Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bizarro-Brothers From Another Sword-Mother

(A quick post in between writing more on OaT.)

I ran across an intriguing sword today - a Tibetan infantry sword (amusingly dated to 14-17th century CE. It's funny how either we really can't date something only 300 or 600 years old more narrowly than a 300 year span, or how sword design in Tibet hasn't changed much in all that time)

edit: The actual museum holding the sword dates it to early 14th century:

Either way, it's a beauty! And I immediately thought of another sword I've always liked - the so called "Hod Hill" sword:

The surprising thing - the Hod Hill sword is Roman with Celtic influence (found in Britain) and dated to the 1st century CE!

As you can see in the above reconstruction, the sword had some kind of organic material inserted in the hilt (wood, horn, bone etc.) and only the metal fittings remain.

Looking at the Tibetan sword again, I'm thinking that's probably not the case there. The scabbard seems original and its leather (and wood?) seem to have survived. So did the original sword have hollow hilt bits? Or did it have some kind of organic insides?
The blade is interesting as well, the profile is very close to late Roman spathas and looks more Chinese than Tibetan. (Tibetan swords from that period tend to be single edged and not diamond shaped in cross-section)

Does it all mean anything? No, but it's still a beautiful and intriguing piece. It's just extremely unlikely these two designs are in any way related - kind of like how bats and birds both fly, but aren't that close on the evolutionary tree.


  1. Nice sword and clearly in top condition for a sword of that date, if it's accurate. If you hadn't gathered already, the hilt is in the form of a mythological weapon called a vajra, which is used a lot in Buddhist metalwork.

    The main similarities between the swords would seem to be straight two edged blades and hilts with spheroid pommels and crossguards, though the Tibetan example actually has a more typical crossguard closer to the blade, so half of the vajra shape seems to be purely decorative, to say the least.

    1. Hi, you're on the TW forums, right? (I thought your name sounded familiar)

      I didn't notice the Vajra shape, good catch!

    2. Yeah, that's right, same name there. Hope you don't mind me tracking you back to this treasure. =P