A Study of the Eastern Sword

Book Reviews

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A groundbreaking work which sets the standard in the field of Middle Eastern and Central Asian weapons as well as offers a unique understanding of their link to the arms of East Asia. The research presented is accompanied by a splendid display of never before published artifacts.

Prof. Zhang, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Kirill Rivkin published a new book which presents a general summary of the evolution of Eastern sword, a study never attempted before. Such ambitious goal can only be handled by a person like him, well versed in the subject with access to various museum or private collections.

Short Introduction which raises the question of importance of weapon research for understanding history as a whole sets the tone for the rest of book. Material arranged and analyzed is impressive and presented in an admirable way. Rivkin manages to add new aspects to old and seemingly well researched themes as Persian and Ottoman arms but especially important is a chapter dealing with such often neglected subject as Mamluk swords and their place in global evolution. His discussion of problematic issues is clear and elegant (see chapter on steel and on wootz particular), skepticism well founded (see evaluation of Anosov’s method), and his redating even of such controversial artifact as Charlemagne’s sword is quite persuasive.

To sum up, it is very thoughtful work, a must to have for everyone interested in subject.

Dr. Tsurtsumia, author of “Medieval Georgian Army (900-1700)”

The book covers a very broad area, from East Asia over Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Mamluk Egypt, the Ottoman Empire to Persia. It covers the history from the early times, and explains the development of the sword. The book is very well illustrated with very good pictures, and a lot of details. It is a must for anyone interested in the history and the weapons from this area.

Jens Nordlunde, author of “A Passion for Indian Arms”

An ambitious book encompassing the entire East, from Japan and China to Eastern Europe; Dr. Rivkin’s books can be enjoyed on a variety of levels. The number and quality of the photographs make it a photo essay on the subject, one can devote hours just paging through the photographs. But where it really shines is in the scholarly depth of the text. The authors provide background and context on the evolution of the sword with detailed analysis of how culture and technology contributed to that development. Virtually every type of edged weapon from the geographical expanse and within the time period up until the 18th century is covered in depth. For those of our readers who have even the slightest interest in the subject, this book belongs in your library.

Arms Heritage Magazine, 2017

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About Book

A Study of the Eastern Sword by Kirill Rivkin and Brian Isaac, attempts for the first time to consider evolution of swords in Asia over the course of the last two millennia as a whole – from Scythians and Sarmatians, to East Asia and Japan, then back to the nomadic routes and the Pontic-Caspian Steppe of Khazars and Cumans, and then towards the whole consequent diversity of forms, employed in Persia, Mamluk Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Caucasus. 360 pages with 182 illustrations, consisting of hundreds of individual photographs. Some items, such as the famed sword of Charlemagne, were published numerous times, but never in detail and quality available in this book. Others, such as unique 14th century Mongol period examples, were never publicly displayed before, and don’t even have known published analogues. From the sword awarded by General Denikin at the height of the Russian Civil War, to the one attributed to Albania’s Skanderbeg, or European Crusader blades, carried by Mamluk dignitaries, many examples chosen for this book are some of the most prominent, artistic, and scientifically important in the field. The analysis presented demonstrates a clear continuity in the development of a single edged long sword. It shows how this form evolved over time, and provides extensive guidance on attribution and dating of swords. Various technical, in particular – metallurgical, aspects involved in sword making are also discussed, including historical evidence related to the earliest wootz (bulat) making and the consequent evolution of this technology. There is also a somewhat controversial attempt to identify six distinctive periods in the history of Asian swords (and other aspects of material culture), and to relate transitions between them to competing forces of globalization and regionalization. A single copy can not be autographed as it usually ships directly from a warehouse, while 3 copies package can be signed by the author. Please specify in the request whether you want them signed, but in this case there could be a short delay with fulfilling the order. On sale, please use the paypal form below to request your copy.

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