A shamshir (Persian: شمشیر) is a type of Middle Eastern sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from shamshīr, which means "sword" (in general). The curved sword family includes the shamshir, scimitar, talwar, kilij, pulwar and sabre.
A shamshir shekargar (Persian: شَمشیر شکارگَر shamshir-e shekârgar; literally, "hunters' sword" or "hunting sword") is the same as a shamshir, except the blade is engraved and decorated, usually with hunting scenes.
Originally, Persian swords were straight and double edged. The curved scimitar blades were Central Asian in origin. Shamshirs began to appear in Persia in the 9th century, when these weapons were used by soldiers in the Khurasan region of Central Asia. The sword now called a "shamshir" was introduced to Iran by the Turkic Seljuk Khanate in the 12th century and was later popularized in Persia by the early 16th century, and had "relatives" in Turkey (the kilij), the Mughal Empire (the talwar), and the adjoining Arabian world (the saif).
The shamshir is a one-handed, curved sword featuring a slim blade that has almost no taper until the very tip. Instead of being worn upright (hilt-high), it is worn horizontally, with the hilt and tip pointing up. It was normally used for slashing unarmored opponents either on foot or mounted; while the tip could be used for thrusting, the drastic curvature of blade made accuracy more difficult. It has an offset pommel, and its two lengthy quillons form a simple crossguard. The tang of the blade is covered by slabs of bone, ivory, wood, or other material fastened by pins or rivets to form the grip. Many of the older Persian shamshir blades are made from high quality crucible wootz steel, and are noted for the fine "watering" on the blades.
Although the name has been associated by popular etymology with the city of Shamshir (which in turn means "curved like the lion's claw" in Persian) the word has been used to mean "sword" since ancient times, as attested by Middle Persian shamshir (Pahlavi šmšyl), and the Ancient Greek σαμψήρα / sampsēra (glossed as "foreign sword").
- A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, By George Cameron Stone, Donald J. LaRocca, 1999, pg. 553
- James E. Lindsay (2005), Daily life in the medieval Islamic world, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 64, ISBN 0-313-32270-8
- Pakistan Historical Society (2006). Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society. Pakistan Historical Society. p. 80. ISSN 0030-9796
- A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, By George Cameron Stone, Donald J. LaRocca, 1999, pg. 550
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