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Old 31st October 2006, 05:02 PM   #1
Radu Transylvanicus
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Default LOHAR - Solving The Mistery

Long, long time ago I started this fructuos thread, that perpetuated in the new Forum. It was about the LOHAR and what was his true function. Now if you digest this brainstorm we did here one can get close to how limitless human mind is.
http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002389.html
Now, it so happend I made a friend three days ago, Mr. Mohammed, he is a Pashtun Afghani that has been trading art, antiques and fine rugs for over three decades. He has a museum size gallery named "Arjang Asian Rugs & Arts" in La Jolla (San Diego area), California now.
And I asked him to tell me what in the world the Lohars are used for. First of all I had to draw and pull pictures of them and as soon as I did he smiled large and I said: I know these things very well, we dont make them anymore in Afghanistan too much, unless its the tourist market in Kaboul. They are not "lohar" or at least we dont name them that way, we call them "kan' shekan" or "koolang". And they are not sickles or weapons, my friend. THEY ARE ICE AND CANDY PICKS ! You know we sell ice in the markets and its brought in huge blocks that need to be broken or scrapped and also sugar candy especially back in the days same thing came in blocks and if you bought lets say half a kilo the merchant need to chop it off the block! And it also made a good decoration in the house or a kid toy. ...I rest my case, my heart is at peace because so far I believe Mr. Mohammed. I smile now thinking you can find this "lohar" in books like Cameron Stone's famous refference "Glossary of Arms and Armour", "Islamic Weapons, Maghrib to Moghul" by Tirri and many others... Sometimes how fine the line between domestic implement and weaponry is inside the bibliographical records resides in our enthusiasm!

Last edited by Radu Transylvanicus : 31st October 2006 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 31st October 2006, 05:32 PM   #2
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Thank you very much and welcome back!
It might be! but don't forget that border between weapons and utilitary tools is often very thin. One will use something as flail on his farm while his neighbour will add some brass inlay or few nails making nice or dangerous looking weapon. I didn't follow your thread on 'Lohar' nor I met with such weapons by myself, so I can't tell anything about them, it's just my overall thought about weapons and their origins or later modifications.
Regards!
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Old 31st October 2006, 05:41 PM   #3
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Interesting post Radu....throughout history agricultural tools have been used as weapons. The link you posted to the previous thread mentions the Japanese Kama, a weapon which started life as an Agricultural implement and utilised as a weapon, when, if historians are correct, the carrying of legitimate weapons by peasants was banned.
I also noticed in that thread a picture and reference to a Lohar looking 'weapon' attributed to a tribal source (Bannochie)...surely they did not rely on them to break up ice blocks or sugar candy.....adopted as a weapon? or originally designed as a weapon ? Perhaps they evolved independently?
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Old 31st October 2006, 06:08 PM   #4
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Question

Radu:

Why do you think people went to the trouble of making folding versions of these ice picks?

Ian.
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Old 31st October 2006, 06:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Radu:

Why do you think people went to the trouble of making folding versions of these ice picks?

Ian.


It makes perfect sense when you want to store them and carry them on you. Just like a giant folding knife, why would someone want a knife that folds, even though eventually less powerfull has a big advantage and gets most of the jobs done.
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Old 31st October 2006, 06:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
I also noticed in that thread a picture and reference to a Lohar looking 'weapon' attributed to a tribal source (Bannochie)...surely they did not rely on them to break up ice blocks or sugar candy.....adopted as a weapon? or originally designed as a weapon ? Perhaps they evolved independently?


And why would Banoochies not want to use them as picks, what is so different about that than rest of lohars
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Old 31st October 2006, 06:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolviex
it's just my overall thought about weapons and their origins or later modifications.
Regards!


Wolviex, my dear brother, thank you. Being from Eastern Europe we both now that very well. Peasant uprisings is what I mean of course! I am just not "crickey" with the idea of putting a sledge hammer, a sickle or a pitchfork in a war panoply or a arms and armour album. But youre right there are also cleavers, axes and staffs which some of them were created with war in mind or at least to partly serve as weapon from the start. As long as they were created with serving as weapon, even partly, in mind, I am cool with it. Hold a Lohar in hand and you know its not

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Old 31st October 2006, 07:55 PM   #8
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Hello Radu and all,

Not to throw a wrench into what is kown about the lohar and to confuse matters further, but here is a short clip - from the movie Exils - that shows an Algerian percussion instrument (likely Kabyle) that uses a drum-stick very similar to the lohar:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzmbTCQxHMw
it is used in conjunction with a regular drum-stick.
I'm sorry but the view of the instrument in the clip is the only one in the movie...I've tried researching this instrument further, but haven't fount anything yet. I hope this isn't entirely irrelevant.

Best regards,
Emanuel
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Old 31st October 2006, 08:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolo
Hello Radu and all,

Not to throw a wrench into what is kown about the lohar and to confuse matters further, but here is a short clip - from the movie Exils - that shows an Algerian percussion instrument (likely Kabyle) that uses a drum-stick very similar to the lohar:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzmbTCQxHMw
it is used in conjunction with a regular drum-stick.
I'm sorry but the view of the instrument in the clip is the only one in the movie...I've tried researching this instrument further, but haven't fount anything yet. I hope this isn't entirely irrelevant.

Best regards,
Emanuel


Hello Emanuel,

No pun intended, but I say you are drawing in a wee bit of confusion here. Here is what you should look for, its a wooden drum stick no relation to the matter IMHO. Common throughout North Africa and not only, made of wood or bone.
http://www.motherlandmusic.com/sticks&beaters.htm
You dont poke a drum with a sharp point metal ice pick.
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Old 31st October 2006, 09:00 PM   #10
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Hi Radu,
Fair enough, just the shape of the drumstick really struck me when I saw it and brought the lohar to my mind.
Ah, thanks for the link...and I didn't realize it was wooden...some lohar I held had a very blunt point, almost fully rounded. The edge underneath was practically nonexistent on one example.
All the best,
Emanuel
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Old 31st October 2006, 09:12 PM   #11
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Default curved sticks for drums...

Are used by many tribes. Some look like an 'L', and some look like a check mark. The normal African talking drum is played with that sort of stick.

Don't use a 'lohar' for that!
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Old 1st November 2006, 01:50 AM   #12
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Don't take a lohar to a gun fight. Nor a knife fight. Nor a sword fight -- unless they are serving iced sugar drinks. Only then will you and your lohar be appreciated.

Sugar or ice? Why not? Never could understand how they were used anyhow.

But really, Radhu, could it be that you or your friend are joking? I have one with silver koftgari. Pretty fancy -- and a bit too sharp for a kids toy.

The blade does not look like it would take an awful lot of icepicking. pretty heavy but tapering to a rather thin point.


I also wonder why Lohar are flat,almost unfinished, on one side even when heavily decorated on the other side. Maybe you could ask your friend? Seriously, is it because they were made to hang on a wall?

Last edited by Bill Marsh : 1st November 2006 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 1st November 2006, 03:17 AM   #13
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THE LOHAR I HAVE HANDLED WOULD MAKE A BETTER WEAPON THAN AN ICE PICK OR ICE SHAVER. THE COMMON ICE PICK IS MUCH EASIER TO CARRY AND QUITE CAPABLE OF EASILY SEPARATEING A 500 POUND BLOCK OF ICE INTO SMALLER CHUNKS. I HAD TWO RELATIVES WHO RAN LARGE ICE HOUSES BACK EAST AND SAW HOW FAST THE ICE MEN COULD MAKE THE PROPER SIZE AND WEIGHT OF ICE BLOCK TO FILL THE ORDER. THE ICE SHAVERS I HAVE SEEN ALL OVER THE WORLD USUALLY WORK ON THE PRINCIPAL OF A WOOD PLANE BUT ARE DESIGNED FOR ICE INSTEAD. IF THE LOHAR IS THE AFAGHAN VERSION OF THE COMMON ICE PICK I WONDER WHAT THE ICE TONGS THEY USE TO CARRY LARGE BLOCKS OF ICE LOOK LIKE THEY MUST BE VERY IMPRESSIVE. I ALSO WONDER HOW MANY ICE HOUSES THEY HAVE OVER THERE AND HOW POPULAR SNOW CONES AND BLOCKS OF ICE ARE AND HOW FAR BACK IN HISTORY THEY HAVE BEEN MADE AND CONSUMED. LOHARS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A VERY LONG WHILE AND ARE SURELY THE WORLDS MOST DECORATED, FANCY DANGEROUS LOOKING ICE PICK IF THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE.

I WONDER IF SOMEONE IS HAVING THEIR LEG PULLED OR IF THAT TRULY IS THEIR USE IN AFGANISTAN? IN ANY CASE I WOULD MUCH PREFER A REGULAR ICE PICK AND ICE SHAVER TO TRYING TO DO IT WITH A LOHAR. I WILL WAIT UNTIL BETTER PROOF THAN THE WORD OF ONE PERSON IS AVAILABLE BEFORE I AM CONVINCED THAT EVERYONE ELSE HAS BEEN WRONG ALL THESE YEARS. A INTERESTING IDEA BUT ONE WHICH I WON'T PUT MUCH CREDENCE IN AT PRESENT WITHOUT FURTHER PROOF.
THESE ARE JUST MY VIEWS ON THIS POST I DO NOT INTEND TO ATTACK ANYONE.
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Old 1st November 2006, 03:36 AM   #14
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The question I have in regards to the ice pick theory is how long have big blocks of ice been available in markets on a large enough scale that required a specialized tool such as the Lohar.(not to be confused with The Google) Maybe as long as refrigeration has been around? Are there any provenanced examples of Lohar dating back to 19th century? Would such an early example lend credence to the lohar having some prior function that later evolved into an ice pick when it had become obsolete in its original design?
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Old 1st November 2006, 06:20 AM   #15
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Yeah,

What VANDOO SAID, and RSWORD also!

Radu?
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Old 1st November 2006, 09:59 AM   #16
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Here are my 0.02 euros: I have touched few lohars, I owned one for long time. The Tajiks call it Dos. As I learned there it was a weapon. Now days they make new fancy ones for “tourist” market. Of course the only “tourists” in Afghanistan are soldiers of ISAF and some civilian NGOs. The ones with only one side decorated are modern.

On the other hand, Radu’s info (hi Radu, we missed you ) has a logic base. Summer in Kabul is hot as hell. Electricity even today is rare in the center of city and it is not spread in the country. But the high mountains around have ice all the summer, so it is still business to sell ice. I think now it is more a product than a harvest from the mountains but still the traditions are not gone.
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Old 1st November 2006, 05:20 PM   #17
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Sounds about right to me. I have a Somali sugar axe well an adze really. An impressive thing untill you find out it is a piece of kitchen ware. Quite decorative I will show it when I find it.
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Old 1st November 2006, 07:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Marsh
But really, Radhu, could it be that you or your friend are joking? I have one with silver koftgari. Pretty fancy -- and a bit too sharp for a kids toy.
The blade does not look like it would take an awful lot of icepicking. pretty heavy but tapering to a rather thin point.
I also wonder why Lohar are flat,almost unfinished, on one side even when heavily decorated on the other side. Maybe you could ask your friend? Seriously, is it because they were made to hang on a wall?


Exactly, in the late times most of them were made exactly to be used as wall ornaments he did say that! By Afghans themselves and obviously many found their way out once travelers observed "the mysterious object" and loved the souvenir.
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Old 1st November 2006, 07:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Sounds about right to me. I have a Somali sugar axe well an adze really. An impressive thing untill you find out it is a piece of kitchen ware. Quite decorative I will show it when I find it.


Thanks Timm, would love to see "the thing"
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Old 1st November 2006, 07:19 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=VANDOO]THE LOHAR I HAVE HANDLED WOULD MAKE A BETTER WEAPON THAN AN ICE PICK OR ICE SHAVER. THE COMMON ICE PICK IS MUCH EASIER TO CARRY AND QUITE CAPABLE OF EASILY SEPARATEING A 500 POUND BLOCK OF ICE INTO SMALLER CHUNKS. I HAD TWO RELATIVES WHO RAN LARGE ICE HOUSES BACK EAST AND SAW HOW FAST THE ICE MEN COULD MAKE THE PROPER SIZE AND WEIGHT OF ICE BLOCK TO FILL THE ORDER. THE ICE SHAVERS I HAVE SEEN ALL OVER THE WORLD USUALLY WORK ON THE PRINCIPAL OF A WOOD PLANE BUT ARE DESIGNED FOR ICE INSTEAD. IF THE LOHAR IS THE AFAGHAN VERSION OF THE COMMON ICE PICK I WONDER WHAT THE ICE TONGS THEY USE TO CARRY LARGE BLOCKS OF ICE LOOK LIKE THEY MUST BE VERY IMPRESSIVE. I ALSO WONDER HOW MANY ICE HOUSES THEY HAVE OVER THERE AND HOW POPULAR SNOW CONES AND BLOCKS OF ICE ARE AND HOW FAR BACK IN HISTORY THEY HAVE BEEN MADE AND CONSUMED. LOHARS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A VERY LONG WHILE AND ARE SURELY THE WORLDS MOST DECORATED, FANCY DANGEROUS LOOKING ICE PICK IF THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE.

I WONDER IF SOMEONE IS HAVING THEIR LEG PULLED OR IF THAT TRULY IS THEIR USE IN AFGANISTAN? IN ANY CASE I WOULD MUCH PREFER A REGULAR ICE PICK AND ICE SHAVER TO TRYING TO DO IT WITH A LOHAR. I WILL WAIT UNTIL BETTER PROOF THAN THE WORD OF ONE PERSON IS AVAILABLE BEFORE I AM CONVINCED THAT EVERYONE ELSE HAS BEEN WRONG ALL THESE YEARS. A INTERESTING IDEA BUT ONE WHICH I WON'T PUT MUCH CREDENCE IN AT PRESENT WITHOUT FURTHER PROOF.
THESE ARE JUST MY VIEWS ON THIS POST I DO NOT INTEND TO ATTACK ANYONE.[/
QUOTE]

Pace your enthusiasm , capitalised letters I too doubt there were ice thongs too , Vandoo, but I believe in the ice pick idea! I have a feeling when they chopped the ice blocks from the glaciers edge on the mountains they used different picks and techniques then at the bottom in the valley inside the market or at home. Probably not even the same person the iceman vs. the market person. Its a big difference when you chop a two hundred lbs. block of ice or when you pick for a cone, a daily's worth or shave some ice. You cant give a bone cleaver to an eye surgeon

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Old 1st November 2006, 07:38 PM   #21
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Google images. Sugar hammers. The first three examples, priceless I would think sugar may still be sold in one big lump to the few remaining nomad/semi nomads today.
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Old 1st November 2006, 07:50 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Google images. Sugar hammers. The first three examples, priceless I would think sugar may still be sold in one big lump to the few remaining nomad/semi nomads today.


I am sure its a completely obsolete tool by now but thats exactly why the latest examples were leaning more towards the wall decoration, like the Lohar. Lets not get carried in this direction with the ice picks: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/msnbc/C...d_12p.widec.jpg
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Old 1st November 2006, 08:04 PM   #23
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I do not think there was much call for ice in your martini . Certainly sugar for tea, I think tea is the thing there rather than coffee. With all these shared social pass times some very decorative paraphernalia develops.
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Old 1st November 2006, 08:56 PM   #24
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I stumbled across two images of Aghani people harvesting ice at the glacier's lip, Vandoo, my friend, this one is for you
http://www.lgpn.ox.ac.uk/image_arch...IceCutters1.jpg
http://www.lgpn.ox.ac.uk/image_arch...IceCutters2.jpg
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Old 1st November 2006, 09:06 PM   #25
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.....I think that Leon Trotsky would vouch for the lethal qualities of an everyday ice pick.... so the injury potential of the Lohar IMHO would be greater?
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Old 1st November 2006, 10:15 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
.....I think that Leon Trotsky would vouch for the lethal qualities of an everyday ice pick.... so the injury potential of the Lohar IMHO would be greater?


Ouch Katana, very ouch. Did you knew they actually recently found Ramon Mercader's ice-pick? I am a fanatic mountaineer myself I have three of my own (no connections OK ) one for mountaineering and two for vertical ice climbing... They are incredible toys, in skilled hands (no connections again ). A Lohar's strike would never compare in the wildest dreams with the strike of a ice axe. My big boy, a Charlet Moser for mountaineering would go at least ten inch deep trough the metal hood of a F-150 truck with a swing from my hands (no connections again ). More powerful than a medieval bec-de-corbin (war hammer), even though smaller than most and lighter of course. The other two lil' boys (bulldogs as I call them) almost left me thumbless when I struck "dinner plate" ice on a vertical route on a ice route three winters ago. Not a pretty sight, I still bear the mark.
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Old 1st November 2006, 11:09 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
I stumbled across two images of Aghani people harvesting ice at the glacier's lip, Vandoo, my friend, this one is for you
http://www.lgpn.ox.ac.uk/image_arch...IceCutters1.jpg
http://www.lgpn.ox.ac.uk/image_arch...IceCutters2.jpg



Don't see any Lohars in your links.

Still seems like someone is joking here. Do you have any pictures, drawings, engravings, etc., of Lohars being used as ice picks?

Enquiring minds want to know!
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Old 2nd November 2006, 04:10 AM   #28
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THERE ARE NO LOHAR IN EVIDENCE IN THE PICTURES BUT THE ICE BEING HARVESTED LOOKS MORE LIKE COMPACTED SNOW. A TRADITIONAL ICE PICK RELIES ON THE FRACTURE PLANES IN ICE AND IN THE HANDS OF SOMEONE USED TO USING THEM CAN HANDLE ANY SIZE OF ICE OUTCROPING OR LAKE SURFACE ICE(THE ICE WOULD ALREADY HAVE TO BE REMOVED FROM A LAKE IF IT IS VERY THICK AS A ICE PICK CAN'T DO THAT JOB).

THE LOHAR COULD WORK BETTER FOR CUTTING AND SHAPEING COMPRESSED SNOW AS SNOW WILL NOT FRACTURE SO IN THAT CASE IT WOULD WORK BETTER THAN AN ICE PICK. LOHAR WOULD NOT BE GOOD FOR ICE OR SNOW CLIMBING THOUGH AS THEY HAVE A SHARP EDGE ON THE BOTTOM WHICH WOULD SERVE AS A POOR CLIMBING ANCHOR. THE EDGE WOULD AID IN CUTTING THRU SNOW BY IMBEDDING THE BLADE FULLY AND THEN PULLING IT BACK PERHAPS GOING BACKWARDS TO MAKE A LONG SLICE IF THE SNOW WAS NOT TOO HARD. PERHAPS IT IS ONLY A TOOL OR PERHAPS NOT BUT IT COULD BE USED EFFECTIVELY AS A WEAPON ALSO. I WONDER WHAT THE LARGE ICE CUTTER IN THE PICTURE LOOKS LIKE UP CLOSE. THEY MAY HARVEST THE SNOW/ICE AS A WATER SOURCE OR TRANSPORT IT TO TOWN TO SELL. AS WITH MOST REASERCH IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO BRING UP MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE JUST GETTING STARTED

MY USE OF ALL CAPITALS DOSEN'T DENOTE EXCITEMENT OR PASSION JUST POOR EYESIGHT ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO COMPUTER SCREENS
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Old 25th November 2006, 03:12 PM   #29
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Not quite a Lohar......but an interesting similar weapon from Africa. Seems 'business like' so I don't think it is ceremonial.....

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI....:MEWA:IT&ih=011
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Old 26th November 2006, 12:18 AM   #30
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I've been watching this thread with great interest, and Radu, as always comes up with some fascinating perspective on these intriguing weapons and thier modern use. I personally have little doubt that they were indeed once very lethal weapons, probably used in the raiding of camps that it seems was favored as nocturnal activity in Afghan regions. Thier relatively diminutive size seems to run along with so many daggers and weapons that were meant for easy concealment ( obviously the converse applies to the huge khyber knives etc.).

As for their modern use as ice picks.....not surprising at all to see a weapon with strong traditional presence finding a new , more practical use aside from its former one. It seems I've seen so many daggers and knives used as letter openers, remaining certain that these weapons were not originally designed to open letters! I could go on, with how many bayonets have ended up being garden tools....including (gasp!!) one incredible Caucasian shashka that I was once discussing with its owner by phone. Apparantly his son was in the backyard whacking weeds with it just as I told him how much it was worth !!!

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