Such blades had a very good reputation over other metals of the day and were thought to be tougher, more resistant to breaking and capable of being honed to a sharper edge. Today there are many steels so pure and honed for specific purposes by melding alloys that the difference no longer exists. Still, historically it was groundbreaking and frankly stunning when done right making a blade a true functional and unique work of art.
Where did the term Damascus come from? Many believe it refers to one of the oldest, largest armament making cities in Syria known as Damascus. Wootz steel was imported from India through Arab traders starting around the 3rd Century and used to make superior weapons of the day. This continued into the 17th Century where it finally became obsolete with the advent of better, cheaper metals and advancements in firearms. Of course it could be a simple play on the word damask which is a way to describe similar patterns in fabrics.
Legends persist around Damascus steel today, like the ability to cut through a rifle barrel or to cut a piece of cloth falling across the blade. Although certain types of modern steel can match and in some instances outperform these swords, chemical reactions in the production process made the blades extraordinary for their time and are just as beautiful today. For the blade collector who wishes for something unique with a true warrior's pedigree.
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