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Thread: Indo Persian Shamshir

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Indo Persian Shamshir

    Another addition to my collection. This one purchased at auction. It was described as a scimitar, I hope I am right to call it a shamshir.

    Catalogue description:
    Early 19th c Indo Persian Scimitar, 31 inch single edged, curved, watered Damascus steel blade. Steel disk ended cross-guard with double langets. Polished wooden grips with inlaid star and stud decoration. Silvered disk decorated slab overlays leading to the silvered floral decorated cap pommel. Base of grip with twist silvered wire binding.

    My Stats:
    Weight, sword: 1lb 10.5oz (0.75kg)
    Length overall: 36'' (91.5cm) Blade: 31'' (79cm) measured across the arc of the blade.
    POB: 8'' (20cm) from middle of cross-guard
    Profile taper: 1.23'' (31.4mm) at ricasso, 1.08'' (27.4mm)at mid blade, 0.58'' (14.7mm) 2 inches from tip.
    Distal taper 0.21'' 5.3mm) at ricasso, 0.15'' (4mm)at mid blade,. 0.09'' (2.2mm) 2 inches from tip.

    Hilt missing some of the stud and star decorative inlays and two of the silver rosettes. Metal appears to be silver or an alloy thereof, not silver plate.
    I think the description "watered Damascus steel" is a bit poetic. I wouldn't know wootz if it bit me but I feel fairly confident to describe this as mechanical damascus or pattern welded steel. I have used a weak solution of ferric chloride to bring out the pattern. The early 19th-century date may also be a bit optimistic, I would think late 19th, early 20th century.
    Anyway please feel free to chime in, I welcome any and all suggestions/comments, particularly as regards terminology, origin and date.
    Attached Images Attached Images       
    The journey not the destination

  2. #2
    Guy,

    I'm suprised that nobody has ventured an opinon on this great sword.

    The hilt feels Syrian to me at first glance.
    The blade is indeed an interesting beast.

    The first thing that I notice isn't the structure of the blade, it's the shape.
    At first glance it's a simple curved blade right, but notice the angle of the hilt to the blade and the enlongated 'S' shape?
    In my experience this is unusual.

    I don't see the usual wootz structure in this blade, but clearly it's not simple 'modern' mono-steel either.
    I don't believe that what we are seeing is a deliberate pattern, in the realms of 'pattern welded' blades.
    But I can't see the carbides and inclusions that make me think 'wootz', but I've seen Syrian 'sham wootz' that doesn't conform to the usual look of wootz.
    So what the hell is it?
    I've got a 17th century hanger with an earlier blade that for some strange reason has visible lines that look like fine layering.
    I've also seen blades of shear steel that appear 'layered'.
    Without clearer pictures showing the structure and potentially more invasive etching, I'm not sure you'll get a definative answer.

    It's a great sword though!

  3. #3
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    Thanks Gene. I'm pretty sure it's just simple pattern welding, certainly not an example of the intricate and beautiful patterns you often see on modern knives. I think this is just a fairly random amalgamation of different steel types to try and give strength to poorer quality steels. Anyway I include a couple more pics of blade and hilt but file size limitations affect quality a little ( not to mention my lack of any photographic talent)
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    The journey not the destination

  4. #4
    Hi Guy

    It's a mystery.
    If it's pattern welding, it's not a pattern that I'm familiar with.
    It's too complex and random.
    If it was lamination for strength, it would be more uniform and why not have an inserted steel edge or temper line?
    It almost looks like a large scale etched faux-wootz pattern like you sometimes see on Choora and Kindjal.
    But I can't shake the thought that it's something else.
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 11-30-2017 at 08:25 AM.

  5. #5
    I keep going back to the thought that what we are seeing is a coarse Sham wootz of some sort?
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  6. #6
    Guy

    Wootz blades are sometimes made from more than one ingot.
    Can you see any changes in structure that might indicate a scarf weld? If it's there it would be within about 15cm of the hilt usually.
    can you show some close-ups of the blade near the hilt and also the spine, especially if it appears to have any cracks.

  7. #7
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    Sham wootz?, interesting. Some more pics, hope they help. I cannot see signs of any welds on the blade. How deeply is sham wootz etched? As I said buI would have thought applying Ferric Chloride would remove/change any previous etch. However the pattern welding does seem to fade in places and much stronger in others. Hope the pics help I have tried to maximise the detail.
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    The journey not the destination

  8. #8
    Hi Guy

    I'm going to say that IMHO it is wootz.
    The broad striping is unusual in places but now that we've seen the other areas, I'm pretty convinced.

    I wonder if the softer matrix has been eaten back making the harder 'stripes' look more obvious?
    A light wipe over with FeCl might make the pattern look more even, but it's nice as it is.
    The guard might be wootz as well?

    It's a lovely sword.
    Congratulations.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Gene, I think it's a nice sword as well. The FeCl has enhanced the pattern a little but I tried it on the steel parts of the hilt and apart from darkening it, no pattern showed up. I guess that is just plain mono steel.
    The journey not the destination

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    I've used peroxide and Muratic acid to enhance Damascus barrels, should work the same for this blade.
    Wonderful looking sword, I remember when I was young seeing these in antique stores and at much lower prices than today, if only I had the foresight.

  11. #11
    Hi Guy

    If possible, I'd be interested to see the results on the balde?

    Best
    Gene

  12. #12
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    Gene, sorry I probably didn't make myself clear. The pictures I've posted show the blade after I applied a dilute solution of FeCl and then a little polish. The pattern became clearer but did not change. The FeCl did not remove any fake etching but nor did it reveal any new areas of patternation.
    The journey not the destination

  13. #13
    Hi Guy,

    Well it's great as it is
    Will you do anything else?

    Regards

  14. #14
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    Probably leave it now. Up on display
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    The journey not the destination

  15. #15
    Hello Guy,
    In my opinion you have a nice late 18th century Syrian Shamshir with a pattern welded blade. It is also possible that your blade is a fake wootz attempt (hard to discern from the photos only) but is DEFINITELY NOT sham or crystalline wootz. Also the book reference in Gene's posting, in my opinion is wrong, but it is difficult to make a correct assessment based on a photo of a photo.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!
    Marius

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