To Arms, Part 1
Ever since man began walking the face of this earth he has looked for, made and developed weapons. Perhaps the original weapon, maybe a rock or piece of timber, was used to hunt his prey for food but he soon discovered the weapon could also be used to defend himself or attack another human being. It was also learned that a weapon shaped in a particular way could be more effective than one that wasn't. So sharpening an animal bone, length of wood or lump of stone, proved very worthwhile. Soon fire maybe originally from a lightening strike was added to the process.
Man discovered he could make fire at will by briskly rubbing two pieces of wood together. Later, when sharpening a particular type of stone, he discovered that the stone gave off a spark when struck and a spark was the quick and easy way to make fire! A man who could sharpen such a stone into an arrow tip or spear point, and make fire from it as well, was indeed a man of skill and deserving of respect. He was a Flint Knapper honoured and respected, and perhaps the forerunner of the armourers who were to follow.
With the trading or theft of knowledge and information, fire eventually led to the discovery of metals. Gold, silver, tin, zinc, iron, copper and, by combining various ingredients, bronze and steel. Later, it was realized a mixture of powdered charcoal, sulphur and salt-petre gave a very satisfying explosion when touched by fire! The arms race was well under way and the ancient Kingdom of Siam was little different to other nations of the day. Examples of Siamese weapons, which may be viewed in Thai National or Provincial museums, fall into the following groupings.
Chopping and Thrusting Blades, Throwing Javelins
Meed (Knife) : A single edged metal blade with the shank secured in a shaft of wood. The blade was shaped to carry weight at the fore, with this fighting edge honed to a fine sharpness. Different shapes and lengths of blade were designed for particular purposes and named accordingly
Darb / Tow (Curved Sword) : A long-bladed weapon with a sharpened and curved edge and point. Blade weight was to the fore. The hilt (handle) was bound with leather or fabric to ensure a good grip. When not in use, the Darb was stowed in a scabbard (sheath) of either wood or leather and attached to the soldier's belt or waist sash.
Grabee (Sword) : A double-edged weapon with both sides of the blade and point well sharpened. Blade weight was to the hilt where the hand grip was bound with leather or woven rattan. A full or partial metal cage protected the handgrip. Again, the weapon was stowed in a scabbard (sometimes ornately decorated) when not in use.
Horg (Spear) : A medium weight, strong thrusting weapon about seven feet in length. The tapered, arrow shaped metal head was sharpened at the point and both edges. The shank of the head was securely fitted to a shaft of wood, or cured, slim bamboo. Depending upon the head shape and usage, the Horg had different sub names.
Our next issue will look at a further selection of Siamese weapons
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