Shark skin sword grip 1300

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Shark skin sword grip 1300

Postby Templar Knight » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:59 pm

I know circa 18th century and around the modern era swords they used shark skin because it didnt matter if it was wet or had blood on it but is theyre any evidence of this for Circa 1300?


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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:38 am

I figured that the answer would be no as it's not something I'm aware of being used in the west before the 17th century (much longer history of use of ray and shark in the orient) but thought I'd better check throughly.

There's no mention of it in anything by Oakshott which, for me, is good enough.


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:04 am

A look at the 1300 mappa mundi or any T/O map of around that time shows the known world plus a few vague bits around the edge (Russia eastwards, Darkest Africa and so on), most of which were only known through fifth-hand accounts. The "sharky" bits really don't appear in the known world at that time - yes there were dogfish and rays which are technically sharks, but I have never seen anything about their skins being used on sword grips.

If we are talking 1300 Japan, sharkskin grips would be the standard thing, but north of the Med: I really don't think so.


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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:12 am

Brother Ranulf wrote:yes there were dogfish and rays which are technically sharks, but I have never seen anything about their skins being used on sword grips.


Ray certainly gets used later on (in both the Orient and in the West) but as it's often just referred to as shagreen in descriptions (same as shark), it's easily overlooked.


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Postby Templar Knight » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:21 pm

So it could be possible that they used dogfish skin or is it unkown.


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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:29 pm

Templar Knight wrote:So it could be possible that they used dogfish skin or is it unkown.


There are no surviving sword grips (or any other references) from the period that you asked about that are bound with shark, ray or dogfish.

Some medeival oriental weapons were bound with it presumably because they lacked developed upper hilt furniture/pommels to stop their hands from sliding up the hilt. Not a problem with western swords of this period.

I suspect that it only starts being used in the West after contact with Japan in the 16th century.


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Postby Templar Knight » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:17 pm

Looks like I will be sticking with leather grips then.


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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:24 pm

Templar Knight wrote:Looks like I will be sticking with leather grips then.


Or velvet

Or silver wire

Or both.


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Postby Templar Knight » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:12 pm

does silver wire stand alone or does it need something underneath?
Can you use gold aswell or is this not seen?


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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:35 pm

Baes on what little physical evidence we've got for swords with intact grips (excluding plain leather or plain leather wrapped with cord) from between 1170 and 1330:-

Wooden grip is bound with a tape of yellow silk and overbound by red silk cord. Dated pre 1270

Silver wire wound around the wooden grip with green silk cord bound over that. Dated pre 1329

Twisted silver wire wrapped around wooden grip with no overwrapping. Dated Pre 1319

Plain red leather overwrapped with criss-cross leather thing, held in place with gilt headed pins. Oakeshotte dates 1200-1250


Then there's King Sancho IV sword, pre-1298. Wood with some nice armorial inserts. Very nice.

You might want to consider investing in a copy of either "The Sword in the Age of Chivalry" or "Records of the Medieval Sword".

Or both.

With a copy of "The Archaeology of Weapons" thrown in for good measure.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:48 pm

Templar Knight wrote:does silver wire stand alone or does it need something underneath?
Can you use gold aswell or is this not seen?


I wouldn't unless you're playing a king or something.


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Postby Simon_Diment » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:21 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:
Templar Knight wrote:does silver wire stand alone or does it need something underneath?
Can you use gold aswell or is this not seen?


I wouldn't unless you're playing a king or something.

And not a poor Templar whose kit is supposed to be functional and unadorned perhaps? :lol:


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Postby Templar Knight » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:29 pm

Swords, scabbards, and saddles are the only thing Templars are allowed to have decoration on as far as I know.


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Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:38 pm

Templar Knight wrote:Swords, scabbards, and saddles are the only thing Templars are allowed to have decoration on as far as I know.


You've got a copy of The Rule I take it?


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:22 pm

"The horses' equipment, like the brothers' armour, was to be plain and undecorated and the brothers were not allowed to adapt it to their own preference" . . .

There was not one Rule for the Templars, but a succession of revised Rules from about 1129 onwards, all of which emphasise plain, undecorated kit in keeping with the idea of Poor Knights and humble monks. Silver, gold and any such ostentation would be contrary to the spirit of the Rule and would be abruptly confiscated.


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Postby Templar Knight » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:46 am

Medicus Matt wrote:
Templar Knight wrote:Swords, scabbards, and saddles are the only thing Templars are allowed to have decoration on as far as I know.


You've got a copy of The Rule I take it?



I did, until I broke my hard drive lol.

I will take Brother Ranulfs words that I cant be a pimped up Templar. However I shall still pimp up some kit for my own heraldry or I might do a Sir Robert Septvans kit.


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Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:55 am

Brother Ranulf wrote:
There was not one Rule for the Templars, but a succession of revised Rules from about 1129 onwards, .


I know. I meant 'does he have a copy of Upton-Ward's English translation of the surviving French copies of the Rule'.

I've not had a chance to read her translation of the Catalan text which, being late 13th C, is probably the closest thing to a final itteration that we're going to get. I've yet to be convinced that it's worth the £45 but I understand that it's incomplete and doesn't cover the Primitive Rule at all?
If you've read it I'd appreciate your comments.


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:16 am

Like you I baulked at the price of Upton-Ward's translation, but I have seen extracts quoted by other writers. As you say, it misses out the 1129 version anyway. The gist of all the Rules (since they are all based on the Cistercian version of the Rule of St Benedict), is for a very spartan existence and a complete lack of bling.


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