Tips to take care of your Ninja Blades

About Me

As a kid who grew up in a locality where martial art is very common, I started showing interest in it. When I took up proper training, I realized that it is not something that is only related to self defense. It is something more than that. 
The swords that were used caught my interest. After a bit of research I got a lot of information that amazed me. So I thought why not share it with the rest of the world. That is when I started Sharp Blades.

Deadliest Swords of all time

Sumerian and Akkadian Weapons

Brief History  The Sumer and Akkad are the most ancient civilizations which actually were the ones to create the army institution and first weapons. The need of military institutions...

Viking Weapons Something Rare Even for Viking Era

Vikings were tribes of Norsemen who originated from Scandinavia. Generally they were known as sailors and warriors. Many Europeans considered them barbarians and raiders because of...

Japanese Sword Polishing. Part 2

A polisher of Japanese swords is a real master called Togishi. A Togishi possesses a wide collection of tools for polishing process. Mainly he handles...

Featured Posts

Ethiopian (Abyssinian) Medieval Weapons

There are not so many evidences that tell us about Ethiopian Medieval Weapons. Africa, as a whole, is a great enigma especially when we speak about weapons. The medieval weapons of Ethiopia are called nwayate haql. The...

Ritual blades. Part II

Human Sacrifices  A special role the bladed weapons played in ceremony of obtaining military virtue symbols. The most appropriate example is the ritual scalping of the wounded or killed enemy which existed in the Indians...

Viking Era Weapons (second version)!

Viking Era can be also called the Swords Era or the Era of Valhalla Warriors (who praised Norse supreme god - Orin). First of all, this is because of the fact that Vikings have opened a new historical war...
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Recent Posts

Swordsmithing II: Roman Tradition

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Southeastern Cold Steel Weapons – Philippine Weapons Diversity

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Southeastern Cold Steel Weapons – Vietnamese Blades

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Japanese Sword Polishing. Part 1

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Legendary swords from the ancient world

Swords have always been fascinating – the magnificence of the structure, the sturdy design and the fact that a mighty warrior once held it- are things which leave us mesmerized and in awe of these swords. Which are those swords, which have been left behind by warriors and the world still admires? Let’s take you through a tour: The Seven-branched sword: This sword is probably the luckiest in the world, having not faced even a single war or seen witnessed bloodshed at close quarters. This sword was and will forever be a ceremonial sword, one that was gifted by King Baekje to King of Wa, who was the then ruler of Japan. The design of this sword, with seven structures branching out of it clearly states that it is not to be meant for combat purposes and would rather be preserved as a ceremonial piece. Joyeuse: This sword has probably acquired the fame it has now owing to the man who once held the sword – he was none other than emperor Charlemagne the Great, who was undoubtedly one of the best warriors of all time. And no, the fame of the sword is not restricted only to the fact that Charlemagne was it’s owner – the design of this carefully crafted weapon is what has gained the interest of many across the world. It held a position of honor and was used in countless coronation ceremonies in the years that would follow. The cursed Muramasa Samurai swords: The creator of these swords, Muramasa Sengo, was a man blessed with great skill and one vice – uncontrollable rage. It is said that his temper and the consequent violence was something that would get passed onto the swords he so passionately and skilfully crafted. So much so, that the one who held a sword made Muramasa would immediately be possessed by an unexplainable rage, making them violent warriors with no mercy. Despite the violent history attached to these swords, the fact that they were meticulously crafted cannot be denied, which is why they are still preserved in Japan. The Goujian Sword: Also known as the time-defying sword from China, this sword created quite a furore among archaeologists, who were stunned by the fact that this sword, despite being 2000 years old, hadn’t rusted even a bit! Probably the metallic composition of this sword was such that despite the extended period for which it was left undiscovered in a tomb, the sword didn’t lose its shine, shimmer, and sharpness. This sword is considered and preserved as a national treasure and is believed to have been owned by the Emperor Goujian of Yue.

The most expensive swords ever sold at auctions

If swords fascinate you as much as they fascinate us, this post is for you! Sword auctions over the period have been remarkable – the value that the swords fetch being unexpectedly surprising. Which are those swords which went down in history as the most expensive swords ever sold at auctions? Read on to know more about these prized possessions: The 18th century Boateng Saber: Price: $7.7 Million This sword is the most expensive sword to be ever sold at an auction — the rest not even near it in any way. Created during the Qianlong rule, this sword belonging to the 18th century has all the fitting characteristics to make this sword the most prized possession in sword world – The curvy S-shaped black design, that’s aptly supported by the jade handle, and the inclusion of gold silver and copper in the blade are what make this the highest grade sword. Not only is the price of this sword whopping, but the amount of money that’s spent to maintain it too is also quite huge. Napolean Bonaparte’s Sword: Price: $6.5 million Belonging to one of the most decorated warriors, whose name went down in history, this sword fetched what it indeed deserved. We cannot imagine Napolean Bonaparte without his favorite sword, especially one that is so meticulously and intricately crafted. It had to be befitting to the warrior who was going to hold it, hence the hand-crafted effort behind this masterpiece. The best part – Napolean had actually used this sword in one of the noted battles during his reign! The Nasrid period ear-dagger: Price: $6 million Tracing its origins back to the 15th century, the unique design of this sword is what has made it so expensive. The structure of this sword is not something one would commonly come across – at the handle; it has flattened discs which are placed opposite to each other – just like a pair of human ears! That’s precisely why it is known as an ‘ear-dagger.’ The gold and black intricate design of this sword makes it strikingly appealing to the eye too! Shah Jahan’s Dagger: Price: $3.3 Million Wondering how and why this tiny weapon fetched a whopping $3.3 million? Well, hold it in hand once, and you’ll know! The precision with which this dagger was created is just stunning, giving it a superb edge and balance. Not only this, the design of this deadly weapon is so intricate that it will leave one wondering whether it was created for the purpose of merely using it as a ceremonial, decorative piece!

Tamahagane. Unique Metal for Unique Japanese Swords.

Tamahagane is the best quality steel obtained using Japanese traditional techniques. The word tama translates as round, precious,the word hagane means steel. A good quality tamahagane can cost 50 times more than the ordinary steel. This steel is used to make Japanese swords, knives, and other kinds of tools. The tamahagane is obtained out of special iron sands also called satetsu. The sands distinguish by their low amount of impurities. It is considered to be of better quality than iron ore. There are known two different types of iron sand: 1) “masa”, is the best one with a very low content of impurities. Its composition includes acid granite and black mica. The best Japanese swords are forged of iron obtained of this sand; 2) “acome” also contains a small amount of impurities but is still considered a lower quality sand because of its salty basaltic stone and other igneous rocks composition. Because acome sand is easier to smelt it is mainly utilized to make high quality cutlery, tools and expensive guns. These sands are mined basically in the northern part of Japan. Areas such as Kame-ishi, Yasuki, Kame-ishi, etc are rich in iron sands. The tamahagane is smelt in a clay tube called tatara. It is heated to a high temperature about 1000 ºC (1.832 ºF) to get dry and well heated. Only after this the iron sand is put in this furnace. The smelting process lasts from 36 to 72 hours, during which every 10 minutes new portions of iron sand are added. This mainly depends on the number of people working on it. They are called murage. The final result is obtained when iron sands are mixed with charcoal to give tamahagane hardness. A good tamahagane should contain around 1% of carbon and not go over 1.5 %. Here is the chemical components contained in both sands (percents):
T-Fe Fe203 FeO Si02 CaO MgO AL203 Ti02 V205 P S
Masa 59.00 64.45 24.72 8.40 2.24 1.54 2.34 1.27 0.258 0.064 0.009
Acome 52.07 52.71 19.55 14.50 3.68 0.94 4.98 5.32 0.369 0.095 0.026
When the tamahagane is ready the tatara is demolished to release the steel. The best steel is thought to be the one on the edges of ingot. The reason is that, this is the area where the oxidation process occurred on a higher level. Specialists can determine the quality of tamahagane by its color. A bright silver indicates a very good block of metal, which mainly goes for blades forging. Besides tamahagane, there are metals of great quality such as orosigane, hotyotetsu and zuku.

One of Japanese Secrets – Ninja!

Ninja – also known as shinobi, was a class of warriors who usually originated from lower levels of society. They equaled to our-days spies and were in service of Japanese land lords (daymio) and samurai. Still, they were feared even by those who hired them for certain missions. Ninja were considered professional assassins and mercenaries. Shinobi-no-mono, which was their original name, used to create secret schools or associations for trainings beginning with 15th century. Their fighting art was called ninjitsu. It offered extraordinary skills and physical powers to its practicer. They even were thought to possess extra natural skills such as flying. Methods of Fighting  Ninja, actually were very crude warriors! They didn’t have a honor code or any kind of moral rules as samurai did. This made them extremely cruel – they could kill even women and children. This was one of the reasons they were not respected as noble warriors. Their secret associations were very efficient in wars where they fought for samurai executing the most difficult missions. Many consider the fame of the samurai was due to the ninja spies who used their methods of fighting defeating the enemy from inside, in most of the wars. Before creation of schools the art of ninja fighting was transmitted from father to son. Later it was inherited by best of the students from their masters (sensei). The first known ninja school was Nakagawa-ryu. It taught ninjitsu. A ninja was trained from a very young age and was taught much more things than a samurai. A ninja was skilled at swords, spears, bows, throwing knives, tagaki (fist weapon), metallic claws for feet (for climbing or leg hits), etc. He should cope with explosive and poisonous substances and had to possess surviving knowledge. The variety of ninja weapons, attributes and knowledge was much wider than that of a samurai. A ninja could leave any of his weapons at home, but never left his sword. It was the main weapon of a ninja. A Ninja sword was shorter and straighter than samurai’s katana. It was worn on the back by the left shoulder. Thus the sword was within an easy reach. Ninja Wearing Apparel  Ninja are remembered to always wear black clothes. It basically made them invisible in the night assuring a perfect ground for their missions. On the battlefield they also put on a light armor, which was designed for protection and still made them move freely. Their feet were covered by very light shoes which were made of cloth and had leather soles. The big toe was detached. These shoes were called tabi. Ninja were one of the greatest secret of the Medieval Japan history. Even today there are schools that teach some of the ninja skills. They are more about discipline and physical development than about aggressiveness and lack of moral principles.

Basileus blade – machaira!

In ancient times, the man who claimed to take power over a region should prove his abilities in battle with the bearer of this divine power. Thus, to become a warrior-king the man had to defeat an elk; to become a voivode the man had to prostrate a bear; to become a vizier or a councilor the man should catch a leopard. To get the title of Basileus, the claimer should have killed a lion with a certain sacerdotal weapon. Warrior Cults Roman historians mentioned that in antiquity the word “basileus” had the meaning ‘king’. But in Hellenic period Basileus was first of all a hero: the one who by his example showed the right path – path of lion! The man who defeated the lion received the power, force and courage of the king of beasts. The cult of the lion was respected by Hercules and Hephaestus. The symbol of this cult was the cave lion, and the cult itself was referred to fire. The tradition says that Hephaestus inherited the sacerdotalismof fire which means he became the master of smithery and weaponry. On the other hand, Hercules inherited sun cult and war challenges. It is known that Hephaestus sacerdotalism was present in Egypt in 3rd millennium B.C. The name of this god – Hephaestus or Ephesus – has no Greek meaning. Their real origins point to Asia Minor region. In Asia Minor, Ephesus had always been the name of the hilt of a cold steel weapon. This underlines the connection of Hephaestus not only with smithery but also with the very weapon. The Ephesus often was decorated with lion symbol (the cultic beast of Hephaestus). Thus, the hilt represented Hephaestus and the blade represented Hercules. The unique antique sacerdotal weapon to fight against a lion has later divided by its meaning: Hercules became a hero which fights for the fame and Hephaestus the one who forges weapons and still accomplishes peace. It is important to know that both cults – the offensive and the defensive one – are tightly linked and have a common symbol – basileus blade. Machaira The sacred weapon of sacerdotes, who came out for a basileus battle with the cave lion was called – machaira. It features a strongly curved blade resembling a sickle. The inner part of the blade was the cutting one. The length of this sword ranged from 19,70 inches (50 cm) to 23,62 inches (65 cm). The straight sheath was usually constructed from wood and was decorated with golden fittings. The very shape of a machaira reminds a lion claw; whereas its hilt resembles a talon of a totemic cat. The sacred machaira represented first of all a weapon of ideological power. Its blade indicated to the army the ritual path, saved from enemies’ traps, and protected against many other magical tricks. A king, who was at the same time a sacerdotus, effectuated purifying rituals to keep all troubles and defeats away from the army. At celebrations the king wore a lion skull instead of a helmet. Without the sacerdotus the machaira was only a beautiful weapon. Only together they represented a tremendous power. One of the most famous king-sacrificer of cave lion cult was Macedonian Alexander Hephaistion. He was considered to inherit the cult of Hephaestus. When the official burial of the sacred machaira occurred in 324 B.C. Alexander the Great has discarded his sacerdotal powers. The Basileus cult has picked up the thread only in 301 B.C. 

Sword Oiling. Part 2

There is a specific procedure of oiling used for different types of swords. For example, Japanese sword oiling looks like a ritual which is executed in a specific succession. An important moment is to remove the blade from the hilt in order to clean the old oil and to apply a fresh coating. Some of European swords can’t be disassembled; others need to be unscrewed and unpinned to release the tang. Steps to Oil a sword  I. Remove the hilt. (If it is applicable to your sword). If it is a Japanese sword, especially a very rare and fragile one, be extremely careful or find a master who will do it for you (at least for the first time). II. Remove the old oil and dust. The cleaning should be done with lint cloth or special paper. The blade should be wiped upward, one way, starting from the base. Do not apply to much force or too active frictions. Take care when you wipe the point and the cutting edge(s)! Firstly, because you can get injured (especially if you hold a top grade, razor polished katana); secondly, because you can alter the patterns, etchings or other thin art works which can be present on the blade. If the oil can’t be easily removed, soak the cloth in pure alcohol or benzene and try again. Japanese swords are even powdered and then wiped to remove all particles that have deposited. III. Rust checking. After totally cleaning the surface, check the blade for any presence of rust and damages. IV. Blade Re-oiling. Use a piece folded paper or flannel, a rectangular of about 3cm x 6cm. Soak it in fresh oil and start oiling the blade surface from base to the point. The procedure should be repeated in order to make sure all the surface is coated well. The oil should be spread uniformly. Pay attention to how you apply oil on the tang! It has to be a very thin coating with as little oil as possible. V. Wooden Hilts and Scabbards Oiling. The wooden components of your sword should also be taken care of. Use special wood oil or some fine substances for furniture care. The oiling is necessary because the wood has the propriety to dry out. Avoid using furniture waxes or sealants. Firstly it will make the weapon slip out of your hands; secondly some furniture waxes contain components that can ruin the wood. Do not over oil the wood! VI. Assembling. Before assembling the sword you should leave it for a while. Again, make it very attentively or give it to a specialist to assemble it for you. Be careful because after oiling the blade is slippery. VII. Long Term Storage. If you want to store your blade for a longer period, then it is better not to prime it into the scabbard. If the sheath is made of leather, then it is recommended to store it separately from the sword, even for a shorter period of time. If the blade is very ancient and you want it stored for a longer period, then you can use Vaseline or Renaissance Wax and then wrap it in an oily cloth. For better storing cool, clean and dry places are just perfect. Note: Any other kinds of bladed weapons: spears, axes, daggers, sabers, etc. are oiled in the same way with little exceptions when dissembled or specific restrictions for some substances. Short Tips for Sword Oiling  
    • Wooden hilts and scabbards should be treated with oil and lemon to help prevent drying up and cracking.
 
    • Place your sword apart of the leather sheath. Because the leather sheaths have the capacity to trap moisture. Wooden scabbards work better, but still not longer than a month.
 
    • Treat leather covered elements of your sword with a good leather paste wax or mink oil.
 
    • Avoid any contact of leather parts with any kind of oil because it can cause the leather to rot.
 
  • Don’t touch the blade with your fingers in order not to live acidic skin oil on it, which in the long run will cause stains or even rust.

Sword Oiling. Part 1.

A row classification of swords would divide the great number of today swords into at least three categories: – decoration swords, or non-functional replicas, – functional replica swords, and  – authentic swords, or ancient and rare exemplars. All three types need to be taken care of on different scale. The easiest to maintain are stainless steel decoration swords, because they generally don’t rust. It is enough to clean the old oiling with a soft cloth and to apply a new oil coating. Functional replicas need to be taken care of on semi-regular basis, this is about ones a month. The authentic swords are true artifacts and among them can be very valuable pieces; this is why they need a specific maintenance on regular basis. Especially, knowing that most of them are made of iron alloys which are easily exposed to corrosion. The frequency of oiling depends mainly on the conditions of keeping. Here you should consider the climate and pay attention to the humidity. So, if your climate is very humid then you should oil your swords at least once a week. Oils and Lubricants to Be Used  Choji oil  This is a Japanese mineral oil used beginning with the medieval times. It is considered one of the best, if not the best one!!! Today this oil is also known as clove oil which indeed doesn’t reflect the reality. It is not the same clove oil you can buy in any drug store! The mistake can cost you your sword, because the clove oil you can find in a drug store causes the steel oxidation. Genuine choji oil is available in Japanese woodworking stores and costs more than the clove oil from drug stores. Gun oil – It is also widely used for its qualities proved in time. Still this oil is not to be recommended in case of exquisite antiques. For the rest types of blades, even for very expensive replicas, any gun oil which is free of corrosive components will fit perfectly. Some of the fine gun oils are: RemOil (Remmington Oil), silicone-based oil. Flitz – This is a metal polishing substance which helps make your sword gleam. It is recommended not to use it frequently. You can also use it to remove stains on stainless steel. Flitz contains abrasive particles this is why it should not be used with authentic Japanese swords! It can also be used to get fingerprints off the blade. It is a known fact that some people’s skin oils are very acidic and this can even stain a stainless steel blade. Of course the better way to protect the blade is NOT to touch it with fingers. Notes:  
    • It is important to not over oil the sword but only to create a thin coating. A few drops of good oil will do just great. Spread it with a lint cloth of a specialized paper (Japanese Abura-nuguishi).
 
    • You need to avoid all-purpose oils because usually they contain diluents that accelerate the evaporation of oil. And also, vegetable oils, as they attract dust.
 
  • For Japanese swords, and antique swords it is not recommended the usage of waxes, Cosmoline, Vaseline, silicone-based gel, petroleum gels, etc. All of them contain substances that attack the steel blade and trap moisture.

Ethiopian (Abyssinian) Medieval Weapons

There are not so many evidences that tell us about Ethiopian Medieval Weapons. Africa, as a whole, is a great enigma especially when we speak about weapons. The medieval weapons of Ethiopia are called nwayate haql. The basic warfare inventory of Ethiopians consisted of: swords, shields, spears, bows, arrows, slingshots, and rolling boulders. Bows and arrows Bows and arrows – qest and ahtsa – were the most extensively used arms. Their use is mentioned in the reigns of Emperor Gelawdewos (1540-1560 A.D.) and Emperor Sussnyos (1607-1632 A.D). Medieval Ethiopia had several vassal states, which took over their weapons and served the Ethiopian interests and borders. The most known vassal states were the neighbouring Yifat and Adel. There also were tribes that were not incorporated into the empire, but were like Roman foedus tribes. One of the known ones was the Nilotic people of the Tekkeze valley (north-west Ethiopia). The most striking evidence of usage of Ethiopian arms by tribes is the participation of Elmaya tribe in the battle of Emperor Lbne Dngl against Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi (Gran). About 2.000 of Elmaya warriors were equipped with bows and poisoned arrows. The tradition says that the warriors mistook the Emperor’s camp for that of the enemy and terminated it. The Ashmen tribes of Gafat have also used poisoned arrows against Emperor Sussnyos’s army. Swords, Shields and Spears The structure of Ethiopian army was pretty well settled, there was distinguished traditional army division into cavalry and infantry. The infantry was basically armed with swords – asyft, shields- welatw, and spears – quiyanw. The Ethiopian spear construction reflected three components: the sharp piercing point – quinattor, chmara, or chrrie; the shaft – zabia; and the end of the shaft an iron ring – megureb. The point and the ring were usually made of iron alloys or of some early steels; whereas the shaft was made of wood. The capping ring was provided to assured additional weight for perfect balance. In this way the spear represented a calculated construction which enabled the bearer to hit the aimed target within at least 20 feet. The spear actually, had a special meaning in the Ethiopian culture. One of the words meaning spear is tor, in Amharic language this also means ‘war’. Armor The cavalry benefited only of swords and spears, but it was heavy armored with mails – tsrur or dir’a hatsin and helmets – qur’. The mail had an inflexible construction with a separate tubular sequence for the neck – borboti. Of course, not all cavalry soldiers benefited of armor, only the high ranked ones. The rest army wrapped themselves with cloth – qnat, meqennet, thus creating some kind of protection. This kind of ‘armor’ offered maneuverability and flexibility, which made the movements more accurate and thus more efficient. Dagger  Also there are pretty well known the daggers use – methaht or shotel and javelin – armah. Their usage was especially frequent in Yifat. The three basic weapons (spear, sword and bow) are the most frequently referred to in medieval Ethiopian chronicles. Most of them refer to the period when governed emperors like: Emperor Amde Tsion (1312-1342 A.D.), Emperor Gelawdewos, and Emperor Sussnyos. These weapons withstood the waves of western influence and were used even during the 19th century.

Sumerian and Akkadian Weapons

Brief History  The Sumer and Akkad are the most ancient civilizations which actually were the ones to create the army institution and first weapons. The need of military institutions and weapon inventions appeared because the Sumerian city-states fought for lands with one another and later with other invaders. The Greeks called this area Mesopotamia which translates as the “land between the two rivers” (Tigrisand Euphrates). The cities of Sumer were already developed an urban level of life to 4000 B.C., there should be mentioned cities like: Ur, Nipur, Lagash, Umma, Eridu and Urak.  The two civilizations were among the oldest urban civilizations. They were first to record the battles and create military dictionary. Especially the Sumer civilization had no analogues by application of military weaponry in the Bronze Age. The rest part of the Middle East needed about 2000 years more to advance to the level of Sumer and Akkad One of the first evidences from which we can learn about Sumerian weapons is a stele. It is called the Stele of Vulturesand was made after the battle held between the states of Lagash and Umma in 2525 B.C. The Stele of Vultures represents the king of Lagash leading an armored infantry. Helmets and spears are basic military inventory. The king himself is handling a socket axe riding a chariot. Eannatum is represented holding a sickle-sword in his hand. Helmet  The earliest Sumerian helmets date back to 2500 B.C. They were made of copper and were leaned with leather for comfort. The existence of helmet in military inventory pointed to the fact that a higher level was reached in military achievements. The helmet symbolized protection against the most feared offensive weapon – the mace! During that period the mace was considered the main weapon in the battlefield fights. The helmet protection was so successful that in the long run the mace was drove from the battlefield. Armor  After helmet proved success the Sumerians proceeded to elaborate protection for the rest body. Thus, there were invented a peculiar type of armor – armored cloak. The cloak was leather or resistant fabric confection which was covered with metal disks provided with spines. It was fixed around the neck and covered the most important parts of the body assuring a good protection. Later, Sumerians elaborated plated armor. Socket Axe An important military innovation of Sumer was the socket axe. The weapon was made of bronze and was the mile stone attribute of Sumerian army which conferred significant military advantage. It appeared in response to the development of plated type of body armor aiming to penetrate it. For this the blade of the axe needed to be large and heavy enough to apply a strong blow. But Sumerians had to face another problem – assure proper linkage between the shaft and the blade itself so that the first withstand heavy strokes. The solution was the use of the cast bronze socket, which was secured with rivets over the head of the shaft. By 2500 B.C. Sumerian axes were redesigned and adopted to the battle needs. Thus, one of the axe variants was equipped with a narrowing blade in order to reduce the impact area and bring the blade closer to the target and deeper into flesh. This innovation put the basis for generation of penetrating axes. These ones were able to pierce through bronze plate armor. Chariot Another military achievement of the Sumerians was the use of wheel for creation of Chariot. The Sumerian chariot featured a construction with four or two wheels. Initially, it was conceived as a civil vehicle for higher social classes. The chariot couldn’t be offensive because of its small size, light weight, and lack of stability due to unbalanced construction. Later it became a dangerous weapon adopted by other military cultures, like: Hittites, Canaanites, Egyptians, and Assyrians. A chariot could carry at least one driver, two archers, and a spearman. These warriors became the elite of fighting corps and were an irreplaceable part of any ancient world army. Sickle  The sickle-sword is also considered to be a weapon invented by Sumerians around 2500 B.C. Its predestination was to serve as the primary infantry weapon. Composite Bow  This one is considered one of the major innovations of Sumerians and Akkadians. It dates back to 2254-2218 B.C. The composite bow had a pull of 2-3 times of the simple bow. It could penetrate leather armor and some of early bronze armors at the distance of 50-100 yards. This innovation was very efficient and determined the use of composite bow during the next fifteen hundred years.

Ritual blades. Part II

Human Sacrifices  A special role the bladed weapons played in ceremony of obtaining military virtue symbols. The most appropriate example is the ritual scalping of the wounded or killed enemy which existed in the Indians tribes from Northern America. A similar ritual was spread in Turkmenia for analogical purposes. Usually, they used European knives to cut the nose and ears of the killed enemy. The Aztecs sacerdotes used knives with obsidian blades and golden hilts to cut off the hearts of the scarified humans in the name of Huitzilopochtli god. The in the well known “Night Sorrow” (June 30), when hundreds of Spanish prisoners (from Cortés army) were killed, the Aztecs used the ritual described above. An identical ritual of human sacrifice was present in India in the temples of Kali (Devi, Shakti). Other Types of Sacrifices  Bullfight (corrida) is one of the representative rituals, which indeed has the meaning of defeating the enemy and represents a summation of several ancient rituals. From ancient times the bull itself represented nature power, source of masculine power, etc. The bullfighting ritual uses a lot of bladed weapons like: epee, banderilla (a type of spears with long wooden shaft adorned with ribbons) and points (used to finish off the bull). Wedding Rituals with Bladed Weapons The bladed weapons were widely used in wedding rituals. As a rule they were a symbol of phallus, masculine source, and courage. It was not incidental that in Bulgaria a young woman in order to show that she agrees to be courted draw out the knife from men’s belt. In Nepal the kukri knife is an important attribute of the fiancé. In some of the countries from eastern and south-eastern Europe the members of the bride’s family wished numerous descendents in the “presence” of a knife. It served like some kind of guaranty. In Montenegro the bride was guided to her fiancé stepping on a carpet under which the relatives hide the knife and the belt. This ritual was performed to make the woman give birth to boys. In India the bladed weapons were part of the wedding gift offered by the bride’s parents. The brides even were ‘bought’ with a dao knife. Birth Rituals with Bladed Weapons In Asia Minor to ease the pain of a pregnant woman during the giving birth process, she had to step over a specific knife. In Italy and Spain all lacings, cords and ribbons of the woman in labor’s clothes were cut trough. The knives had important attribution to the birth of children. The umbilical cord was cut with the help of certain knives (in Nepal – Kukri). The same knife was put under the child’s bed to protect him (her) from evil spirits. In Turkey Central Asia and Caucasian zone and even in Italy in the child’s bed were placed knives, scissors, and fragments of sickle, sword and other bladed weapons. Burial Rituals with Blades The bladed weapons were widely used in burial rituals. The most spread tradition was to place the warrior’s weapon in his grave or to burn them together (Indonesia, India). In Nepal the oldest member of the deceased person held the kukri dagger unsheathed marching in front of the burial cortege. In most cultures the blade featured the achievement by a man of a higher social status, his formation as a warrior and continuator of the clan. In the Central Asia the blade was one of the three main elements of a man: sheepskin hat, knife, and belt. In Turkmenia the Djouher dagger of the defunct was considered able to release sins when used in specific rituals. The axe Importance The axe was also a symbol of protection – averter. For example, the northern nations (hutuls, lemkos, bojki) used to mount the axe above the house entry for protection. In some regions of Germany (Lujica) the bride coming to her fiancé house had to step over an axe placed at the entry.