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Old 26th February 2016, 02:28 AM   #181
ALEX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Nugent
Very early in the 19th century, the term Foulad was also used for Wootz.

Gavin


Yes, just another variation.
What I meant is that Russians used (and still do) the term Bulat for wootz and non-wootz patterns alike, like Anosov's examples and some modern blades similar to Kindjal shown here earlier. They seemingly combined broader specter of Damascus under this term. Kirill Rivkin stated the differences of wootz definitions between Anosov's time and our's. My statement is that it still continues under the term "Bulat".
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Old 26th February 2016, 03:31 AM   #182
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This topic was duplicated on the Russian forum guns.ru

One of the participants there handled one of the Anosov's bulat blade. As per his testimony, it was Sham, and quite unattractive.
The database is growing, and still in the same direction. Kirill's assessment gets support from different sources. Meanwhile, Sham 4, Taban/Khorasan 0. Any more examples?
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Old 26th February 2016, 05:47 AM   #183
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In Russian forum guns.ru, I duplicated the subject of Anosov Bulat (wootz), and one of the participants says that in the city of Rostov-on-Don was an exhibition of artifacts from the Hermitage. According to him, among other things, It was blade Anosova from interesing patterned wootz steel (not a "sham").
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Old 26th February 2016, 10:18 AM   #184
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Russian colleagues have unique opportunities to see Anosov's blades and here I am just reporting their comments for the interest of all Forumites.

The story of Rostov-on-Don blade never even mentioned that it had a "not Sham" pattern, however. In fact, the person who is cited above described it as "... resembling patterned bulat"


Another participant categorically denied that Anosov was even capable of producing Taban, and asserted that his diaries are still kept under lock and key and any information about his bulat is still viewed as military secret.


Yet another explained away the absence of Anosov's Taban/Khorasan blades by three revolutions and two World Wars. Obviously, Sham blades must have been uniquely resistant to societal upheavals.


Apparently, in Zlatoust there is a big collection of Anosov's blades, but the access to it is not permitted and the actual examples were never published. I wonder why.

Last edited by ariel : 26th February 2016 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 26th February 2016, 12:23 PM   #185
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One of the participants in Russian forum wrote that Anosov Bulat (wootz) was very different structures, including the most complex. He has experimented with wootz, not engaged in mass production.

By the way, all the diaries Anosova completely open and available. They were published in 1841. It is because of his diaries, I gave a citations.
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Old 26th February 2016, 02:51 PM   #186
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Default Anosov's Memoir "On Bulat"

Here are multiple links to Anosov's "On Bulat" published in French in the "Annuaire du Journal des Mines de Russie" 1841, St. Petersbourg.

https://archive.org/details/annuairedujourn01unkngoog
http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...view=1up;seq=11

Haven't read it yet but will do shortly.

The original "On the Bulat", was published in the Russian Gorny Journal in 1841 and is easily available online as Mahratt suggested. I'm sure the later German version can also be found.

Maybe that will put to rest what Anosov did and didn't do. Don't expect pictures though. These are poor scans of an 1841 journal.

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Old 26th February 2016, 03:35 PM   #187
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Emanuel,


That's the problem: Anosov described his "bulats" as being Taban and Khorasan.


But please re-read Kirill's e-mail to me: the definitions at that time were different and imprecise. Thus, personal definitions of bulat patterns mentioned by Anosov are unreliable. Indeed, we have not a single known example of his "bulat" with anything but the simplest Sham. The only proof of his definitions would consist of actual examples.


And, by the way, I could not find any message on the Russian forum about Anosov's bulats having "...very different structures, including the most complex"
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Old 26th February 2016, 03:46 PM   #188
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Quite the impasse then Ariel.

Fascinating either way though. This has been a most enjoyable thread
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Old 26th February 2016, 04:17 PM   #189
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel
Quite the impasse then Ariel.




I wouldn't be so pessimistic.
Perhaps, some of our colleagues from Russia can get into Anosov's collections and post here pics of documented and clearly labeled blades with truly complex patterns.
I, for one, would be delighted to see them.
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Old 26th February 2016, 08:49 PM   #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I wouldn't be so pessimistic.
Perhaps, some of our colleagues from Russia can get into Anosov's collections and post here pics of documented and clearly labeled blades with truly complex patterns.
I, for one, would be delighted to see them.


Me too!!! Then I could sleep again
I feel sad that the Russian forum has been deprived of you guys great debate.....but lucky us. On the bright side, I personally have learned a great deal on wootz, and perhaps a few things about human nature.
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Old 26th February 2016, 09:29 PM   #191
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
Yes, just another variation.
What I meant is that Russians used (and still do) the term Bulat for wootz and non-wootz patterns alike, like Anosov's examples and some modern blades similar to Kindjal shown here earlier. They seemingly combined broader specter of Damascus under this term. Kirill Rivkin stated the differences of wootz definitions between Anosov's time and our's. My statement is that it still continues under the term "Bulat".

+1.
Fulad in Persian, Wootz in Kannada ( I think), bulat in Russian.
And Alex is correct: in Russian any patterned steel was called "bulat". And this confusion was not limited to Russia only: Rawson had no idea that wootz and mechanical damaskus are different entities.

Even worse, in Russian fiction ( even classical literature) and poetry " bulat" was and still is used for descriptions of particularly strong , historically famous and deadly blades, irrespective of their metal structure.
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Old 27th February 2016, 07:41 AM   #192
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If read the research Anosov, it is clear that in Russia in 19 century is well distinguished damask from wootz steel (again strongly recommend everyone to read primary sources, not that someone thought of the Internet and popular journal).

Subject poluchlas really interesting. It is a pity that no one was able to show the historical sources (19th century), in which the English traveler, military or ethnographers wrote directly about when Indiii ceased to produce and forge wootz.... But circumstantial evidence is also interesting.
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Old 27th February 2016, 04:48 PM   #193
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Ibrahiim,
This blurb from Wiki contains so many silly errors that I am sorely tempted not to use Wiki again even for a question whether tigers are vegetarians :-))))

Mongols of 13th century had no wootz ( bulat)

Nobody, EVER made barrels of firearms from wootz.

Anosov's bulat process did not depend on quenching. He did not increase hardness of bulat: all "bulats" ( wootz) have Rockwell C hardness in the range between 20 and 35.



Salaams Ariel, I am late in answering since it has taken me a while to try to discover the Barrel Making techniques particularly in Persian gun making...but in fact these are virtually unrecorded. I note the following which is interesting as it supports the almost unknown nature of this technique ... from ...

http://www.iranicaonline.org/articl...non-and-muskets

Quote" Despite the availability of a technical text such as this, the chancellor of Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn (1105-35 /1694-1722) sent a letter to Louis XIV of France requesting several makers of cannons and other firearms (Qāʾem-maqāmī, p. 114). During the reign of Nāder Shah (1148-60/1736-47), material and craftsman for gun-making were also summoned to Marv in preparation for a campaign in Central Asia (Marvī, pp. 911-12), but no technical information about this is available.

In the Qajar period new techniques of cannon making were introduced from Europe by Prince ʿAbbās Mīrzā. The core mold was no longer employed, and the cannon barrel was bored with a boring mill constructed according to European models. The improvement in technical performance was remarkable. If a cannon during Nāder Shahs campaign against the Afghans needed 20 to 30 persons to be loaded and fired and 100 to be carried, the new ones needed only 4 to 5 persons and 4 horses (Donbolī, pp. 133-34). In this period some books on artillery were translated from European languages into Persian (Afār, pp. 90-91), but they contained little or no information about cannon making (e.g., Māzandarānī).

Musket making. The best description of musket-making is found in the travel account of Jean Chardin (q.v.), who visited Persia in the second half of the 17th century. Persian muskets, according to him, were all match-locks (Chardin III, p. 558), as at the end of the 16th century when 300 musketeers from Isfahan ignited their matches before attacking the Uzbeks (Eskandar Beg, p. 466). According to Chardin, the barrels of these muskets were heavy, thick, and damascened." Unquote.

Perhaps, therefor, it is not a matter of these barrels never existing but more associated with the fact that no record was ever allowed / made recording the secretive method... It does seem however that in some cases where damascening took place on hand held guns that this was as a decorative technique rather than actual gun barrel manufacture.

The following is noted from

http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com...-welded-or.html

Quote"... wootz steel (the steel used in the so-called "damascus blades") was NOT used to make damascus barrels very much.

William Greener in his Gunnery in 1858: Being a Treatise on Rifles, Cannon and Sporting Arms writes that these barrels are rare and on examination of the available barrels made by wootz steel workers, most were actually were made of commonest iron with a very thin plate of wootz steel around them, indicating that the wootz steel ore was becoming very valuable, since the mine in India where the ore came from was running out. Instead of using wootz steel, the more common option was to use pattern welded steel and the reason that they were called damascus barrels is because the patterns on the pattern welded steel resembled that made from wootz steel. So the name "damascus" is a misnomer and when we say "damascus barrels", we really mean "pattern welded barrels". In pattern welding, two or more metals are used to make the barrel (usually iron and steel bars, or steel bars of varying carbon content)."Unquote.

I therefor suggest that before this period of dwindling supplies of Wootz ore...that Cannon Barrels may have been attempted and that the technique was lost but that the secondary reason ...that of the time problem...when the raw ingredients ran out may be masking the fact that wootz may have been used in Barrel Making previously...but we just cannot see it.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 27th February 2016, 07:27 PM   #194
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I have yet to see a single barrel made out of wootz. Plenty of acid-etched damascening, plenty of pattern-welded ones, but not wootz.

Barrels were either cast whole, or made out of spiral billets welded together.


The former is obviously impractical taking into account small size of crucibles and the requirement for slow cooling to allow formation of the dendrites.


As to the latter, perhaps the strongest argument against it is the purely ceremonial nature of the so-called " chevron" blades, with segments of wootz welded to segments of plain or pattern-welded steel. There are always cracks in the welds, making the blade unusable for fighting. But if the same technique is used for a barrel, the gases will tear the whole structure apart. This, BTW, is the main reason why modern barrels are not using spiral welds any more, and just drill a hole in a long steel cylinder.

Last edited by ariel : 27th February 2016 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 27th February 2016, 08:09 PM   #195
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I wonder if it is just me, or does it not seem the majority of the issues at hand have to do with trying to agree of terms used for certain types or forms of crucible steel. The semantics and transliterations as well as obvious misperceptions in accounts, records and many sources seem to have the characteristic disparities resultant from varying perspectives of the observers and their own vocabularies.
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Old 28th February 2016, 09:49 AM   #196
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I wonder if it is just me, or does it not seem the majority of the issues at hand have to do with trying to agree of terms used for certain types or forms of crucible steel. The semantics and transliterations as well as obvious misperceptions in accounts, records and many sources seem to have the characteristic disparities resultant from varying perspectives of the observers and their own vocabularies.



Salaams Jim, Yes indeed it appears so. Rather like trying to make cannon barrels from Wootz...the entire thing shatters...!! when what we need is basic agreement on the foundations of the discussion...support, teamwork and the ability to see the other point of view. I find some people in this area of Forum business on far too short a fuse... causing detonation, disagreement and the worst case scenario of a breach explosion, or the round stuck in the breach!! A little less gunpowder and maybe some oil in the barrel?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 29th February 2016, 03:13 PM   #197
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Excellent analogy Ibrahiim!!!
Basically as I struggled through sources and data in my accelerated crash course regarding the age old mysteries of wootz to try to get at least somewhere near the knowledge of these guys on the subject...it does seem that I did find some references to there being variations in the process which were tendered toward gun barrel making.

I cannot yet be sure, but it may have been Verhoeven or one of the other noted treatises on the making of 'wootz'. I have not yet looked at the Elgood book on Muslim firearms, but that would seem likely to have some references.

From what I have understood, and learned thus far in this foray into the formidable world of metallurgy and steel 'exotica', there are so many misconceptions swirling about with the terminology used that it is easy to see how there is so much disparity in discussing it.
In the general world, there is often virtually no understanding of what wootz really is, and so often the word Damascus describing 'watered steel' is so broadly applied it is beyond rational attempts to resolve into correct terms.

I do admire those who do have a true understanding of these complicated matters, particularly those who have the patience to attempt explanation to novices at it like myself, and for others who are rather caught up in the apparent semantics and misnomers often perpetuated in some of the literature, yet are willing to work at realigning such details.

I suppose 'patience' is the key word
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Old 29th February 2016, 06:30 PM   #198
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Glad this discussion was of at least some use and benefit:-)))
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Old 4th March 2016, 05:28 PM   #199
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I have yet to see a single barrel made out of wootz. Plenty of acid-etched damascening, plenty of pattern-welded ones, but not wootz.

Barrels were either cast whole, or made out of spiral billets welded together.


The former is obviously impractical taking into account small size of crucibles and the requirement for slow cooling to allow formation of the dendrites.


As to the latter, perhaps the strongest argument against it is the purely ceremonial nature of the so-called " chevron" blades, with segments of wootz welded to segments of plain or pattern-welded steel. There are always cracks in the welds, making the blade unusable for fighting. But if the same technique is used for a barrel, the gases will tear the whole structure apart. This, BTW, is the main reason why modern barrels are not using spiral welds any more, and just drill a hole in a long steel cylinder.


I have not tested any old chevron welded blades, but have made a few Ariel (web search my name "furrer" and chevron for photo of one blade from 1999) and they bend 90 degrees without breaking (have photos somewhere of that above blade doing so). I made a few to see if they were actually practical...I would say they were...flaws and all.

I too have not seen wootz barrels, but I did see and Dr. Figiel has in his book chevron welded gun barrels... one may call that pattern "multiple chevron" as it zig-zags more than one slow chevron.
As per Dr. Alan Williams' research there are armor pieces which have wootz welded to common bloomery iron as a laminated material. One could suggest that such was done with barrels, but again I have not seen one.


Ric
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Old 7th March 2016, 11:21 AM   #200
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahratt
Again, you're right. Thank you for the interesting article. But I am interested to know whether there is a direct mention to the fact that wootz steel production ceased in those years, the 19th century. Stating the reasons


According to old sources in most cases wootz was either hard and brittle or soft and easily to bend (Egerton, Oriental arms and armour).

I know that just a few wootz blades from Persia and maybe the Ottoman empire, were able reach the european toughness and they were extremely valuable.

I would say, this is the main reason, european steel was much cheaper and had better characteristics from technical point of view.
I am also convinced, that a top quality wootz sword (Assad Allah for example) is more difficult to forge, than a top class japanese katana (Hizen Kuni Mutsu no kami Tadayoshi quality).

The industrial production of european crucible steel begun in the middle of the 19th century.

In my opinion Indian wootz is a good steel for daggers but unsuitable for swords and sabers.

In all times, a good blacksmith was always very expensive, whether in India, Japan or Europe, everywhere.


Roland

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Old 7th March 2016, 02:01 PM   #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
In my opinion Indian wootz is a good steel for daggers but unsuitable for swords and sabers.

In all times, a good blacksmith was always very expensive, whether in India, Japan or Europe, everywhere.


Roland


Roland, Then why were so many swords made from that material? Pretty only?

Ric
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Old 7th March 2016, 02:22 PM   #202
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Richard,

Perhaps, crucible technology was the only one available to them in the pre-industrial age. Any small time village smith could construct an oven in his backyard and put there a dozen or two of crucibles.
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Old 7th March 2016, 03:55 PM   #203
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Thank you Richard for entering in on this, and it is I think a key thing to have an actual blacksmith's view on the matters we have been discussing here. Your entries are absolutely fascinating, and the observations that begun the thread with Mahratt's original question and the quite dynamic discussions have brought this entire topic to what I think is a pretty exciting and comprehensive look into this mysterious steel.

It has been clear that experienced collectors and researchers such as Mahratt and Ariel would have often different perspectives, and these as well as those who have also joined the discussions have really brought much of the 'mystery' into a most viably understandable topic.

As I have noted, I began here with virtually zero comprehension of wootz itself beyond the obvious classifications and terms in descriptions. Others, such as Ibrahiim, who have had varying degrees of knowledge have also continued researching material and literature for ideas and answers.

This includes of course Roland who has just come in and of course with sound observations, and Alex, Gav, and others whose input has been great in facilitating the discussion.
As always, Estcrh adds vibrant visual aid with the amazing illustrations he provides and accompanied by excellent insights.

I did not mean this to sound like movie credits but just wanted to note what a magnificent learning opportunity has been created here by the expertise and teamwork of all of you, and to thank you.

Please keep going!!! It is fascinating and fun to learn more.


Very best regards
Jim
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Old 7th March 2016, 10:55 PM   #204
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Jim,
I have been smithing for 26? years and making crucible steel for some 15-17 now and it may be that I have closed my mind to ideas and techniques outside what I currently use....I am not the gate keeper of this information so one can only take my word for so much.
That said I am forging some 22 pounds of crucible steel this week into swords. Just killed a $200 carbide saw blade cutting one ingot apart to see its inside structure.

I have read most of what has been written and translated in English and some which has not, but my major push for research ended some years ago and I now have settled on a technique which works for me. What I see from travelers accounts of old may be taken with a grain of salt...some read poorly and some read fancifully and some read like VCR instructions. We all chose to believe the ones with which we agree.
I know quote a bit about Japanese sword making and yet when I get the odd chance to sit down with a Japanese tosho I always come away with more picky questions than answers and such the nature of the minutia. I wish I could have a window into an old fort smithy in Jodhpur or Isfahan when they were in business, but such is not to be. I can say this with some argument :They knew their material better than we ever will. What I do is guess and experiment and guess some more. Having not grown up in an unbroken tradition means that some things will simply never be known.

I think swords were a specialty and not a common blacksmith item to produce. Surely there were production centers and blade makers got the steel from steelmakers. Blade making is not a common blacksmith trade...if you made general smithed goods such as kitchen utensils/horse shoes then you did not also make swords...swords are a speciality.

Ariel....I would think it VERY rare for one man to do it all.
Though I may make a few ingots from time to time and also make bloomery steel with a mud stack and charcoal I think more likely that the blade maker would purchase the steel and not make it themselves. Production centers may have it all in line...what we call "horizontal manufacturing" today where raw material comes in one end and finished goods out the other. I would think some areas had this, but a lone smith was far too isolated to do such and think a sword maker alone would be rather out of luck to do it all himself. Weapons are something a government controls and weapon makers would be under some laws.......certainly if a village smith were making the odd sword the villagers would be asking for whom he is making it and why that person needs a sword. No I rather think swords were done by groups who specialized in it......till war comes and then EVERYONE is conscripted into some form of weapon production or civil service (wagon parts, general metal items of need).
Ariel you are only one state away.....yet you never visit. Then again I do not get many visitor at all...location location location.

Mahratt,
I have no answer for you. Have not seen any document that would give an end date to crucible steel production nor a reason why such occurred. I would think it like many other trades...it waxes and wains with utility and cost and fashion. I think the lack of a raw material (ore source running out) for such a large production area and time period just plane wrong. I think it far more likely that there is a political and economic reason rather than the elimination of a single ore source.

Ric
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Old 8th March 2016, 01:52 AM   #205
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Richard,
Thanks for the detailed response.
I did not imply that every ( or any) village blacksmith was making blades from crucible ingots he himself produced in his backyard.

Your question was why so many blades were made of wootz, and that is exactly what I tried to address.

While European steel makers were constantly switching from one technology to another, obtaining more and more of better and cheaper steel faster and faster with progressively decreasing human effort, India and other Eastern societies never reached industrial scale of steel manufacture till the second half of 19 century when the Brits introduced modern technologies there. The "natives" relied on the tried and true cheap and universally-available crucible technology that did not require huge investments in equipment. That could have been done in workshops attached to Royal courts or even in smaller establishments.

Thus, the major portion of steel they produced was crucible steel, and a good portion of it was real wootz.

In a way ( just IMHO) mass production of wootz blades was a pure serendipity: crucible steel was abundant and at the same time beautiful, so making blades out of it was like killing two birds with one stone. In a way, that was similar to the story with bloomery steel: the process was indescribably primitive, resulting in inhomogeneous lump of steel with different carbon content in different areas . But sorting out these small lumps, forging them together and manipulating them produced pattern welded blades in Europe and Nihon-to in Japan.

And people say it is impossible to make a silk purse out of pig's ear :-)))

And you have honestly and beautifully elucidated the importance of uninterrupted tradition: you have been making wootz for "only" 15-17 years and learned the process from scratch. The "natives" were doing it for hundreds of years and transmitting the combined knowledge to their apprentices. A loss of only one generation would throw the whole level of expertise back to the beginning. And that, together with other external factors you have mentioned, killed the whole tradition.

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Old 8th March 2016, 02:26 AM   #206
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
According to old sources in most cases wootz was either hard and brittle or soft and easily to bend (Egerton, Oriental arms and armour).

I know that just a few wootz blades from Persia and maybe the Ottoman empire, were able reach the european toughness and they were extremely valuable..........

I would say, this is the main reason, european steel was much cheaper and had better characteristics from technical point of view..............


The industrial production of european crucible steel begun in the middle of the 19th century............
Roland


Roland, actually crucible steel was known and made in England much earlier than the mid 19th century. So if England had crucible steel since the 1700s why were they still looking for the secret of Indian crucible steel? Perhaps because they thought of Indian crucible steel as being a superior steel, why else?

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Old 8th March 2016, 03:46 AM   #207
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Not every steel obtained by crucible technology is equivalent to wootz.
For example, steel from Sheffild "pots" was poured off immediately after melting; slow cooling was not practiced. Forging of Sheffield steel was done at high temperature.
I was told that old Sheffield blades may show very faint, simple and patchy damaskus pattern if etched severely , but nobody ever managed to elicit real wootz-y pattern.
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Old 8th March 2016, 04:08 PM   #208
mahratt
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Originally Posted by ariel
The "natives" were doing it for hundreds of years and transmitting the combined knowledge to their apprentices. A loss of only one generation would throw the whole level of expertise back to the beginning. And that, together with other external factors you have mentioned, killed the whole tradition.


One simple question. Where "lost" this generation?

Moreover, the tradition is usually stored for a long time.
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Old 8th March 2016, 05:37 PM   #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Not every steel obtained by crucible technology is equivalent to wootz.
For example, steel from Sheffild "pots" was poured off immediately after melting; slow cooling was not practiced. Forging of Sheffield steel was done at high temperature.
I was told that old Sheffield blades may show very faint, simple and patchy damaskus pattern if etched severely , but nobody ever managed to elicit real wootz-y pattern.


english crucible steel was good,but it wasn't quite carling. (local uk joke)

i suspect the best true indian wootz may have had a crucial alloying element like vanadium that the UK didn't discover was usefull till much later.

i also suspect that, as i mentioned earlier, the secrets were NOT past down and were lost because a generation went to the city and got easier and better paid jobs in industry, offices, factories etc. where they could hide their low caste and rise above it. we do not realise in the west how limiting the indian caste system was (and is in places) and how attractive breaking out of it into a western meritocracy system that did not force them to pound iron for pennies all their lives would be. in the uneducated and illiterate environment, there was no way to 'store' the knowledge if your son did not want to learn it and ran off.
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Old 8th March 2016, 07:40 PM   #210
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True enough.
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