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Old 7th June 2022, 04:56 PM   #1
corrado26
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Default Strange signs on the blade of a rapier

There are some strange signs on the blade of this rapier. Perhaps there is somebody here who knows the meaning of them.
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Old 12th June 2022, 02:35 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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While I cannot offer a concise explanation for these markings, I might at least offer a suggestion. In the 16th into 17th century the traditions of using magical, occult and all manner of mysterious symbolism in blade markings continued.
In Italy many inscriptions of letters and magic sigils, many inscriptions of jumbled letters which may have been acrostics were used.

Often these were repeated pairing of letters or numbers, and to make things more complicated gemetria and cabalistic codes were used. There were secret societies and groups using all manner of arcane messages.

These characters have a remarkable similarity to at least the geometric styling of cuneiform, but trying to align with the many variations, periods etc. would be tough. Until we can find another example of this kind of strange characters in a deliberate configuration like this its hard to say.

It seems there are many swords out there with blades having these kinds of magical or mystic inscriptions which have never been solved. Possibly knowing more on the period and nationality of the rapier would help.,

Hoping somebody out there might recognize this.
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Old 12th June 2022, 08:26 AM   #3
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Thank you Jim!
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Old 12th June 2022, 02:27 PM   #4
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You're welcome Udo, but I wish I could offer some more definitive info.
It has always intrigued me that these secret societies or groups, and often religious fraternities etc. used compilations of ancient alphabetic characters and occult symbols, devices and symbols to create coded invocations etc.

Im sure you are well aware of the strange acrostic style messages that seem to have occurred a lot on 16th-17th century blades from Italy, especially Caino.

The well known 'sickle' marks, while commonly known to be used singly on North Italian blades (but usually regarded as Genoan) seem to also have been used in somewhat stylized arrangements and configurations. Sometimes these would occur in a sort of 'panel' like your example, or along with other symbols. I suppose one could wonder whether these had some sort of arcane meaning or were characters in some arcane code used by a select group.

There was a fascination with 'the ancients' that appealed to this sort of mysticism in these times, with the later evolution of the Freemasons being one resounding exemplar of this phenomenon.

As always, I look forward to other thoughts and observations. Meanwhile, it is a nice example rapier, and the mystery adds to its allure!
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Old 12th June 2022, 02:38 PM   #5
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Often these were repeated pairing of letters or numbers, and to make things more complicated gemetria and cabalistic codes were used. There were secret societies and groups using all manner of arcane messages.

s.[/QUOTE]

For anyone not familiar with the term gematria this is the name given to the numerical correspondence for letters in the Greek alphabet. Apparently random groupings of letters , typically 4 , can be read as number. The number relates to theological phrases or concepts where the total of the numbers of the letters added together share the same number . For example 1746 could be read as 'son of the Virgin Mary' or 'the glory of God in Israel.'
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Old 12th June 2022, 07:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raf View Post
Often these were repeated pairing of letters or numbers, and to make things more complicated gemetria and cabalistic codes were used. There were secret societies and groups using all manner of arcane messages.

s.
For anyone not familiar with the term gematria this is the name given to the numerical correspondence for letters in the Greek alphabet. Apparently random groupings of letters , typically 4 , can be read as number. The number relates to theological phrases or concepts where the total of the numbers of the letters added together share the same number . For example 1746 could be read as 'son of the Virgin Mary' or 'the glory of God in Israel.'[/QUOTE]


Thank you Raf for the additional clarification on 'gemetria', I should have detailed that. as you well note, groupings of numbers also were placed to represent magical and talismanic invocations.
Most familiar on blades are 1414 and 1441 which were long mistaken for year dates. Many letters have numeric value and numbers in group could be read as acrostic (the first letter of each word in phrases etc. put together in a group).

Perhaps these characters might represent those in a form of ancient alphabet used in this manner, with the lozenges (diamonds) used to bracket same.
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Old 12th June 2022, 08:15 PM   #7
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I still like the idea that 1414 at least may well be a reference to a bible verse, like Exodus 1414; "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still".

As for 1441: psalm 144:1: "Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."
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Old 12th June 2022, 09:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by werecow View Post
I still like the idea that 1414 at least may well be a reference to a bible verse, like Exodus 1414; "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still".

As for 1441: psalm 144:1: "Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."
These passage attributions are of course reasonably suggested, but most regard the uses of numbers with magical or talismanic values as in astrological and alchemical symbolisms. The '4' is a lucky number and represents jupiter etc. and occurs in certain balemarks, trade markings. The well known balemark for the East India Company , a quartered heart had a 4 atop. It was often claimed that the 4, which had originally been a cross (like the cross and orb), had the extra line added to make a 4 to avoid offending Islamic trade partners, but it was actually to invoke protection from harm to company property marked with this balemark.

On many Islamic blades there are similar kinds of markings, invocations and inscriptions. For example on many Mahdist kaskara (and other arms) there was profuse acid etched calligraphy (termed thuluth) which in bold, often repetitive characters was often regarded as indecipherable or without actual literal meaning. It was found that these were actual Quranic phrases but used in a linear decorative fashion along with interjected Mahdist invocations. These blades were believed to be imbued with the 'magic' of the Mahdi, to give the warrior assurances and strength in battle. The crescent moon markings also seen are 'dukari' and magically imbue the blade as well.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 12th June 2022 at 10:23 PM.
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