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History of the sword

The History of sword making reached its peak in the period between 1500 and 1775. Despite the rising popularity and importance of firearms, introduced into warfare during the 14 century , the sword continued to be ultimate weapon of the military elite. It also became a striking element of civilian fashion in many parts of the world. The period also saw both swords and daggers evolve into a bewildering variety of types.

The diversification in sword types and design from the 16 to the 18 centuries particularly pronounced in Europe. The long, narrow, and sharp-pointed rapier became one of the defining swords of this period, with its elaborate hilt designs and straight, thrusting blades.Rapiers were worn by both officers and gentlemen, though the blades of rapiers worn by the latter tended to be more slender and lighter than the military equivalents. During the 17 century , the small sword emerged as the fashion accessory of choice. It was lighter form of the rapier, and was characterized  by a plainer hilt with a U-shaped knuckle guard and simple shell guard to protect the wielder's hand.

The small sword was a perfect thrusting  sword,and soon became the preferred weapon for duels.However, rapiers and small swords were not the only to blades on offer during this period. In Eastern Europe,  proximity to the Islamic Middle East led to the introduction of the curved swords called sabers, which soon became popular. During the 17th and 18th centuries, sabers also found their way into the cavalry weaponry of Western armies.Originally  produced for hunting, the robust hanger swords - so called because of the way they were hung from the belt - were also becoming part of standard military weaponry in several armies during te 18 century. Swords were also manufactured specifically for the act of execution.These featured a two-handed grip and a broad, long blade with a rounded or even a square tip - there was  no need for thrusting when beheading a prisoner.

The diversity of swords during this period is also reflected in a complicated range  of hilt designs. Designs ranged from a hanger sword with a simple S-shaped quill-ions, to swords with basket-hilts that encased the user's hand in a protective cage of metalwork. The designs of rapiers were particularly flamboyant , with various shells, cups and plates acting as a hand guard.The quill ions were sometimes twisted to form multi-strand knuckle guards.

Experimentation and diversity were not confined to Europe. In Africa, for example, bladed weaponry ranged from high-quality swords inspired by European designs to a mass of tribal ceremonial and combat weapons with no equivalents elsewhere. Many knives had broad ,organic shapes, or featured multiple points.There are more than 100 different types of African throwing knife alone.

South and Southeast Asian blades also distinctive national or regional forms, such as the undulating  Malayan "kris" dagger. In India and the Middle East the highly curved "shamshir", a heavy slashing sword,became a popular weapon in the 16th and 17th centuries. The "shamshir" and other Islamic swords were often decorated with gold or silver inlay-work, scroll-work, and religious text.

Japan continued its fine tradition of samurai sword production, albeit under the restrictive rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868), also called Edo period, which limited sword ownership.

Across the world, sword smiths took great pride in their craft and, on the wave of rising affluence brought about international and colonial trade, produced some of the finest blades in history.

Experimation and diversity were not confined to Eroupe. In Africa, for example, bladed weaponry ranged from high-quality swords inspired by European designs to mass of tribal ceremonial and combat weapons with no equivalents elsewhere. Many knifes had broad, organic shapes, or featured multiple points. There are more then 200 types of African trowing knife alone. South and South East Asian blades also show distinctive national or regional forms such as the undulating Malayan "kris' dagger. In India and the Midle East the highly curved shamshir, a heavy slashing sword, became popular weapon in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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