Shamshir

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Syrian shamshir, The Royal Armoury, Stockholm Sweden. Sabel - shamshir - Livrustkammaren - 77113.tif
Syrian shamshir, The Royal Armoury, Stockholm Sweden.

A shamshir (Persian : شمشیر) is a type of Persian/Iranian sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from the shamshīr, which means "lion's claw or lions tale" in the Persian language. The curved "scimitar" sword family includes the shamshir, kilij, talwar, pulwar and nimcha.

Contents

A shamshir shekargar (Persian : شمشیر شکارگر, romanized: shamshir-e shekârgar, lit.  'hunters' sword or hunting sword') is the same as a shamshir, except the blade is engraved and decorated, usually with hunting scenes. [1]

Description

Uzbek warrior armed with bow and arrows, khanjar, mace, and a shamshir. A heavily armed Uzbek, Safavid Iran, mid 16th century.jpg
Uzbek warrior armed with bow and arrows, khanjar, mace, and a shamshir.

Originally, Persian swords were straight and double edged. Curved sabres blades were Central Asian in origin. There is considerable disagreement between historians as to when these curved blades were first introduced from Central Asia into Iran, and over what period they became adopted and modified into the recognizable Shamshir. [2] Curved blades began to appear in Persia in the 9th century, when these weapons were used by soldiers in the Khurasan region of Central Asia but were not widely adopted. [3] The sword now called a "shamshir" was developed in Iran over a period of time following influence from the Turkic Seljuk Khanate in the 12th century, the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, and finally taking a form distinct from earlier sabres by the 16th century. [2] The Shamshir had "relatives" in Turkey (the kilij), the Mughal Empire (the talwar), and the adjoining Arabian world (the saif). Over the years blades might be produced in India or the Ottoman empire and rehilted in Iran, and vice versa leading to mongrel swords.

The shamshir is a, curved sword featuring a slim blade that has almost no taper until the very tip. Instead of being worn upright (hilt-high), it is worn horizontally, with the hilt and tip pointing up. It was normally used for slashing unarmored opponents either on foot or mounted; while the tip could be used for thrusting, the drastic curvature of blade made accuracy more difficult. It has an offset pommel, and its two lengthy quillons form a simple crossguard. The tang of the blade is covered by slabs of bone, ivory, wood, or other material fastened by pins or rivets to form the grip. Many of the older Persian shamshir blades are made from high quality crucible wootz steel, and are noted for the fine "watering" on the blades.

Etymology

Although the name has been associated by popular etymology with the city of Shamshir (which in turn means "curved like the lion's claw" in Persian) [4] the word has been used to mean "sword" since ancient times, as attested by Middle Persian shamshir (Pahlavi šmšyl), and the Ancient Greek σαμψήρα / sampsēra (glossed as "foreign sword").

"Shamshir" is usually taken to be the root of the word scimitar, the latter being a more inclusive term. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Falchion One-handed, single-edged sword

A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the modern machete. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 13th century up to and including the 16th century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the seax and later the sabre, and in other versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.

Sabre Type of sword

A sabre is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods. Originally associated with Central European cavalry such as the hussars, the sabre became widespread in Western Europe in the Thirty Years' War. Lighter sabres also became popular with infantry of the late 17th century.

This is a list of types of swords.

Kilij

A kilij is a type of one-handed, single-edged and moderately curved scimitar used by the Timurid Empire, Mamluk Empire, Ottoman Empire, and the later Turkic Khanates of Central Asia and Eurasian steppes. These blades developed from earlier Turko-Mongol sabers that were in use in lands invaded or influenced by the Turkic peoples.

The talwar, also spelled talwaar and tulwar, is a type of curved sword or sabre from the Indian subcontinent.

Pulwar

The pulwar or pulouar is a single-handed curved sword originating in Afghanistan.

Mameluke sword Type of Sword

A Mameluke sword is a cross-hilted, curved, scimitar-like sword historically derived from sabres used by Mamluk warriors of Mamluk Egypt after whom the sword is named. Egypt was, at least nominally, part of the Ottoman Empire and the sword most commonly used in Egypt was the same as used elsewhere in the empire, the kilij.

Dha (sword) Burmese knife

Dha is the Burmese word for "knife" similar term to daab or darb in Thai language for a single edge sword. The term dha is conventionally used to refer to a wide variety of knives and swords used by many people across Southeast Asia, especially present-day Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Yunnan, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Shotel Type of curved sword originating in Ethiopia

A shotel is a curved sword originating in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The curve on the blade varies from the Persian shamshir, adopting an almost semicircular shape. The blade is flat and double-edged with a diamond cross-section. The blade is about 40 inches (1,000 mm) in total length and the hilt is a simple wooden piece with no guard. The shotel was carried in a close fitting leather scabbard.

The Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre is a sword that was used primarily by British light dragoons and hussars, and King's German Legion light cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars. It was adopted by the Prussians and used by Portuguese and Spanish cavalry.

Scimitar Type of Sword

In English the word scimitar refers to a backsword or sabre with a curved blade. Adapted from the Italian word scimitarra in the mid 16th century from an unknown source, the word became used for all 'Oriental' blades which were curved, compared to the more commonly straight and double edged European swords of the time. This is apparent in Thomas Page's The Use of the Broad Sword. Published: 1746:

"The Sword was of enormous length and breadth, heavy and unweildy, design'd only for right down chopping by the Force of a strong Arm; till Time and Experience discovering the Disadvantages, by Degrees contracted its Length and lighten'd its Weight in to the more handy Form of the Scymitar; which was first invented by the Eastern Nations, and has continued to be their principal Weapon to this Day:....""The Saracens, Turks and Persians, made use of but three different Throws with the Scymitar, and one of those, only on Horseback; the other two on Foot."

Firangi (sword) Type of Sword

The firangi (Marathi:फिरंगाना) was an Indian sword type which used blades manufactured in Western Europe, particularly Solingen, and imported by the Portuguese, or made locally in imitation of European blades.

The Moplah sword is a sword used by the Muslim population in the Malabar Coast in southwestern India.

Pesh-kabz

The pesh-kabz or peshkabz is a type of Indo-Persian knife designed to penetrate mail armour and other types of armor. The word is also spelled pesh-qabz or pish-ghabz and means "fore-grip" in the Persian language; it was borrowed into the Hindustani language. Originally created during Safavid Persia, it became widespread in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent during Mughal period.

Niabor Type of Sword, Cutlass

Niabor is a curved sword from Borneo, a characteristic weapon of the Sea-Dayaks.

Parang Nabur is a sword that originates from Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia. Most of this sword is made during the Banjarmasin Sultanate period in the 19th century.

Palitai Type of Knife

Palitai is the traditional knife of the Mentawai people, originating from the Mentawai Islands off West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Turko-Mongol sabers Type of Cavalry Sabre

These swords were used by the Turkic nomads of the Eurasian steppes primarily between the 9th and 14th centuries. One of the earliest recorded sabres of this type was recovered from an Avar grave in Romania dating to the mid 7th century. Although minor variations occur in size and hilt, they are common enough in design across 5 centuries that individual blades are difficult to date when discovered without other context.

The Pattern 1831 sabre for General Officers is a British army pattern sword prescribed for the use of officers of the rank of major-general and above. It has been in continuous use from 1831 to the present. It is an example of a type of sword described as a mameluke sabre.

References

  1. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, By George Cameron Stone, Donald J. LaRocca, 1999, pg. 553
  2. 1 2 Khorasani, Manouchehr (2007). "Blades of the Lion's Tail: Birth of the Shamshir". Classic Arms and Militaria. Volume XIV Issue 5: 18–22.
  3. James E. Lindsay (2005), Daily life in the medieval Islamic world , Greenwood Publishing Group, p.  64, ISBN   0-313-32270-8
  4. Pakistan Historical Society (2006). Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society. Pakistan Historical Society. p. 80. ISSN 0030-9796
  5. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, By George Cameron Stone, Donald J. LaRocca, 1999, pg. 550