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.