Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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fernando 29th January 2019 05:01 PM

Sword guard for comments
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Guard now in hands; new pictures uploaded.
I will later try and restore some contents of the conversations we had, as previous ones were lost; my mistake :o.


midelburgo 30th January 2019 02:44 AM

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Focuses on the early evolution of the sword guard in the late XVth early XVIth century. Taking into account especially Iberian examples. He has nothing like your guard.

Not in Norman, Rapier, and Smallsword. Not in Seitz. Not in Ada Bruhm.

On the other hand, this is the equivalent piece a cup hilt would have without the bell...

The closest example i find is the XVI century hilt El Cid Tizona blade has:

M ELEY 30th January 2019 03:15 AM

That's it! That's the sword I saw and remembered had a similar guard! I kept thinking for some bizarre reason that it was on a Chinese sword!

fernando 30th January 2019 12:04 PM

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Let me first feel much obliged to Victrix, Udo and Mark for their participation in this topic's previous incarnation.
But of course, midleburgo, this is much too evident to be otherwise. The thing is that, i and my fellow collector skipped such hypothesis from the beginning as we became blinded by the double tang hole "detail". This differentiation only prevents us from calling it a replica in a strict sense but, this guard has definitely followed the Tizona style.
Now, what are we facing here ? The seller said this was found in the manor house of a family with military tradition, in the center of Madrid. Could it be ... or not. But then, why has the smith made it with with such particular difference; to fit a blade also with a particular shape ... or some kind of personal (or customer) innovation ? i (also) have paged a dozen books and found no guard with such mounting style.
A question i would ask: how old would it be ? It looks as having been hand beaten made ... no cast seams.
And worthy of note are also its specs.; 22 cms. between guard ends and an impressive 600 grams.


midelburgo 30th January 2019 03:50 PM

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What I find weird is not the present piece design, which seems logical in the evolution of sword guards, but the lack of similar examples.
1)The first possibility is that it is a real early XVIth century Iberian hilt. But these swords are fairly light. 600 grams just for the guard is a lot.

2)I have been checking copies of Tizona, some of them well 130 years old, and none have that design in the lower guard. There have been pictures of Tizona for longer, some 160 years. If somebody wanted to make an accurate copy that was easy. But your piece is just a resemblance. I wonder why. If somebody would have just the picture from Laurent below, possibly he would have come with that design, not knowing what is at the other side, but the rest of the hilt would have been closer to Tizona.

3)Another possibility is that the guard was made in XVIIth or XVIIIth centuries for a San Miguel or Santiago church image. They wanted something looking medieval but at the same time technically closer to what was done at that time.

fernando 30th January 2019 04:50 PM

All points noted; lots of reasoning ... thanks a lot.
I take it that, the smith who made this guard (or whoever commissioned it), was familiar with arms making and not passive of having to wonder what would be in the Tizona's opposite guard side, when looking at a flat drawing or a picture; meaning to say that this design was intentional and served a purpose ... be it for practical reasons or a challenging essay.
I myself, as you, keep thinking of its sturdiness; a guard with this weight would call for a blade and pommel to match with, perhaps also an unnecessary overweight for the relative solidity of a Saint's image; my uneducated guess.

corrado26 30th January 2019 05:55 PM

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I found the following items in Heribert Seitz, Blankwaffen, Volume I and in the catalogue of the Wallace Collection, European Arms and Armour, nr. 539

fernando 30th January 2019 06:32 PM

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Udo, the main problem remains in that all of this type you see out there have side rings in their guards and not a full ellipse where both tang and ricasso have to pass through solid holes.
Amazing; i was precisely paging the Wallace collection and also recall having once taken some lousy clandestine pictures in the Sant'Angelo castle museum.
If only Victrix has kept the perfect drawing he has previously uploaded in the original thread !


Victrix 30th January 2019 07:28 PM

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Boa noite,

The drawing is still with us. Luckily I scribbled something unrelated important on the other side so I kept it with me when I came home from my ski trip. I think the width of the tang should be narrower than the ricasso. The guard hole for the tang is smaller than for the ricasso.

According to the Cantar de Mio Cid the Tizona was won from a previous owner King Yucef [Yussef] of Valencia. So there is a possibility that this guard type is Moorish rather than Spanish or Portuguese.

fernando 30th January 2019 08:20 PM

Godnatt victrix :cool:.
Thanks for bringing back that good drawing. Yes, it is reasonable to consider that the tang is narrower than the ricasso. In my sketch i only cared to emphasize the blade passing through the holes.
Well, the myth of El Cid and the Tizona saga are "beads of another rosary". Experts debate the veracity of both subjects as they appear nowadays; a XI century sword with a XVI century hilt AND ALL THAT
I recall watching the movie with Charlton Heston in my youth; El Cid already dead, being tied to his horse to ride in front of the Kings army, to make the Moors believe he came back from his tomb !


midelburgo 30th January 2019 11:51 PM

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From the examples above (the 1610 Solingen one excepted), I understand that there was no diminution of the blade broadness before reaching the cross.

I am wondering if that arrangement was not usual because it will not allow the normal vibration of the blade when hitting. You have many kinds of cup hilts, but in most the shell is sustained from the cross. In a few, the blade is trapped at both points.

Actually, in the movie the used a replica with the XVIth century hilt... And Charlton from XIth century does not take the advantage of crossing the finger...also because the grip is longer than in the original.

fernando 31st January 2019 01:21 PM

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That would switch us back to the 'genuine' Tizona riddle.
In a way, Charlton's setup would be the correct one, if we think of the period the actual episode took place; no blunt ricasso, thus no way to place your fingers but all of them in the actual grip, providing enough (grip) length is applied. Whereas the Tizona (short grip) example as today is brought to us, suggests a ricasso finger grip which only appeared a few centuries later.
Take a look at this XVII century exponential example, in that only three fingers would fit onto the grip, two fingers left to hold the ricasso.
Note that the quillons are welded to the cup bowl rim, and not fixed with interior extensions, the first being a (more) Portuguese way.
... And don't forget to read my suggestions with a pinch of salt; i am only playing by ear :o.

(picture courtesy of "As Armas e os Barões" de Eduardo Nobre).


Victrix 28th September 2019 06:16 PM

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See attached

bvieira 29th September 2019 01:52 PM


One thing i can assure, this guard as nothing to do with original "tizona" style swords, the swordsmiths of that age would not fail to do heterogeneous design on both side of the guard, the guard has big geometrial imperfections, something not acceptable in a first class sword or by first class swordsmiths.


fernando 29th September 2019 03:02 PM

Bruno, i guess we all know this is not an original Tizona guard. Also we know there was only one so called Tizona, and that 'millions' were copied through time, thus creating a sword style. We were just wondering the purpose for this so sturdy (600 grams) atypical example being made following the Tizona style; construction perfection in comparison with early swords not being at stake.
But speaking of Tizona (originally Tizon) a sword that allegedly Diaz de Vivar was presented by King Yucef, this has been subject of experts considerations, with its XII century style hilt added in the time of the Catholic Kings period with a Spanish-Moorish period style blade. Maybe the Tizona chronicle has not yet ended.
... But this thread has had its purpose achieved.

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