Vince Evans' Mongol Saber

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Scott M. Rodell
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Vince Evans' Mongol Saber

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:35 am

Vince Evans' Mongol Saber

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List Price: Swords of this quality retail for approximately $6,000
Company Website: http://www.arscives.com/vevans/default.htm

Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- I couldn't use my usual set of common basic dao cuts for testing this saber for the simple reason that it is balanced for use on horse back, not on foot. So before I started swinging it about in earnest, I took some time to do a little research on the use of saber from the saddle. Obviously, cutting while on horse back is restricted by the need not to hurt one's mount. So, for example, there are no horizontal cuts to the front, nor upward sweeping diagonal cuts from the left. Also chopping cuts will have to complete their motion before traveling low enough to possibly strike the head of one's horse's. One also has to sit with the left shoulder forward. So when I tested this saber, I used primarily two cuts; a high pi cut aimed at head level & an upward sweeping liao cut from my right side. Though I am not familiar with using a saber balanced for mounted use, I found this saber easy to use. It is balanced with more weight toward the tip than saber for use on foot, as are other Qing period examples I have examined, but not is much that it is difficult to wield or cut with. In short, the balance & handling are just what is required from use on horseback.

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Structural Integrity Test- I've tested quite a few swords in the last few years, both on & off the books, & I never take it easy on them when it comes to the structural test. While I never previously cut with a sword balanced for mounted use, I also never enjoyed this step in a sword test so much before either. Never before have I handled a sword that was so solid. Certainly the added weight & forward balance of this cavalry saber provided for a more robust cut, but this is the first time a blade I tested cut so well that it was not only not scratched, but it was virtually clean after testing.

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Hard Cutting Test- The locally grown bamboo I use for cutting practice has a tendency to splinter when cut, making it a bit more challenging to cut. The last 2 summers have been rather dry, making this even more the case, yet this saber easily sliced thru old growth, green bamboo 2" in diameter.

Historical Design Authenticity- 100%. This saber was designed by Philip Tom, a well know expert in the field. That alone would be enough for most to feel confident in the historical accuracy of any Continental Asian saber, but I can add that this saber closely resembles those discovered at different archeological sites in Russia, including those found at the site of the first Russian-Mongol battle at Kalka River in 1223 (The details of which finds were used to design which parts of this saber are listed below). Beyond the overall accuracy of the blade form & shape of the fittings, I was quite happy to see that the blade's cross-section geometry was also right on, being polished in what is commonly referred to as a a "clamshell" or "apple seed" shape. This shape provides for a blade that is both adequately sharp but also strong enough to endure the rigors of cutting harder materials.

Rating- This is the kind of sword that when you first draw it, if any word comes to mind, it is likely, "wow." After cutting with it, wow would most likely be followed with, "nice."

What I'd Like to See- I'd be very happy to see all swordsmiths & commercial forges alike produce at least some swords with historically accurate edge geometry, like that on this saber. While not as sharp as the straight "V" or so called "mat cutting" edge geometry that is common on all blades produced by all commercial forges, they are tougher & what was really in use. And while cutting with very sharp mat cutting type edges can be useful in one's training, particularly for beginners, it gives a false sense of how swords handled in a historical context. And also I'd love to see Vince's swords (as well as those of other fine smiths) in the hands of practitioners...

Scott M. Rodell
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Historical References for Evans' Mongol Saber

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:45 am

NOTES ON DESIGN

Philip Tom worked out the design as a combo of the likely elements that one might have seen in the sabers carried by the various horsemen who served in the Mongol ranks. Given that most of the excavated material is incomplete: a blade with guard here, one with a partial hilt there, and various bits in between, Philip drew on several source to complete the whole. A list of this sources is provided below-

The blade proportions and shape of guard and tuncou seen on the fragmentary saber with Armenian inscriptions excavated in the Urals, formerly in the possession of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (Leningrad branch), and published by Djanpoladian and Kirpicnikov in "Mittelalterlichen Saebel mit einer armenischen Jnschrift, gef. im subpolaren Ural" (GLADIUS, Vol. X, pp 15-23). Phil, however, opted for an unfullered blade x-section.

The relative lack of distal taper which Evans incorporated into the blade design is a feature confirmed by examination of numerous sabers, excavated on the Hungarian and north Caucasian plains. This accounts for the extremely tip-heavy balance of these weapons.

Pommel cap is based on examples shown in V. V. Arendt's "Tuerkische Saebel aus den VIII-IX. Jhdtn." (ARCHAEOLOGICA HUNGARICA, 1935, fig. 25, plate III/5). Tom, "It may be an antecedent of the much later "horse hoof" pommiles of the Ming and Qing, but that is conjecture at this point."

Scabbard suspension fittings inspired by 9th-11th cent. examples from the Yenisei region, published in Yu. S. Khudaykov, VOORUZHENIYE YENISEYSKIKH KYRGYZOV VI-XII bb,
(Novosibirsk: Nauka 1980); these fittings survived to the 17th cent. on Polish sabers.

Rayskin covered grip with floral escutcheon patterned after a fragmentary hilt discovered in the Amur region, published in Ye. I. Derevyanko, OCHERKI VOENNOGO DELA PLEMEN PRIAMUR'YA (Novosibirsk: Nauka 1987, fig. 8). The hilt has been described as possibly Chinese, an assessment repeated by David Nicolle in his MONGOL WARLORDS book.

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