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Old 19th October 2006, 06:41 PM   #31
Gt Obach
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i believe its more a matter of economy.... .... for myself.. i can't really tell much of a difference between my modern type wootz steel and 1084, W1, or 1095 steel.... but.... I can buy a 3/4 round of W1 for 7 bucks but my wootz cost me at least 70 bucks to make the 3lbs ingot.... and even with forge experience, the success rate to produce a sword length is low... (lots of things can go wrong) ..... but that is just a modern scenario....

in the past... i believe economy and quantity would be reason..

even bloom steel like the vikings made or the bloom steel the Japanese made would be a slow process...

look at this post Jesus made on replication of tatara
http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index...wtopic=6220&hl=

viking blades would be similar but patterns would be formed with different bloom steels
here a tutorial jake did
http://www.powning.com/jake/commish/progress1.shtml

also here's a video Dan just did on his patternwelding..
http://www.ferrum.cc/en/online/videos.html


Long process forsure...... but it's important to note that the processes still survive today and are still sought after.... wootz, tamahagane, among a sea of very affordable mass produced blades.


Greg

ps.. warnings... i do have a bias towards wootz
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Old 19th October 2006, 06:43 PM   #32
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Ariel, have you practised any armed martial "arts" ? how many spears have you handled? The spear is the primary weapon. It can be used in a circular motion. I would agree that in a melee of a broken line the sword would have some advantages but you are still in danger of getting stuck by a spear. I think it is the combination of weapons that works best. Rather you than me, I would prefer to be one of the rabble rousers
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Old 19th October 2006, 07:01 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I agree with Greg: of course, spear is very effective, but swords utilise an additional element of motion, ie, circular arm movement as opposed to the linear one of the spear. An example is Chaka's transformation of the throwing/stabbing Zulu spear with a smallish head into a massive sword-like weapon.

This thread is astonishing: in one fell swoop we started to demolish the mythology of the 2 greatest blademaking traditions: Japanese and Persian.
It appears that good mass-produced European blades were at the very least as good and perhaps even better than legendary "Masamunes and Assadollahs". And for less effort and money, too! Overall, the effort:result ratio was orders of magnitude in favor of Europe. Unquestionably, it was the result of scientific revolutions in Europe to which Japanese or Middle-Easterns were very late-comers or just passive consumers. No individual tradition, no matter how refined, can compete with a massive and systematic onslaught of Scientific Technology. Un-romantic, but true.....
Ironically, of course, the great European blades became widely available when they were no longer needed..... But then, the same technology gave Europe another edge:

"Whatever happens
we have got,
the Gatling gun
and they have not."
- Hillaire Belloc



I totally agree.
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Old 19th October 2006, 07:06 PM   #34
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If this spear was not African I am sure it would be considered a noble weapon equal even superior to many swords and worth a lot more as a collectors thing .
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Old 19th October 2006, 08:28 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
If this spear was not African I am sure it would be considered a noble weapon equal even superior to many swords and worth a lot more as a collectors thing .

I'll take the Beduin sword, please....
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Old 19th October 2006, 08:32 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
This thread is astonishing: in one fell swoop we started to demolish the mythology of the 2 greatest blademaking traditions: Japanese and Persian.


Here I totally disagree. You can't judge a weapon out of context, either historical and cultural. When japaneses were reached by portugueses they copied guns and armor NOT the swords. Simply european swords weren't made to fit japanese style of swordfighting. The same when westerner knew about the japanese blades. They were looked at as extremely well made weapons but NOONE copied them in Europe or imported them for our cavalry. Again they didn't fit the combat style and battlefield needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel

It appears that good mass-produced European blades were at the very least as good and perhaps even better than legendary "Masamunes and Assadollahs". And for less effort and money, too! Overall, the effort:result ratio was orders of magnitude in favor of Europe. Unquestionably, it was the result of scientific revolutions in Europe to which Japanese or Middle-Easterns were very late-comers or just passive consumers. No individual tradition, no matter how refined, can compete with a massive and systematic onslaught of Scientific Technology. Un-romantic, but true.....
Ironically, of course, the great European blades became widely available when they were no longer needed..... But then, the same technology gave Europe another edge:

"Whatever happens
we have got,
the Gatling gun
and they have not."
- Hillaire B .


Here I totally agree. You should read "Guns Germs ans Steel. The Fates of human Societies", W.W. Norton and Co. New York -London 1997 by
Jared Diamond, a Pulitzer-awarded writer. An astonishingly well made explanation about how and because the "white/european" people reached the technological domain, that perrfectly matches with your quote.
Well, you'll have to deal with the fact that all started in present day Iraq, but I'm confident you can live with this...
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Old 19th October 2006, 08:47 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Ariel, have you practised any armed martial "arts" ? how many spears have you handled? The spear is the primary weapon. It can be used in a circular motion. I would agree that in a melee of a broken line the sword would have some advantages but you are still in danger of getting stuck by a spear. I think it is the combination of weapons that works best. Rather you than me, I would prefer to be one of the rabble rousers

I see your point: even as recently as 18-19th century, the Brits maintained the superiority of bayoneted rifle over a sword. They had ample empiric evidence from their many Indian wars.
As part of my (long, long ago.....) fencing training, we had rather extensive bayonet practice; that is the extent of my knowledge. Since there were no official bayo competitions, we did not like it very much and preferred real fencing. Spear and bayo have a lot of advantages over a sword: distance, force, stocks with solid buttplates are handy etc... On the other hand, what is gained in distance, is lost in speed. But, Tim, to each his own and, since neither spear nor sword is a practical weapon these days, we can have this argument to our heart's delight over a beer or two, rather than on the battlefield.
And, buddy, if you want to be a real rabble rouser, get yourself a pitchfork!

Last edited by ariel : 20th October 2006 at 03:39 AM.
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Old 19th October 2006, 08:55 PM   #38
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Originally posted by tsubame 1

"Well, you'll have to deal with the fact that all started in present day Iraq, but I'm confident you can live with this... "

Once again, I am at a loss: what do you mean? That technology started in Hammurabi's Babylon? That wootz was developed by Saddam Hussain? What is the connection with the "present day Iraq"? What am I supposed to "live with"?
Please explain.
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Old 19th October 2006, 09:02 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Originally posted by tsubame 1

"Well, you'll have to deal with the fact that all started in present day Iraq, but I'm confident you can live with this... "

Once again, I am at a loss: what do you mean? That technology started in Hammurabi's Babylon? That wootz was developed by Saddam Hussain? What is the connection with the "present day Iraq"? What am I supposed to "live with"?
Please explain.


Oh, c'mon Ariel, don't get so defensive just for any quote about middle east.

I meant that the book explain the way the western civilizations gained so much technological advantages over the others and all started with the availability of cultivable variety of vegetables, that occurred in the ancient Iraq.
Then availability of domesticable animals, over all the horse. More, the matter to be urbanized that enabled us to increase our immunitary system against bacteria and viruses that were later exported to other continents.
Really a good book explaining the way we begun what we are, placing the basis of the wester civilization that later lead to colonialism.

The way to reach the gatling gun we had and they not. I'm supporting your position, don't see you ?
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Old 19th October 2006, 11:09 PM   #40
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Gentlemen,

Please, let us stay on track here.
Now to the weapons:
I think that our understanding of swords and "martial arts" is rather different from 500 years ago.
If you read mamluk manuals they are far more concerned with selecting and "maintaining" one's horse rather than some elaborate fighting moves.
Bow was the weapon of the steppe. Lance was the second choice (btw I doubt that one can use a cavalry lance in a "swinging motion"). A short spear I think was a relatively rare weapon (I hope to be corrected) - not used in falanga-like formations, not used by cavalry, too cumbersome to be used in tight infantry formations...

The lance had however two big disadvantages that swords did not - it did not work in high winds and maneurability was extremely low, often making it useless. Sword is a very good weapon because it can be used almost everywhere, but roman swords and legions did not save them from the onslaught of steppe cavalry.

And last, but not least, there is a chechen saying that loosely translates as "one can win with a sword of wood, but not without a heart of steel".
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Old 20th October 2006, 03:53 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsubame1
Oh, c'mon Ariel, don't get so defensive just for any quote about middle east.

I meant that the book explain the way the western civilizations gained so much technological advantages over the others and all started with the availability of cultivable variety of vegetables, that occurred in the ancient Iraq.
Then availability of domesticable animals, over all the horse. More, the matter to be urbanized that enabled us to increase our immunitary system against bacteria and viruses that were later exported to other continents.
Really a good book explaining the way we begun what we are, placing the basis of the wester civilization that later lead to colonialism.

The way to reach the gatling gun we had and they not. I'm supporting your position, don't see you ?

I am not being defensive, and the Middle East has nothing to do with it: I just do not get your comments very often. Perhaps, it's my lack of the sense of humor or your telegraphic style.
As to urbanization as a cause of strenghtened immunity, tell the author to consider The Great Plague, typhoid, syphilis, cholera or even influenza etc. Cities were devastated but the sparsely populated countryside survived because there was very little likelihood of contact between the carrier and the rest of the poplation. Remember "Decameron"? The only hope to survive was to leave the city (and, perhaps, have a bit of fun in the process )
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Old 20th October 2006, 05:53 AM   #42
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1. Ariel,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
This thread is astonishing: in one fell swoop we started to demolish the mythology of the 2 greatest blademaking traditions: Japanese and Persian.
It appears that good mass-produced European blades were at the very least as good and perhaps even better than legendary "Masamunes and Assadollahs". And for less effort and money, too! Overall, the effort:result ratio was orders of magnitude in favor of Europe. Unquestionably, it was the result of scientific revolutions in Europe to which Japanese or Middle-Easterns were very late-comers or just passive consumers. No individual tradition, no matter how refined, can compete with a massive and systematic onslaught of Scientific Technology. Un-romantic, but true.....


I think that you are spot on, but as collectors we tend to gravitate towards the exceptional or magnificent and not necessarily the practical - And then we fantacize about them, at times a little too freely. To my mind, very few Euro swords can match the sheer beauty, not to mention the unbelievable craftsmanship, of a top wootz or Japanese blade - Practical weapons with which to equip an army? Not really. Magnificent examples of metal working? Unquestionably so. Collectables? A most resounding yes!


2. GT Obach,

Thanks for that link on brittle failure - Made for good reading. Here is another one:

http://www.sv.vt.edu/classes/MSE209...ww/ballard.html

3. There are many other relevant topics that are a bit difficult to adequately cover in a setting like this. For example: The origination of micro cracking, crack propagation and arresting, residual stresses and their role in assisting or inhibiting crack propagation, notch sensitivity of steels and so on.


4. As to the perennial and recurring question as whether these swords were better or inferior to their Western European counterparts, that entirely depends on how they were deployed and the theatre of war. For one, the Mongol hordes did not use very high quality weapons, yet they were remarkably successful.

5. As an aside, for those interested in Japanese swords and their style of fencing, as assessed from the European perspective, there is wonderful little book written by F.J Norman and titled The Fighting Man of Japan. Norman was a Brit cavalry man who taught the Japanese in the 1870s and was probably the first Englishman to seriously study their style of swordsmanship. He made a number of very interesting and astute observations re the merits of the two styles. He opined that whilst a top class Euro duelist could perhaps beat a Japanese in a one to one contest on favourable ground, on the battlefield he felt that the Euro sword of his times was too cumbersome for unmounted use. He also observed that notwithstanding its shorter blade, the Japanese sword did not lack reach because of its longer handle. He was sufficiently level headed to acknowledge that whilst he considered the Japanese sword and its wielding very good, nevertheless both could have been improved.

Cheers
Chris

Last edited by Chris Evans : 20th October 2006 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 20th October 2006, 07:30 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I As to urbanization as a cause of strenghtened immunity, tell the author to consider The Great Plague, typhoid, syphilis, cholera or even influenza etc. Cities were devastated but the sparsely populated countryside survived because there was very little likelihood of contact between the carrier and the rest of the poplation. Remember "Decameron"? The only hope to survive was to leave the city (and, perhaps, have a bit of fun in the process )


The people that gave him the Pulitzer for that book likely don't share your point of view.
The Author was referring to minor deseases. You're quoting the "black death", the greatest of all. being you a brain surgeon you should have studied what south american indios and austrlian aborignous suffered for deseases le ft ther from with people. That's what the author refers to, but without reading the book, you can't get the whole picture.

Anyway I'm disgressing and just to support your point.
I'll return on topic.
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Old 20th October 2006, 07:37 AM   #44
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greetings...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
This thread is astonishing: in one fell swoop we started to demolish the mythology of the 2 greatest blademaking traditions: Japanese and Persian.

well i dont see how this is provable what do you mean by demolish. don't you think you are assuming too much?
Quote:
It appears that good mass-produced European blades were at the very least as good and perhaps even better than legendary "Masamunes and Assadollahs".

again how do you prove this? have you ever used a masamunes or assadollahs weapon or more common persian or japanese swords you say you fenced but sorry fencing is not real sword work. you have never used real sword in real practice yes or no, please answer.i dont understand why you assume inferiority. no One can talk about inferiority of blades if they dont use it.this is very wierd that you say these things. are you new to these weapons?
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Old 20th October 2006, 12:54 PM   #45
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Guys:

Please keep discussion to the weapons and not get into personalities. There are no doubt some strongly held beliefs about the value of respective weapon traditions. Let's talk about those beliefs and their merits, but not get into who is making the comments and what they do or don't do.

I don't want to have to close this thread or hand out any suspensions.

Ian.
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Old 20th October 2006, 01:44 PM   #46
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As many of you have pointed out, quality is relative. Presently I am looking into two related aspects: the sword as a symbol, and why the production declined. First of all, a sword was not always (and often not) the "best" method of defence/offence (arrows, firearms etc.) but it is symbolic, the so-called "phallic" aspect aside, the sword in many cultures was a symbol of war, peace, marrage (sword dances), fertility (amulets make in the shape of a sword), justice, status (age and wealth), etc. By the way, back to Iraq...the combination of war/marrage/justice goes back to the Sumarians and the goddess Ishtar/Enanna (around 2500 BC. southern Iraq).

FYI, I don't like Guns, Germs and Steel, it has some good points but is far too simplified. I thought it would be good for the "Rise of Civlization class", but it can be misleading so read with a "pinch of salt".

Back to topic, In fact in non-western societies swords seem primarily to represent peace rather than war. So its combat value was only one aspect. As for why the production declined...yes I know all about economics, used up all the ore, British not allowing production in India, etc, but these are only part of a much larger picture. Think about it..when did production in traditional societies end? late 1800's (lastest recording I think was 1902 in India or Sri Lanka). Russians were invading Bukhara and other areas of Central Asia, Ottoman empire was breaking up in the Near East. Societies, values, etc were changing in a fundamental way. The quality of the blade was only one aspect and that could be fullfilled by imported steel.

PS Ariel: 2 cups of coffee that melts the spoon, with lots of milk in it, first thing in the morning. Apparently coffee protects the liver, and I am all for protecting my liver

Last edited by Ann Feuerbach : 20th October 2006 at 01:47 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 20th October 2006, 02:00 PM   #47
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Chris,
I agree with you 100%: the so-called "Eastern" weapons are beautiful. That is why we collect them. I am not collecting any European swords because in my eyes they do not have the magic of Japanese, Persian or Turkish weapons.
Having said that, this thread is about practical value of wootz, not about its esthetic, collectable qualities.
I have a question: even at the height of wootz reputation European blades were very popular in India, Arabia, Caucasus etc. Marks of Styrian or British manufacturers were highly sought. Things went so far that the local swordsmiths started to counterfeight European markings far more often than Assadullah's, even though they could do either.
What does it tell us about the perceived value of the European blades in the "Eastern" societies? Does it mean that in the eyes of the native populations a sword marked Fringia or Genoa was more desirable and, by definition, better than Assadollah's?
One could say that making a wootz sword was much more time consuming and, thus, counterfeighting European blades made better economic sense. However, we see many rather low-to-mediocre quality non-wootz swords bearing (fake) signatures of Assadullah or Kalbeali. Superhigh quality was never on the mind of a faker.
Did the native warriors know something about the battle value of Persian/Indian blades vs. European ones that we do not?
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Old 20th October 2006, 02:42 PM   #48
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Interesting point, Ariel. I see a couple potential explanations for this phenomenon.

The exotic is often desireable, and "native" consumers might have been attracted to European blades.

European consumers might have wanted Euro bladed weapons (these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive things).

And, as you suggest, perhaps certain folks viewed Euro blades as superior.
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Old 20th October 2006, 03:19 PM   #49
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Quote:
.... and even with forge experience, the success rate to produce a sword length is low... (lots of things can go wrong) ..... but that is just a modern scenario....


I don't know, some of those early descriptions of making and forging wootz cakes sound like there were a lot of rejects, at each step in the process. I think a low (copmpared to modern industrial standards) success rate is an antique scenario as well.

Quote:
Think about it..when did production in traditional societies end? late 1800's

Hmm, much as I'd like to lay the blame at the feet of the industrial revolution and the peak of colonialism, perhaps it was more fundamentally the increase in travel and communication which made the homogenization of commodities on a world-wide basis possible.

When the Europeans were trying to figure out how to make steel in a more efficient way than the blister and shear methods (late 18th to 19th C.), they studied wootz but didn't really figure it out. In Smith's "History of Metallography" he says "Interest in duplication of the [wootz] blade declined as European steelmakers developed their own techniques and the introduction of the Bessemer and Siemens processes gave [a] homogenous steel more adaptable to large-scale production"
...so wootz was recognized as a superior material until the new technologies overtook it; this also coincided with the death of the sword as a functional object, since it was also overtaken by new technologies. I think that early scientific interest in the properties of wootz helped keep the legend alive into the modern era.
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Old 20th October 2006, 03:21 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann Feuerbach
As many of you have pointed out, quality is relative. Presently I am looking into two related aspects: the sword as a symbol, and why the production declined. First of all, a sword was not always (and often not) the "best" method of defence/offence (arrows, firearms etc.) but it is symbolic, the so-called "phallic" aspect aside, the sword in many cultures was a symbol of war, peace, marrage (sword dances), fertility (amulets make in the shape of a sword), justice, status (age and wealth), etc. By the way, back to Iraq...the combination of war/marrage/justice goes back to the Sumarians and the goddess Ishtar/Enanna (around 2500 BC. southern Iraq).

FYI, I don't like Guns, Germs and Steel, it has some good points but is far too simplified. I thought it would be good for the "Rise of Civlization class", but it can be misleading so read with a "pinch of salt".

Back to topic, In fact in non-western societies swords seem primarily to represent peace rather than war. So its combat value was only one aspect. As for why the production declined...yes I know all about economics, used up all the ore, British not allowing production in India, etc, but these are only part of a much larger picture. Think about it..when did production in traditional societies end? late 1800's (lastest recording I think was 1902 in India or Sri Lanka). Russians were invading Bukhara and other areas of Central Asia, Ottoman empire was breaking up in the Near East. Societies, values, etc were changing in a fundamental way. The quality of the blade was only one aspect and that could be fullfilled by imported steel.

PS Ariel: 2 cups of coffee that melts the spoon, with lots of milk in it, first thing in the morning. Apparently coffee protects the liver, and I am all for protecting my liver

Very clever point about sword as a symbol of peace. Only I think it was not a "symbol of peace" as such but rather ceremonial object. Because of its perceived greatness it assumed the central role in such cetremonies as marriage, birth, circumcision, special honor etc. All ( or most) ceremonies are "peaceful" by nature but it does not mean that an object participating in them has "peaceful" connotations. In all cultures and in all languages "sword" is a symbol of war; not spear, not arrow, but sword. Heroic acts on the battlefield were rewarded by a sword, not a shield. Think about it.
Yes, the Guns, germs... is not very good. Ian might be willing to express his epidemiological opinion, but just as a book it is quite shallow. Pulitzer is not a guarantee of greatness: JFK was given a Pulitzer for a book that was ghostwritten for him.
So, you think that only when swords became less important, the European imports acquired popularity? Well, the popularity of European blades was obvious even in the 16-17th centuries in India, and in the 18-19th centuries in the Caucasus, when the sword was the King of the Battlefield.
Swords were "out" when replaced by firearms. That does not explain the replacement of native blades by imports.
I got a coffee using your recipe. Not bad. The molten teaspoon was by Assadollah. Should have used Andrea Ferrara.
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Old 20th October 2006, 03:26 PM   #51
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We should also remember that Europeans were living in these areas too, not in such great numbers (hundreds) but for trade, left over from crusades and other battles etc. Perhaps they liked the blades of their homeland. Much in the same way people tend to buy things they are familiar with today (Husband still wants British sausages, tea, and baked beans, as though America does not have any!). I think owning something exotic too is always wanted. Do we have any number on how many sword fights were actually occuring in battles? During the different periods, were the swords primarily for horseman or infantry?
Ann
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Old 20th October 2006, 03:35 PM   #52
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FYI, alloy steels were the direct result of "wootz" replication. Thank Michael Faraday for that. Apparently he (and of course others around the same time) was working on finding out why "wootz" was apparently "better". He was playing with elements and came up with alloy steel. With the "invention" of alloy steel, research into wootz was no longer necessary.

An idea...we usually think that only Islam was practices in the Near East, Central Asia, India, but these areas also have a high number of other religions (and still do!). Perhaps the patterned blades were a symbol of Islam, whereas the other blades did not. Some of these cultures also had a "ban" on non-muslims having weapons (I do not remember the reference off hand). Perhaps the lifting of the ban has somthing to do with the increase imports? I do not know but I think it is worth looking into.
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Old 20th October 2006, 05:46 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
So, you think that only when swords became less important, the European imports acquired popularity? Well, the popularity of European blades was obvious even in the 16-17th centuries in India, and in the 18-19th centuries in the Caucasus, when the sword was the King of the Battlefield.
Swords were "out" when replaced by firearms. That does not explain the replacement of native blades by imports.


What about fireguns barrels made out of wootz because of they allowed 30% more powerful gunpowder loads (and so higher accuracy, longer range, safer use) then the ones made with other steels ? This was in XVII c. ,and even earlier, India, so around the period you quote.
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Old 20th October 2006, 05:55 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsubame1
What about fireguns barrels made out of wootz because of they allowed 30% more powerful gunpowder loads (and so higher accuracy, longer range, safer use) then the ones made with other steels ? This was in XVII c. ,and even earlier, India, so around the period you quote.

I do not have enough knowledge of gun barrel techology and performance characteristics; I'll better keep quiet on the subject.
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Old 20th October 2006, 06:07 PM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Chris,
I agree with you 100%: the so-called "Eastern" weapons are beautiful. That is why we collect them. I am not collecting any European swords because in my eyes they do not have the magic of Japanese, Persian or Turkish weapons.
Having said that, this thread is about practical value of wootz, not about its esthetic, collectable qualities.
I have a question: even at the height of wootz reputation European blades were very popular in India, Arabia, Caucasus etc. Marks of Styrian or British manufacturers were highly sought. Things went so far that the local swordsmiths started to counterfeight European markings far more often than Assadullah's, even though they could do either.
What does it tell us about the perceived value of the European blades in the "Eastern" societies? Does it mean that in the eyes of the native populations a sword marked Fringia or Genoa was more desirable and, by definition, better than Assadollah's?
One could say that making a wootz sword was much more time consuming and, thus, counterfeighting European blades made better economic sense. However, we see many rather low-to-mediocre quality non-wootz swords bearing (fake) signatures of Assadullah or Kalbeali. Superhigh quality was never on the mind of a faker.
Did the native warriors know something about the battle value of Persian/Indian blades vs. European ones that we do not?


Very good points Ariel, I can quote Musil, who has described the values of different kinds of sword blades that were available to the Rwala clan in northern arabia. The Khurasani Persian, presumably wootz, is the most expensive, at $135 a blade. Compared to a 'Shintiyan', some kind of european blade, cost from $2-10. Clearly, wootz blades were the most valuable, and this information comes from a society which relied on swords and lances for life.

Strangely though, it seems that they did not like curvy blades. Even with Persian wootz blades, bedouins always sought out for wide blades with a slight curve. European blades of the period, fit the bill perfectly.
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Old 20th October 2006, 06:10 PM   #56
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Hi Ariel.
I wasn't challenging Rivkin on this, rather I was asking for feedbacks as I'm intrigued by the matter.
Resistance to phisical stress in a gun barrel doesn't mean the steel is a better one for swords, but till recently I wasn't aware of the use of wootz in guns.
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Old 20th October 2006, 06:22 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann Feuerbach
We should also remember that Europeans were living in these areas too, not in such great numbers (hundreds) but for trade, left over from crusades and other battles etc. Perhaps they liked the blades of their homeland. Much in the same way people tend to buy things they are familiar with today (Husband still wants British sausages, tea, and baked beans, as though America does not have any!). I think owning something exotic too is always wanted. Do we have any number on how many sword fights were actually occuring in battles? During the different periods, were the swords primarily for horseman or infantry?
Ann


I can only talk on behalf the bedouin culture that Ive been studying closely. In most raids and battles, the lance was the primary weapon, but after the initial charge, whilst becoming a burden, a cavalier resorts to his sword. They werent to keen on firearms as those were mostly single shots, many of them being matchlocks too. The sword was the foremost weapon well into the 20th century. Thats why blades from all over the world, from india, persia, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Austria and perhaps many more lands, were pouring into the region, and it was a very profitable trade due to the never ending demand for blades.

Richard Burton, being an expert swordsman, seems to have noticed that none of the locals of arabia he'd witnessed were good swordsman, rather using the sword as some kind of stick, and evading cuts rather than parrying them. He also comments that none of them knows how to use the point. The exact same view is held by Wyman Bury.
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Old 20th October 2006, 06:27 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann Feuerbach

An idea...we usually think that only Islam was practices in the Near East, Central Asia, India, but these areas also have a high number of other religions (and still do!). Perhaps the patterned blades were a symbol of Islam, whereas the other blades did not. Some of these cultures also had a "ban" on non-muslims having weapons (I do not remember the reference off hand). Perhaps the lifting of the ban has somthing to do with the increase imports? I do not know but I think it is worth looking into.


Not necessarily Ann, in pre-islamic arabian poetry, swords and their 'firind' are always being described and emphasized upon. Wootz is a very older thing than many people think it is. The more I read, the more it seems that wootz blades were quite common since pre-islam in the near east. Either being imported from india, or even locally produced in Yemen or even Damascus, although its very hard to prove that.
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Old 20th October 2006, 08:21 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S.Al-Anizi
Richard Burton, being an expert swordsman, seems to have noticed that none of the locals of Arabia he'd witnessed were good swordsman, rather using the sword as some kind of stick, and evading cuts rather than parrying them...


My own experience with the vast majority of Victorian-age literature on swords is that it does not stand up very well by today's standards, being pretty much anecdotal and very deeply colored by societal prejudices. Perhaps some of our martial artists will disagree (and they are likely to know much better than me), but I suspect Burton was judging based upon the perspective of European fencing standards; not an applicable yardstick.
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Old 20th October 2006, 08:33 PM   #60
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I have to agree with Lee. Burton had his pet "Johnny foreigners" but unlike him an Englishman only next to god, they were never as good. His comments on Africans that latter were to charge machine guns with spears. Are as if they were a miserable sniveling shower of cowards. I suspect Burton suffered from hairy hands. It made you go blind in the 19th century. oops
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