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Why did carrying a knife seax style go out of fashion?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Bartholomew Roberts, Apr 13, 2015.

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  1. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    This link demonstrates what I am talking about:
    http://woodlife475.blogspot.com/2008/05/all-about-seax.html

    At one point, it was common to carry a knife in front of you, in a horizontal sheath just below the belt line, with the edge facing up. This appears to be comfortable and practical even for knives we would consider largish today. I'm wondering why that fell out of favor?
     
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    I suppose there have been various ways of carrying a large blade (seax, rapier, bowie, wakaaashi etc.) around with you everywhere in many cultures, at times, and in environments where that was prudent.

    I think there's probably lots of reasons why it fell out of favor, the most prevalent being society tending toward setting aside/shunning the open carry of weapons, and the equally compelling practical issue that only folks like livestock butchers and sugar cane cutters find they've got much need for such a large blade more than every distant once-in-a-while.

    It does sure seem a comfortable way to carry one, though, if you're going to do much sitting and if you don't mind having it in your lap all the time. Better than on a hip or over your back, or under your arm.
     
  3. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    I carry my Camp Defender, edge down, horizontally on my belt.

    But I only carry it camping.
     
  4. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    Interpretation from places like that site are rarely historically accurate. Nobody actually knows how the average Anglo-Saxon carried anything. How stuff is found in graves doesn't mean that's how it was done when the guy was living.
    The only people who had helmets, of any kind, were the rich too.
     
  5. Bigdog57

    Bigdog57 Member

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    That decorative helmet is interesting, a replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet?
    I would think the horizontal knife carry went out of favor, as it couldn't be drawn by the off hand. Vertical carry is a bit more convenient?
     
  6. Andy2

    Andy2 Member

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    I have carried my Blackjack model 5 like that ever since my Army days... 'course I'm also one of those weird left handed people... LOL
    Andy
     
  7. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    in this case, I don't think it is a subject of much debate historically as there are tapestries and other period-appropriate artwork showing it being carried this way as well as historical examples of actual sheaths that are kind of limited in how you can carry them given where the belt loops are. I used that link as an example; but there does not appear to be any controversy on that point.
     
  8. Billy Shears

    Billy Shears Member

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    He's not carrying it edge upward. You can clearly see in the photo, it's edge downward. There are two photos of men carrying in this position. In the first (the man with the blue tunic), it's really obvious it's edge downward, because the seax has a grip that is curved like a saber, or almost a pistol grip hilt like on a Malaysian kris. Also, remember, the seax had an almost Bowie knife-like clip point, and a flat edge edge. In that same photo, you can see the shape of the sheath has the clip point on top. That seax is being worn edge downward, no question.

    The second photo of a man carrying a seax, the knife has a straight grip, so that gives no clue, but again, remember the shape of a seax: an almost straight edge -- they typically do not curve upward toward the point. And then the back is straight across the top, with the clip point dropping toward the tip. You see a seax (albeit a very short one) the very next photo down, displaying this characteristic shape. Again, you see the flat side of the sheath, corresponding to the flat edge, on the bottom, not the top. The curvature on the top of the sheath is where the clip point is, not the edge. This knife is also being worn edge downward.
     
  9. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    ...so, exactly as I carry my large knife...
     
  10. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    The site I linked to was more just to give an idea of how it was carried. From what I understand, carrying it edge up was to protect the edge in the sheaths of that time. Here is an example of a more traditional seax/sheath from Owen Bush that demonstrates the upward edge concept: http://www.owenbush.co.uk/wp-content/gallery/seaxes/oak-seax-with-sheath.jpg

    I can understand how that might be awkward and unnecessary though if you can carry it edge down without having any trouble withthe edge. And in general, I'd imagine we are probably blessed with a better grade of steel in most of our modern knives.
     
  11. kayak-man

    kayak-man Member

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    It hasn't gone out of style, the knife itself just changed.

    think Hide-Away-Knife and Kabar TDI :evil:
     
  12. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't think so. The two knives you mention are dedicated defensive pieces, while the seax was useful for many things.
     
  13. kayak-man

    kayak-man Member

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    Agreed on purpose of the knife. I thought the discussion was about where the knife is carried, towards the midline of the body, and not the purpose of the knife itself.
     
  14. Billy Shears

    Billy Shears Member

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  15. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
  16. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    Why edge up?
     
  17. mole

    mole Member

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    I believe it is so you don't cut the leather sheath when you draw the blade.
     
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    The sheath could just as easily be made to hang welt down so it couldn't be cut.

    And the knife would come out ready to use not upside down in your hand.

    It's a mystery to me why they did it that way??

    It's like wearing your pistol backwards in a Calvary draw holster.

    rc
     
  19. MartinS

    MartinS Member

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    A Colt in a cavalry draw holster can be pulled with the right hand or with the left hand if the right is busy with the saber. A seax held edge up, that's for gutting close up.
     
  20. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Conventional wisdom always says cavalry would shoot pistols left-handed because swords were used right-handed, but I really suspect it was so mixed armaments could all be shot in the same direction while in loose formation. Firing a carbine or shotgun right-handed from horseback, you have to shoot mostly to the left. Bow and arrow, almost exclusively to the left. So you'd have to shoot a pistol left-handed to avoid smacking your own face with it under recoil.

    But when dismounted you can use whichever hand you favor, hence cavalry carry.
     
  21. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    They didn't kick like a .454 Casuall!

    And I seriously doubt any horse solder, in battle, running on a massive dose of adrenaline, ever got kicked in the face by his own cap & ball revolver!!

    You would be wound up like a clock spring in battle.
    And you were already a hard body from handling a horse that long.

    rc
     
  22. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Basic cavalry tactics also weren't invented when revolvers were in use. The earliest handguns, used by the Mongols from horseback alongside horse archers, were .60 cal and up, often shot heavy iron arrows instead of balls, and had incredibly poor ergonomics. During the Napoleonic wars, dragoons were basically shotgun-caliber pistols. Civil War era cavalry didn't really revolutionize anything, and were pretty much using the same centuries-old tactics.

    But seriously, try shooting from a sitting position, 90 degrees to your left or even further rearward. Completely fine with a carbine right-handed, not so much with a pistol right-handed (unless you do the "center axis relock" thing). It's much easier left-handed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
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