Archive for the 'Scimitars' Category

11
Nov
08

“One Piece” can not be this cheap…

For those of you who may not know what I am talking about, I am referring to the “One Piece”, a priceless treasure, sought by Luffy and his Straw Hat pirates, in the Anime of the same name. And yes, there’s a good reason why I brought this up.

I came across a sword that is supposed to be a replica of a One Piece sword. I don’t know which, as I have only followed a few episodes of the anime. However this sword struck me as being rather… Cheap.

One Piece Anime Replica Sword

One Piece Anime Replica Sword

[click image to view full size]

On the surface this sword seems to conform to most of the basics I look for in a good sword, Full tang, simple clean lines, black blade, etc. It’s just… Meh.

It’s basically a cutlass, in black steel, with a simple black steel guard, and a set of silver finished wood scales set against a full tang, and wrapped with red cord. Perhaps one of the most simple sword designs ever.

And yet, I come away feeling cheated. Maybe it’s the fact that the blade seems really flimsy. Or that the red cord wrapping looks like it would come loose if you even looked at it funny. Or the fact that I can’t see how the scales are attached to the tang.

All things that make me worry. And also a testament to it’s ultra cheap construction. Probably not a particularly good grade of steel, and I doubt it is very well put together. It’s a great design in theory, but I think it’s cheapness might have just overwhelmed the draw of it’s aesthetics…

It may very well be possible that I am wrong, and this is not a replica of a “One Piece” sword. In which case, please hit me up in the comments and let me know what it is actually a replica of.

The site I found it on advertises it as a “One Anime Replica Sword – Full Tang Ninja Scimitar” I’m not going to go into the vagaries of why the phrase Ninja Scimitar makes my hackles stand on end, suffice to say that if it is in fact a One Piece replica, I must say, it’s very unworthy of Luffy and his gang.

So here’s another wall hanger for your collection. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing…

One Piece Replica Sword – [True Swords]

30
Sep
08

An Interesting Mughal Blade…

A while back, I had a reader ask for some information on Mughal period weaponry. Not knowing too much about it, I did some reading up and found that the Mughal period was a historic period in India that ran roughly from the 16th to 19th Century, where a large portion of the Indian subcontinent of Asia was ruled by Islamic Imperialists.

However I also quickly discovered that the Mughal period covered waaaay too much time and encompassed a large a geographical area that sported too many different but entirely indigenous weapon designs for me to single any specific one out. So due to my rather dwindling time resources, I wasn’t able to be much help (for which I apologize).

However during my travails, I did manage to turn up one rather unusual supposed example of Mughal weaponry:

The Sword of the Mughals

The Sword of the Mughals

This sword features a damascus blade that starts out fairly straight, but curves mildly towards the tip into a rather wicked looking point. The spine of the sword follows suit, except for the top third, which looks a lot like it was cut down from a much larger, wider deeply curved scimitar.

The hilt is also unusual for a Persian blade, featuring no cross guard, and almost straight grip, but a reverse curving pommel, molded into the head of a stallion. Overall an interesting (if a little perplexing) study in Persian weapon design.

This blade is an interesting mix of flavors, part scimitar, part broadsword, with an unusual hilt design. The weapon, as a whole seems to match little of the historical weapon patterns of the area that I’m aware of, but instead seems to be a variation of a mix of different Persian weapon styles that have themselves been modified.

As an example of Mughal style weaponry, I must admit to being a bit flummoxed by the design. Most of the authentic historical weapons I came across when I was doing my initial research on the topic, bore significant differences in design.

I’m tempted to say this is another fanciful but failed attempt by an overzealous weapon designer to create a historical Mughal blade with generous helpings of creative license thrown into the design process. But being no expert in Mughal specific blades, who knows…

But no matter. It does not look bad on it’s own merits, even if it’s just a little too tame by my standards…

The Sword of the Mughals – [Realm Collections]

29
Jul
08

In Soviet Russia, Swords Wield YOU!

Sorry for the cliched heading, I just couldn’t resist… 🙂

Anyway, today, at the behest of one my regular readers, I’m going to talk about Russian swords. Actually mostly about one specific Russian sword, The Russian Shashka (also sometimes called the Shashqua). Lots of info below, so grab a cuppa joe, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride…

In the history of pretty much every nation in the world, there is always at least one bladed weapon that is a predominant, and sometimes even defining, fixture of the culture. Russia is no different, and for them, that weapon is a saber. A very unique saber called the Shashka .

As I pointed out in a previous post, the saber is a very strong and versatile sword design. It is heavy enough to be used for work that would make a Japanese Katana simply asplode, is straight enough to be a good thrusting weapon, but still has enough curve to make an excellent cutting weapon.

The Russian military needed a sword that was as tough as they were, and this saber fit the bill on all counts. There are, in fact, several different kinds of historical Russian sabers, but I found three specific variations that seem to stand out.

<^>

The first, and fairly common design is the officer or calvary saber. This has with an inward curving pommel, and a full and often ornate hand guard. This is a common design that is used today by the military forces of many different nations. No surprises here:

Russian Calvary/officers Shashka

click image to view full size

click image to view full size

<^>

The second is a cross between a standard saber and Persian scimitar hilt, with an inward curving pommel, and a cross guard. Very close in design to the Persian shamshir, except straighter, heaver and stronger, with a fuller (or two):

Russian Shamshir Style Shashka

click image to view full size

click image to view full size

<^>

The third, most distinguished design, and the one we will primarily be talking about today, is the Caucasian Shashka design made famous by the Cossacks. When one mentions the Shashka, this is the sword that will most likely spring to mind:

The Shashka

click image to view full size

click image to view full size

This Shashkas basic design originated from a weapon used by the people of the Caucasian mountain ranges, but was later adopted by Russian and Ukrainian Cossacks, due to it’s better overall design.

While there are numerous examples of highly decorated Shashka, In keeping with the great Russian tradition of strong, no frills, form follows function weapons design, the basic shashka has a number of unique design features that clearly demonstrate how the sword was intended to be used. We’ll start with the blade.

The blade on this Shashka is a fairly standard single edged, curved saber design that is great for both hacking, cutting and thrusting. However that where the similarities to most other sabers end. The blade on a Shashka is often either hollowed out, or has two, sometimes even 3 fullers. This was done in order to both cut weight and improve the stiffness of it’s fairly wide blade.

Hilt and blade of a Caucasian style Shashka

click image to view full size

click image to view full size

The hilt of a Caucasian Shashka is also very unique. The first thing you’ll notice on the Caucasian Shashka is that there’s no guard. Apparently the Caucasians, and later the Cossacks, were so bad ass, they could deflect sword strikes with their bare hands… Ok, so maybe they wore heavy gloves, but still. I guess if you’re that good you don’t need a guard… No really. I kid you not. Go look up Systema sword defense techniques if you don’t believe me… 😛

I have also seen it argued that the lack of a guard was to improve the inherent cutting ability of the sword, as a guard generally reduces how close to the hilt a cutting motion can begin. I kind of doubt this is the case, since in most scenarios, practical considerations would make it difficult to use that extra inch or two of edge right next to the grip in a combat situation. I’m more inclined to believe they simply never found a guard necessary for their fighting style, and so never saw a need to implement one. Not to mention it greatly simplifies manufacturing and maintenance.

A few other interesting features of the hilt was that it was actually curved forward slightly, has an unusually small grip, and ended in a rather large and abrupt pommel, that was often bifurcated:

A Bifurcated Shashka Pommel

click image to view full size

click image to view full size

The short grip was intended to ensure positive one handed placement, and the large, split pommel ensured that the sword remains seated properly in the hand and could not slip out of the hand, as well as provide a tactile feedback to the user about what the sword was doing.

Each of these small details had a specific function: To enable the sword to be used quite vigorously using one hand. Compared to the Japanese Katana, which is clearly designed to be used with both hands on the grip, it is clear that a lot of design thought went into the one handed grip approach, which makes sense when you consider that they were also great horsemen, and the ability to use a sword one handed while riding a horse would have been a great boon to the Russian calvary…

One other interesting feature of the Shashka involved not the sword, but the scabbard. Unlike most other swords, the scabbard of the Shashka often covered the grip, right up to the pommel, in addition to the blade. I imagine that this was to protect the grip surface from the elements, as well as provide a little extra shielding for the blade, without resorting to the comparatively time consuming Japanese practice of perfectly mating the opening of the scabbard to the collar on the hilt. As usual, a simple, but effective Russian approach to solving a problem:

click image to view full size]

click image to view full size

The Shashka has also naturally played a prominent role in Russian and Cossack tradition. In fact, just like some traditional Chinese art forms, the Cossacks are one of the few cultures to make common use of two Shashka in traditional forms:

Old School Shashka Joint.

The New Shashka Hotness…

Now that is my kind of art… Old or new… It’s all good. And all kinds of cool. There are definitely more than a couple of those dual sword moves I need to learn… : ) I wonder how effective those moves would be in combat… Or are those just limited to making vodka orange smoothies without a blender…?

30
Mar
08

A Uniquely Ornate Dragon Sword…

Without a doubt, I’ve blogged about my fair share of Dragon swords in the past.  Some were deserving of the title, but most were not. But every now and then I run into a design that is unique and exceptional. And today I just so happen to have run across such a weapon.

Ornate Medieval Dragon Sword

Ornate Medieval Dragon Sword
[view full size]

Now this sword is unique in more than a couple respects. Take the blade for instance. It seems to be a cross between a Japanese and European design. It is not quite as curved as a Japanese Katana, however it doesn’t appear to be completely straight either. It carries a three quarter length fuller, without which I might easily have taken this blade for a Japanese make, based on the profile of the blade point, which looks very stereotypically Japanese. If I had to classify it I’d say it was a Japanese saber, though I’d ask that you not quote me on that… 🙂

But an even more interesting aspect of the design is how the dragon theme is implemented. The scabbard employs the liberal use of a dragon coiled around the sheath as the scabbard end cap and the attachment points for chain belt hanger. Bu what is perhaps the most interesting feature on the sword is the dragon hilt design.

Unlike most other dragon swords that feature a dragon “motif” the hilt of this weapon makes extensive use of a dragon’s anatomy, rearranging it to fit the practical needs of the hilts design, rather than simply decorating a traditional design with a dragon motif.

On this weapon, just below the ricasso, you can see that the dragons wings and forelimbs have been extended to form a guard, with the dragon facing the direction of the blade. In fact the blade seems to spring from the dragons chest. Continuing down you can see that the body of the dragon is also the grip, and not content to stop there, the designers curved the ridged scaly tail of the dragon back forwards to over the grip, stopping  just in front of the outstretched front limbs to form a knuckle guard.

While I will admit to having seen a similar knife arrangement with the blade coming out of the dragons mouth, and the front limbs forming a crude guard, I don’t think I have ever seen this done in combination with outspread dragons wings forming a large guard in this way before.

All and all, quite an engaging design, worthy of the Dragon moniker…

Ornate Medieval Dragon Sword – [Tulip Collectibles]

26
Mar
08

Blades of Chaos…

A reader recently asked where to find replicas of Kratos’ swords from the video game God of War. I found a few, but found them all rather disappointing. But I thought I’d talk about a couple of them, and whine, as usual, about how the replica sword industry is a source of constant disappointment to yours truly.

Now before I begin my rant, I should mention that these are both wall hangers that were never intended to be used for anything more vigorous than cutting a rebellious watermelon in half. And even though I doubt either would endure the watermelons retribution very well, I’m going to try and be objective about it, and rank their “goodness” based on aesthetics alone, as opposed to their functionality or durability, like I usually do. Which probably sucks anyway. 😛 .

So without further ado, here’s my verdict:… Epic Phail.

What? Was that too quick? Insufficient deliberation? I beg to differ. What!? You’re wanna argue with me about it? Fine. I’ll explain why they phail. But you better put some coffee on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Following are the two best of breed (IMHO) of the replicas in question:

Kratos’ Blade of Chaos – Large

Kratos Blades of Chaos - large
[view full size]

This first sword is a full size version of the blade. I believe this would actually be close to the correct length of the blade, except the profile is completely wrong. Too skinny, not pointy enough and not thick enough (I’ll talk about this in more detail later).

Kratos’ Blade of Chaos – Small

Kratos Blades of Chaos - Small
[view full size]

Now this blade is much better looking. It has a much more accurate blade profile, with properly (relatively speaking) pronounced points… But it’s waaaay too short. Seriously.

What is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this is that both of these are close enough to perfect that had the designers of both put their heads together, they *might* have come up with a decent replica. But nooooooo, that would be toooo easy…

To illustrate my point (and set up for my rant), I thought I’d show you a crop from of one of the wallpapers I found for the game. This is what the Blades of Chaos are supposed to look like:

Kratos’ Blades of Chaos – God of War

Kratos Blades of Chaos - God of War
[view full size]

See there? Wicked little slabs of steel ain’t they… 😀 Now while it is readily apparent that the video game versions are much more sinister looking than the replicas, it may not be obvious exactly why. So let me explain a little bit. It’s all about thickness, points and edges.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the video game version is much pointier. But it’s points are not simply a product of the blade profile. These swords are not especially long, but to be proportionally accurate IRL, these swords would actually have to be very thick, I’d guess somewhere in the region of 2″ – 3″ thick. Conservatively. Probably more. Yes. Rather massive slabs of steel. But back to the (my) point.

Which is that, based on the pic, (as assuming the blades are identical, and symmetrical along the spine) then what we have here is a really, really thick blade, thick enough that the edge bevel for each side can still be relatively steep in relation to the flat of the blade. Because of this edge geometry, the points are enhanced because they create a much sharper angle in relation to the flat of the blade, and to the adjacent edges. This, in combination with a quite justifiably evil blade profile in it’s own right, is what gives the edge its merciless appearance.

Hopefully now that you understand the mechanics of this particular edge style, it should be easier to see where the replicas fail.

The first blade is long enough, and has the right number of points, however the point transitions of the blade profile are not sufficiently sharp, the acutely angled edge profile does not appear to have been used, and the gauge of steel used does not appear to be thick enough to effectively employ the acute edge effect in any distinctive way anyway. In other words: It is an Epic Phail.

The second sword fares much better. The steel is a little thicker gauge, the blade profile is much closer to the original and there is an obvious attempt to replicate the sharp angles of the edge seen on the original. However what should have been sharp adjacent edge transitions have been smoothed over, completely killing the effect, and what’s more, the blade is waaay too short. So while it is not quite an epic phail, it isn’t quite the sword it could have been.

It’s a shame really, perhaps one of these days, I’ll get up off mah great beeg bahookeh and actually make some accurate replicas myself instead of just talking about it… Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe I should quite playing armchair sword critic until I start making my own swords again…

.

.

.

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BWAAAA HA HA HA HA HA…. Naaaaaah… Don’t think so…

20
Mar
08

A Chinese Barbarian Sword…?

So today we have a weapon with some rather familiar lines:

Chinese Barbarian Sword

Chinese Barbarian Sword
[view full size]

Now this is a pretty hefty sword design. But contrary to how this is described, it is not really a “barbarians” sword. I think the medieval Chinese were way more cultured than their western counterparts. But I digress. This is, in fact, a variation of a design commonly referred to as the Chinese War sword design, distinguishable by their medium length blade, with a wide, very scimitar-like blade profile, the simple straight guard, straight grip and the large ring shaped pommel. In black. My favorite shade of steel.

As you can see from the pic, it has a serviceable point, but because of the width of the blade, it would not have been a particularly good thrusting weapon. No. This, ladies and germs, is a cutting and cleaving weapon. The deep belly of the blade would make for an excellent close quarters slashing weapon, and it’s weight and the strength of that extra wide blade would have brought a terribly chop happy smile to the face of any Chinese barbarian (or for that matter, any scurvy Pirate) that happened to be in a foul mood on any given battlefield day…

Chinese Barbarian Sword – [True Swords]

08
Mar
08

An Unlikely Pirate Sword… YAAAARRRRHHH!!!! :)

Ok, so I ran into this little shyster of a weapon yesterday, and thought it would make for an interesting post. It is yet another movie themed sword. The Movie? Pirates of the Caribbean! Aaaaarrr! The weapon? None other than the sword of Jack Sparrow, pirate extraordinaire:

Jack Sparrows Sword…

Yaaaarrrggghhh!

Jack Sparrows Pirate Sword
[view full size]

Aaarrrrrr…! OK, ok, ok I’ll stop with the yaaaaarrgghhs… LOL.

Now this is a pirates sword! Yes? … Actually, no. No it’s not.

Not that I like poking holes in Hollywood fallacies, but… Wait… no… Actually, to be honest, I love poking holes in Hollywood fictions… 🙂 But my point is, this is not the kind of weapon your average pirate might use. This sword is too long, too light and not sufficiently curved.

Yeah. Now I’ll bet you are wondering why a good pirates sword would need to meet the above three criteria. Well, being the snooty know-it-all that I am, I’m gonna tell you. In fact you can’t stop me! Yaaarr… eerrr… ahem… *crickets chirping*…

Whatever…

What I was gonna say is this: It’s simply a matter of space. Or the lack thereof. Aboard a ship, one of your major restraints would be a lack of “elbow room” as it were. In a battle, obviously, with a deck overflowing with bloodthirsty pirates, that deficiency would be compounded.

So your ideal sword would be one that could be swung in small spaces, with an equally localized cutting arc, but with a blade that also had some weight, so that you didn’t need so much space to generate lethal cuts. The weight of the sword could do some of the work for you…

In other words the ideal pirate sword would be… a short, heavy scimitar. Now we can see why pirates relied so heavily on the use of short, curved, broad/heavy cutlasses, and later on, cut down sabers… Neither of which categories the above sword falls into. In other words, the weapon above would be an epic fail in such a battlefield.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a sweet sword. The dark, long, mildly upward sweeping blade would make for a reasonably good slashing weapon, and that wicked little point would allow thrusting attacks like a hot knife through warm butter… But it just ain’t a pirate sword, Jack… :p

Jack Sparrows Sword – [Realm Collections]




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