Blade as a work of art

September 13, 2018

The smaller the cross-section of the blade, the more thoroughness is required for its manufacture. Initially, in this regard, blades from Toledo were famous. To demonstrate the unsurpassed flexibility of the blades, they were supplied for sale bended into a ring. Also have come to be known swords with cavities for poison, the manufacture of which was first dealt with by the Moors. Later, the Spaniards demonstrated their incredible skill in the blacksmith’s craft. The blades were made with deep fullers and high sharp central ridges, wherein not only the ridges but also the fullers were punched with a number of holes, so that the blade seemed transparent at the gleam.
The sword as a ceremonial weapon has always been a favorite subject for art decoration. Some samples of the highest achievements in this kind of applied art have survived to this day. Among the artists and masters who was developing sketches of sword, there were such famous personality as Hans Milih, Polidoro da Caravaggio and Pierre Veyrio from Lorraine. Perfectly decorated hilts of swords with openwork carving, finished with enamel and taushirovanie were supplied from Spain, but the best were from Milan and Florence. Swords, like all edged weapons not “consisting in the military service”, were extremely varied. Any hilt was individual and unique. Blades also were very varied. They could differ greatly in length, weight and profile. Massive like a sword and lightweight like a rapier; lenticular or polyhedral; with flat or concave edges; with fullers and ridges.
The wide spread of duels in Western Europe had a considerable influence on the development of swords and fencing art, which to some extent replaced knight tournaments. The victory in the duel depended on the art of sword possession, which also was necessary in military training. Fencing schools in Western Europe generally adhered to three directions: Italian, Spanish and French. These directions reasonably well determined the methods of application of different species. These directions reasonably well determined the methods of application of different types of cold weapons, positions of fencers during the fight, described in detail the types of strokes and pricks and ways to reflect them.
Usually swords were decorated with etched ornaments, images of trophies, monograms and coats of arms of the owners or rulers of the state. True, on the narrow edges of the blade, the artist-gunsmith did not have enough place to demonstrate all his possibilities, so the decorations were concentrated on brass, steel or silver hilts. Ornaments of the hilt were given special attention also because it could be judged on the nobility and prosperity of the owner of the sword: because the blade usually was sheathed.
Most often the craftsmen made and decorated the hilts in the technique of stamping complementing it with carving and engraving. On the hilts were depicted with battle, hunting or pastoral scenes and often the hilt was decorated with a complex ornament. Many gunsmiths made openwork carved guard which gave to the weapon even more lightness and elegance.

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