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Old 3rd July 2021, 03:10 AM   #1
DavidFriedman
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Default Shamshir - Naga?

Greetings fellow collectors.

I recently acquired this Qajar Shamshir with a serpent running down the blade. I understand that Nagaís are a thing in Indian (Hindu) mythology. May I ask. Does anyone have an understanding of the significance of the serpent in the Persian tradition, in regards to sword blades.

I wonder if the serpent was applied or somehow ground/hammered down from a thicker piece of Wootz.

Thanks.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 05:35 AM   #2
Battara
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All I can say is that I have seen snakes on Qajar swords before.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 05:46 AM   #3
Jim McDougall
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This is of course a Persian Qajar (revival piece as such arms & armor in this category are termed) version of early traditional swords. The term 'shamshir' is a Persian collective term for sabers which is typically associated with the curved blades with sharp point and most often of wootz.

Regarding the serpent, in Persian symbology, these typically represent 'Zahnak' which although an evil creature, but the salient factor here seems to be that it was said to be able to strike more quickly than the blink of an eye.
These serpents are seen in many Persian edged weapon blade motif, and there are some which have two heads.

Interestingly, these serpents are even seen on some 'kaskara' broadswords in Sudan, reflecting the profound influence of Persian weapons through of course religious beliefs there.

The note of 'nagan' (=snake) blades is indeed well known not only in India in Hindu and other religious symbolism, but characterized on many 'wavy' style blades such as in the keris and others.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 11:12 AM   #4
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Hi, Very nice Wootz blade, I think it's a dragon or Azhdaha. A similar blade is displayed in the MET catalogue if I'm not mistaken and the same sword can be seen in Rivkin's book on Eastern swords. It's mid 19th c.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 12:27 PM   #5
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Default Fast as a snake

Thanks Jim,
In fact this saber is extremely light in the hand and I feel dances, reminiscent of a snake. The wider bladed Kilij type silvery saber, also in the group picture, is much more too heavy and seems to be suited perhaps for cavalry slashes.



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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
This is of course a Persian Qajar (revival piece as such arms & armor in this category are termed) version of early traditional swords. The term 'shamshir' is a Persian collective term for sabers which is typically associated with the curved blades with sharp point and most often of wootz.

Regarding the serpent, in Persian symbology, these typically represent 'Zahnak' which although an evil creature, but the salient factor here seems to be that it was said to be able to strike more quickly than the blink of an eye.
These serpents are seen in many Persian edged weapon blade motif, and there are some which have two heads.

Interestingly, these serpents are even seen on some 'kaskara' broadswords in Sudan, reflecting the profound influence of Persian weapons through of course religious beliefs there.

The note of 'nagan' (=snake) blades is indeed well known not only in India in Hindu and other religious symbolism, but characterized on many 'wavy' style blades such as in the keris and others.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 12:29 PM   #6
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Thanks Kubir,
I will look for the examples you mentioned in the MET and Rivkins book on Eastern Swords. I donít think I have that book yet.

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Hi, Very nice Wootz blade, I think it's a dragon or Azhdaha. A similar blade is displayed in the MET catalogue if I'm not mistaken and the same sword can be seen in Rivkin's book on Eastern swords. It's mid 19th c.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 01:14 PM   #7
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Hello David,

I have major doubts about the age of this sword. I suspect it to be a 20th century Indian/Pakistani panoply hanger.

First, the scabbard is a mixture of Turkish (stitched with visible silver thread), Persian and Indian (no chape) styles, with both the leather and the silver thread in too good to be true condition.

Second, the hilt (with lanyard hole) is a mixture of Persian and Turkish style, and the carvings do not appear to be Persian because of style and quality, while the applied gold (which doesn't seem to be koftgari) is in too good condition.

Third, the blade is not of Persian shape and appears to be of recent Indian/Pakistani manufacture, with some etched patination (exactly the patination I usually get when etching for wootz a blade that is not wootz).

1. Can you please send us detailed photos of the wootz pattern?!

2. Is the blade sharp?

3. Can you show us a detailed photo of the yelman portion?

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Old 3rd July 2021, 10:22 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=DavidFriedman;264049]Thanks Jim,
In fact this saber is extremely light in the hand and I feel dances, reminiscent of a snake. The wider bladed Kilij type silvery saber, also in the group picture, is much more too heavy and seems to be suited perhaps for cavalry slashes.[/QUOT

Just asides, the wavy bladed swords having to do with the naga (snake) in India and Asian, Indonesian cultures are seen as well in 'the west' in medieval sword blades often termed 'flamberge', taken to mean 'flaming sword'. This has to do with Biblical reference to the flaming sword which guarded the gates to the Garden of Eden.

In Viking and Germanic swords the pattern welding causing patterns in the steel of the blade were regarded as serpent like, and the brilliant paper "The Serpent in the Blade" by Dr. Lee Jones had to do with this perspective.

In many Mexican knife blades the phrase, 'when this snake bites, there is no cure' is often seen.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 11:52 PM   #9
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Default Condition report

Here are some closer pictures alongside some other period Qajar swords/sabers in my collection. Perhaps these pictures will give a clearer perspective. It is in the best shape I have ever personally seen for a saber of this age. I believe it was either recently cleaned, and or kept behind glass or some such place. I do not believe at all that this is a modern piece, as I have seen many of those and they are horrendous at best.

I do appreciate your input though and look to get broader perspectives.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 11:55 PM   #10
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Default More pics

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Old 3rd July 2021, 11:57 PM   #11
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Thank you David for the additional photos!

The wootz pattern is consistent with Qajar period wootz.

So I guess I was wrong.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 11:57 PM   #12
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Thanks Jim. My friend has some exquisite Kris and Indonesian Archipelago weapons with wonderful serpentine designs. I have yet to collect any, but probably will in the future.


[QUOTE=Jim McDougall;264072]
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidFriedman View Post
Thanks Jim,
In fact this saber is extremely light in the hand and I feel dances, reminiscent of a snake. The wider bladed Kilij type silvery saber, also in the group picture, is much more too heavy and seems to be suited perhaps for cavalry slashes.[/QUOT

Just asides, the wavy bladed swords having to do with the naga (snake) in India and Asian, Indonesian cultures are seen as well in 'the west' in medieval sword blades often termed 'flamberge', taken to mean 'flaming sword'. This has to do with Biblical reference to the flaming sword which guarded the gates to the Garden of Eden.

In Viking and Germanic swords the pattern welding causing patterns in the steel of the blade were regarded as serpent like, and the brilliant paper "The Serpent in the Blade" by Dr. Lee Jones had to do with this perspective.

In many Mexican knife blades the phrase, 'when this snake bites, there is no cure' is often seen.
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Old 4th July 2021, 12:01 AM   #13
DavidFriedman
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Default Great

Thanks, My apologies for lousy photos earlier. I’d be very unhappy if it was a modern one lol. I bought it to resell it, but I’m planning to keep this one as it plays delightfully. It’s funny how things change when we actually get to hold a sword. The silver handled one looks nicer to me in form, but wields very top heavy. I’m thinking cavalry maneuvers.

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Thank you David for the additional photos!

The wootz pattern is consistent with Qajar period wootz.

So I guess I was wrong.
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Old 4th July 2021, 12:57 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=DavidFriedman;264077]Thanks Jim. My friend has some exquisite Kris and Indonesian Archipelago weapons with wonderful serpentine designs. I have yet to collect any, but probably will in the future.



You bet David, and thanks for the additional pics, very impressive! and nice example!!
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Old 4th July 2021, 03:05 AM   #15
DavidFriedman
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Thanks, itís such a joy to collect these pieces of history.

[QUOTE=Jim McDougall;264081]
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Originally Posted by DavidFriedman View Post
Thanks Jim. My friend has some exquisite Kris and Indonesian Archipelago weapons with wonderful serpentine designs. I have yet to collect any, but probably will in the future.





You bet David, and thanks for the additional pics, very impressive! and nice example!!
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Old 4th July 2021, 12:43 PM   #16
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Very nice collection david! Do you have it on the wall like that with all three swords and the shield? The shield btw is fantastic, just the right amount of wear and patina.
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Old 4th July 2021, 11:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post

In many Mexican knife blades the phrase, 'when this snake bites, there is no cure' is often seen.
They're probably more dangerous when they tempt you with apple clenched in fangs!
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Old 4th July 2021, 11:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post

The wootz pattern is consistent with Qajar period wootz.
it's also consistent with a lot of Ottoman blades.
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Old 7th July 2021, 08:03 AM   #19
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Thanks so much. I currently donít have them on the wall like that, but on Chinese and Japanese sword stands. It would be nice to put them on the wall. Thatís a good idea, if I can find a way to do it properly.

Yes the shield is a beauty. The Qajar work is very alluring to me. Such aesthetic.

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Very nice collection david! Do you have it on the wall like that with all three swords and the shield? The shield btw is fantastic, just the right amount of wear and patina.
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Old 7th July 2021, 08:04 AM   #20
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Ah, the illuminating apple that brings the knowledge of good and evil, muwahahaha


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They're probably more dangerous when they tempt you with apple clenched in fangs!
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