Sword Reviews and commentary

JOHN THURSTON is back and eager to discuss Western Martial Arts, especially relating to its history.


Hey Boss!!!

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:06 pm

How are you GEM Sensei. Thanks so much for the correction!!!!

I will attempt to have the person I spoke of, who lives in St. Augustine now, , contact you.

I was very sad to hear of Al K's passing. he was a good hearted man and we often crossed paths in the various registries of Deeds and at the occasional closing.

Hugh, you are absolutely correct. Instead of waiting to buy or design real quality blades, I think Hanwei makes the grade somewhat, I have gone on a nickel and dime spending spree which has netted me little, except the lesson that you are to be listened to on matters of the sword. I also listen to Fred because of the Iaido experience he is gaining and, therefore, gaining expertise in the "trial by curring" area.

Yingsword rates their swords in accordance with the number of Bamboo logs or other testing objects they can best; . One Bamboo, three bamboo, chop iron etc..

The "Long Chuan" sword is rated at "three Bamboo" but I am not skilled enough to attempt such a cut.

They do show the actual forge and test cuts which is helpful.

So, I have a bunch of worthless peices aeound here that may as well be thrown out.

"All Enlightenment Gratefully Accepted"
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 1998 6:01 am

Postby Hugh » Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:16 pm

Wootz, or Damascus, steel is a crucible steel that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is made by putting the iron ore and whatever else they wanted to alloy with the iron ore into a crucible and then putting that into an oven to heat it to the melting point. This allows the various elements to blend and then they take it out and allow it to cool a bit before emptying the crucible and forging the contents into a bar. They combine more bars of similar material and then forge the whole into a sword. When I was in college, a friend had a genuine Damascus sword from about 800CE that he showed me. He took the tip of the blade and bent it around to touch the pommel of the hilt and then slowly released it back to straight. Now, think about this. Here he was handling a 1200 year-old sword and flexing it in a manner that most would not dare to do with a very high quality modern sword. It was, simply, awesome.

Now, they had been making pattern-welded swords in Europe for some time. I have seen references to Roman swords that are pattern-welded. This is when you take several rods of iron of various compositions and forge them together, twisting them and pounding them flat, heating and folding the result and pounding that flat several times. This is not unlike how the Japanese make their swords. But it is NOT Wootz nor is it Damascus. That name is properly limited to the steels made by the process discussed in the first paragraph.

What Patrick Barta makes is a very high quality pattern-welded sword if that is the appropriate form for the period from which the original sword comes.
Somewhere about 1200 CE the West discovered how to make homogeneous steel in large quantities and the need for pattern-welding disappeared as the new homogeneous carbon steel blades were generally better weapons and were also cheaper to make. So Patrick's swords from later than that tend to be homogeneous carbon steel as that is what was used. Essentially, any replica sword from the Migration Era or the Early Middle Ages might well be pattern-welded but any sword from later than that should be of homogeneous steel to be an accurate replica. Roman swords can be carburized iron or pattern-welded as can Greek and Celtic or Celt/Iberian swords. I cannot speak to Persian or other Middle Eastern swords, let alone Chinese or Japanese.

I have seen quality krises from Indonesia and from the Philippines and they tend to be pattern-welded but that is about all that I can say about them other than that, like the Japanese family swords, they also carry the family spirits within them. When my wife was an AFS Exchange Student in Semarang, Java, she studied Javanese dance and "Papa" Soediarto allowed her to use his family kris as part of her dance regalia. It was a significant honor for her and said, louder than any other statement that he could have made, that he considered her to be a part of his family. In the attempted coup in 1965, the Soediartos were on a death list in large part because they had hosted Georgia. That puts a very different slant on that film, "The Year of Living Dangerously." "Papa" was a very smart and capable man and was very instrumental in putting down the attempted coup in Central Java, of which Semarang is the capital.
Trying to Walk in the Light, Hugh
1 John 1:5
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