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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 1:58 am    Post subject: Myth or fact.         Reply with quote

My thesis is that historic swords are not what they seem in our modern pragmatic and extremely materialist perception.

The sword is historically perceived as 'noble' and this just about proves my point. Even today we are not immune to this.

Fact and myths are thus mixed throughout history and I consider this to be irrelevant as perception is reality and a percieved rality is just as 'factual' as any 'fact'.

Right.


A personal line of thought I have is that the Ursa Major has been crucial to mankind since the cradle of it as it is a pointer to the north star which is essential for night orientation.
As I see it, it can not be coincidence that the constellation is associated with the bear nor that the number seven is magical in so many completely differing cultures all over the world.
The seven stars of Ursa Major haven been pointing the way to mankind since we were revering the bear and a common culture distributed the ' venus' statues over eurasia.

To me it appears coincidential but nevetheless sort of logical that the seven stars symbolism appears on jian. The thing is that this spriritual element incorporated in a sword is a factual embodiment in artefact of the inseperable intertwinement of myth and fact.


peter


PLEASE NOTE: this food for thought Idea and to underline this I have added an illustrattion of a non functional 'sword' Wink

Now look at

Although... is it non functional? or simply fullfilling a different function just like 'real' swords probably have?!
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are the coin swords as well that have nothing to do with swordsmanshiip. On a jian though I believe it more in line with this article. http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/swordmyth1.htm My first steel sword was a tourista grade jian and it had seven copper inserts along the blade. That was before the internet is what we have now, so it was some years before I could even make the connection to a constellation.

The stars and constellations certainly do have great cultural significance worldwide and there is somtimes overlap. There are also other mythologies that relate to swords in views of them. There have been some good threads over the years discussing the cultural significance attached to swords; the decoration of and reverance seemingly inherent. A truly analytical study might be better broken down to narrower focuses of specific cultures. One might then draw some more universal conclusions from overlap in religions and sociology.

Cheers

GC

An edit to add something I have been researching for some time. A different set of stars that most know as the Pleadies and others know as a pool of imagination
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
On a jian though I believe it more in line with this article. http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/swordmyth1.htm


Thank you Glen for the excellent link.
As I wrote the Ursa Major link is only an example: sort of indisputable star gate Wink to a world of symbolism and myths every bit as real as the actual artefacts.

peter
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Myth or fact.         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
My thesis is that historic swords are not what they seem in our modern pragmatic and extremely materialist perception.

The sword is historically perceived as 'noble' and this just about proves my point. Even today we are not immune to this.

Fact and myths are thus mixed throughout history and I consider this to be irrelevant as perception is reality and a percieved rality is just as 'factual' as any 'fact'.


I partially agree that perceptions do affect reality in the sense that they do change the way people will act and feel about things: People who believe in witches will react with fear to what they can't explain and historically people have been burned at the stake due to these beliefs ! So, I guess to the accused witch being accused and found guilty of being a witch had real consequences and for the society believing in witches there must have been a sense of relief and justice in killing the witch ! ( Unfortunately some places in the World are still contemplating executing someone for witchcraft: In the news but I don't want to get into politics here but some people are still living in the 7th century ).

Now, at some times and places everybody was in agreement that the Earth was flat and I'm sure that this seemed like objective reality to them.

So I wouldn't agree that " Perceived reality is exactly the same as fact " ! Even science is not immune to error and what is accepted fact can change with a new theory better explaining the nature of reality.

We do act in accordance to what we believe is " reality " but this is always an approximation that can change radically when new information reaches us.

A sincere erroneous belief doesn't change objective reality ( If such a thing can be defined and assuming that the whole of our perceptions are not an illusion i.e. some sort of " Virtual reality " underlying the mystery of the very fact that anything even exists ! More a matter of philosophical discourse than swords related maybe ?

Peter: Hope this isn't off Topic to your intent when applied to swords and culture but I did feel the need to address the issue of objective reality. Wink Big Grin

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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Jean, call it applied philosofy and I agree Wink

A sword seller is marketting swords as ' CutBambooEdge' to ' Cut5BambooEdge' and although this adresses fysical properties the step to ' ScaresEnemies' and ScareArmiesWitless' or ' KillsFiends' and 'SlaysDragons' is slight and THAT takes us into the realm of myths.

'We', the perceived rationalists humans of modern society, are just the same. Just think of the ' ImpressesLaymenNoEnd' wallhangers that are sold by the thousands.
H#@#@!, why do you thing Albion A&A and others call their swords 'Talhoffer', ' The Duke' or ' Berserker'? Razz

What I mean with this topic is to point out that perception is at least as important as measurable fact and that we should not forget this when looking at historic artefacts or -texts.

peter
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Harald Rotter





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter,

let me add my 2c to this as a hobby astronomer.
Since the north celestial pole moves in a big circle across the sky in ~26k years, Polaris was not a useful guide to find true north until maybe 1000 AD. For the Arabs, the great astronomers of their time, Kochab in the Little Dipper was the polar star. 3000 years ago, what is now called "Polaris" was a star as far away from the north celestial pole as the handle of the Big Dipper is long.
So the Big Dipper has had its role as a guide to true north only for a fairly recent period and is going to lose it again. Closest approximation of Polaris to the north celestial pole will be in ~2100 AD, and 13000 years from now, Vega (which these days is a bright star right above our heads in summer) will be the polar star - for some time.

He who lives by the sword
is shot
by him who does not.
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 2:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eirs-Given the over-riding importance to primitive peoples of predicting weather and seasons, it is not suprising that they were Very good observational astronomers, and put thir observations everywhere. (Think Stonehenge) It is not surprising thay they put them on tools, and weapons for luck
Ja68ms
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 2:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Myth or fact.         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:

The sword is historically perceived as 'noble' and this just about proves my point. Even today we are not immune to this.

Fact and myths are thus mixed throughout history and I consider this to be irrelevant as perception is reality and a percieved rality is just as 'factual' as any 'fact'.
!


I have not studied status of the sword outside a very narrow window of roughly 11th -13th century (England, France, and what little of it might be mentioned in translated German cases.) The form of the sword, how it was conferred, and its implied status was pretty strong in some regions and centuries, not as much so in others. I have never really considered swords to have indicated "noble" status, except possibly in eras when military ranks with distinct roles + forms of swords were relegated to those with privileged status. Some one (else, not my area of expertise) might study some periods of Roman armies/ cavalries, etc. and conclude that those who belonged to certain units were elite within their society. They might have been recognized by as little as their equipment in a case like that.

I do think the status of being a warrior was significant in broad time frames of historical context, particularly before feudal armies were replaced by the more modern ones. Noble or not, the wise agrarian laborer would have cooperated with small groups of soldiers acting properly in defense of the country much as we do today when confronted by a police officer.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harald Rotter wrote:
Peter,

let me add my 2c to this as a hobby astronomer.
Since the north celestial pole moves in a big circle across the sky in ~26k years, Polaris was not a useful guide to find true north until maybe 1000 AD. For the Arabs, the great astronomers of their time, Kochab in the Little Dipper was the polar star. 3000 years ago, what is now called "Polaris" was a star as far away from the north celestial pole as the handle of the Big Dipper is long.
So the Big Dipper has had its role as a guide to true north only for a fairly recent period and is going to lose it again. Closest approximation of Polaris to the north celestial pole will be in ~2100 AD, and 13000 years from now, Vega (which these days is a bright star right above our heads in summer) will be the polar star - for some time.


That is a VERY good observation Harald. The fact that Polaris is usefully accurate as true north was however not so very important untill mankind invented the kompass. Untill then it was 'only' relevant that this star was reliably in a known postion: THAT is crucial for navigation. It is not so important where it exactly it as long as it is in a usefull place.
I do my day navigating on my watch hands and that is not very accurate as it depends greatly on knowing how much east or west in your time zone you are but it is not at all that important at even the speed of a horse.
You are looking for an aproximate bearing as the natural world will determain the details of your actual route anyway. So unless they went under the horizon the accurate northness was not critical: Ursa major pointed out Polaris and Polaris styed relatively put.

peter
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:

That is a VERY good observation Harald. The fact that Polaris is usefully accurate as true north was however not so very important untill mankind invented the kompass. Untill then it was 'only' relevant that this star was reliably in a known postion: THAT is crucial for navigation. It is not so important where it exactly it as long as it is in a usefull place.
I do my day navigating on my watch hands and that is not very accurate as it depends greatly on knowing how much east or west in your time zone you are but it is not at all that important at even the speed of a horse.
You are looking for an aproximate bearing as the natural world will determain the details of your actual route anyway. So unless they went under the horizon the accurate northness was not critical: Ursa major pointed out Polaris and Polaris styed relatively put.

peter


A general indication of where North is, was accurate enough for simple navigation. Also, if I'm correct, the Polar axis of earth's rotation and the magnetic pole do not coincide exactly and the magnetic pole itself has a drift independent of the drift of the axis of rotation due to cyclic oscillation over millennia.

Greater precision in measuring astronomical cycles and position would have been more important to establish an accurate calendar and in predicting things like eclipses or other astrologically important to ancient peoples astral events.
( Not my area of expertise though. Wink )

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Ed Toton




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar, 2008 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stars? They're all just dead pixels. http://xkcd.com/395/

Sorry, couldn't resist. Happy

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar, 2008 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ed Toton wrote:
Stars? They're all just dead pixels. http://xkcd.com/395/


Like I started with: it is all perception Laughing Out Loud

Migration period germanic/celtic swords have a relation with garnets that had significance we now do not know but which was very real/important at the time.

peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar, 2008 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
[

Migration period germanic/celtic swords have a relation with garnets that had significance we now do not know but which was very real/important at the time.

peter


Yes, and that is interesting. The garnet amalgum (cloisonne, mostly known on the jewelry of royalty) was pretty specific to royalty or significantly wealthy chieftains. The Sutton Hoo sword hilt garnets have been studied in detail, and were concluded to have been SouthEastern Germanic (Lombardic fabrication as a good probability.) I wonder just how many such swords of similar decor are known?

In a case like the Sutton Hoo, the circumstances of the find, and the wealth associated with the surrounding artifacts usually result in academics' conclusions that the owner was a person of significant status. I would not object to it being called a "noble sword."

What is the modern hype you have identified surrounding "noble swords?" I had not really noticed it. Aside from a couple of games using the title, a rock band, and the phrase on cheap Lord of the Rings replicas, I am not encountering it much through an internet search.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Mar, 2008 3:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
What is the modern hype you have identified surrounding "noble swords?"


Well Jared just look at how many swords are sold and ask yourself what practical purpose that serves; in my opionon quite a bit of 'hype' based on the perceived 'value' of this particular strip of metal Laughing Out Loud

peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Mar, 2008 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now that I can relate to. The sword is kind of a second choice weapon.
Spears or lances were expended quickly (thinking of Phillip de Remey's account of tournament, Ulirch Von Lichtenstein's autobiography and such) by those who used them well. So I consider the initial weapon choice as misleading in terms of percentage of combat time spent with a particular type of weapon. The sword, as a final line of personal defense, was pretty important for most of the last couple of thousand years.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 12:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Now that I can relate to.


It gets even worse Jared. Why would anybody in his right mind spend 4500$ on a modern replica of an old sword found near a dead guy?!
You give me the rationale and maybe I can convince my wife so I can start the big wait Laughing Out Loud

As the weapon of choice you ar spot on. It is not the primairy arm for warfare and became so in many cultures because of what???
In chinese culture it is the 'gentleman of arms' and THAT is subjective. Swords are not how people perceive theem and that is the stuff that makes myths is it not.

peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I pretty much have to agree. At $4500, I would much rather add some of the tools needed to start making my own creations to my garage/shop. Then again, even with a windfall gift of whatever was needed to have all of the tools and materials, swords like the custom masterpieces of Peter Johnson or Patrick Barta would probably take more than 10 years of serious dedication to achieve. (A good reason to buy into the specialists; blade maker, cutlerer, cloisonne jeweler, scabbard maker....all being separate and maximizing smaller numbers of skills in a shorter time.)

I believe that even if the sword was not the weapon of primary choice, it is still fair to state that possession of one became pretty common among Western European warriors at some point in Medieval ages. Even the English longbow archers seem to be characterized as possessing swords and engaging at "close up" phases of combat. At an early age (5 years old) my own son was instantly enthralled with knifes and swords, and not interested in my really nice double barrel shotguns or a variety of things I would call "primary weapons" in today's sense. I don't know what Disney movie or upbringing caused that, and am not sure that there is or isn't anything "natural" that just makes people enthralled with sharp pointy things! If you manage to figure this out, let us all know!

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 3:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
If you manage to figure this out, let us all know!


Oh but THAT is rather basic. It is the perfection of the feel good of a hefty thy bone in the hand of early man crossing an open field combined with the superiority feeling a luxury symbol of status gives: a perception of power.
That is why I am so convinced historic swords were often so much more than what they seem as we tend to find the luxury items as THOSE were buried as grave gifts or for rituals. BECAUSE those were selected for this, is proof they were more Wink

peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now I think I understand what your thesis is about! I like it too. Do you mean that you are actually developing a paper for academic submission?

My first interpretation was that you were saying that historically swords were somehow less significant in battle than we believe. I figure they saw a lot of use. I don't know how many medieval manuscripts on use of the lance, bow, pike, etc. exist, and am not sure if it is a case that they exist and are simply neglected and untranslated. The amount of period manuscript (translated and readily available to us) on sword use suggests significance to me. Roughly 3 years ago I stumbled into an internet page with a period account of Henry the Black Prince as observed by an author describing a couple of battles he eye witnessed. The author wrote that as battles turned into routs, Henry would draw his longsword (considered uncommon in length and grip proportions by that author) and walk out in the company of his two or three (Scottish) bodyguards to seek some enemy out with his sword. It struck me that he must have felt it important to be seen with the sword, and be perceived by his peers as competent with in on the battle field. If you think of the circumstances (bodyguards, time to select weapon, etc.) it would have been more efficient to set out with a spear, body guard at the ready to hand him his sword. But, the prince felt compelled to engage with his sword..... Maybe I am reading too much into this. It just strikes me that efficiency of killing was not his top priority.

There was a time when hostages were valued for a variety of reasons. The sword is probably not a bad choice for engaging an armoured foe that you would rather ransom than kill. I believe it is one of Froissart's chronicles of a challenge where the two fencers grew tired of sword play and agreed to a break with a meal. Telling stories as they dined and rested, they befriended. So there is a "gentleman's weapon" aspect of it, with period material to back up the idea.

"For these we call upon two champions brave
To don their arms, their sharp-edg'd weapons grasp,
And public trial of their prowess make;
And he who first his rival's flesh shall reach,
And, through his armour piercing, first draw blood,
He shall this silver-studded sword receive,
My trophy from Asteropaeus won,
Well-wrought, of Thracian metal; but the arms
In common property they both shall hold,
And in my tent a noble banquet share." .. Achilles, funeral games of Troy.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2008 12:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Now I think I understand what your thesis is about! I like it too. Do you mean that you are actually developing a paper for academic submission?


Well, I am asked everey now and then to produce a paper and I do like the idae I am asked and I REALY like the studying and mental chalenge but the latter is my interest so I end up digging an learning but writing nothing....

Quote:

So there is a "gentleman's weapon" aspect of it, with period material to back up the idea.


Plenty indeed.

Furthermore we have the legends and myths from the swords of Yue to Excalibur and the dragonslayer of Beowulf. Wether they are true or not is irrelevant as these sort of myths illustrate the perceived value of the swords that is also represented in the burials ritual deposits.

The sword is far more that an effective weapon and we should put far more value on the aspect of perceived value when looking at the past. The spiritual aspect imo was more important than the metallurgic.

peter
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