Sunday, 29 March 2015

Artificer's Almanac Episode 2: Valentine

Hello once more dear friends, it’s that time again. It’s time to delve into the armouries of the animated and have a look at a new weapon.

This time let me take you to the Soul Calibur Series, now this fighting game is well known for its impressive collection of melee weapons but there is one that many people may remember. That is Valentine.

If you cannot remember what Valentine is, think snake sword being wielded by Isabella Valentine

And winner of the 'least effective armour award' goes to...
Yeah Her.

So where do I start? Well first of all it appears in two states, one as single handed longsword with two edges and a traditional crossguard. The second state is a barbed whip of sorts.

Now to explain how this sword can exist in these two states, I’ll have to give you a brief explanation of the Soul Calibur series.

So to cut a long, long story short, there was a Hero King named Algol who forged a sword using the power of his soul. This sword became known as Soul Edge, as the number of lives it took increased it became sentient, Algols son tried to steal the sword, Algol killed him, somehow the sword got lost, then Algol sacrified himself to create a sister sword (Soul Calibur) to beat the evil. So where does Valentine fit in? Well Isabella’s father spent his life and wealth hunting for the sword, went mad and died. That old chestnut. So Ivy (ironically) used alchemy, and some of her soul to create a sentient sword to help her defeat Soul Edge.

So ‘sentient snake sword’ you say; ‘No swords in real life match that’ I hear you cry, well yes and no; the closest thing it would resemble would be a bullwhip.

For those of you who unaware of the Bullwhip, you are all liars; if you are reading this page you most likely have seen Indiana Jones and thus you have seen a bullwhip.

Expecting Indy?
So the bullwhip, the origins of the bullwhip are also a matter for debate and, given the perishable nature of leather, are likely to remain so. Difficulties in tracing its development also arise from regional and national variations in nomenclature. There are claims that it was developed in South America where, like "cow-whips" during the slave trade, it was used as a weapon, or that it arrived there from Spain, but Roman mosaics and earthenware dating to around the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD show what appear to be tapered drop-lash whips, rather than the two-piece whips often associated with the Romans and other ancient cultures. Given that the same basic design appears in several primary sources, it seems likely that this is not a stylistic coincidence but a depiction of a design of whip in current use at the time the articles were made.

So what makes a bullwhip, well leather mainly *badum tish*. In all seriousness the bullwhip comes in four parts:

  1. a Thong (Behave)
  2. a Fall
  3. a Cracker
  4. a Handle

So the main portion of the whip which is commonly a braided leather body is known as the thong. The number of plaits or braids is an important factor within the construction of a bullwhip. The thong is multi-layered and has a centre known as a ‘belly’. Higher quality whips will have at least two bellies and have fewer plaits, while lower quality whips will have no bellies or bellies stuffed with poor quality materials such as newspaper.


The Handle is usually between 8 and 12 inches and is usually braided leather, similar to the thong, though some just have a wooden handle. Sometimes you will find a swivel hinge built into the handle to allow for the user to create an easier crack. The next piece is the fall; a single piece of leather between 10 and 30 inches in length. It is made to be replaceable as it will take a lot of wear and tear as it is normally being dragged along the ground if the user is on horseback. Last but not least is attached to the Fall is the cracker.

So does Valentine constitute as a Bullwhip? Possibly but I think we can do better ladies and gents. I present to you a rather esoteric weapon from South East Asia.
The Urumi is a flexible whip like blade, I kid you not.

So you wanted a snake sword, I found you a snake sword. The Urumi has its origins in India and it is believed that it has existed since 322 BBC (Maurya Dynasty for you history buffs). It is considered to be one of the hardest swords to master as there is an extremely high risk of injuring ones self.

The hilt is normally brass or iron and is normally based of a Talwar, the pommel will also have a short spike protruding from its centre, though this is believed to have been added for decorative reasons rather than practical offensive and defensive reasons in combat. The blade is fashioned from flexible edged steel measuring roughly an inch wide and about 1/8th of an inch thick the blade itself measures between 4 and 5.5 feet long and is worn around the waist like a belt when not in use.

Now if you want the ultimate snake sword then try and find one from Sri Lanka, they have been rumoured to have 32 blades each and Sri Lankan warriors dual wielded them. That’s 64 steel snakes coming at you from an angry Sri-Lankan.
Now this would be used similarly like a flail but requires less strength since the use of centrifugal force is enough to inflict injury. To create the centrifugal force the wielder must incorporate spins and agile manoeuvres into their combat stances. This however makes this weapon great to fend off multiple opponents.

So let me leave you with a physical display of this wonderfully odd weapon.

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