04 December 2009

55 Unusual Names of Ancient and Medieval Hand Weapons

. . . Seriously, I'm not into weapons, but I am fascinated by their interesting and often beautiful names. Here's a smattering from my collection (of words, not weapons).

1. adze or adz. form of ax with blade mounted perpendicular to haft, like a hoe; technically a carpenter's tool.

2. baculus. heavy club with knotted hardwood business end.

3. ballista. giant crossbow, usually mounted on a cart or sledge.

4. bec-de-corbin. a form of war hammer having a pick-like head and a spear-like tip projecting straight up from the end of the shaft.

5. biliong. Malaysian ax with large handle.

6. bisacuta. double pointed pick.

7. bouzdykan. Polish mace made entirely of metal.

8. bulawa. Russian mace made entirely of metal.

9. chemeti. fighting whip of Java.

10. claymore. giant two-handed Scottish sword.

11. cumber-jung. flail used in India, having a wooden handle and two short chains each ending in a heavy metal ring.

12. dabus. wooden mace studded with nails, used in Arabia.

13. dolabra. Roman Legionnaire's battle ax.

14. falcata ("fall-KAH-tah"). Celtic sword, circa 100 CE, with a short, inward-curving blade.

15. fauchard. polearm with a long, narrow, curved blade, sharpened on one side only, having a curved parrying spike on the back of the blade.

16. flagellum. Roman three-pronged whip.

17. flamberge. giant two-handed German sword.

18. francisca. heavy throwing ax with metal blade and wooden handle, used by Franks of 6th to 8th centuries.

19. ganjing. iron club of Java, Indonesia.

20. gargaz. six- to ten-bladed mace of India.

21. glaive. polearm with a rear-projecting knob or spike.

22. goupillon. European three-pronged steel flail used by mounted warriors.

23. hoeroa. whalebone club used by the Maori of New Zealand.

24. hurlbat. European throwing axe made entirely of metal.

25. hunga-munga. African curved-bladed throwing knife with projecting points or hooks on either side of the handle, such that it will pierce its victim no matter which way it impacts.

26. i-wata-jinga. stone-headed club used by North American Plains Indians.

27. jo. Japanese wooden staff. The English name is a quarterstaff.

28. kadjo. Australian stone-headed club.

29. kalus. Malaysian fighting whip.

30. kamcha. Turkish whip having a wooden handle and a leather or cord business end.

31. katana. classic Samurai sword with a long, slightly curved blade that does not taper.

32. kujerong. heavy wooden Australian club with a rounded end.

33. kukri. national sword of the Gurkha warriors of Nepal, having a small, curved blade. The sword itself is often called a Gurkha.

34. mabobo. Australian club with rounded head and square handle.

35. mace. general term for any metal club designed for crushing armor; some maces also have knobs, spikes or blades.

36. mugdar. club used by Sepoy warriors of India, wooden with lead weights.

37. novacula. ancient sickle-like weapon of Cyprus.

38. nunchaku. Japanese type of flail consisting of two short sticks or rods joined by a short chain or rope. English term is nunchucks.

39. partizan. a polearm with a single broad blade surrounded by shorter points.

40. pike. long-handled thrusting weapon with short blade, used by foot soldiers against charging cavalry.

41. plombee ("plom-BAY"). European lead-weighted mace with a wooden handle.

42. polearm ("POLE-arm"). general term for any weapon mounted on a pole.

43. qama ("KAH-mah"). national weapon of Soviet Georgia, being a dagger with a straight, double-edged blade.

44. quadrelle. small metal mace with four flanges or blades.

45. rante. Malasian chain whip used to entangle an opponent's arms or legs; some have metal star-shaped weights on the ends of the chain.

46. sai ("SY"). Japanese parrying baton with two side hooks. Often the warrior holds one in each hand.

47. scimitar ("SIM-it-ar"). sword with long, sweeping, slightly curved blade, 1500s, used for slashing rather than thrusting.

48. scramasax. short-bladed sword used by Saxons, Franks, Vikings and Gauls.

49. shuriken. Japanese throwing star: a small, flat metal disc with points protruding around the entire edge.

50. skain. ancient Irish dagger.

51. spontoon. small pike.

52. trebuchet ("TREB-yoo-shay"). giant hurling mechanism, usually mounted on a wheeled platform or sledge.

53. verutum. light Roman infantry javelin with a back-pointing barb on each side of the blade.

54. voulge or vouge. European polearm having a broad axe-like blade used for slashing and a projecting spike used for thrusting.

55. war witch. thin-bladed battle axe on a four-foot pole, originated in Denmark.

(Some of these terms were found in Palladium Books Presents the Compendium of Weapons, Armour and Castles, for Use with all Role Playing Games, by Matthew Balent. Detroit, Mich: Palladium Books, 1981, 1989)


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