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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 7:10 pm    Post subject: Swords with "upside down" guards?         Reply with quote

I've run across a couple of images (I believe all of them Italian) now of swords whose guards curve back toward the hand. I don't think I've seen any surviving examples like them. Anyone seen any antiques like this or more period art like these?


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Guard1.jpg
Late 13th century painting

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Guard2.jpg
Illustration, circa 1370

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 7:17 pm    Post subject: Recurved Guards         Reply with quote

Hi Chad

I have seen quite a few examples in art, but only a rare few in reality. Most of those in the odd picture from collections usually in the background. It is an example of the way we view things in comparison to our ancestors. Things that seem off to us did not necessarily seem that way to them. How and why they chose to do this is not really possible for us to fathom completely but there are several good explanations that come to mind.

I have always found them interesting and its one of those characteristics I have to look into on my research list, which is way to long Happy

Best
Craig

I will see if I can find some of the art I have saved



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Guarddetail056.jpg
another 13th C example
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Daniel Sullivan




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 11:04 pm    Post subject: Recurved Guards         Reply with quote

Chad,

A new one for me. Don't recall even seeing them illustrated. Had a pair of 17-18th(?) century Chinese swords with upside down guards, but nothing European.



Craig,

An interesting and on target comment... ....
Would like to be around about 500 years from now and listen to archaeologists discussing the discovery of a 1949 Ford hubcap!

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Dan
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Dec, 2009 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't recall ever seeing a surviving sword like that...

But regarding that first picture, I don't recall ever having seen something like a bicorne shaped helmet either...
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Dec, 2009 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, that first picture is weird... upside down sword guards AND bicorn helmets?

Anyway, I seem to remember seeing a picture of a sword with an upside down guard a while ago, it might have been a reproduction, but it was a photo, not a drawing/painting.

As far as reasoning goes, perhaps to protect the hand better? Though it seems like it would just direct the other blade towards your arm...
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a 15th century depiction of another upside-down guard.


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upside down.jpg


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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe these evolved into basket-hilts? A fist attempt at providing more hand protection?

Or maybe they never existed and the artists just got confused or liked the way it looked?

I'd also be interested to know if there are any surviving examples of the bicorn helmets in the first image.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't know the context of the paintings but could it be an attempt to show something not normal about the characters in question? In older art (actually, as I think about it, in all art for that matter) sometimes the things in the image can have a meaning and purpose other than their literal interpretation. I wonder if this might be a case of the artist trying to show something not normal or right about the figures with the upside down crosses?
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's an interesting idea. Perhaps the artist was trying to denote that the person was deceitful, or not who they say they are?

I just remembered where I'd thought I'd seen a sword with an upside down guard. It wasn't a sword, it was a dagger, and it wasn't historical, it was fantasy.

Oh, well.



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witch king 1.JPG


Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Arek Przybylok




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe different, but perhaps it is a good way...
Sword from Szarley, Poland.



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miecz.jpg

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Dustin Faulkner




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 2:58 pm    Post subject: "Upside down" guards         Reply with quote

Dear Mr. Arnow:

In case it matters, I bought a modern K-BAR knife for Christmas (is it ok to mention modern stuff here?). I noticed it too has a guard that is curved slightly backwards, or "upside down" as you put it, instead of being perpendicular to the blade. Perhaps you can contact K-BAR and ask them the reason. They have very friendly customer service folks. Also, folks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art do respond to emails. I'd contact Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng though at the Higgins Museum at www.higgins.org.

My initial guess is that certain schools allowed an opponent's blade's momentum to slide past the holder of such a sword. Such a guard would help with that. You'd be able to thrust while they are trying to recover from a move. I can't see how an "upside down" guard would help in grappling situations.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
Dustin Faulkner

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Max W.




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 1:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is an upside down example within the latest Hermann Historica auction, the cross is mentioned to be mounted the wrong way but the grip is said to be original and not a replacement.

http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm59...at59_a.txt
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So there is at least one surviving example!

This at least shows that it wasn't all artists mistakes.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 8:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Spanjer wrote:
So there is at least one surviving example!

This at least shows that it wasn't all artists mistakes.


Where? The Hermann Historica example is almost certainly an incorrect assembly. The sword Arek posted has a guard that clearly curves toward the blade. The tips curl back slightly, but tdhe guard is very much curved in the direction we expect.

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Norbert Keller




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi!

Well, a good artist or crafter with big fantasy Idea ...a bottle of good wine Wink ...a keg of strong spirits Big Grin ...and there you are: a very annoyed knight WTF?! and a sword with upside down guard Cool

Just joking, probably it's more complex, but I can see some reality in this version too Happy
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2010 5:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
A. Spanjer wrote:
So there is at least one surviving example!

This at least shows that it wasn't all artists mistakes.


Where? The Hermann Historica example is almost certainly an incorrect assembly. The sword Arek posted has a guard that clearly curves toward the blade. The tips curl back slightly, but tdhe guard is very much curved in the direction we expect.


What makes you say it's an incorrect assembly? Is it in the info on the page? I don't read german...

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2010 7:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Spanjer wrote:

What makes you say it's an incorrect assembly? Is it in the info on the page? I don't read german...


I don't either, but I can use online translation tools. Happy It speaks of the guard when it says: Verkehrt herum montierte Parierstange.

A (very) rough translation might be Guard (Parierstange) assembled (montierte) backwards (herum).

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Romulus Stoica




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2010 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I saw such sword in picture from a museum I have to look for it.
Later edit:
Yes I found it, It's a sword in history museum in Timisoara, Romania. Here it is:
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2010 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Romulus Stoica wrote:
I think I saw such sword in picture from a museum I have to look for it.
Later edit:
Yes I found it, It's a sword in history museum in Timisoara, Romania. Here it is:


Interesting. It almost looks as if it's a straight guard that has had one arm bent back. What do other people think? Is it purposefully bent back or accidentally in your opinion?

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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2010 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
A. Spanjer wrote:

What makes you say it's an incorrect assembly? Is it in the info on the page? I don't read german...


I don't either, but I can use online translation tools. Happy It speaks of the guard when it says: Verkehrt herum montierte Parierstange.

A (very) rough translation might be Guard (Parierstange) assembled (montierte) backwards (herum).



Blush I'm sorry. I normally use online translation tools, I don't know why it didn't occur to me to use them this time...


Still, are you sure that it's not the museum (as opposed to whoever assembled the sword) that's mistaken?


As far as the sword posted by Mr. Stoica goes, it looks to me like it was damaged, not made that way.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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