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Old 25th September 2020, 10:22 PM   #6
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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The many examples of Dhu' al Faqar which exist in various countries and cultures in the Dar al' Islam seem to of course be representations of virtually the most famed and revered sword in Islamic history. There do seem to be variations based mostly on the blade being bifurcated, based on interpretation of the history of this Sword.
It seems there are varied views on the meaning of the name, which in many cases means literally 'possessor of spines' (suggesting the central fullers in the blade) but also is regarded as 'cleaver of spines' or other versions of the blade being 'cloven' in battle (it was taken by the Prophet at the Battle of Badr, 624AD).
He presented the sword to his son in law Ali, the fourth Caliph, and from then the sword was revered and referred to with,
" There is no sword but Dhu al Faqar, and no hero but Ali".

In the Qajar period in Iran (1722-1924) there were many religious ceremonies known as Passion Plays where key events in Islamic history were portrayed, and where examples of traditional arms and armor, beautifully made, were used.

This of course appears to be one of these examples, in the representation of Dhu al Faqar, as a shamshir with two blades (rather than others with two points).

The snake in the motif is a semiotic device representing Zahnak, a creature of evil in Persian literature and with ill temper, able to strike faster than the blink of an eye, and known in Zoroastrian 'Avestas'.
This of course refers symbolically to the symbolic power and heroic value of this most revered sword, and the sword as such has no intent for actual combat use, but ceremonial bearing.
These snake devices occur also on numbers of other Persian blades of traditional form, and I have seen them on others as well, such as kaskara in Sudan. The use of wootz is of course with regard to the highest respect by using the highest quality steel.

With the close in quillons and general demeanor, this seems to be an Arab version and probably early to mid 19th c. perhaps earlier. Very nice!
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