A sword’s soul: a philosophical matter
This is the third episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia.
This section of the interview deals with a philosophical matter: A sword’s soul! What does this mean? Follow us in this journey through time!
Q5. Many famous swords have names, do you “baptize” all of yours at the anvil with a book of names or do you not give weight to this type of tradition?
Rodolfo: Usually Eleonora is the one to name the swords!
Eleonora: Yes, I’m the one who is obsessed with this. Obviously it depends on the sword, but many custom orders (both for a matter of recognition as well as for marketing), give a name to themselves, almost automatically: I look at them and I don’t even have to think!
In history, many swords were given a name, because our ancestors strongly believed that the act of naming was to define, to give life and purpose to everything. Swords like Roland’s Durendal, or King Arthur’s Excalibur or the well known Joyeuse of the Emperor Charlemagne, just to mention some, did have a soul and were relics charged with power. Also, the advent of Christianity played an important role in the development of the symbolic meanings connected to the sword as an object. As a symbol of justice and equity, as of the Christ’s cross and passion, the sword became the icon of the chivarly’s right and status, so much that this idea survived until today, where we still make swords for fencers and collectors from all over the world.
Relics enough thy golden hilt conceals: / Saint Peter's Tooth, the Blood of Saint Basile, / Some of the Hairs of my Lord, Saint Denise, / Some of the Robe, was worn by Saint Mary. - About Durendal, from La Chanson de Roland
Q6. For me, a sword is a work of art that kills, and in some cases an almost pornographic object (forgive me, collector’s mania). For others, a sword is a piece of sports equipment, and for some, it’s a decoration for the home. For you, who forge them, what is a sword’s function?
Rodolfo: I’d like to make a small specification: the forging component in our established production process is very small. We use the forge for small parts of the sword and only when necessary, otherwise we use manual procedures such as stock removal (removing excess material) to obtain the result efficiently and with the tools available to us. For me, a sword is a functional tool to practice with, even beautiful if need be, as proportions and functionality are directly connected.
Eleonora: For me, it depends on the sword. Is it an original or a sharpened replica? Then it’s a weapon, more or less a piece of art, based on the expertise of its maker. Is it a sword for HEMA? Then it’s a sports tool. Is it a bit of both? It’s possible!