We as a race have always had a use for weapons. At the most basic level, weapons were once used to hunt and to protect against threats. And of course to make war on others. I think the title kind of speaks for itself, so lets take a look at some of the killing devices from the past.
Yes, just like the one Xena used ( :D ) The chakram, which was also sometimes called a chalikar, was a weapon used by Indian warriors, and depending on their size they could be worn around the neck or wrist, or y’know on one’s belt like the warrior princess. Not all of the designs had the curved handle in the middle; some were just razor sharp circles. They was thrown vertically, with a fancier maneuver being to twirl one on the index finger before flicking the wrist sharply for the throw. A similar Chinese weapon, the wind and fire wheels, were actually designed for melee combat as well as throwing when wielded as a pair.
The emeici, which translates roughly to “emei daggers” or “emei piercers” was a traditional Chinese martial arts weapon used for stabbing. The long metal rods were mounted on detachable rings usually worn around the middle finger, allowing the user to spin them around for an impressive show before stabbing someone to death. (The idea was that the blades could be manipulated to confuse and frighten an enemy in order to get close enough to stab or throw them). These are actually still used today, in the exhibition and full-contact known was Wushu.
The katar, sometimes called suwaiya or jamdhara, also originated in India and is a push knife type of weapon. Its defining features are the H-shaped horizontal grip and the triangular blade that would sit right above the knuckles. Some of the earlier designs featured a knuckle guard to protect the back of the hand, but this feature was discarded around the 17th century, most likely for aesthetic reasons. Over time, the katar became a status symbol that represented power and wealth. A lot of upper-class Mughals would use them while hunting tigers as well, because killing a tiger with such a short-range weapon was the surest mark of prowess. Katars were often made with broken sword blades.
The mancatcher is an aptly named pole weapon that was used in Europe up to the late 18th century. It consisted of two separate, spring-loaded pronged heads atop a spear-length pole. The idea was to wedge the catcher over the head and press the release so that it snapped shut, entrapping an enemy. It was designed to bring mounted warriors down, and for rather obvious (and pointed) reasons it was effective because resistance would have been minimal. It was one of the few non-lethal pole weapons, provided it wasn’t twisted in such a way that broke the neck.
Hooked swords, also called Qian Kun Ri Yue Dao, like the pair used by Shulien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, originated with the normally passive Shoalin monks of northern China. Many sources indicate that this is an ancient weapon, but the design of the oldest found suggests that it’s more of a modern one. The hook design allows one to connect the two blades at the tip and wield them as one long-ranged weapon. The crescent-shaped guards were excellent for blocking and slashing opponents who managed to get within one’s guard since the tips were sharpened into mini-daggers. This was not a weapon that the Chinese military utilized within any of their armies, so it was mostly civilians who used them.
Nest of Bees
At this point I think it’s safe to say it’s a bad idea to cross the Chinese. They’ve gotten three weapons on the list of stuff used in the past; no telling what’s going on modern day. This ingenious little siege weapon was just a wooden container in the shape of a hexagon filled with tubes, which when viewed end on looked like a honeycomb. Now, inside each of the tubes was a rocket propelled arrow, so when they were lit, you had up to 32 arrows being launched at once. They had a range comparable to a traditional bow, but more power, and when multiple nests were launched at once… look out, especially since the arrowtips were often dipped in poison or flammable liquids. One of the drawbacks though was that it was two-handed, which made it awkward to handle and transport.
Macuahuitl and Tepiztopilli
The macuahuitl and tepiztopilli were particularly frightening (and cool) weapons used primarily by the Aztecs. They macuahuitl was a wooden sword-like weapon and the tepiztopilli was more the length of a spear, but both had jagged pieces of obsidian wedged into the sides. The Spanish noted that these weapons were so well made that the obsidian was almost impossible to pull from the wood and that they were capable of decapitating. Both could be used with a shield, though the macuahuitl could be made with a one-handed or two-handed grip. The two-handed ones were more club than sword, which made wielding them more difficult. Regardless of the way they were designed, both weapons worked best in a sawing motion. Supposedly, the last authentic macuahuitl and tepiztopilli were both destroyed in a fire in 1884 in Madrid. While there is some speculation that there is another equally authentic macuahuitl in a Mexican museum warehouse, that piece has never been confirmed to truly exist.
The Kpinga, also called the Hunga Munga, was a multi-bladed throwing weapon used by the Azande people in Nubia. It was 20 to 25 inches in length, and rather lightweight at no more than 4lbs. It could be thrown overhead at an opponent, or horizontally at a low angle to hit the legs. In addition to being a weapon, the kpinga was also a status symbol given only to established, professional warriors. Some sources also indicate that it was a standard part of a dowry a prospective groom had to pay to his bride’s family.
And now, we go to the opposite end of past weapons – I want to know what you guys think!
Now, on to a business note. I’m pushing hard into the world of freelance writing, and part of that process was adding a page in the bar at the top titled “Freelance Services.” I doubt any of you reading the blog need to employ a writer – you’re writers yourselves. But there it is – my bio as a freelancer. And it feels awesome to put it in writing and in a public place.
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