Monday, May 24, 2010

What is Civil War Swords?

It is generally agreed today collectible Civil war swords history started with manufacturing of sharpened blades in 1830. Many states in pre-war years began to hint the impending crisis, and had started to trained militias and stacked them with firearms and swords. About a hundred American smelting companies supplied the market, many of whom copied the classical form of European blades.

The rise of Civil War swords

Firearms were standard military weapons during this tumultuous time. But their loading and unloading was not as efficient as they are today. When enemies were engaging in close combats, guns and bullets were impractical and even risky to use. Here, the Civil War swords found their purpose: to decide the fate of soldiers on the ground at a crucial moment when their guns were mute and their bullets were of no help. They were the soldier’s last line of defense.

Historically speaking however, swords and other edged blades such as knives and lances were not heavily combative. Only one out of every 250 injuries was caused by saber or bayonet attacks, and majority of the cases were personal duels of honor.
Types of Civil War swords

There are two basic types of civil war swords: the battle ready and the ceremonial. Many of the existing antique Civil War swords were actually dress, ceremonial, or presentation swords. They served no other purpose than to decorate, recognize the rank or authority of, and award distinguished soldiers and officers during the war. The battle ready swords on the other hand were used for actual fight.

Union and Confederates Civil War swords

The Union (of the North) and the Confederates (of the South) used the same designs for weaponry. It is therefore very tricky to distinguish Union swords from Confederates swords; for instance, it is difficult to recognize Civil War cavalry sabers of the Union from that of the Confederates. During the opening months of the war, trade blockades were set up. Ambushes on supply routes and looting were frequent. The Confederates cornered many government-issued Union swords and used them. When the Union had gained some advances, the Confederates swords were made by local smiths from the South to produce their own American officer and presentation swords. But design and form were very similar to the Union’s. Thus, the antique American swords from the Civil War period are still hard to classify.

Civil war swords for troops

Antique American swords today have been grouped according to their designs and the position to which they are issued to. Some of the most famous civil war blades are:

• Civil War Foot soldiers sword/Foot Artillery Sword – is likened to the classical Roman swords. It features a fuller at the centerline of the blade, brass-hilted, and a the scabbard has brass fittings.

• Civil War army Staff and Field Officer’s Sword – has a curved blade. The grip is leather-wrap and wound brass wire. The leaf-shaped hand guard has the midrib extending out towards a pommel, forming a knuckle guard.

• Civil War artillery Officer’s saber – is similar to French model and has a more delineated curved blade longer than the Field Officer’s sword. Its scabbard is premium steel, the grip is leather-wrap and wound with brass wire. Its

• Civil War cavalry saber – is different from the artillery Officer’s saber for its longer, but less curved blade. It has three-branched guard that extends toward the pommel to form a knuckle guard. The grip is leather-wrap and wound with brass wire.

• Civil War US Naval cutlass – is patterned after the saber-liked European sword. It has a short blade, straight or sometimes slightly curving, with a broad face. The grip is leather-wrap and wound with brass wire.

• Civil War NCO (noncommissioned officer) sword – has German influences. It has a long, straight, single-edged blade with a brass hilt. It has a round-plated hand guard, which extends to a small globe-shaped pommel. Some of the blades have leather scabbards instead of steel.

Collectible Civil War swords

Collecting antique American swords produced at the time of the Civil War is not just a hobby. For some collectors, it is a way of rediscovering the lessons of history. The United States of America is now considered a democracy at its prime. Its constitutional guarantees for equality, its people’s enjoyment of liberal rights, and the end of slavery and forced labor are all legacies of the scarring Civil War.

Thus, collectible Civil War swords are your ticket to America’s darkest, yet most enlightening, war. Starting your own small collection is probably the best way to learn history. After all, they are not just swords you are gathering. They are pieces of memory, the threads of the past, the stirring narratives of soldiers whose pains and triumphs have given to a bright promise of today.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

History of Medieval Sword

Medieval swords are like leaves. They spring forth from different branches, but they belong to only one tree. In the same way, swords from the Middle Ages came from different countries and small kingdoms. Their number and origin are so vast that some of them are now forgotten. The art of their making, as well as the craftsmanship required, are also lost. But they sprung forth for only one need: to kill.

Copper, Bronze, and Iron Swords

What are medieval swords? The swords that were forged in Medieval Ages were distant cousins from crude daggers used in 3000 B.C. Copper was already mined as far as 3700B.C. and was therefore the metal used for short and long daggers. They found their weapons from pure copper frustrating, as these were not long enough to be used for slashing and thrusting.

Smiths in ancient Egypt and Asia made an alloy called bronze by melting copper and tin in 2500 B.C. When the smiths lengthened daggers to make swords, the metal bronze becomes ductile and bends. They had to wait for other substances that would improve the strength of bronze, or a good substitute to it, to be discovered.

The metal iron was mined by the ancient people – the Hittites – of Turkey at the same time as they did with copper. However, the method of forging swords out of iron was devised only at around 1400 B.C. Iron swords were longer, bolder, and bigger to be potent weapons for hand-to-hand combat.

Iron Swords around the Ancient World

In Europe, medieval age swords were descendants primarily from the iron swords of the Roman Empire. Other European tribes like the Vikings and Saxons were also skilled in ironworking at those times, but the Romans had the greater influence on middle age kingdoms and their method of medieval sword making. The sword used at that time, called spatha, was used by gladiators and Roman foot soldiers. It was straight, long-pointed, and double-edged of about a meter in length.

In Asia, the Chinese forged the then bronze double-edged jian sword and its close relative, the single-edged dao, in 3000B.C. The Chinese then use the metal iron to improve their weaponry. The Japanese and Koreans used these Chinese iron swords long before 800AD. Southwest Asian countries like Persia and India forged swords made from iron and they called them scimitars, a curved sword that can be seen in the Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia.

The rise of Steel Swords

At the turn of 10th century, iron and iron-alloy swords became insufficient. The armor used by knights and soldiers became very heavy, impenetrable, and hard. The swords were easily broken and the edges jarred, providing more pressure for ancient smiths to improve the craft. The concern was not only about how to make a medieval sword, but how to improve them.
In Europe, steel became the alloy of choice. Steel was produced by combining carbon and iron. Not only did it make the swords fatal, they also made them heavy and sharp. The heaviest and the largest medieval sword belonged to a giant Dutch rebel. It weighed fifteen pounds and is seven feet long.

In Japan, the production of samurai sword set started. They were built according to a complex hammering, inlaying, and molding of iron ores, carbon, anvil water, and steel fibers. The scimitars also underwent the same improvement, although of a different process.

Medieval Swords as Angels of Death

The result of advanced sword-making process and use of better substances produced an array of stunning and fatal medieval swords, weapons strong enough to slice metals into shreds. The grip, or the handle, was given more area so that knights, samurai, and soldiers can hold their weapons with two hands. With sharpness, more weight, and momentum, the weapons were transformed into lethal Angels of Death.

The Zulqifar, the scimitar of Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali, became legendary after it cut an enemy into two. European medieval swords were renowned too for their ability to cut through any object, metal, or rock.

But the best of all medieval swords are the samurai in Japan. Here sword-making was not only a matter of production, but an art-form. It has been said that when ancient samurai swords were tested during the World War II, they were able to cut through the barrel of a machine gun in one slash.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

History of Daggers

If you think only swords are important in the history of our world, think again. Daggers may be shorter in length, but they have many tall tales to tell too. For instance, St. Peter used a Roman dagger to cut an ear of a soldier on the night Jesus was arrested (John 18:10). Famous Roman senator Julius Caesar was stabbed more than twenty times by the daggers of his trusted friends and allies. William Shakespeare put these words to his famous character Macbeth, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?”

The above examples only point out that daggers have been with us since time immemorial. But what is a dagger and what is its place in our history?

Prehistoric Daggers

Pre-historic humans relied on their tools to survive. Their household knives, other kitchen elements, and hunting swords were made from certain types of stones, bones, and woods that were chipped into blunt objects. These primeval knives, created around 2.5million years ago, were the forerunners of daggers. Few dagger artifacts survived to modern time, and what have been found through archeological explorations are scarce, since most of these materials were highly perishable.

Copper and Bronze Age Daggers

The creation of daggers started with the discovery and mining of pliable, but sturdy metals. Around 5,000 years ago, knives and blades were forged from heating metal ores in furnaces and striking them to blunt objects. Copper was the first raw material used, and then tin was mixed to produce bronze. The first metal daggers, patterned after the double-edged stone knives, were produced.

The early copper and bronze daggers of this period were used as backups to the longer maces, axes, and javelins. Such secondary role in warfare is necessitated by two reasons: smiths found out that the longer the blades were, the weaker they became; and ancient daggers lack in length, reach, and force.

Iron Age Daggers

It was not until iron was mined and smelted around 2,000 years ago that ancient daggers benefited from breakthroughs in metallurgy. They were stronger, flexible, and able to survive through damages brought by ageing, war, and use. They were also rich in design details, with improved craftmanship on the blade and ornate decorations on the hilt.

The discovery of steel further improved the metalworking of the period and the quality of daggers. The Iron Age marks the beginning of a whole new warfare with the introduction of swords, which were practically recognized as oversized daggers. Swords replaced the functions of the maces and axes.

The Athenaian Hoplites were known to use daggers called acinaces alongaside with Greek swords. Legionnaires were also known to put daggers (called pugio) as sidearms as a backup to the Roman swords.

Medieval Age Daggers

The crude bladesmithing from the Iron Age continued to pervade through the opening decades of Middle Ages. It was innovated with the introduction of techniques in laying different strands of steel together to produce ancient medieval daggers of stronger built. The folded process employed in Japanese sword making and the pattern welding popular in Medieval Europe were the two most important metalworking technqiues that flourished in this period.

When the knight sword and knight Templar swords came into vogue in 13th century, the knights copied the Romans; they carried sidearms like long daggers called arming sword at their side. Samurai warlords and soldiers were also doing the same thing. They were considered naked if they appeared in public without a Japanese katana sword and a dagger (called tanto) slinging from their belts.

Early Renaissance Daggers

Metalworking greatly improved in the Rennasiance. In 15th century, bladesmith experimented and succeeded in lengthening medieval swords. Forged with simple lines and basic ornaments, they boasted of towering lenght that they were called longswords. Artifacts from the period testified the lingering use of daggers as backups. An example of this was the single-handed parrying dagger, a popular choice for defense. Fencing schools were put up, and they standardized swordsmanship using these two swords across Europe.

The Renaissance sword, knives, and daggers were considered to be the most elegant. They bear the traces of artistic movements that swept the Western World at that time. For example, decorative hilts guards called quillons evolved into intricate basket hilts. The daggers were decorated with rococo (18th century art period in France characterized by ornate decorations) and baroque (17th century art movement characterized by awe-inspiring oppulence) designs.

Late Renaissance Daggers

Firearm was introduced to the battlefield in 17th century, signalling the end of dependence on swords as the main tool for war. In spite of this, the survival of the dagger was secured by the use of bayonets. Bayonets were daggers, knives, and spikes fitted on the muzzle of longarms such as muskets and rifles. Bayonets transform ordinary firearms into fatal, close-combat spears. Films on American civil wars were famous for their bayonet-wielding soldiers charging through enemy lines.

World War I daggers

Napoleonic wars, American Civil war, and The First World War saw the massive use of trench warfare, a battle scene where two opposing camps dredge up trenches to rally the infantrymen. As it were, surprise attacks in the form of brutal raids were often practiced: an elite small group of soldiers would cross the battlefield at the dead of the night and attacked the enemies. Aside from bayonets, grenades and guns, the small group carrying out the raid used the following:

• Trench knives and daggers were originally made from cut-down bayonets. Later on, American, British, and German factories supplied the army with standard double-edged, full tang daggers, long “ice-pick” daggers, and knives to be used for small scale, close quarters fighting.
• Push daggers were issued at the height of the war because of their rugged, unique design. The hand does not grasp the handle but the pommel, which is made up of a metal or wooden bar. The blade of the dagger forms a letter “T” to the hand, and the pommel is situated between the middle and index fingers.
• Bowie knife, daggers, and other combat shortswords were used for such mundane tasks like cooking, first aid, and combat. The Bowie knife and daggers are famous for their sharpness, rigidity, and reliability; they were strong enough to cut through Plexiglas and were therefore used for body and supply retrievals from downed aircrafts.

World War II daggers
Nazi or German daggers gained notoriety as the Second World War raged on from the years 1941-1945. Soldiers and ranked officers began to wear ceremonial or dress daggers on their full regalia. Other such decorative or dress daggers include Italian and Japanese daggers, also called Tanto knife. The dress daggers especially the Nazi daggers became synonymous to tyrants, brutality, and death.

Aside from purely decorative purpose of the Second World War daggers, they were also shortswords and long daggers that were employed for utilitarian use. Most of them were employed for covert – that is secret – operations such as surveillance, sabotage, and subversion.
• Stilleto daggers were very effective for stabbing for its long, narrow blade ending in a very sharp and defined point. First used in ancient times for assassination, it helped stave off the attacks of knight swords and penetrate the hard armors of knights in the Middle Ages. They began to be popular in Second World War when the American armed forces issued them to combatants. Examples of stilleto daggers are Marine Raider Stilleto and V-42 Stilleto.
• Switchblade daggers were a type of dagger that springs outward or forward from a grip through a spring mechanism. Because of their reducible size, they were a standard shortsword in any infantrymen essentials.
• Fairbairn-Sykes fighting daggers were double-edged daggers issued by the British government to its foot soldiers. It was first produced in 1941 and continued to be manufactured to this very day. Such enduring popularity owes so much from its sleek design: ring grip, lacquered leather wound around the handle, and an absent ricasso.
• Sleeve daggers were special and limited type of daggers exclusively used for undercover agents, international spies, and covert operations officers. They were made of a long, slender, oftentimes round, blade bolted snugly on a leather strap, which would then be wrapped around on an arm or below the knee like a wristwatch or an anklet.
• Lapel daggers were Second World War daggers used by special operatives of British intelligence agency. They have grooved centerline on a flat blade that extends fully to the tang. The tang has a hole for a knotted cord, which was used to access the dagger when needed. Lapel daggers were sewn on the suits of the agents just above the chest, like the way lapels are worn.
• Thumb or Button daggers were another variation to the lapel daggers. The difference was that the thumb daggers do not have a hole in their tang for the cord. They were also smaller in terms of blade and tang size. They could be hidden behind and drawn from the belts.

Collecting Daggers

Like sword collecting, collecting daggers and knives offers a brand new experience. It opens a door of fun and excitement, with the opportunity to open the pages of history through ancient artifacts. Daggers are perfect as home decorations, conversation pieces, and good investments. It is no surprise then that market for collectible daggers and knives is on the rise.

To get you started on collecting daggers, here is a 5-step tip that would come in handy:

1) Dagger collection is a very particular field. This means you would have less information to get you by. Instead of looking at this as a problem, you can use this to your advantage. It is a great opportunity to meet people of the same interest; buy daggers that are neglected and underappreciated but have promising value; and train yourself to be an expert in this challenging hobby.
2) Dagger collecting is fulfilling not only in terms of experience, but also of money. Take advantage of the prevailing trend of the antique market by buying ancient, rare daggers.
3) Dagger collecting is riskier than sword collecting. This is because there are many unscrupulous dealers ready to cheat you if you are not careful. Mind your every purchase, research thoroughly, and limit the price tag of potential daggers when you buy them. Do not ever be tempted to put your guards down. You can never be too careful.
4) Be able to appraise daggers by yourself before resorting to professional help. In this way, you can avoid colluding dealers and experts from deceiving you. This is also one of the joys of dagger collecting: by knowing how to evaluate daggers, you become attached to them and learn to value them highly.
5) It is wise to reward yourself once in a while. Therefore, do not be afraid of selling some of your collected daggers if you are preparing a purchase of a more expensive dagger, or if you want to cash in early on.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What is a Dagger?

Definition of dagger

What is a dagger? A dagger has the size of a knife. It is a one-handed, bladed shortsword made up of two cutting edges tapering to a sharp point along the centerline of the blade. Its tang extends too through the centerline with a wooden or metallic hilt. It is used for stabbing and thrusting. It can also be used for cutting, as its edges are sharp enough to slash through flesh, wood, and other objects.

Parts of a dagger

There are two basic parts of a dagger: the hilt (which includes the guard, grip, and pommel) and the blade (which includes the ricasso, cutting edge, fuller, and point).

What is a dagger hilt

The hilt is the part of the dagger where the hand is fitted for holding and control. It is usually called a handle, because it is the only part where the human holder is safe. Below are some of basic parts of the hilt:
• Dagger Grip is the major part of the hilt. It is what the hand holds when wielding the dagger. Japanese daggers have beautiful shark skin wrapped around the grip to improve control. Other ancient knife swords have wood, animal skins, leather, and thick cords.
• Dagger Guard is a barrier that protects the hand from slipping to and being wounded accidentally by the sharpened edges. For daggers, the guard is usually made of wood or metal and range from a simple cross-guard (a bar perpendicular to the blade) to elaborate basket hilts.
• Dagger Pommel is a relatively heavy metal placed at the end of the hilt. In martial arts, putting some weight at the end of the dagger would counterbalance the weight of the blade. The pommel provides the swordsman an improved performance, better handling, and more control.

What is a dagger blade

The blade is the sharpened part of the dagger. It consists of:
• Dagger Ricasso is the unsharpened part of the blade to enable the handler to place some fingers without being wounded
• Dagger Cutting edge is the sharpened part of the blade responsible for cutting.
• Dagger Fuller is the hardened groove along the centerline of the dagger. The fuller makes it possible for the dagger to be swung, hit a hard object, and suffer no chips or breaking afterwards.
• Dagger Point, also called tip, is the end of the blade, often rigidly sharpened, and fatal for stabbing or thrusting action of the dagger.

Difference between dagger and knife

Dagger is sometimes confused with knife since it is of the same size and length. The main difference between them is design. Knife has only one cutting edge. Its point is either absent (which means, it is primarily for household use such as chopping) or prominent (which means that it can be used for slitting and, sometimes, as a weapon). The dagger, on the other hand, has two cutting edges with a prominent point.
Another difference lies in their primary use. The dagger is more effective for stabbing. A sharp point is powerful in opening or inflicting wounds. The gradual, equal increase of the dagger’s blade toward the hilt and the two cutting edges cause fatal mortal damage as it is driven deeply to the wound. The knife, on the other hand, is more effective for cutting. This distinction is hardly rigid, since both dagger and knife can be used either way.

Difference between dagger and other combat swords

A dagger is sometimes called knife sword and small sword. There are two other varieties, called long dagger and shortsword, that are too long to be called a dagger and too short to be called a sword. The below illustrates the difference between these combat swords:

Dagger: Tanto(Japanese dagger) between 6in – 12 in
Long Dagger: Pugio(Old Roman dagger) between 12in - 17in
Shortsword: Gladius(Old Roman shortsword) between 17in – 24in
Sword: Knight Arming Sword between 24in – 35in
Longsword: European Knights Templar Longsword over 35 in

Use of daggers

The dagger was used as a backup to the longer axes and maces. This was necessary, obviously, as the dagger lacks in reach and force that axes and maces can provide. This was also practical, because metalworking around 3rd millennium BC was crude and mining of ores was limited and labor-intensive. Ancient blades were forged from weak metal alloys of copper, bronze, and iron. These materials become brittle (their tensile strength will give in to stress) when they are made into long blades.

Daggers as a close-combat shortsword

The dagger became instrumental when somehow, the use of axes and maces proved to be cumbersome to carry for ordinary infantrymen. As military tactics and formation became advanced and dynamic, close combat was fast becoming the central arena for fighting and showing valor on the battlefield.
Such evolution in warfare was coupled with the discovery of steel around 1st century BC. Smiths found a way of lengthening the dagger and the first of the ancient swords were produced. This breakthrough afforded the infantrymen to drop their axes and maces. From that time, the dagger became secondary to sword.

The survival of daggers

When heavy artillery and firearms were introduced to war, the use of swords waned correspondingly. Instead of being employed as primary weapons, the swords were carried symbolically by generals and other high-ranking military officials to manifest honor and prestige to their position.
It is surprising that daggers proved to be more resilient than swords. They survived through the sweeping change of arms technology. In 17th century, antique daggers were mounted onto the muzzle of longarms to produce bayonets and instant spears. They were continued to be used as killing weapons even when guns and bullets were preferable.

Royal and Religious daggers

There are daggers however that have never been used in the battlefield. Some of them were meant to be a display of power, authority, and affluence, such as those carried by kings and royal family members. Still some were meant to be a symbol of reverence and respect, such as those used for religious purposes.
They are often designed with elaborate accessories. They are forged, enmeshed, or hammered together with other precious metals such as gold and silver. They are inlayed with rare gemstones especially on the guard and pommel. Markings are often found etched on the blade. For instance, some Indian daggers are carved with the faces of the deities. Ancient Arab swords and daggers bear quotes taken from Holy Koran.

Famous daggers

Admittedly, daggers are not a popular as swords. But starting to collect daggers as a hobby is an even more exciting endeavor. Because daggers are fewer, they would command heftier prices than swords. They are also somewhat difficult to search for, which make their discovery more romantic and adventurous. Historical daggers are also rich with tales of treachery and betrayal, which makes them even more precious.

To tease your interest with daggers, here are some of perfect masterpieces that you can start viewing for appreciation:
• Ear dagger is a medieval shortsword famous for its Moorish design. Its prominent part is the oversized, oval pommel, which looked like and has almost the same size of a human ear (hence its name). For its design, museum curators consider it as a very rare European dagger.
• The famous gold encrusted dagger of Shah Jahan, the Indian ruler who commissioned the construction of Taj Mahal in India. A collector in the ’60s brought it for only a thousand dollars. However, it was traded for $3 million when it was auctioned in April, 2008. It only proves that knowledgeable collectors are inviting money into their homes when they get hold of valuable daggers.
• Topkapi dagger is a very rare antique shortsword now on display in a museum in Turkey. It is a priceless 16th century dagger considered to be the pinnacle of ancient Turkish bladesmithing. Its golden hilt holds three big emerald stones and the scabbard is covered in diamonds.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What is a medieval sword?

What is a medieval sword? For historians, this is not an easy question to answer. They may point to a large sword now on display in Fries museum of Netherlands. It measures seven feet in length and weighs fifteen pounds, a weapon that only a giant can effectively put to use. Indeed it belonged to a giant, a 15th century Dutch peasant rebel named Pier Gerlofs Donia, a man of towering height and strength that he could slash the necks of several people using his sword in one cut. Or they could point to Zulqifar, the sword of Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali, who cut a Meccan opponent and his shield into two halves.

Medieval swords are weapons that are documented to have been made during the Middle Ages or Medieval Ages, which spanned from the time the Roman Empire was in decline (500 AD) to the time of the Renaissance (1500 AD). This period is also known as the Dark Ages because the progress of science was put on hold and people did not have access to education and power. They have to rely on their kings and nobles for guidance and survival.

Medieval swords in service for the Kings

Thus, it was during the Dark Ages that kings, queens, and princesses lived in huge palaces. Often, the royal families are always under the threat of attacks from neighboring kingdoms. So, to protect their territory and power, they employ military officers, called knights, and foot soldiers to defend their land. With the rise and fall of kingdoms and civilizations, medieval swords, medieval daggers, and armors were produced and became very good relics of those olden times.

Medieval swords according to their edges

The question what is a medieval sword and what type does it belong seem to have a lot of answers. Many cultures and many countries have produced countless classes of swords that are classified further according to rank, purpose, shape, length, and even the monograms etched on their hilts. Classification is further made more difficult as different eras produced different versions, which are by-products of advancing technology in metallurgy and sword-making. It is thus impossible to classify swords according to their form.

Today, experts classify them comfortably according to the shape of their edges. Medieval scimitar swords (Asian swords with curved blades design), sabers (cavalry swords with slightly curved blade design), and samurai swords (slender, curved Japanese) are examples of single-edged swords. Double-edged swords, on the other hand, include longsword (a European sword with cruciform hilt), and the famous Gaelic claymore (a Scottish sword with down-sloping hilt).

Medieval swords according to their use in combat

They are also divided according to how they are used in combat. The Middle Ages was the age of the Romantics; people and philosophers were preoccupied in reliving the teachings of the Classical World of the Greeks and Romans. Hence, Germany’s katzbalger (a short arming sword with a figure-8 hilt) and Italy’s cinqueda (a thrusting sword with a heavy blade and a rounded point) reintroduced and improved the classic single-handed sword spartha. The arming sword and medieval scimitar swords are another foremost example of a single-handed sword. Double-handed swords, on the other hand, are used in tandems. They include the longsword and the samurai sword.

Medieval swords and their symbols

Some of the swords of famous heroes like Ali have names. Spain’s national hero, El Cid, had his swords named Tizona and Colada. This illustrates the romantic symbols, and even religious connection, of the sword to its owners. For one, it represents inseparability of the weapon and its wielder for life. Together, they symbolize strength and invincibility. Two, it represents prestige, as it a symbol of elitism. Three, it is a symbol of authority, as it can protect or take away life. Swords represented a badge of honor. A lowly commoner may rise into ranks by showing valor in the battlefield, and may be gifted by a sword.

Medieval swords and their purpose

Swords were used by noblemen like knights and samurai, and ordinary soldiers as hand-to-hand combat weapon. They served as backups to lances, bows, and arrows. Not only are they used for the grisly purpose of killing and subjugating enemies. Sometimes, they are used as an instrument of punishment for those who were proven traitors or perceived threats to power. In medieval kingdoms of France and Austria, capital punishments were in the form of beheadings. Because swords are linked to nobility, princes and other high ranking officials were beheaded by sword. Ordinary people were punished by the axe.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What is a Samurai Sword?

Japanese Samurai swords have the finest and best quality of swords there are, not only in Japan.
Even historically speaking, these are the swords that are considered elemental piece of the history of Japan that until today, collectors highly venerate this sword if not literally worship it. Here are some samurai sword information a samurai sword collector must know.

History of the Samurai sword

The Samurai sword history could be traced around 12th century. Samurais were widespread during feudal Japan when military support was very powerful particularly during the Kamakura Shogunate (1185-1333) until some time in 19th century. The warlord shogun ruled and governed Japan and gave the samurai control over civil, judicial, and military matters.

The Samurais had different weapons with them like bows, arrows, spears, and a tanto knife which they would use for the ritual suicide seppuku in the form of hara-kiri. But two swords were considered important to him – a short sword of 12-24 inches in length called the wakizashi and a long Katana sword. A Samurai katana sword and a wakizashi together are called the daisho which literally means big and small.

More than a weapon, the Japanese Samurai sword katana is a symbol of the samurai spirit and pride. It was regarded very sacred that it was used by a warrior as a last resort. The Samurai believe that the long sword is his soul so it must only be drawn out in the name of his honor. To add, only a Samurai warrior has the right to bring a katana.

Traditionally, the katana making & marking in itself was a revered ritual. Only the best Japanese sword smiths working for the high classes of the society are supposed to forge a Samurai sword.

What is a Samurai sword today?

Even in the modern times, the value of the Katana is still known all over the world. The Samurai sword is one of the most popularly collected swords today among sword enthusiasts because of its rich history and its symbolism to its owner.

There are still quite a number of authentic samurai swords nowadays but there are more decorative katanas available in the market for commercial purposes. These ornamental swords are only meant as wall hangers for they will break when used in some cutting tests.

The following are a few things to consider in knowing the samurai Katana sword is real:

1. The sword must be forged. Mass produced swords do not undergo forging so, they do not have the strength like that of a real sword.
2. The blade should be carbon steel. In the old times, the raw steel for the katana blade was called the tamahagane made from black sand.
3. The hamon should be present in the sword. It is that wave like pattern found at the age of the blade as a result of heat treating. The wave pattern should be at random; else, if it is predictable, it does not come from the heat treatment.
4. The shape and form of the sword should be according to the description of the samurai swords told in the history.
5. It should be durable and of the finest quality. All samurai sword parts should be stable from the kashiri to the ken or blade and must have a full tang.

Some test cutting will help you determine the sharpness of the sword. The aesthetic value of the katana is also important, so see if it is well finished.

Katana training are being taught in martial arts schools. Though the real Samurais had long been gone, there are people who continue to emulate the Bushido or “Way of the Warrior” with the philosophy of “freedom from fear”. And to attain this, possessing a Japanese samurai sword is not enough but training in discipline, law of honor, obedience, duty, and self-sacrifice.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheap Sword for Sale

Cheap swords for sale may stir you to doubts, but there is actually nothing to fear. It is true that quality and historical swords, even the decorative ones, do not go cheap these days.
But then again, there are swords in the market that are meant to be kept as a novelty rather than as an investment collectible.

What are cheap swords

Cheap swords are swords that are sold way below a hundred dollars. They are most often replicas of famous swords.

Why buy cheap swords

It is actually great buying cheap swords. For one, they are light on budget. Very cheap swords can go for about two dollars and the pricey range can be as affordable as a hundred dollars. The swords in between these price ranges come in all shapes and sizes, making them exciting collectibles.

Two, the cheap plastic swords are good for the kids. They can offer clean fun without exposing them to danger. Three, they can be interesting decorations in the room or any spaces at home and because they are affordable, they can be changed anytime to suit one’s interior designing needs.

Lastly, cheap swords can be a good start for sword collecting. You can buy replica swords that are low cost to begin appreciating the make, feel, and magic of an antique sword.

Cheap ornamental sword

A large volume of low cost swords are ornamental swords. They are a great ceremonial sword, wall hanger, or decorative sword to be adorned as room or space accents. Ornamental swords are good conversation pieces, add a striking appeal to the look of a room, and improve interior designing.

Cheap fantasy swords

Low cost swords are made also to keep up the demand with fantasy swords in TV, film, or interactive video games. This is particularly so when a new swashbuckling adventure has been released recently. Examples are fantasy pirate swords from antihero films (Pirates of the Caribbean swords), high fantasy movie (Lord of the Rings swords), and Errol Flynn-types (Highlander sword).

Cheap fantasy swords also include sword replicas from video games such as Final Fantasy swords, animated films and graphic novels such as Reverse blade sword in Samurai X and Rurouni Kenshin fiction, and historical novels like Excalibur of King Arthur legend.

Cheap Replica swords

Low cost swords can be a great way in saving money while buying replica swords. This is ideal for those who want to have an ornamental sword with a touch of historicism. This is also good for those who wants to have a replica of a favorite ancient sword. Without shelling a fortune, you can have your own Roman sword or Greek sword replica. They are very good in providing a classical look at your room’s interior designing.

Cheap Japanese sword

Cheap ninja swords are bestsellers since Japanese anime took the world by storm in the 90’s. Nowadays, very cheap samurai sword sets are available. Their unique mounting, the different lengths of the swords in display, and their curving blades are their greatest attraction.

Cheap swords for the kids

Affordable swords are especially useful for doting parents. Their kids can enjoy the thrill of using a sword without exposing them to harm and accident. Cheap swords for kids are usually made of plastic, foam, and other harmless materials that would keep the child in safety. Harsh chemicals like lead paints are also checked to make them hazard-free.

One of the most popular kid toys is the Star Wars’ light saber. Kids find it irresistible to have a switch on/off sword made of light energy and to hear the “zoom” sound when they swing it. They are not only safe from any danger, they can also play their favorite Star Wars heroes like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, or Master Yoda.

Tips on how to buy affordable swords for sale

Certainly, it is not a walk in the park purchasing affordable swords. Here are five timely reminders to get you going on the right track:
• Nothing is too good to be true. Remember that you are buying a sword equal to the value of your money. If a sword has been labeled “limited” and “hand forged” and other labels, it is okay to buy the collectible in a bargain price for as long as you do not believe too much in the hype.
• Pay for a sword for what it’s worth of. Even with cheap swords, you can still make a mistake of paying too much. Know the materials of the product beforehand, judge if the sword is fairly priced, and proceed buying.
• Don’t test the cheap sword. If you’re buying a sword to practice your cutting skills, cheap swords should not be your choice. Buy a beater, battle ready, or a real sword.
• Cheap swords for the kids must be purchased with caution. Only give to your kids swords that are safe and harmless to play, such as those made of plastic.
• Be wary of the delivery cost. There are some affordable swords whose price tags become inflated with delivery cost. Check the delivery cost if you are shopping online before placing an order.

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