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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
Joined: 21 Jul 2008

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 4:06 am    Post subject: Langets on Sword Hilts?         Reply with quote

Something that's bothered me for a while is the purpose of the langets found on some sword hilts. I know they're found on a lot of sabers, scimitars, shamshirs, tulwars, khandas and the like, and that some mortuary hilt swords have small ones and a lot of claymores have very long ones, but I've never been able to work out if they have any function or purpose. I've searched through the forums here and a couple of other sites and so far have drawn a blank. I'm very fond of most of these sword types, and would really like to understand this feature of their design.

Any ideas?

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Craig Johnson
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Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 8:29 am    Post subject: Style/function         Reply with quote

Hi Marc

Many of the design elements on swords serve a functional use when first developed and eventually become part of the canonical style of the type. I would guess that langets are a great example of this. The use of them to hold the top of scabbards snug to the blade or to seat them into the upper scabbard tightly seam to be obvious. Some have proposed their use as a defensive trap for the opponents blade but this does not seem to be supported by period evidence or reconstructive use by western martial artists today.

The long langets on the Claymores is something that is probably design orientated. They are not seen on every example but they would be difficult to manage as a practical scabbard tightener or any kind of functional use in combat. The examples that survive have a tendency to be closer to the blade then would prove useful for any dynamic use in combat. I have also heard the theory they were to help stiffen the forte of the blade but again I think this is more a slim possible than a good explanation of why. I think when one looks at the generation of this type of hilt over time it is an esthetic feature that evolves in to the style we typologize at any given time period.

Best
Craig
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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
Joined: 21 Jul 2008

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Craig!

Yeah, that's pretty much what I've been thinking (speculating from ignorance!) so it's good to have those thoughts supported by someone with more experience.

I do wonder how the long langets came to be associated with the claymore hilt pattern, since they're most commonly associated with more eastern-derived styles of sword. Probably not something we'll ever be able to know...

Thanks again!

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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E.B. Erickson
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Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 445

PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2008 4:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Marc,
On Mortuary swords the langets are very close to the blade, and in some cases are a nice tight fit, which gives one the impression that they are there partially as a blade support. Additionally, the langets are made in one piece with a mount that supports the base of the grip inside the guard. When a blade is in the hilt, you end up with a kind of a sandwich: grip mount, guard, blade shoulders. This ties things together securely, and also ensures that the blade cannot twist in the guard.

Hope this helps a bit! --ElJay
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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
Joined: 21 Jul 2008

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2008 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

E.B. Erickson wrote:
Hello Marc,
On Mortuary swords the langets are very close to the blade, and in some cases are a nice tight fit, which gives one the impression that they are there partially as a blade support. Additionally, the langets are made in one piece with a mount that supports the base of the grip inside the guard. When a blade is in the hilt, you end up with a kind of a sandwich: grip mount, guard, blade shoulders. This ties things together securely, and also ensures that the blade cannot twist in the guard.

Hope this helps a bit! --ElJay


Thanks ElJay!

I've heard it said about mortuaries that the langets supported the blade, but couldn't quite understand how that worked. You've explained it well! I'm hoping to order a custom mortuary from Manning Imperial soon (waiting on the quote), and it'll be interesting to see if Craig replicates that feature.

Thanks Again!

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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