Hadhafang: Sword of Arwen Project Feb 28, 2019 16:18:52 GMT
Post by lebleuchevalier on Feb 28, 2019 16:18:52 GMT
Greetings. I have begun work on customizing a sword to resemble Hadhafang, or Arwen's sword from The Lord of the Rings. The sword is also carried by Elrond, Arwen's father, and was conceived by the film makers as an heirloom of their family. Originally belonging to Idril, princess of Gondolin, Hadhafang is a contemporary of Glamdring, Orcrist, and Sting. This is not canonical, but it is a nice touch and I always loved the design of the sword and have wanted to own a replica for many years.
I am creating this thread to update my progress and fully intend to upload all sorts of photos. For now, I would like to share how this all began.
Recently, I contacted Peter Lyon, the legendary sword smith contracted to make the hero weapons for the Rings films. I asked him some general questions about the original prop because, apart from the United Cutlery replica, there are no replicas of this sword that are authentic enough to interest me, least of all a "battle ready" (for lack of a better term) version. His reply was far more detailed than I could have imagined. In fact, it was nearly comprehensive.
Here is some history about the making of this fascinating sword based on my own research and Mr. Lyon's generous account:
1. Peter Lyon did not design the sword. Weta Workshop employed three primary conceptual artists: Daniel Falconer, Benjamin Wooten, and Warren Mahy. Mahy was responsible for the majority of the Elven designs, so I assume he is responsible for Hadhafang, though I cannot confirm this. Mahy et al were given one memo from Peter Jackson regarding the design of all things Elven: Japanese Samurai culture and Arte Nouveau. Superficially, Hadhafang does resemble a Japanese katana, but a trained eye will spot the many ways why it bears little resemblance to one. As far as the influence of Arte Nouveau, the curved lines and floral motifs are evident in the final design.
2. Mr. Lyon claims that other historical Eastern swords played a significant influence on the overall design of the sword. These swords include the tulwar, the shamshir, the Cossack shashka, but most especially the Indo-Persian yataghan, this is because Hadhafang has both a curve AND a recurve. The recurve in the handle, according to Mr. Lyon, was caused by a "fortuitous accident" during the heat treatment. He elected to keep it because, well, it looks cool.
3. Hadhafang was a rather annoying sword to create. Mr. Lyon cut the basic shape of the sword out from spring steel sheet stock, but could not achieve the curvature in the tip to his satisfaction. Therefore, he finished the sword with a hammer and anvil until he was satisfied. The blade has two barbs, for lack of a better word, and the bevels extend from the edge to the barbs themselves in a circular motion. Grinding these bevels, therefore, was a huge pain in the ass. I included the photo in this post to visually detail what I am talking about.
3. The blade DOES have a distal taper. Mr. Lyon explained that the sword was 4.5mm thick at the base and tapered to about 2mm or less at the tip. He wanted the last third to be rather thin, but given the significant profile taper, he needed more mass at the tip to strengthen it. It's amazing that even though the hero sword was never going to be used to chop people to bits, he still conceived of the sword in that way and gave so much attention to the functional details. Furthermore, grinding the distal taper into the blade without losing all the various bevels, edges, curves, and small details was a massive undertaking, and this was for a sword that was created as an afterthought!
4. The blade is etched with floral motifs and runes. The original runic script had a line that was omitted from the finished sword because there was not enough room. Mr. Lyon claims that if they had more time, Weta would have used real copper or brass inlay to hammer into the etchings. Similarly, they would have used real inlay in the handle as they did for Sting. Mr. Lyon carved all the channels into the handle for Sting. Given the handle material was cocobolo it was a real feat in and of itself as cocobolo wood is INCREDIBLY dense. He set real silver inlay into the channels under a microscope with tweezers! I can understand why he did not have the time to do this with Hadhafang, but I wonder if anyone would have the ambition to do it after the work on Sting.
5. The final weight of the sword was about 2.5 pounds and it had a decent balance, about seven inches from the handle. This is consistent with many historical sabers, Eastern and Western alike. This is impressive considering Hadhafang does not have a heavy pommel to balance the weight, only a thin brass cap. This will be a major point of contention for me when I am close to completing my sword build, because I DO want the sword to be well balanced.
My next post will provide a bevy of pictures and will show all the work I have done so far. Stay tuned...