The origin of Aladdin's sword

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The origin of Aladdin's sword

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 26 Aug 2014 08:16

If one searches the net for "Aladdin scimitar", then the first few hints will depict a strange looking "sabre".

Aladdin_by_hollano.jpg
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This is only mildly annoying, but the same thing is used even in dictionaries, for instance in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (Fifth edition, 1999). It defines scimitar as "a short curved sword with one sharp edge" and depicts it on a separate page, together with other sword. The dictionary's scimitar looks absolutely the same as Aladdin's sword.

Some other occurrences:

Image

even a Hungarian Wikipedia article uses it and wrongly identifies as khandjar.

Image
http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handzs%C3%A1r

Is there a real prototype for this thing? Any evidence (museums, archeological finds, depictions etc)?
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Re: The origin of Aladdin's sword

Postby admin » 26 Aug 2014 10:41

Yes, the European falchion. Medieval European artists were not overly familiar with what a real Islamic sword looked like, so the rendered them in art as falchions. Later on this then got fed back into art supposedly depicting medieval Arabs and Persians.

Falchions:

Image
On this one note the African heads, denoting the 'exotic' nature and origin of these blade shapes in the European mindset.

Kilij:

Image

Image

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... stanbul_(7).JPG

Aladdin of course was Chinese, so would have had a straight double edged sword 'jian', or at a stretch a 'dao'.

Image

Image
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

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Re: The origin of Aladdin's sword

Postby MEversbergII » 26 Aug 2014 14:53

Aladdin of course was Chinese, so would have had a straight double edged sword 'jian', or at a stretch a 'dao'.


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Re: The origin of Aladdin's sword

Postby Bulot » 26 Aug 2014 20:32

There are examples of arabian curved sabres in their own medieval iconography, but nothing like Aladdin's giant falchion. :

Image

Image

My dictionary defines "scimitar" as coming from the italian "scimitarra", which itself derives from the persian "shamshir".
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Postby Ty N. » 28 Aug 2014 04:44

MEversbergII wrote:
Aladdin of course was Chinese, so would have had a straight double edged sword 'jian', or at a stretch a 'dao'.

Kindasortanotreally.


Of course not. He was Vietnamese.

Back on topic... the Turko-Mongol saber is generally considered (among weapons historians who know about Asian and Middle Eastern swords) the starting point for curved Middle Eastern sabers. Prior to its introduction to the region, most sabers in use had straight blades, though there were one-off exceptions as with most things.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Aug 2014 07:04

Ty N,
It is strange that the term Turko-Mongol sabre is relatively widely used. It could be my fault, but so far I haven't seen any picture of an archeological find which was clearly identified as a Mongol sabre. At least two topics on SF use pictures of an Avar (proto)sabre as an example of Mongol sabres (in the thread on Turko-Mongol saber Russ Mitchel pointed that out in 2005).

Different Turkic tribes (Avars, Bulgars, Khazars, Kumans, Kipchaks etc) and others (eg Hungarians) were using those sabres centuries before the Mongols, so I have some reservations to use the term Turko-Mongol sabre.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Aug 2014 07:17

Bulot,
Yes, those Mamluk sabres from their manuals are very similar to the later Ottoman blades, especially those which have a sudden change in the curvature of the blade. And as you have pointed out: absolutely no resemblance to Aladdin's sword.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Aug 2014 07:22

There is another candidate: a big tulwar from India.

Racinet_1.jpg
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"Artist ALBERT RACINET, Paris

Description
"Fig. 1. Dagger from India, called khouttar,
Fig. 2,3,9,11,23 and 24. Indian daggers with strengthened, rippled blades. Nos. 3,9,11, and 23 have the handle made of ivory, enriched with enameled ornaments. Dagger No. 24 has the handle in the form of a horse-head. It is made of a crystal-rock embellished with enamel. The blades of the luxury daggers are embellished with gold.
Fig. 6. Dagger from India slightly projecting from its sheath. The handle is made of green jade, artistically formed.
Fig. 10 and 18. These are oriental daggers, made by a Paris company of M. Henri Lepage.
Fig. 19 and 20. Indian daggers. The handle has raised design, the sheath has wide furrows.
Fig. 22. Dagger from Persia with a cord made of weaved gold threads.
Fig. 15. Dagger from Turkey shown inserted in its sheath.
Fig. 5. Sword from India, with the blade serrated on both sides. The handle is made of wood.
Fig. 8. Sword from India. It has a flat blade and transversal grip, embellished with a round-shaped armband. In India, this sword is considered already an ancient type of sword.
Fig. 4. Sabre from India with a curved blade, steel grip covered with plain gold.
Fig. 6. Indian saber. Drawn half-way from its silver sheath. The blade is slightly curved, the cross-guard is hook-shaped, made of finely chiseled silver. The end of the grip is in the form of an animal's head.
Fig. 13. Indian saber with curved blade and sharp, saw-like teeth. The grip is embellished with inlay silver. The pommel is in the shape of a small disc.

Fig. 12. Indian execution saber. Large and strong Damascus blade, rather rude. This saber weighs almost 13 lbs.

Fig. 21. A special weapon from Nepal called Koukri kora. The blade is hook-shaped, especially at the end, ending with in sharp points. The grip has two discs at both ends. The sheath for this arm is quite large, made of wood. clothed in red velvet.
Fig. 14. Old Indian torador (matchlock musket) with match-striking fire mechanism. Beautiful barrel inlaid with silver. The grip, made of wood, is lacquered, embellished with gold.
Fig. 16. and 17. Shafted weapons made entirely of steel, with reliefs, embellished in gold."
Date 1878

Source:
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/prit ... cinet.html
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Postby Ty N. » 28 Aug 2014 13:26

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Different Turkic tribes (Avars, Bulgars, Khazars, Kumans, Kipchaks etc) and others (eg Hungarians) were using those sabres centuries before the Mongols, so I have some reservations to use the term Turko-Mongol sabre.


You don't see a lot of examples because nearly all of them have rusted into oblivion. A few pieces are stored in obscurity in Chinese museums and rarely put on display. As for the 'other' examples that predate the Mongol expansion into the Middle East, I would like to see them myself, though I suspect you won't be able to find anything that hasn't also rusted so badly that it is hardly recognizable. Viking and Migration swords were often lucky to be buried in deep bogs that could preserve them, but luck is not reliable.

I'd also point out that one of the swords shown in the first post is a movie prop from '300' - the Frank Miller version of ancient Greek history. The 'scimitar' shown in the same post is a modern mass production fiction. The 'Mameluk saber' (again in the same post) is a U.S. military version, most often worn by the Navy and Marine Corps as ceremonial decor.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 29 Aug 2014 06:43

I'd also point out that one of the swords shown in the first post is a movie prop from '300' - the Frank Miller version of ancient Greek history.

You are right. And also about the Mamluk sabre.
The 'scimitar' shown in the same post is a modern mass production fiction.

Absolutely.
That's why I have started the whole topic: to find some evidence of the existence of a historical sword which at least resembles Aladdin's sword.

So far we have three candidates:
a) a deliberate "redrawing" of a falchion in order to show an Oriental sword,

b) an inaccurate drawing of a large Ottoman sabre with a raised back edge (yelman),
or a deliberate attempt to make that sabre look more menacing. In the same way as Dore drew that unrealistically giant navaja in the Manual del baratero.

c) a huge Indian execution tulwar (around 5 kg, Racinet (1878)).
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 29 Aug 2014 06:59

You don't see a lot of examples because nearly all of them have rusted into oblivion. A few pieces are stored in obscurity in Chinese museums and rarely put on display. As for the 'other' examples that predate the Mongol expansion into the Middle East, I would like to see them myself, though I suspect you won't be able to find anything that hasn't also rusted so badly that it is hardly recognizable. Viking and Migration swords were often lucky to be buried in deep bogs that could preserve them, but luck is not reliable.

It is really difficult to buy this argument.

There are literally hundreds of sabre finds from the Carpathian Basin till the Altai Mountains, between the 8th and say early 13th century (AFAIK 100+ Avar sabres, 100+ Hungarian, 20+ Bulgarian, around 50-100+ Khazar sabres, 100+ from the Kievan Rus, and many-many other Turkic sabres). All from different burial sites. And you don't need deep bogs to preserve them.

Due to the lack of archeological finds and scarcity of museum pieces I'm really reluctant to give Mongols some credit in developing that type of sabre. However - probably - some credit could be given for spreading sabres around the Middle East, especially outside the traditional sphere of influence of different Turkic tribes.
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Postby Ty N. » 30 Aug 2014 01:45

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Absolutely.
That's why I have started the whole topic: to find some evidence of the existence of a historical sword which at least resembles Aladdin's sword.


Therein lies the problem. Aladdin is a fictional character. You are looking for a real-world object that can be 'historically' linked to a fiction. King Arthur is a fiction, and yet there are hordes of people who go searching for Excalibur and the Holy Grail. Dan Brown, Steven Spielberg and countless others made fortunes capitalizing on this peculiar phenomenon (Monty Python got it right).

And, I'll say this because Alina hasn't gotten around to it (yet) - there is no such thing as a 'scimitar' - if the Italians could not pronounce 'shamshir' it is because they were lazy.

Personally, I'd choose the flying carpet over the sword.

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 30 Aug 2014 18:00

Let me assure you that I'm not trying to find a fictional sword of a fictional character (Aladdin's or King Arthur's). :wink:

There is a Hungarian wiki article linked in the OP, based on a badly researched National Geographic's article (Hungarian edition) and which is illustrated with an image, which shows a funny something. Currently I don't have a better term as to call it Aladdin's sword, because that Disney cartoon is the only place I have seen something similar. Before completely rewriting the whole article I just want to check: Is there any historical sword which at least resembles Aladdin's sword?
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 30 Aug 2014 18:14

there is no such thing as a 'scimitar'

Unfortunately it is defined in several dictionaries.

Oxford:
"A short sword with a curved blade that broadens toward the point, used originally in Eastern countries."

Webster:
"A sword with a curved blade that was used in the past especially in the Middle East and western Asia."
"A saber having a curved blade with the edge on the convex side and used chiefly by Arabs and Turks."

Because of its obscure origin who knows who was unable to pronounce correctly shamshir or something completely different.
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Postby Ty N. » 31 Aug 2014 04:22

Dictionaries exist to describe words that are used, or are in common use. If you found 'ninjato' or 'ninjutsu' in a dictionary, the mere existence of the word(s) does not, by any empirical logic, make such things 'historical' - I'm somewhat surprised that anyone on this forum would resort to the dictionary argument.

It is not my intention to be condescending, but your knowledge of Middle Eastern swords is simply not extensive enough to keep stretching a premise that was flawed from the start. I wasn't born with knowledge either. I learned over many years, and often found myself corrected by those who were willing to share their knowledge. It is not bad to be wrong occasionally, and it is not good to repeat mistakes.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 31 Aug 2014 05:07

Dictionaries aren't evil things.
Also it is really interesting that based on their data the first known use of scimitar (different dictionaries provide slightly different data: 1562 or mid 16th century or 1530-40) predates the first recorded use of sabre (1680, Webster).

BTW why do you think that it isn't appropriate to use scimitar as a general term for Middle Eastern sabres?
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 31 Aug 2014 05:19

Ty N.,
Could you point out that why my premise is "flawed from the start"?
Especially after clearly defining my goal to correct a badly written article, double checking a slight possibility that something similar to Aladdin's sword may have existed, and not searching for a fictional sword.
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Postby Ty N. » 31 Aug 2014 15:13

I'm dropping out of this pointless thread, only because it seems you've resorted to meaningless back-tracking on your own statements. I participate in this forum with the assumption that people want to learn. Often, they let their egos get in the way of that very basic objective.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 31 Aug 2014 16:14

Ty N.,
The original question in the OP was: "Is there a real prototype for this thing? Any evidence (museums, archeological finds, depictions etc)?" Were you able to contribute? The answer is quite clear: No.
So after that your dropping out from this "pointless" topic is... Well... Your personal decision.
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Re: The origin of Aladdin's sword

Postby swordflasher » 06 Sep 2014 20:55

The sabre, scimitar and seax as depicted in heraldry look rather like your sword, and the swords on the flag of middlesex, for instance.

This begs the question why heralds and flag designers should depict swords, including European swords, as having broad curved blades with cutout notches and wavy quillons going in opposite directions, and grips with a row of S-shaped lines like tight wiring over leather. It may have sometimes been a convention to depict exotic swords such as from the crusades by making them different from Western swords, but I strongly suspect its mainly because they had to represent the idea of a sword in a small space in a design, so made everything broader and made all the lines curvey so it would stand out.

People doodleing often draw swords that way too. It's the idea of a sword being depicted, not a sword, and it's pleasant and satisfying to draw curvey things, particularly if you don't have a ruler handy.

We know real swords we've seen in the West don't look like that, so we assume that they must be foreign ones..

See 'a glossary of terms used in heraldry by James Parker' online, under sword.
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