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  1. I have been commissioned to make a sax for a person who plays in the SCA. His persona is that of a Rus trader and he wanted something sufficiently "viking" and with a bear theme. So... The requirements are about 7" in the blade, dark wood handle of a wood native to that region of the world, "Gotland" style sheath and, a bear theme. He also mentioned that he is hard on knives and has broken several in the past. After a bit of back and forth we settled on a Borre style of art for the fittings and sheath. The first thing I did was look for Norse bear motifs. There are not many. The first one I found was this illustration of a "grave marker" found in Brampton, England and dated to the 6th Century. Not quite from the area I was looking for, wrong area and time. Then I found a photograph of bear shaped "grave markers" from Yorkshire, England also dated to the 6th Century. One of them looks like the illustration. Next were a pair of carved jet bears, also from Yorkshire, and dated to the 8th Century. Closer in time. I just was not finding what I needed and so I started looking at the art of some other ethnic groups of people that the Rus traders might have had contact with. I found this bear in the Permic style from Finnland. Pretty cool but, not exactly Borre. The Scythians also yielded a bear image. Somewhere in there I got lucky and stumbled upon this antique for sale. It was listed as a "viking borre style bear heads concave disc mount." Closer but, not sure I could use something like this on a knife. Maybe I could use one of the bears heads as a thematic element. Last was this belt mount from Armour and Castings. When I first ran across this image it was on an outdated website that did not give any information on provenence and time frame. Later on I found the newer website where it is listed as being from Iskorosten, Russia and dating from the 10th century. At last, something from exactly the right place and time. ~Bruce~
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