Chubinsky A.

Abstract: The paper is devoted to a group of cold weapons reposited in the Armoury Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin museums. These are saber blades and spear heads that were provided or used to be provided with “rolling pearls” inserted to the fullers, two iron-cut maces, and an axe which because of the audible sound of clattering elements inside, on the author’s opinion, could be corresponded to the weapons with “rolling pearls”. The author states the weapons with “rolling pearls” to have been made in Russia in the first half-first third of the 17th century while the range of their types was as wide as it was in Iran. According to the author, the Moscow Kremlin museums reposit the world largest and most diversified collection of weapons with “rolling pearls”. The authors also makes an attempt to reconstruct the technological presses of these weapons manufacturing. Taking the objects with visible traces of masters’ work by way of example, he proposes different processing methods which were possibly used by masters to put “pearls” into the grooves. The author studies the reasons and aims of these “pearls” incorporation into the weapons. It is assumed the idea of putting a pearl, which sometimes was even invisible but audible, in a blade to have probably had a magic sense of enliven the weapon along with purely utilitarian and practical tasks. In this respect blade or any other outer and functional element of a weapon was paralleled with the “body” and the inserted “pearl” denoted the “soul”. Weapons with “rolling pearls” could be also put in a broader contextual surrounding and compared with famous European arms with inserted diverse elements of non-functional nature, holding a memorable, symbolic, and magic meaning. For instance, these are Lance of Longinus with the openwork head and a nail from the Holy Cross, which is among the most precious reliquaries, inserted to, and Szczerbiec, the coronation sword of Polish monarchs, with an openwork part which according to the legend appeared in the fuller after the sword was blown on the Kiev gates. Despite the absence of any actual enclosure, it is a kind of memory depository and like other weapons of such a kind could be considered as a reliquary. The weapons with “rolling pearls” are of equal nature dredge up images of reliquary treasures while it is understandable hence why the inserted metal balls were constantly called “pearls”.

Keywords: Pierced blades, «rolling pearls», «tears of afflicted», Iranian medieval arms, Russian medieval arms, sabres, daggers, spears, maces, animism