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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2011 10:35 am    Post subject: Belts/baldric for Islamic swords? Scimitar Customization         Reply with quote

Hello,

I've recently acquired the Windlass Steelcrafts scimitar. I know it's not that great a sword but it was within my price range and I view it as a good opportunity to customize!

My plans are to engrave or etch the scabbard fittings, change the grip, better sharpen the blade and possibly engrave it, and make a sword belt or baldric to go with it. However, the Internet is lamentably short of resources as far as the belt/baldric goes. About all I have managed to gather is that very frequently they featured metal fittings, and there were often large tassels and cords?

I lived in West Africa for a while (north-eastern Nigeria), and as such I saw a good number of modern African swords; those had some leather cords involved, but for the most part they generally used a quite short baldric, one that looped over the shoulder instead of over the chest. Doesn't seem quite secure to me, and isn't really accurate for the sword I have anyway!

I thank everybody who responds to this thread in advance, and look forward to finding out more about this! I may post pictures here as customization progresses...
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2011 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's something that might interest you, from an old thread ( http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ght=sancho ) about the sword belt of Sancho IV:

The belt itself is fabric, with a silk border, as described in an article by David Nicolle ( http://gladius.revistas.csic.es/index.php/gla...view/59/60 ):

A preference for baldrics over sword-belts seems to have remained characteristic of medieval North Africa. The Marinid armies of 14th century Morocco, including the ruler's elite guards, still carried their swords in what was by then known as the ‘bedouin fashion’22. Within the Iberian peninsula pictorial sources show the baldric being used on both sides of the
religious frontier during the earlier medieval centuries. By the 13th century, however, Christian knights used sword-belts while squires used baldrics, clearly showing that the latter was regarded as a less prestigious way of carrying a sword23.

Nevertheless some Arab-Andalusian fashions survived this change, including the use of sword-belts made of highly decorated fabric rather than leather, which was almost universally used elsewhere in Western Europe. Amongst surviving examples of such a fabric sword-belts is that of the sword of Sancho IV of Castile now in the Capilla Mayor of Toledo Cathedral. Here the scabbard is attached to the belt by leather lockets while the belt itself is of light green galloon (a narrow close-woven braid) with a red silk border.

-Sean

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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2011 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, that does sound interesting. Any pictures?

I'm not necessarily interested in North Africa, though... more into the Levantine, Arab, Persian, or Ottoman types. The only thing I have to go on right now is a small picture from a volume of mythology, showing a Persian warrior with what appears to be a belt with two straps hanging down to hold up the scabbard. The straps are fixed to the belt with some kind of metal fittings, looks like. It's a very small picture from a manuscript, though... I've noted a few belts on various auction sites, but almost none of them have suspension systems.
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2011 11:16 am    Post subject: Historical Pictures, more questions         Reply with quote

Well, after the better part of two hours on Wikimedia Collections (a surprisingly good source of historical images), I've turned up a number of pictures. I do apologize if any of them break the formatting or anything!

Mainly what I want to know is how accurate these are, and if they are typical for Turkish or Persian sword belts. If it's not too much trouble, how they may have been constructed would be great too...









These two are Russian in origin, but I thought they may be based upon Turkish or Persian blades?





It seems that many Turkish soldiers wore their swords stuck through their sashes... was this typical of most swords, or did they usually only do this with shorter weapons like the yataghan?



Thanks for your time, all...
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2011 5:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Historical Pictures, more questions         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:

It seems that many Turkish soldiers wore their swords stuck through their sashes... was this typical of most swords, or did they usually only do this with shorter weapons like the yataghan?


It looks like a very common practice for shorter weapons through much of Asia and Eastern Europe. Central Asia including Afghanistan and Tibet, India, Japan, Indonesia/Malaysia/Philippines. I don't know about Indo-China or China. Cavalry swords are usually suspended from a belt or baldric. Turkish practice looks the same.

Depending on where/when you are, "most swords" and "shorter weapons" would both be correct. For the larger yataghans, they're only "shorter" relative to quite long weapons.

Cavalry swords tend to be longer, it's difficult to draw a very long sword from a sash, and tucking a sword into a sash stops it from bouncing as you run, so it all makes sense.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Boris Bedrosov
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Apr, 2011 5:13 am    Post subject: Re: Historical Pictures, more questions         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
......It seems that many Turkish soldiers wore their swords stuck through their sashes... was this typical of most swords, or did they usually only do this with shorter weapons like the yataghan?.........


Jeffrey,
In the Ottoman Empire and especially on the Balkans, regardless where the other weapons (yataghan, dagger and/or knife, a pair of pistols) were hold - directly in the textile sash or in specially constructed leather "bag" with many compartments (named silyahlak from Persian word silyah - weapon) the sabre - whatever kilij or shamshir, or scimitar usually hangs on an additional belt (your pictures are superb in showing it)

Another relatively modern, but showing traditional way, image.


"Everyone who has the right to wear a long sword, has to remember that his sword is his soul,
and he has to separate from it when he separates from his life"
Tokugawa Ieyasu

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Sa'ar Nudel




Location: Haifa, Israel
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Apr, 2011 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey, I do not whish to discourage you, but if you want to refit your "scimitar" more historically it is going to take a lot of work, depends on how in-depth accuracy you want. If it was me, I would have done one out of two options: 1) take apart the entire thing to use only the blade (good for itself) as a basis for a thorough custom job, including a scabbard;
2) try to file off the relief on the crossguard and use the sword as-is.
For some great historic items you can look here, http://www.oriental-arms.com/ , type shamshir in the search option.

As for the suspension outfit, there were several methods and materials in the Arab/Islamic world - waist belt, baldric, edge up & edge down. Thick colorfull cords were quite common, as you can see in the following photos.



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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Apr, 2011 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sa'ar, I'm interested to see so many swords with ring mounts that would lead me to expect them to be worn edge down being worn edge up. Would these same swords be worn by the same people edge down when mounted (so edge up to keep it out of the way when on foot)?
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Apr, 2011 12:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Sa'ar, I'm interested to see so many swords with ring mounts that would lead me to expect them to be worn edge down being worn edge up. Would these same swords be worn by the same people edge down when mounted (so edge up to keep it out of the way when on foot)?


That's an interesting question. Though I've seen quite a lot of old photos showing Bedouins/Arabs with swords, I never saw the same man with a sword in two seperate positions. I believe it something concerned with the type of clothing: those who wear the traditional loose arab costume with over-lay Galabiyya use a baldric that goes over the entire outfit; the galabiyya is also less suitable for horseback. Carying a sword edge-down with suspenders from a belt can be seen more on photos of Ottoman officials, wearing tighter uniforms. It should be noted that all over the Ottoman Empire of the late 19th c. there was a fashion of "ottomanisation", meaning adopting Turkish style.



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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Apr, 2011 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sa'ar,

Do you mind explaining how you mean "in depth"?

Bear in mind that my finances are quite limited, so while accuracy is nice, ultimately the customization of this scimitar is going to have to be cost-effective. As such, I plan to reuse the scabbard and the fittings as much as I can. This will involve a certain degree of my personal taste, which may not be as historically accurate as some may like, but ultimately what matters to me is that I am happy with the end result.

My plan is currently--

1. Sharpen blade

2. Replace hilt; I am not sure as yet what style I might go with.

3. Make a belt and suspension rig; I have decided that I will not use a baldric, although this would be a cheaper solution-- I could simply purchase some curtain cord with tassels from the local Hobby Lobby if I was going to do that, but the belt poses more of a degree of challenge that intrigues me. I will almost certainly have to purchase a buckle and strap-end from somewhere, though...

4. Decorate the scabbard fittings and perhaps tool the scabbard leather itself. It's thick, but doable; I tested on an inconspicuous area of the back side.

Out of curiosity, I note in pictures like this:



and:


Belts are frequently decorated with metal plaques on them? Could attachment points for the suspension have been covered by these plaques?

Please give feedback and thoughts... I appreciate the conversation going on here!
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Apr, 2011 4:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geffrey, I'll try to elaborate: Islamic shamshirs (a.k.a. "scimitars") have great diversity, it is no "official issue, one model", even the simple munition grade. First, the blade can be of either persian wootz, arab imitation plain steel, pattern welded or European trade blade (both civilian and military saber-like). Second, the cross guard can be plain or embellished with engraving, silver or gold koftgar; could be made of wootz itself, plain steel or bronze; long (Turkish style) or short (Persian style). Third, the grip could be wood, cow-horn, buffalo-horn, elephant ivory, walrus ivory; its pommel area could be bulbous (Turkish, with tassel hole or without), straight or bent (Arab/Syrian). Fourth, the scabbard can show great diversity for itself, but a wooden core is almost mandatory; the cover can be single-piece thin sheet metal, possibly silver; it can be leather with metal fittings, plain or not. The stitching of the leather on the hidden side is very difficult to replicate currently, it is made of tiny metal springs, but simple string stitching was present also, mostly within Bedouin regions.
As you can see, a lot of "custom options" within the margins of history. Of course I understand the limits of a budget, especially if this is going to be a "working" sword. I think keeping the original scabbard (strong and decent for itself) with just minor modifications will save you great amount of money. The original guard is a shame but the wooden grip isn't so bad. You can look in the fleamarket or car-booth sale for leather belts and make a suspension rig. I'd like to see any progress, as I have my own thoughts of a similar projects, just with a Cold Steel saber Big Grin

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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Apr, 2011 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for your response. I take it that as long as I use basic Islamic decorative motifs and grip types, there really is no reason to consider it 'unauthentic', merely unusual?

A question about grips, however, if you would be so kind:

Is it normal for them to be quite thin near the guard when viewed top-down? An example, from my Windlass scimitar:



Note that the pommel/knob end is much broader than by the guard. Is this typical? Would it be out of the question to make the sides more parallel?

I have rather large hands, so this doesn't quite feel right to me. The main issue with making the sides of the grip more parallel is that they would obstruct the rear langets of the guard; I am still not sure how I will resolve that issue.
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Apr, 2011 10:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no problem with your request: the sides can be parallel, the langets usualy dig-in the panels and have a recess made for them, sometimes there is a thin metal wire bind around the entire langet length. To give a better look (and historically correct) you can place a thin sheet metal (either brass or steel/silver) strip all along the circumference of the grip. http://www.petpeoplesplace.com/petstore/pet-i...581411.jpg
http://www.vikingsword.com/ethsword/shamshir/shamshir1h.jpg
http://www.antiques.co.uk/images/items/1157/m...332592.jpg

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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Apr, 2011 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps I was a bit inexact. The guard itself is quite narrow, only about 5/8 inch or so wide. As such even the grip it currently has is a bit large. If I made the sides of the grip more parallel, the rear langets would be very deep within the grip, instead of only slightly below flush. Do you understand better the issue?

A solution I have been thinking of is wrapping the junction of the grip and langets with wire, similar to the second grip you posted. Would that work with, say, an Arabian sayf grip? This way the problem would be less noticeable.

I am also considering removing the guard and making a grip somewhat like a shashka or yataghan, but I don't think that would be particularly correct, especially as then the scabbard would not be correct for the new grip.
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Apr, 2011 11:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Perhaps I was a bit inexact. The guard itself is quite narrow, only about 5/8 inch or so wide. As such even the grip it currently has is a bit large. If I made the sides of the grip more parallel, the rear langets would be very deep within the grip, instead of only slightly below flush. Do you understand better the issue? I see, it is very narrow for your purpose, possibly I wider guard will do... Wink

A solution I have been thinking of is wrapping the junction of the grip and langets with wire, similar to the second grip you posted. Would that work with, say, an Arabian sayf grip? This way the problem would be less noticeable.[color=#000000] Yep, a wire is a good solution, but it should be one or two layers at most.[/color]
I am also considering removing the guard and making a grip somewhat like a shashka or yataghan, but I don't think that would be particularly correct, especially as then the scabbard would not be correct for the new grip.

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