as a key to the integrity and interdependence of all existence.." Unquote.

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Old 28th January 2019, 05:23 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Reference A;

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=TULVAR

In support ...a sort of world order of three dot insignia I searched for three dots on a blade and extracted this from http://greatdreams.com/three/three.htm ~

Quote."This symbol a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit. The symbol is of universal significance - it is found throughout history and all over the world. It was popularized early in this century by the Russian-born artist, philosopher and scientist Nicholas Roerich. (http://www.roerich.org). It can be interpreted in many different senses: spirit/mind/body in a circle of synthesis; past/present/future enclosed in the ring of eternity; art/science/religion bound in a circle of culture

The oldest of Indian symbols, Chintamani, the sign of happiness, is composed of this symbol and it can be found in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It appears in the Three Treasures of Tibet; on the breast of the Christ in Memling’s famous painting; on the Madonna of Strasbourg; on the shields of the Crusaders and coat of arms of the Templars. It can be seen on the blades of the famous Caucasian swords called "Gurda" and on the swords of Japanese nobility.

It appears as a symbol in several philosophical systems. It can be discovered on the images of Gessar Khan and Rigden Djapo; on the "Tamga" of Timurlane and on the coat of arms of the Popes. It can be seen in the works of ancient Spanish painters and of Titian, and on the ancient ikon of St. Nicholas in Bari and that of St. Sergius and the Holy Trinity. It appears on the coat of arms of the city of Samarkand, on Ethiopian and Coptic antiquities, on the rocks of Mongolia, on Tibetan rings, on Buddhist banners, on the breast ornaments of all the Himalayan countries, and on the pottery of the Neolithic age.

The symbol of the triad or trinity has existed over immeasurable time and throughout the world. It can be understood as a key to the integrity and interdependence of all existence.." Unquote.



This is an excellent grouping of the scope of the use of the three dot symbolism in various cultures and contexts, which of course though not necessarily universally the same religiously or symbolically in detail, the three is key.
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Old 29th January 2019, 11:41 AM   #25
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The great danger here is that members may consider the three dots as explained whereas these are only suggested since the variety of possibilities is vast>>>and covering an enormous timescale as well as all the main religions the world! many of these possibilities are unrelated while some are probably loosely connected and even connected to mysterious cult followings like Free Masons etc. What seems clear is the Talisman effect in protecting the blades although instances where other artifacts seem designed with # dots such as in ceramic wares from Iznic Turkish wares.

Below a few examples on blades and the chart of three dots and including the sawback or eyelash feature seen in many regions. The 3 dot form may also be a simple ruse to raise the price in indicating a high quality blade in the same way as placing important features on a blade such as ANDREA FERRERA or The name of a famous maker...or a Wolf or other inscription on a blade> Naturally the holy script of religion can be added as Talisman on blade hilt or accoutrements as in Mahdi shirts, allam battle banners and flags and unusual weaponry such as Mace.
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Old 29th January 2019, 02:36 PM   #26
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The sword shown below was owned by Shri Jodh Bahadur/Rao Jodh II of Salumbar/Udaipur/Mewar, and is dated VS 1927 - AD 1870-71. Born AD 1833 and ruled from 1863 to 1901(?).

The three dots have been used almost as if they were closing the fullers as it is often seen.
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Old 29th January 2019, 02:48 PM   #27
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What a fabulous sword, Jens !
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Old 29th January 2019, 03:23 PM   #28
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Thank you Fernando,
You may be able to see that one, and only one of them at the end of the blade, is 'closed' with three dots as well.
It is interesting that the inscription under the disc, as well as the one at the back of the blade, gives the owners name and the place.
Rao Jodh II was the 24th ruler of Salumbar, and the history about how Salumbar was started is quite interesting - with a coconut and a misplaced joke.
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Old 29th January 2019, 05:08 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
The sword shown below was owned by Shri Jodh Bahadur/Rao Jodh II of Salumbar/Udaipur/Mewar, and is dated VS 1927 - AD 1870-71. Born AD 1833 and ruled from 1863 to 1901(?).

The three dots have been used almost as if they were closing the fullers as it is often seen.




This is most interesting Jens, and as we have often noted, the 'three dots' have often been found on Indian blades in seemingly strategic locations, as if to add strength or power to that key point of the blade.

In this instance at the terminus of the flutes, this is often seen in European blades as in Spanish blades, the 'anchor' often was seen at end of fullers.
I would note here that these kinds of flutes in the forte of the blade were typical on 18th century Solingen blades as often seen on broadswords found on Scottish basket hilts. This suggests possible factors of European influence here.

On earlier European blades the Bishop's cross often 'enclosed' names, phrases or invocations in this manner, as if to augment or enhance the power or significance of what was being expressed.

It is often perplexing in trying to consider certain markings on blades such as the 'sickle' marks often copied on Indian blades (recalling of course the Genoan/Styrian forms)............were these to suggest quality as often assumed, or imbuements of power and strength ?


Could these three dots possibly have been in imitation of the three dots typically part of the sickle mark described, but taken singly in accord with the numeric value of the Trimurti....and placed to add such strength?
The grouping of dots at the top of the fuller is of configured as five rather than three, which of course seems unusual unless simply added in accord with the others in an aesthetic sense.

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Old 29th January 2019, 08:28 PM   #30
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Jim,
The five dots are share one of the dots, have a look here.
This blade is quite unusual, as one side is wootz and the other side is pattern welded with only two fullers along the blade.
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