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owen bush

Serpent in the sword.

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I was wondering if any of you have seen origional blades with "serpents " running up them .

the only one I have seen that is a t all serpentine is this one .

5472556892_930e936e2d_b.jpg

which has a convoluted snake up the middle.

I have done this technique a couple of times and was interested in trying another but only if I can find historic precident for it. historic precedent.

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ive only seen that "how to" example in the Bm, i thought it was a strange one to show as a demo because its such and unusual pattern.

 

where is this artifact?

 

as for precedent... dunno!

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Niels Provos, maybe could help. He has made two blades now, with the serpent bars.

He may have some books on it.

 

Mark

Edited by Mark Green

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I have made various serpent layers in blades. done the stock removed wiggle and the twist but not seen them on originals?

I am fairly certain that most ways of skinning a cat were used....

there are lots of good modern versions and whilst I don't really make direct copies of old work I do like to be influenced by it...

When I started the "saxon" thing . my main influences were the ancient smiths of yore with names like Loose and Pringle and Powning not to mention seeing a Lancton in the BM !!!!!

Edited by owen bush

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Now that you mention it Owen, I can think of descriptive examples in text, both period and modern, but I can't think of an historical example in iron save the one at the end of Swords of the Viking Age in the pattern section, which looks more like an inlay / overlay of a wiggley bit rather than the serpent-twisty-core thing we usually think of...

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The following two serpent swords were found in Nijmegen and Iversheim:

 

serpent-sword.jpg

 

9th and 7th century respectively. I especially like the Iversheim one.

 

Niels.

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I never held nor seen one in person from Europe, but I know of several Turkish/Persian/Indian pieces with a carved snake/serpent on the blade...both raised and recessed.

Naga on Indonesian pieces is not uncommon.

 

There is one illustration of a European sword that shows a snake on the blade...but I can not locate the image.

 

Ric

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I just came back from a lecture given by Dr. Stephan Maeder at the Gembloux knife show.

Aside from polishing western pieces in a japanese style.

he also has a publication on the snake and the sword (in german).

He is thinking of publishing his book in English.

he knew of another convoluted sword in germany .and of course the overlayed one in the museum in Reykjavik. similar the the image posted by Nprovos.

he also had interesting woodcut images of snakes in swords from 13C as well as images of non bookmarked 5 layer (I think) opposed twists that look very snake like .

I very interesting Man to meet and defiantly one of us.

.........

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I corresponded with him a year ago about the book...no plans at the time for English reprint.

Good to see it may happen.

 

Ric

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There is one illustration of a European sword that shows a snake on the blade...but I can not locate the image.

 

Ric

 

 

Maybe you mean the sword which was published in the Book of Jorma Leppäaho.....Späteisenzeitliche Waffen aus Finnland.

A picture was also in "Swords of the Viking Age" by Ian Peirce.

 

But in Germany was also a sword in the Landesmuseum in Stuttgart. It is a sword with a golden gripp. But, today, you only can see the snake on X -Ray pictures from the blade . Mr. Moritz Paysan , he works in the museum in Stuttgart had a very interesting lecture about this blade two years ago in Solingen in the Blademuseum. Markus Balbach , a very skillfull blacksmith, made also some experiments to explain how the smith in the past are made this rare pattern.

 

I will see if it is possibel to show some pictures.

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Here they are

 

attachment.jpeg

Aus-kfb026-Schwert431-480-582-521.jpg

 

I have seen more of these, but can only locate these two pictures. It may just represent a fuller.

 

Ric

Edited by Richard Furrer

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FYI, you can download Stefan Mäder's dissertation under the "Forschung" section from http://www.schwertbruecken.de/. There is also an English section, but I did not check that.

 

Niels.

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Hi Owen. I'm going out on a limb here but I think I found one at the Royal Ontario Museum. It certainly seemed like it up close , but the lighting was terrible. I found this pic here which seems to show the serpent fairly well. I noticed that the corners od the zig zag seemed very sharp. I think that the serpent was inlayed much like an ulfberht. In the picture it is the sword on the left. You can sort of make it out.

 

Actually , I remember that all of the swords there were noteworthy. The one to the imediate right looked almost as though it was letter inlayed and the one on the far right was just impressive in all ways.

 

They also had one of the nicest broken back PW seaxes with a fine wolfs tooth edge weld.

 

rom-viking-swords.jpg

Edited by J. Helmes

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A close up of the Blade will be very helpfull.

Did someone try to get in contact with the the museum for a better picture ?

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I have seen more of these, but can only locate these two pictures. It may just represent a fuller.

 

Ric

 

Ric - et All

 

Surprised that no one has suggested this one:

http://www.warehamforge.ca/BLOG/smithcarve.jpg

 

the wood carving of the smith (one of two available) from just post the Viking Age

the sword is carved with a squiggle line running along the centre

 

Darrell

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Ric - et All

 

Surprised that no one has suggested this one:

http://www.warehamforge.ca/BLOG/smithcarve.jpg

 

the wood carving of the smith (one of two available) from just post the Viking Age

the sword is carved with a squiggle line running along the centre

 

Darrell

 

i was thinking of this one as well - i have a viking design book which has line drawings of original carvings, that clearly shows the core of this sword as a serpent, but in all the pics i can find online it could just as easily represent a straight twist... perhaps someone who has seen it in person could shed some light...

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A close up of the Blade will be very helpfull.

Did someone try to get in contact with the the museum for a better picture ?

 

This might be the better route, as they'll have greater access to the piece, but if it comes to it, I don't mind dropping by sometime, and seeing what I can get with a decent camera and a flashlight for extra lighting. It's a ten minute subway ride from home.

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Ric - et All

 

Surprised that no one has suggested this one:

http://www.warehamforge.ca/BLOG/smithcarve.jpg

 

the wood carving of the smith (one of two available) from just post the Viking Age

the sword is carved with a squiggle line running along the centre

 

Darrell

 

 

Darrell I can't catch everything......I impressed myself just locating those medieval illuminations..... :D

 

Judging by the lack of many physical examples it may be a stylized way of showing something else.....like a fuller or a "common" twist as was stated by Jake or just to show some movement to the steel.

 

I think we need funding to comb the storage of museums with a portable X-Ray machine and photographers.

 

Ric

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I know someone who's pretty obsessed with the story of Skufnung, in particular the "little snake". I've told him it could be a feature of the patternwelding- or an inlay- or simply a visual effect from a piled construction- or simply part of the legend, like the sword's howling when drawn. There's no telling, because basically all these methods were used- pattern-welding for visual effect and inlay. Without the original sword, who can tell?

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Ric - et All

 

Surprised that no one has suggested this one:

http://www.warehamforge.ca/BLOG/smithcarve.jpg

 

the wood carving of the smith (one of two available) from just post the Viking Age

the sword is carved with a squiggle line running along the centre

 

Darrell

 

Gang

 

I just pulled some slightly higher resolution scans out of one of my reference books:

 

Hammer of the North - Magnus Magnusson images by Werner Forman

 

Although the text is about Norse mythology, the images are excellent. Certainly the best of the carvings

Those are from a stave church in Hylestad Norway, dated to roughly 1150. So a bit late for Viking Age.

That factor is certainly seen in the shield and helmet style (both more 'Norman' - the shield intended for horse combat use). The blade is certainly depicted as very long - but of course there is the whole 'cartoon' aspect of the carving style.

What I would remind you is that although a 'cartoon' - Norse carving almost always is a distillation of reality. Details are rarely added - if they did not exist in the first place (Dragons aside!).

 

The nice thing about the photos is that they are colour - and fairly detailed (you can distinquish between the wood grain and the tool lines) I pulled these at 200 dpi. The book does NOT have the 'forging the sword' image - which I linked to above.

 

The carvings clearly - and repeatedly, show a pair of central lines (fuller?) with a wavy line running between them.

 

Another general note: Viking Age weapons are often named. The traditional names for swords are often 'serpent' related. Maybe this does suggest something?

Sigurd-Hylestad1.jpg

Sigurd-Hylestad2.jpg

Sigurd-Hylestad3.jpg

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I know someone who's pretty obsessed with the story of Skufnung, in particular the "little snake". I've told him it could be a feature of the patternwelding- or an inlay- or simply a visual effect from a piled construction- or simply part of the legend, like the sword's howling when drawn. There's no telling, because basically all these methods were used- pattern-welding for visual effect and inlay. Without the original sword, who can tell?

 

Is this the one where you have to rub the scabbard to wake the snake and then breath life into it as you draw it tip up from the scabbard?

Kevin Cashen and I talked about this maybe 10 years ago...could indeed be a non-etched pattern-weld where condensate shows the contrast.

 

Ric

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A close up of the Blade will be very helpfull.

Did someone try to get in contact with the the museum for a better picture ?

 

Gang:

 

I was down at the ROM in Toronto yesterday. It was a general viewing - I did not get a hold of my contacts there for a 'behind the scenes'.

 

Note - I did not attempt the use of flash - even though these are metal objects, truth is if *you* use a flash - *everyone* uses a flash. The net result that two of me close up images are virtually un-usesable. Hand held at 1/2 second (!!).

The image below is of the central portion of the sword under discussion.

To my eye, there is a clear set of diagonal W line running down the centre of the blade. These lines are made up of a set of internal diagonal stokes.

My conclusion on looking at the blade from close up is that what we are seeing is an inlay. Width something like 1/4 - 3/8 wide. The inlay material is composed of a low layer count stack - which was twisted in one direction to make the diagonal strokes within it.

(hope that makes some sense?)

Note that the case had very little information on find, date. 'River Sciene, near Paris - 700 - 800 AD'

 

Although its a bit of the topic, just beside this sword was a very nice large seax blade - about 8 inches long (without the tang)

 

Darrell

sword.jpg

seax.jpg

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Thank you very much for the service.

 

It seems to me that this a variation of a "snake" .....interesting.

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Darrell,

If those layers on the left of the photo are layers and not some other artifact of the photo or weathering of the iron then I see a diamond of two angular and crossing inlays.

You were there which means I default to you, but there seems to be more going on.

 

Ric

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Darrell,

If those layers on the left of the photo are layers and not some other artifact of the photo or weathering of the iron then I see a diamond of two angular and crossing inlays.

You were there which means I default to you, but there seems to be more going on.

 

Ric

 

As I recall, the area near the hilt looked like it may have had two angular lines crossing back and forth for the first several inches. Or possibly something else inlayed in that area. It was very hard to tell though as the surface near the hilt was in poor condition.

 

Great pic Darrell! Thanks for sharing that!

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