Presented without comment
A local griot, telling a story. (from 2009)
Still very busy but it’s been two weeks since I posted anything.
Here is a very small watch in the shape of a violin/viola. It’s one of a collection of tiny watches and snuff boxes on display at the IMA in Indianapolis. This one is Austrian, ca. 1840 (+/- 20 years), made of gold and polychrome enamels. I have no idea if it keeps good time or not.
This blog will take a brief hiatus due to a large number of homework projects due in the next ten days.
In the early 1700s in Germany, someone crafted this, a “Sword of Justice”. I’m tempted to say it is merely ceremonial but … when you hear the words “sword” and “justice” in the same breath, the first thing that come to MY mind is execution by beheading. Any bets on whether this sword was ceremonial or functional?
(Detail of hilt and engraving in second photo)
In a rush this morning so, here, have a bunch of 17th and 18th century smallswords:
Today, a pair of swords which might theoretically have seen battle against each other. The split-bladed sword (zulfiqar) is a Mughal sword from India in the 1600s (although the blade was replaced in the 1800s). The other sword is a “nandaka”, a sword of Vishnu, from far southern India, near Kerala. Both are pretty but both are deadly and both might have been wielded in the name of religion, which would make things so much nastier. Even here in the Higgins Armory display, they are shown crossed rather than side-by-side in peace.
Details of the two hilts are below in separate photos.
Today’s sword is a ca. 9th century CE weapon probably from Scandinavia. Did you know that “Viking” was not actually the people of Scandinavia but was a term for what they did: go off trading and raiding in between planting and harvest seasons? I didn’t until I went to the Higgins Armory. This is a sword made of pattern-welded steel with gold overlay and some of the old scabbard material that got fused to the blade over time. In spite of the immense value of a well-made sword at the time (and this wasn’t even an Ulfbehrt sword), they were usually buried with their owners. That’s why, in the sagas, you sometimes see/hear of a man who digs up his father’s sword in dire need.
Details of the hilt are in the second photo.
Some swords are made for rather specific purposes. Today’s example from ca. 1515 Venice (or thereabouts), was made for a particular purpose: it’s a naval sword for boarding other ships. It has a reinforced thrusting point for use against crew and a saw-tooth edge for cutting through the ropes on the other ship in order to disable it.
It’s a rather cinematic-looking sword and yet I’ve never seen it in a movie.
I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep focusing on the Higgins Armory but I did want to spend a week on their sword collection before I stop. They had a broad collection of swords, from the weird and ceremonial to the plain and efficient. I, of course, am going to focus on the weird and ceremonial this week.
First up, a ceremonial saber from Eastern Europe (Balkans or Caucasus), ca. 1700s. It’s made of steel, bronze and gold. You might think the odd part of the sword is the hand used as the hilt. And yes, it is odd, but look again. It took me a few minutes to figure out what bothered me about it. (Answer after the photo.)
The hand is a left hand. If this sword were to be wielded left-handed, the curved sharp edge would be on the wrong side. And yet it looks like it would be very awkward to carry right-handed. Three possibilities present themselves.
1. It’s purely ceremonial and therefore has no need to be functional.
2. Someone attached the hilt backward.
3. It actually can be wielded with the right hand this way and the left hand of the hilt has a special meaning.
What do you think?