3 Traditional Weapon Making Methods That Need To Be Kept Alive
The cultural importance of weaponry is not to be underestimated and the art of crafting such tools should be kept alive for future generations.
Traditional weapon making is in danger of being lost forever if we do not preserve the knowledge that our forefathers have handed down over the generations. From the noble samurai sword to the old English long bow, traditional weapons are more than just artefacts, they are part of our cultural heritage and should be kept alive for future generations to marvel at.
The amount of workmanship that goes into these ancient arms is nothing short of astounding, and the skills needed to create one can often take a lifetime to gain. Here we look at three weapons in a little more detail. Thankfully, Now Strike Archery in Essex are helping to keep alive one of England’s most famous traditional weapons, the English longbow. Let’s take a look at some iconic weapons.
The samurai sword was more than simply a tool for the ancient warriors of Japan. This weapon was said to be connected with the owner’s soul and this deep attachment made each individual sword a prized possession for the Japanese warriors of old.
The katana – the traditional Japanese name for the samurai sword – is forged from only the very purest steel, named by the Japanese as tamahagane. The best pieces of tamahagane are sent to the swordsmith who manipulates the steel in order to remove any lingering impurities. This is widely regarded as the most vital stage as any residual impurities will significantly weaken the end product.
The sword is then forged, coated, curved and polished in the traditional swordsmith fashion before any finishing touches are added. The finished product would have gone through a total of 15 men in order to bring it to the samurai, a process that thankfully continues to this day.
The English Longbow
While long bows can be simple to fashion, to make one to the standard of ancient bowyers requires both skill and patience. The preferred material for such bows was yew wood as it offered both the ruggedness and the suppleness necessary for a fine weapon to be fashioned.
The traditional process for making a long bow included the drying of the yew wood, a stage that would have taken between one and two years alone. The wood would have been slowly worked into shape during this time in order to give the bow stave its traditional D-shape.
Traditionally made long bows can last an extraordinarily long time if treated correctly, but the fact remains that this form or weapon making needs to be preserved before it becomes a forgotten art. Thankfully, these bow making courses in Essex are gaining in popularity as archery becomes a more mainstream pastime.
Although seemingly easy to make, the axe is a weapon that is deceptively hard to get right. Traditional axe makers and blacksmiths are in short supply thanks to the continued need for the tool/weapon and the mass produced manufacturing process that serves the market for them.
Stone and steel axes have played an extraordinary role in history and can be traced back as far as 6000 BC. Wedging was used to fix the head and rawhide lashings wrapped around both the head and the haft gave further rigidity to the weapon. Everything from battle axes to tomahawks work on the head and haft principle but it is the traditional method, as ever, that we are in great danger of losing.
Traditional pick axes are made from a simple handle and head that slot together – these methods are actually far more practically than some modern methods.
Weapon making is at risk of becoming a lost art, but a few men and women in Essex are making a great effort to keep out heritage alive and well.