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Scott A. Roush

The 'Arab Writers' and Frankish and Finnish Smiths

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I've been reading the _The Sword in Anglo Saxon England_ and there is frequent mention of the 'Arab writers' touting the qualites of pattern welded blades from both Finnish and Frankish areas... especially in terms of flexibility and cutting ability. I've kind of gotten the impression that it was the wootz and crucible steels that were stealing the show in terms of quality blade steel.. yet the 'Arabs' seem to be in awe of the Germans in this case. Now I haven't followed up on the references that were used to cite this yet.. but I was curious about what folks here thoughts about this. It was also interesting to me about the claims of the superiority of the Finnish derived blades. I haven't heard much about this.. are there any extant blades? Any evidence to support this??

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I can not find the reference now, but there was a report from an "Arab" which stated that the Frankish blades were not as brittle as our blades and were better in cold weather....or words to that effect.

 

Ric

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I can not find the reference now, but there was a report from an "Arab" which stated that the Frankish blades were not as brittle as our blades and were better in cold weather....or words to that effect.

 

Ric

Yeah I looked back through some of these references and there was mention of that Ric.. apparently it was a famous Arab trader that did a lot of writing of his travels . But there are other writings too by other Arabic sources.. mostly of the blades that came out of the Rus region.. but also stuff about the 'Finns'. Apparently the Kaleava has a lot of detail regarding the making of swords as well.

 

Elias... I didn't mean to imply that the blades coming from Rus or Frankish were wootz.. because the Arabic writers also talked about the distinct pattern welding of these blades... and distinguished them from 'damascened' blades.

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Scott A. Roush, on 04 Sept 2013 - 13:32, said:

Yeah I looked back through some of these references and there was mention of that Ric.. apparently it was a famous Arab trader that did a lot of writing of his travels .

Ibn Fadlan was a "travel writer" who wrote about the Rus. I'm not sure if he said anything about the swords, though.

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The Finnish blade that comes to mind is obviously not wootz, but the Vehmaa sword is pretty striking:

 

weldedblade.front.vehmaalahdinkohuolilaf

 

weldedblade.back.vehmaalahdinkohuolilafi

That sword makes my brain hurt.... in a good way.

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The author most secondary & tertiary sources are referring to is al-Kindi, he is the most coherent and least derivative of the Arab writers on this subject. There was a recent translation of al-Kindi's "On swords and their kinds" by Hoyland and Gilmour, "Medieval Islamic Swords and Swordmaking" 2006 ISBN 0906094526 Written in the mid 800s AD, he compared the various swords of that time (including Frankish) and judged their quality in part by the patterns they showed.

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