The Persian Scimitar.

Quite a while back, I did several pieces on weapons that had been labeled “Scimitars” but lacked the basic physical characteristics of one. Even more recently I did a piece on a Persian sword with some distinctly non-Persian design characteristics, such as a relatively straight blade, no cross guard, and a capped pommel. A Scimitar is supposed to look more like this:

Shamshir Scimitar

Persian Scimitar
[view full size]

But even this is a watered down version of the traditional Persian Scimitar. A reader, Al, responded to one of my previous posts about a Persian Scimitar, a Shamshir, that he just so happens to have in his possession:

Shamshir Vertical Shamshir Vertical 2
[view full size] [view full size]

This, ladies and germs, is what a Persian Scimitar is supposed to look like. While the word “Scimitar” nowadays generally includes any sword with a deeply curved edge, it is believed that it’s roots lie in the Persian Shamshir. And Als’ weapon, is an old, excellent example.

The Shamshir has some very distinctive features. Most notably the very deep curve of the narrow blade. This makes it excellent for close range slashing, but hinders it’s thrusting ability. Besides that shamshirs have simple cross guards, set atop grips with wood or ivory scales pinned to the full tang. A simple but robust combination.

Shamshir Grip Pins Shamshir - Horizontal
[view full size] [view full size]

The butt of the traditional Shamshir is usually left uncapped, and curves forward, provding a good tactile response on the position of the sword in ones hand. Al says this Shamshir is over 400 years old, and it certainly looks the part. He also says he’d be willing to part with it. For the right price of course… 🙂 I’ll throw his email address in below, in case any of you are interested…


12 Responses to “The Persian Scimitar.”

  1. 1 ladyofspiders
    December 17, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Now that is a true beauty, both of them. Tis love at first sight.

  2. December 17, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Indeed. They are things of beauty. I’ve always liked real Scimitars…

  3. 3 Mike
    February 28, 2008 at 7:34 am

    I Have a real antique scimitar, but do not know where it is from or how much it is worth. I have never seen a scimitar like it in my life, and came upon it by chance. I will get a picture and post it, I would like to know what you think. Also, I don’t think anyone here will have ever seen a scimitar like this one.

  4. February 29, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Hi Mike,

    You’ve piqued my curiosity, I’d really like to see that Scimitar! Let me know when you have a chance to post a pic of it!


  5. 5 Niccolo
    April 27, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Nyu. The shamshir scimitar is nice, yes… but I can see that one would have to have a very specific fighting style to be able to make use of it. Thrusts are totally ruled out, but the shamshir is damnably fast.

  6. April 29, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Well here’s the thing with these kinds of weapons. No specific attack is *entirely* ruled out. They just become much, much more difficult to perform accurately. For instance, you could perform a thrust with a Shamshir, however because of the deep curvature and narrowness of the blade, the point would have a tendency to wander upwards or to one side on all but the most shallow thrusts, and would get deflected if it hit any hard or tough areas, like cartilage or bone…

  7. 7 Relativelybest
    August 21, 2008 at 4:01 am

    Ah, a historical sword! Nice. 🙂

    “Scimitar” is kind of an umbrella term for a lot of middle eastern and oriental swords of the Turko-Mongol saber family. The shamshir is one such sword, which was imported from India to Persia. The Arabian equivilent is called saif or seif.

    What most people think of as a “scimitar” is usually the Indian tulwar or the turkish kilij, both of which are heavier cousins of the shamshir/saif.

    Personally, I’ve never quite liked these heavily curved swords but, hey, each to his own.

  8. August 21, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Yeah, such a deep curve on such a narrow blade kind of limits the blade’s flexibility, but still, it makes it very wicked looking…! 🙂

  9. 9 andy
    September 12, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I own one as well and would like to no where it came from and what the words on the blade mean (trinidad veni vini venidad) and so on it also has a fully detailed and vibrant en graveing of a tropic scene with flamingoes and such alike things

  10. September 13, 2008 at 4:11 am

    Hey Andy, I’m curious about your sword, would you happen to have any pics you be willing to share with us?

  11. 11 Ginger
    October 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Well, the fighting style (says my Persian boyfriends father) is more meant for, yes, slashing, but also for reaching around an enemy’s guard. Think about it. A block from a sword to a straight sword would result in the sword stopping, and the only way to continue the motion is to twist around, leaving your guard open.
    Blocking a slash from the front of the Scimitar-like blade would cause the blade, not to stop, but to slide, but keep momentum thanks to the curve. Blocking a slash from the back of the blade result in the blocker being stabbed in the side or the arm, making the movement of said side or arm painful, and preventing attacks at least for a bit. This is only really handy for people who have mastered the style though

    The reason the styles of fighting of the Middle East and Orient never really use stabbing motions is because the styles are based off of fluid movement. Keeping in motion makes it harder to be hit. Stabbing makes said movement come to an abrupt halt. Having a curved weapon in these styles only helps, not inhibits like the European-like nations would think.

    Sorry to write so much, but I just thought you’d get a kick outta this ^-^.

  12. October 23, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Hey Ginger,
    Indeed, everything you’ve said makes perfect sense. You can see the influence of cutting dominated martial arts on the weapons. Especially in Asian weapons…

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