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Zach Gordon




Location: Vermont. USA
Joined: 07 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 25 Feb, 2011 9:49 pm    Post subject: The Snake in the Sword (13th Cent Pattern Weld?)         Reply with quote

Hi

I was looking at some images of the maceijowski bible (you can see the pretty much the whole thing here for free... make the images full screen and blow them up super high res), and was curious about something I saw there... In one image (attached) the sword being wielded has a distinct wavy pattern in the middle. Is this pattern-welding/damascus being used in the 13th cent? I was under the impression that this was out by this time period.
Thoughts?

Thnx
Z



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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Feb, 2011 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In keeping with the tradition of extant swords from this era and their typical decoration (if any), I would say that this is either not to be considered representative of anything in particular, or else is trying to show (vaguely) that the sword's midrib was incised with script or some other detailed line drawings. I don't think the actual lines that the artist of the manuscript has drawn can be taken at face value in this instance - it is too vague in actuality and can lead to a far too complicated interpretation.

-Gregory
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 26 Feb, 2011 6:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An even better question is, " Why is the guy in orange with the big pole arm flirting with the horse in white?" That's scary! Big Grin

It should be noted that a quite look at the picture clearly shows two other sword blades with fullers that do not have "the snake" in the fuller. Why one and not the other two? Surely the artist was drawing something when he drew those lines, he wouldn't have put them there without a reason. The presence of wavy lines in an illustration do not prove that there was any snake decoration on the sword but I can't help imagine what an arresting impression such a sword would make.
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A. Gallo





Joined: 08 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Sat 26 Feb, 2011 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's possible that its just a squiggly line meant to signify an inscription, but the detail of the helmets seems too great in comparison.
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E Sideris




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 08 Apr 2010

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sat 26 Feb, 2011 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The same idea occurred to me at the sight of below images of Sigurd testing and wielding Gram on the Hylestad Stave Church portal.

In spite of the fact that they were carved even after the Viking age, it seemed not inappropriate to assume that they were meant to represent pattern-welding, which surely must have been at least legendarily identified with the Germanic Heroic Age. I suppose I've added more questions than answers, but it's interesting!





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Geoff Wood




Location: UK
Joined: 31 Aug 2003

Posts: 634

PostPosted: Sat 26 Feb, 2011 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: The Snake in the Sword (13th Cent Pattern Weld?)         Reply with quote

Zach Gordon wrote:
Hi

I was looking at some images of the maceijowski bible (you can see the pretty much the whole thing here for free... make the images full screen and blow them up super high res), and was curious about something I saw there... In one image (attached) the sword being wielded has a distinct wavy pattern in the middle. Is this pattern-welding/damascus being used in the 13th cent? I was under the impression that this was out by this time period.
Thoughts?

Thnx
Z


What is described as an 'incised slab' to the memory of the knight Johan le Botiler in the church of St Bride's, Glamorganshire, dated about 1300, shows a sword with a similar 'snake', over the whole blade (no fuller apparent). Interestingly (to me anyway) the sword in question also shows a trefoil pommel, like the one in your example, but the cross is shorter. I wonder of the combination of lobed pommel and the snake (if it is meant to represent pattern welding) might be suggestive of the survival and continued use of swords made somewhat earlier. Just my thoughts anyway.

Geoff
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
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PostPosted: Sat 26 Feb, 2011 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm. Interesting. I think it's a bit dismissive to say that it's just "artist's liberties". This manuscript is, as a whole, treated rather realistically and with incredible attention to detail. I'm sure it's meant to represent something. Wheter or not it's pattern welding is another story, but there is one example of such a sword. Oakeshott shows a (fragmented) pattern welded blade hilted with a 13th century type E pommel under the entry for Xa.13 in Records. The sword would likely have looked very similar to the depiction in the Maciejowski Bible.
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