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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Wed 16 Mar, 2011 9:01 pm    Post subject: Shillelagh or WW1 Trench Club?         Reply with quote

Hello friends,

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd put this question before you. I found this club recently in an antique shop: It's carved of one piece of wood and has nails driven into the head, and also has a bit of lead weight set into the top of the head. I've heard this description (nails and lead) applied to both Irish shillelaghs and World War I trench clubs, though not with any corresponding documentation. In an earlier thread (http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...shillelagh), James Cunliffe used this description for shillelaghs, while Wikipedia does the same s.v. "Trench Club" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trench_club).

My question to you all is, which do you think this is, and why (ie. in terms of references to sources)?

On a related note, I read recently in Eagleton 1999 that the term "shillelagh" isn't even an authentic Irish term. See here:
http://www.forensicfashion.com/NTIrish.html
Of course, he doesn't cite a source either.



Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance! r

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Eric S




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Mar, 2011 11:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks like a knobkerrie. An african club.

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Christian G. Cameron




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What wood is it?
Christian G. Cameron

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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Traditional Shillelaghs are made from blackthorn, or oak, and are more 'natural' looking and usually darkened (and quite short, certainly shorter than a normal walking stick).

Knobkerries are not usually weighted or studded, although I am sure the exception exists.

Search on this forum for the 'Wooden Weapons Thread' for lots more info, pics and links on the subject of such cudgelry.

Julian
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know what wood it is, though I'm fairly certain it isn't African. I have seen a great many African clubs from Kenya (Masai) down to the Cape (Zulu, Shona), and they have neither the proportions of this one nor the nails or weighting.

Julian, what do you make of Eagleton's assertion that blackthorn shillelaghs, or even the term shillelagh itself, are not authentically Irish? Here is his quote in full:
Quote:
* Eagleton 1999 p154-155
"SHILLELAGH A village in County Wicklow. Not a traditional Irish cudgel. There's no ancient Irish weapon of that name, whatever the tourist shops may claim. The village of Shillelagh, a well-forested spot, used to produce oak walking sticks which were sometimes used for fighting; but the blackthorn cudgel sold today as a shillelagh has no tradition behind it at all. Shillelaghs are as fraudulent as the belief that the Irish are a particularly belligerent lot."


http://www.forensicfashion.com/NTIrish.html
http://www.forensicfashion.com/ReferencesInPrintEnglishE.html

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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel,

I know very little about Bataireacht (Irish stick fighting, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataireacht ) as my interest in 19thC stick fighting is more the English and French tradition.

How 'ancient' Irish stick fighting actually is, is open to question (feel free to answer) but I hardly think that using one's walking stick to defend one's self from 'gentlemen of nefarious intent' is new, neither is the use of sticks in demonstrations of one's fighting prowess, for wager or just for fun, entertainment or malice. And the use of a simple wooden cudgel for offensive purposes is equally ancient. The evolution of these different 'uses' into a stick-fighting art with its own weapon is no surprise, I guess it all depends on how you define 'tradition' (how old is a tradition?).

And I guess when it comes Eagleton's comment about how 'traditional' the 'shillelaghs' on sale are nowadays, well, caveat emptor. I know what to look for in a good stick, blackthorn or oak, just as I'm sure an Irishman does. As for tourists, well.......some people will buy just about anything if you stick a shamrock on it and dress it up with a bit of cod-Oirish 'history'. Holding up such 'tourist tat' as an example of a 'tradition' is not representative.

Julian
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:

How 'ancient' Irish stick fighting actually is, is open to question (feel free to answer) but I hardly think that using one's walking stick to defend one's self from 'gentlemen of nefarious intent' is new, neither is the use of sticks in demonstrations of one's fighting prowess, for wager or just for fun, entertainment or malice.


The sticks and clubs became popular when the English enforced a total ban on the Irish having weapons, before this the same techniques would have been small to medium axe techniques in origin later adapted to the stick.

From a seminar on Irish fighting sticks I took last year it seems that each family/clan had their own style[s?) of stick fighting but that currently there are only a handful or still surviving styles of fighting with the shillelagh: 2 Surviving styles still being passed on in some families.

From what I was told the art has been socialy devalued as being something shameful, frowned upon as being a low social class thing and associated with the poor and bad, violent or drunken behaviour and is taught today only in secret to family members or rare trusted serious students. ( A " Gangs of New York " movie sort of thing )

At one time there where something like 500 active styles in Ireland of stick fighting if I remember correctly what the instructor told us. ( Maxime Chouinard who got personal instruction on using the shillelaghs in Ireland by one of the rare and hard to find still practising and still living traditions )

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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Fri 18 Mar, 2011 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know that "stickfighting" as usually understood would apply to this kind of stick, which is very heavy like a mace. The impression I get of most stick or cane techniques, regardless of national or historical origin, is that they rely more on binding, disarming, and striking with speed than sheer impact. I don't think see that being very applicable to something like my club above, which is clearly designed to deliver smashing blows and whose weight distribution doesn't allow agile movement.

Returning to my original question, I suppose that pushes the probability away from "shillelaghs" or whatever Irish fighting sticks are properly called, and toward the WW2 trench club option.

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Eric S




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Mar, 2011 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:
I don't know what wood it is, though I'm fairly certain it isn't African. I have seen a great many African clubs from Kenya (Masai) down to the Cape (Zulu, Shona), and they have neither the proportions of this one nor the nails or weighting.
There are many different styles of African clubs from many different eras and countries. Here are a few studded African clubs and a collection of Irish clubs and sticks, some old ones and some modern ones.
http://www.ezakwantu.com/Gallery%20African%20...eapons.htm


http://www.jacarandatribal.com/productdetails...egoryId=32


http://www.tribalmania.com/ZULUSTUDDEDCLUB.htm


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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2011 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:
The impression I get of most stick or cane techniques, regardless of national or historical origin, is that they rely more on binding, disarming, and striking with speed than sheer impact. I don't think see that being very applicable to something like my club above, which is clearly designed to deliver smashing blows and whose weight distribution doesn't allow agile movement.


Yes I agree it's more a wooden mace, in French " Massue " : French make the distinction between a metal headed mace, or
in French " Masse ", and a wooden " Massue " which " coincidentally " " Masse "seems like the origin of the word in English for weight.

Mace in English probably comes from the French " Masse ". Wink WTF?! Question

But although a fighting stick or cane or " Shillelaghs " the weight distribution of a " Massue " or wooden mace is very much different and usage would also be very different.

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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2011 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks once again friends.

Jean,
I have most often seen the French casse-tête (of either wood or metal), but always assumed that this was a more recent term. Thanks for clearing this up. I like that French makes this distinction; English has a vague sense of this distinction with "mace" and "club," though the inconsistency makes the functional difference unclear. Many Native American stone headed impact weapons are called "clubs" even though they seem to have been used like maces; those used by the Plains Indians are a good example.
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1876LakotaWarriorClub.html

Eric,
Those are great pictures of beautiful weapons, and I'm glad to revise my earlier observation about African clubs based on them.

What is the second-from-left shillelagh in your bottom picture -- is that a flail attached to the proximal end?

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Eric S




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2011 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:

What is the second-from-left shillelagh in your bottom picture -- is that a flail attached to the proximal end?
Ruel, I have never seen another one like it, it seems old and it was supposed to be a shilellagh, but thats all i know about it. The flail is wood with iron studs.





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Simon G.




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2011 3:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

Yes I agree it's more a wooden mace, in French " Massue " : French make the distinction between a metal headed mace, or
in French " Masse ", and a wooden " Massue " which " coincidentally " " Masse "seems like the origin of the word in English for weight.


I don't know how things stand over in Québec, but this side of the Big Pond a metal headed mace would be even more properly called masse d'arme. In modern usage masse alone is more probably a sledgehammer (NB : Jean, please don't take this as an attempt at pedantry from l'autre bord - it's only so people don't get confused if they ever come across these words... Wink Happy ).

Apparently the word masse (which in its early form was mace, so there is your contemporary English spelling) first meant the weapon (dictionary records first occurence in 1135 : mace de fer, "iron mace"), then the tool came along much later (16th according to the dictionary).

Casse-tête (early form casse-teste or casseteste) apparently dates back to the early 18th c.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2011 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simon G. wrote:
Quote:

Yes I agree it's more a wooden mace, in French " Massue " : French make the distinction between a metal headed mace, or
in French " Masse ", and a wooden " Massue " which " coincidentally " " Masse "seems like the origin of the word in English for weight.


I don't know how things stand over in Québec, but this side of the Big Pond a metal headed mace would be even more properly called masse d'arme. In modern usage masse alone is more probably a sledgehammer (NB : Jean, please don't take this as an attempt at pedantry from l'autre bord - it's only so people don't get confused if they ever come across these words... Wink Happy ).

No problem and no offence taken and I'm certainly not an expert on usage or period usage and my French spelling and grammar sort of sucks big time by the standards of my time. ( But the current standards of teaching French in schools are so bad that I'm almost a member of the " Academie Française " in comparison. Wink Razz Laughing Out Loud Cool ).

Massue versus masse I'm going from memory and how I would use the words but maybe masse d'armes is more specific about an all steel 15th century type for one might say masse " casually " in as: " This person is annoying me could you please pass to me my masse " to my squire. Wink Laughing Out Loud

NOTE: Québerc French has some anarchronisms where old French words from the 17th and 18th centuries are still in use while they may have ceased being used in France or changed meanings. We also invented our own words for some things like " Poudrerie " for a snowstorm with high winds causing white out conditions i.e. local weather in " Nouvelle France " ( New France /Québec )

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Mon 21 Mar, 2011 2:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Stephane Rabier




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2011 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
you're 100% right Jean : masse is usually metallic, massue is a wooden and bold club (the cavemen's clubs in the cartoons) ...and don't forget "gourdin" Wink
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Simon G.




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Massue versus masse I'm going from memory


Yes, you're absolutely right on that one.

Quote:
I'm certainly not an expert on usage or period usage and my French spelling and grammar sort of sucks big time by the standards of my time. ( But the current standards of teaching French in schools are so bad that I'm almost a member of the " Academie Française " in comparison. ).

Quote:
Québerc French has some anarchronisms where old French words from the 17th and 18th centuries are still in use while they may havew ceased being used in France or changed meanings. We also invented our own words for some things like " Poudrerie " for a snowstorm with high winds causing white out conditions i.e. local weather in " Nouvelle France " ( New France /Québec )


I like Québec's French for this. This is also why I wouldn't say the Québécois' French is wrong (well I don't know about teaching in Québec, though). Clearly Québécois should be seen as a wholly different, independant variant of French, which is no less legitimate or "right" than that spoken in France. Such variations make a language richer - as to the Académie Française, man was this a bad idea on cardinal Richelieu's part, I'm sure all English-speakers would laugh at the idea of a regulatory body for the English language... I only wished to point out the masse d'arme term in case someone comes across it in an academic text (which is more likely to be in "French French").
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Tue 22 Mar, 2011 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Eric S
Ruel, I have never seen another one like it, it seems old and it was supposed to be a shilellagh, but thats all i know about it. The flail is wood with iron studs.


That's fantastic! The only thing I can think of similar is the Japanese kusarigama (sickle + weighted chain), but the resemblance may only be superficial.

Would you mind if I grabbed the group photo of your shillelagh collection to upload? It would be a great reference image of the variety in these weapons.

Jean/Simone/Stephane,
Thank you for the analysis of these French terms. As a linguist I'm very interested in these digressions; they help us trace the conceptual history of these weapons and contribute to our understanding of the contexts of their use. Jean, how would your phrase read in French? ("This person is annoying me could you please pass to me my masse") That sounds like something I could actually use at the local Renaissance Faire -- there are many annoying people there...! Big Grin

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Eric S




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Mar, 2011 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:


Would you mind if I grabbed the group photo of your shillelagh collection to upload? It would be a great reference image of the variety in these weapons.

Ruel, here is a photobucket link with some individual pictures also. I mainly collect Japanese armor and weapons but clubs and canes etc are interesting weapons, I have a small variety from different countries. http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz238/estc...?start=all
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Mar, 2011 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:
Jean, how would your phrase read in French? ("This person is annoying me could you please pass to me my masse") That sounds like something I could actually use at the local Renaissance Faire -- there are many annoying people there...! Big Grin


Getting too off topic so I sent a P.M. with the translation. Big Grin Cool

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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Wed 23 Mar, 2011 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean:
Got it; SVP. Wink

Eric:
Those close ups really give an appreciation of your collection, especially your shillelagh-flail.

I'm working on a variety of Japanese armored costumes also, though at the moment all I have is Hanwei's familiar "Oda Nobunaga" suit.
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1568JapaneseSamurai.html

But I have taken good notes in preparation for that and others, as well as quite a few museum pix with their labels. You're welcome to browse them.
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1702JapaneseSamurai.html
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1467MuromachiSamurai.html
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1336NanbokuchoSamurai.html

And finally, I'm also working on a couple un-armored kits: Two pirates and "ninja":
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1585KaizokuPirate.html
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1581JapaneseNinja.html
http://www.forensicfashion.com/1523SinoJapanesePirate.html

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