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GPrimmer

weapon names and styles

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I'm constantly thrown by the breadth of blade shapes and styles, yet I've been able to find resources on the internet that list the various blade types: tanto, kukri, sheepsfoot, etc.

That said, I haven't found a comparative list of the weapons themselves, so when someone talks about a 'hanger' or a 'tabar' or a 'falcata' I have no idea what they are. Nor would I know the difference between a cutlass and a saber. 

Does anyone have a resource they'd care to share?

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The problem with that is that usually only those who specialize in a specific weapon can give you a decent definition of that specific weapon. Ask someone not deeply involved in studying seaxes f.e. what defines a seax, and the definition will totally miss the mark. It would take the joined effort of all of the individual specialists to generate a good overall resource. However, Wikipedia might actually not be so bad in that respect. 

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If there were one comparative work that covered all of human history it would be larger than the Oxford English Dictionary by an order of magnitude! The variety of types and sub-types are as varied as human cultures. The interesting commonality is that each advancement and evolution was forced by common variables such as new types of armour  or a new set of tactics. What worked a treat for the romans at the height of the Empire wouldn't have been great in the late medieval.  I've been collecting since the mid 1970s, starting with WW1 and WW2 bayonets, and making since the mid 1980s and I still find something new every week! One of the first evolutionary steps I became aware of was with those 20thC bayonets. During the first world war the worlds armys were armed with bolt action rifles with low magazine capacities and relatively low rates of fire. Bayonet fighting was a real viable option and indeed bayonet charges were an effective way of breaking through enemy lines. Until more and more units started fielding heavy machine guns that is. Once the battle fields were full of machine guns the bayonet charges became the equivalent of "falling on your sword".  By the time of the second world war most armys of the world shortened the blade lengths of their respective bayonets to reflect their obsolescence. They were still issued and could still be attached to rifles, but with blade lengths in the 7" to 9" range compared to their ancestors from the previous war with blades in the 16" to 24" range it was clear that the lowly bayonet had been relegated to the roll of utility knife. Of course there are examples of bayonets being used to good effect in rare cases in all modern combat, but not "en masse" as a standard battle tactic.

   If you can narrow your interest down to one particular time/region/culture, I may be able to recommend some titles.

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Well, the seax that Jeroen mentioned is a perfect example in my mind. I have no clue what makes a knife a bowie as opposed to a seax. I was thinking it would be nice to have a page (or two or three) with the silhouettes or profiles of the weapon and the identity named alongside. I googled it but didn't really find anything close to comprehensive. 

I suppose it's not simply based on the blade profile. I suppose where the knife was made might be a variable, just as what kind of metals were used or what kind of grind is put on the edge. 

 

Quote

Ask someone not deeply involved in studying seaxes f.e. what defines a seax, and the definition will totally miss the mark

Surely it's not so subjective... there must be SOMETHING that makes a knife a seax. Sure, there's hybrids and exceptions but there's gotta be a way to determine that one knife is a seax while another is a bowie.

Edited by GPrimmer

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The Seax and the Bowie are probably the two most contested forms with some followers raising their deeply held beliefs to the level of religion! The word "seax" is the Old English word for knife. By that definition, every knife is a seax. Seax  can mean the long, slender blades of the Baltic, the broken back knives seen most often in any TV or movie production featuring Vikings, or the seax knives of the Anglo Saxon people. There are five or six centuries and all of Northern Europe to comb through to see all the variants.

   The legend of the Bowie stems mostly from a written account of the famous "Sandbar Duel". By the late 19thc the word had come to mean any large knife. Ironically, the form that most of us think of today when we hear Bowie was probably created in Sheffield England. The brothers William and Samuel Butcher made some of the best examples of the Bowie knife for import and sale in America but as pretty and as functional as they are they probably don't much resemble Jim Bowies knife. There are some reliable written accounts that suggest Jim's knife was a straight spined roach belly that would look a lot like what we call a chefs knife today, not a clip point at all. I don't claim to know the answer but it sure is fun to read about!

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This book is some help as well:

34AC093C-746A-4289-960C-D92B39BC605E.jpeg

and as for blade-shapes: this may help:

D36EA695-AB34-4189-B84F-B17F3508591B.png

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This is just one reason why I love bladesmithing - it forces you to research new blades, new histories, new techniques, new steels....  I would suggest to start with an era and a region that you find more interesting and start reading about the blades they used OR next time you see a blade that catches your eye and you say "I'd love to make something like that", find out what it is called and then research it. Once you start, I find it kind of addicting to keep researching.... of course I am a history geek at heart.

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Charles! that actually looks like a great book to own! Like a coffee table book I'd like to have!

That profile reference for the blades was exactly what I was mentioning ... I was hoping for a similar profile reference for the actual weapons, you know? 

MikeDT, that's precisely what I'll do. I'm a history geek too.

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Edited by GPrimmer

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One of the exhibitors this year at my local knife show has compiled a historical book on Bowie's. If I can remember or find his name, I'll let you know. @Gary Mulkey seems to be the resident expert on the form around these parts. I'm not sure who to point you towards as a seaxpert. 

 

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For seaxes I would recommend Jeroene Zuiderwijk as the expert in residence.  I think that if you look under the history section you'll see sever posts from him on the subject.  His face book page is listed on his posting above.

Doug

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On 8/21/2018 at 1:35 PM, GPrimmer said:

that actually looks like a great book to own! Like a coffee table book I'd like to have!

It is a pretty nice reference. Not a cover-to-cover read. @Byron studley put me on to it.

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