Pattern-welding and damascening of sword-blades. Part 1: pattern-welding

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Maryon, Herbert;


Studies in conservation, Volume 5, Number 1, p.25-37 (1960)


iron, Japanese, pattern welding, steel, swords, technique


The decoration of European swords by the process known as pattern welding normally consisted in welding together alternate bands of iron and steel and grinding away their surface. Several of the strips so formed might then be composed into the central band of ornament of the sword. The author has made copies of these swords. Another form of pattern welding can be seen in the Malay kris. The blade is composed of many thin plates of steel of diverse composition welded together on each side of the central member. The pattern might then be produced by filing transverse grooves at intervals along the blade, and by punching, leaving a pattern to be revealed by etching. The technique of damascening has nothing in common with that of pattern welding. The pattern of a damascened sword comes from the structure of the steel used. This steel was made in India by a process which is described and sent to Damascus and neighbouring countries. The pattern goes right through the sword and is composed of elongated crystals of cementite in a pearlite matrix, as is shown in a photomicrograph. The pattern known as kirk narduban was made on a damascened blade by cutting a series of transverse grooves, as in the Malay kris, and hammering these flat. Garry Thomson