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Possible To Have An Indian Wootz Blade In A Traditional Nihonto Polish?


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     This is a crazy idea but I have to ask. I have an old wootz tulwar from India which has a very nice but barely visible watered steel pattern. (it's not Damascus steel but actual crucible wootz) I have looked into having it professionally restored by a group over in the U.K. but the norm for bringing out a wootz blade pattern is to chemically etch it (which is what they do). I was wondering if it were even possible to have a wootz blade professionally polished like a nihonto and bring out the pattern. The wootz pattern has similar characteristics to a hamon although wootz is crucible steel and is one solid metal. The first picture is a section of my tulwar, second is what it would look like in better condition. Thanks.

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Taylor,

an interesting thought! Your Wootz blade is actually the 'right' Damascus steel. Its name is derived from the fact that this material was traded via Damascus, coming from India and later from Persia. It is a crystalline steel the structure of which is quite different from the steel we know from Japanese swords. You don't have differential quenching, so there is no HAMON. Japanese blades have nothing to do with Damascus, as they use a mainly homogenized steel.

On my side, there is not much hope that a Japanese TOGISHI can find a way to polish your blade as he is usually working with forge-welded  steel, which is so much different from Wootz. 

 

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Hi Taylor,

 

shure the pattern will be visible in some way, but it will look totally different.

It will lack in contrast.

Having the blade polished before etching makes more sense I think.

Had such ideas as well.

But I wouldn´t consider to try on antiques.

The second picture you posted showing some spectacular pattern.

 

Greetings

 

ruben

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It is absolutely no problem for a skilled togishi to bring out the structure in the steel.

It was done in the past several times.

The last one I see it was on a wootz dagger blade polished by Dr.Stefan Mäder, if my information was right.

But Ruben is right, the Look is more subtle. Not so black and white like it comes from acid.

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Dear Taylor.

 

Any chance of a picture of the whole sword?  I have a couple and find them interesting.

 

All the best.

Yeah, here are some photos. The pommel disk was covered in extremely hard oil but once it was removed I could see the koftgari that remained. It has a much more angular style than most other tulwar's I've seen. It's got a scarf weld about 1/2 way down the blade although I don't think it is visible in these photos.

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I would let it as it is because mostley antique blades need that patina to call it genuine.

 

Polishing a blade is what i know only a Japanese thing, because the nakago ana is the point for looking the age.

 

But I'm not a expert.

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Probably a stupid suggestion, but why not try a polish like Mother's Mag to restore it and then acid etch it with white vinegar or lemon juice to restore the pattern?

 

Cost effective way, easily done and since it isn't a Nihonto, I don't see no harm in it!

 

(Runs hiding under a stone waiting for the backlash...) :)

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It is absolutely no problem for a skilled togishi to bring out the structure in the steel.

It was done in the past several times.

The last one I see it was on a wootz dagger blade polished by Dr.Stefan Mäder, if my information was right......

After a short inquiry, I just got a reply from Dr. Stefan Mäder about this subject. He wrote:

 

Tatsächlich habe ich vor 12 Jahren einmal einen indischen Tulwar mit den japanischen Steinen auf die dortige Art poliert. 
Das Muster kam dabei hervor, aber nicht so deutlich und dunkel wie durch eine klassische, nicht übertriebene Ätzung und Politur. Da ich selbst in Japan nur zwei Jahre etwas über das dortige Polieren lernen durfte, ist davon auszugehen, dass ein erfahrener Togishi auch an Wootz deutlich bessere Ergebnisse erzielen würde als ich. Dass sich Wootz japanisch polieren und auch sichtbar machen lässt, steht für mich außer Frage.

 

In english:

 

Twelve years ago I have indeed polished an Indian TULWAR with Japanese stones the usual way. The pattern came out, but it wasn't as clear and dark as it would have been with a classical, not exaggerated polish and etching. As I had only two years in Japan to learn something about traditional polishing, I think that an experienced TOGISHI might achieve much besser results than me. I have no doubts that WOOTZ can be polished the Japanese way and that the pattern can be made visible.      

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After a short inquiry, I just got a reply from Dr. Stefan Mäder about this subject. He wrote:

 

Tatsächlich habe ich vor 12 Jahren einmal einen indischen Tulwar mit den japanischen Steinen auf die dortige Art poliert. 
Das Muster kam dabei hervor, aber nicht so deutlich und dunkel wie durch eine klassische, nicht übertriebene Ätzung und Politur. Da ich selbst in Japan nur zwei Jahre etwas über das dortige Polieren lernen durfte, ist davon auszugehen, dass ein erfahrener Togishi auch an Wootz deutlich bessere Ergebnisse erzielen würde als ich. Dass sich Wootz japanisch polieren und auch sichtbar machen lässt, steht für mich außer Frage.

 

In english:

 

Twelve years ago I have indeed polished an Indian TULWAR with Japanese stones the usual way. The pattern came out, but it wasn't as clear and dark as it would have been with a classical, not exaggerated polish and etching. As I had only two years in Japan to learn something about traditional polishing, I think that an experienced TOGISHI might achieve much besser results than me. I have no doubts that WOOTZ can be polished the Japanese way and that the pattern can be made visible.      

 

Wow, that's amazing and insightful, thank you very much!

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Taylor,

Mr. Mäder simply says that it is possible. The TOGI process is in no ways "better" than the traditional way of treatment of WOOTZ blades, as the development of the manufacture of a blade and the later treatments for aesthetical results always go together, and this can take centuries. This applies to all cultures from the Vikings with their beautiful Damascus swords to the Malaiian EMPU smiths and their KRISS dagers. . 

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