Hossein Farajian (Iran) was a famed late Iranian smith who was born in Zanjan, Iran. He died on Saturday 26 of Esfand [17 March 2007]. He learned his craft as an apprentice to the late famed master smith Mr. Yahya Yaghubi. It is important to know that the pieces made by the late Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian are displayed in the Muzeye Sanaye Dasti Iran (The Museum of Handicraft) in Tehran. Many artisans from different fields present their items for display in this important museum, and few can pass the strict requirements of this museum to present their items there. Next to an Isfahani smith, the late Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian and Ostad Mohammad Reza Farajian are the only smiths who could fulfill these requirements so far.
The late Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian was very fascinated by the story of Ramses II fighting the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh. Certainly, there was significant interaction and trade
between ancient Egypt and ancient Iran during the Late Bronze Age; some artifacts in the National Museum of Iran have inscriptions in both Old Persian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs. But
when I look back, I hardly think that this kind of historical interaction was the true reason for the admiration that Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian held for Ramses II. For Ostad Haj Hossein
Farajian, Ramses II represented more than just a historical figure. He was a symbol of bravery and kingship. Perhaps the figure of Ramses even symbolized something to him that he never
explained to me. Perhaps words alone were not enough to describe his deep-seated fascination for Ramses II. Maybe that was the reason that he decided, one day, to make an Egyptian
kopesh, to demonstrate that, at times, words are not enough to show one’s true feelings and that, at certain times, one must take action. So Ostad Haj Hossein took action to show his
admiration for Ramses. I remember that day when I first showed him the sketches of the Egyptian kopesh sword that I had designed. I copied and pasted parts of the hieroglyphs
describing the battle of Rameses II from the
inscriptions at Abu Simbel temple.
The handle is made of ebony. The whole blade is engraved with hieroglyphs from the temple of Abu Simbel. The scabbard is made of
maple wood and covered with sheets of brass. Some battle scenes of the Battle of Kadesh at Abu Simbel temple are engraved on the brass sheets. The inscriptions on the blade read:
“It was the ninth day of the third month of the inundation season in the fifth year under the majesty of Rameses II, given life. And His Majesty was in Syria with his second victorious military expedition. There was a perfect awakening with life, prosperity, and health in the tent of his Majesty on the ridge south of Kadesh, and His Majesty appeared in splendor like Ra rising. He assumed the panoply of his father Mont and the Lord set out, proceeding northwards. His Majesty approached the south of the town of Shabtwn. Two Bedouins came to say to His Majesty from those brethren who were great men in the household of the land of Khatti: We are sent to say to His Majesty “We will act as the servants of Pharaoh (alive, prosperous and healthy) and when we do we will depart from The Enemy of Khatti. Further, The Enemy of Khatti is sitting in Khyrbw to the north of Twni and he is too afraid of Pharaoh (alive, prosperous and healthy) to come southwards.
"But the Bedouin falsely spoke those words they spoke to His Majesty, for He of Khatti had caused them to come to see where His Majesty was and to prevent the preparation of His Majesty’s soldiers for fighting against The Enemy of Khatti. In fact, The Enemy of Khatti had come with all the nobles of all the foreign lands, and all the infantry and chariotry he had brought with him in strength and stood drawn up and and prepared behind Kadesh the Evil. And His Majesty did not know they were there.”
Now when I look back at it, I realize how time flies. Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian is not among us anymore. He departed forever, close to Nowruz time. It is very sad to say that the city of Zanjan has lost one of its major assets, and it looks empty now. But, then again, when I think about it, I realize that the spirit of Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian is everywhere in the heart of people who were fortunate enough to meet him in person, to hold the blades he made, and to appreciate his art. This way, Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian has become an eternal figure for his country of Iran. He was an eternal figure who rose from ashes, lived his glorious life, and departed, leaving his pieces of art for generations to come. He was a gentleman who was as much interested in feeding sparrows as in pounding steel, he was a kind man who was as much fond of the story of ghognos as he was interested in gold inlaying, and he was a good man who loved the story of the legendary bird simorgh as much as he loved the stories of Iranian pahlavanan.
For years, I had a dream to have a reconstruction of a royal akenakes (the Achaemenian short sword). There are different types of akenakes. Some of them that were given as royal presents by the king to his satraps and high military commanders were made of pure gold (see Moshtagh Khorasani, 2006:406-407, plate 49). The majority of them had blades made of iron (see Moshtagh Khorasani, 2006:408, plate 50). However, there are still examples that were cast from bronze (one of these examples is kept in the Museum of Cultural Institute of Bonyad). I designed the whole akenakes on a piece of paper and based it on the prototypes made of gold. Then, I copied the royal inscriptions of King Xerxes in Persepolis and glued the sentences on the paper model. I knew that the only artisan who could fulfill such a complicated project was Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian. I still remember the day when I showed him the design on paper. He smiled and said that he always respected King Xerxes a lot, and he was a figure who had been always misrepresented.
The making of the blade was a hard process. The blade needed to be fullered, and the casting had become a difficult process. However, Ostad Farajian cast the blade of the akenakes from bronze, and the final result was a breathtaking beauty. He, then, filed the corners to give it smooth lines and chiseled the royal inscriptions of King Xerxes in Persepolis on both sides of the blade. The chiseling was a painstaking process, and it was very difficult as the inscriptions needed to be written in cuneiform. The final result was a breathtaking beauty. The inscriptions in Old Persian in Cuneiform read:
[1-6] A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created heaven, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many kings, commander of many commanders.
[6-11] I am Xerxes, the great king, the king of kings, the king of all countries and many men, the king in this great earth far and wide, the the son of Darius, an Achaemenian.
[11-17] King Xerxes says: by the favor of Ahuramazda this Gate of All Nations I built. Much else that is beautiful was built in this Persepolis
(Pârsâ), which I built and my father built. Whatever has been built and seems beautiful - all that we built by the favor of Ahuramazda.
[17-20] King Xerxes says: may Ahuramazda preserve me, my kingdom, what has been built by me, and what has been built by my father. That, indeed, may Ahuramazda preserve.
In the next step, Haj Hossein Farajian made the handle scales of buffalo horn and filed them into the shapes of two lion heads. That was also a very difficult
process. The eyes were made of bronze, and the teeth were made of horse bone. The scabbard was made of maple wood. The scabbard mouth and the
scabbard chape were made of
brass. Then, Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian chiseled the scabbard mouth and the chape with images from Persepolis and Apadana. The surface of the wooden parts between the scabbard mouth and chape parts were carved in and later filled in with figures of ibexes that were made of a light-colored wood. These figures were also based on Persepolis prototypes. The end result is a sword with a mesmerizing beauty.
Unfortunately, I was so busy giving lectures and interviews during my last visit to Iran and, therefore, could not go to see Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian. After the conference Acquaintance with Nanotechnology during Safavid Period, many students of the University of Cultural Heritage came to me and kindly offered their help for my further research. One of them was Ms. Shadi Taherkhani, a student of Ms. Etezadi, who kindly offered to interview and take pictures of new pieces of Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian. When I came back to Germany, I received an email from Ms. Taherkhani, who wrote:
Dear Mr. Moshtagh,
Thanks for contacting me. I do not know whether you have been informed about the sad news as it really made me sad. Yesterday on Sunday when I went to see Mr. Farajian, I saw an announcement informing that he has passed away on Saturday 26 of Esfand [17 March 2007]. I am extremely sorry to inform you about this. The destiny did not want me to meet Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian. I am really sorry. The funeral service will be held in the Masjed Chaqusazan (Mosque of Knifemakers). I hope you are O.K. and will pursue your precious work. I am not sure whether I can take pictures at this moment. If you need anything else, let me know please.
First I felt so bad for Ms. Taherkhani, who took all her camera equipment to take pictures for my new articles because I could not visit Ostad Haj Hossein
Farajian during my last trip. I felt very bad for her as I could imagine and feel the shock she must have gone through, standing in front of the shop of Ostad Farajian, seeing the announcement
of his death. I still remember that I felt my hands were getting colder and colder, and I could not believe that our country had lost such an important cultural asset. I could not
believe that I could not see the nice and gentle smile of Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian anymore. I knew that I was not going to sit in front of his forge and watch the games of fire when he told
me the stories about ancient Iranians, ancient cities, and all those proud warriors who had defended the national integrity of Iran. I knew that I was not going to hear how he pounded steel to
shape anymore. I knew that I could not see him shaping silver threads into filigree anymore. I was aware that I could not listen to his stories about javanmardi, about love, about
friendship, and about values anymore. I still remember that I had a sore throat. I felt as if someone was strangling me. I thought how brutal it was when someone died during Nowruz
time. Then, I remembered what Ostad Farajian had told me once. He said that life was like climbing up a ladder, and we climb it up, going one rung after the other, only to meet God (Pelle
pelle ta molaghat ba hoda).
And climbing up the last rung can happen any time. I looked up at the big picture of the akenakes he made, which was hanging on the wall, and I could swear that the blade was shining very bright, much brighter than it used to. It looked as if the spirit of Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian was transferred into it.
In the following, I will introduce three qames and a qaddare made by the late Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian. In today’s Iran, qame is used to describe a double-edged, straight weapon. The blade of this weapon is generally fullered. The majority of antique qames have offset fullers (one fuller on each side), yet there are also varieties with multiple fullers. There are also rare examples with no fullers (see Moshtagh-Khorasani, 2006:579, cat. 207). On the other hand, qaddare is used to describe a weapon that has a straight, single-edged blade. Both qame and qaddare lack a handguard and have the same shape as far as the handle is concerned. According to the late Hossein Farajian, the techniques of usage of qames and qaddares vary.A s a double-edged weapon, a qame's slashing strength is distributed to two edges. Therefore, a qame does not cut as well as the qaddare. Regarding the origin of the words qame and qaddare, Pur Davood (1969/1347:43) states that the origins of the term qame is not clear, and he could not find it in the Shahname. This is the same for the term qaddare that cannot be found in the Shahname. However, Pur Davood (1969/1347:44) states that this word has its roots in Sanskrit and found its way to Iran from India. In Sanskrit, this weapon is called kathara. The Digital Lexicon of Dehkhoda describes kattare as a straight and wide sword, carried by people in India. In the manuscript Adab al Harb va al Shojae (The Customs of War and Bravery), written during the Saljuq period, a weapon called kattare was used by Indians and the fearless (see Matufi, 1999/1378:438). The Digital Leixon of Dehkhoda describes kattare as a straight and wide sword, carried by people in India. It further states that this word went into a shift where 'k' was transformed to 'gh' and 't' to 'd,' creating the word qaddare. On the other hand, Dehkhoda describes qame as a short sword with a wide, straight blade and states that qame is Turkish in origin. Unfortunately, neither Dehkhoda nor Pur Davood explain the shape of these two weapons.
1) Qame with etched inscriptions from the holy Qur’an: The first qame has a very solid blade with multiple fullers.Examples of antique qame with multiple fullers can also be seen in the Military Museum Tehran (see Moshtagh Khorasani, 2006:575, cat. 198). The blade has a strengthened tip. In spite of the fact that the blade has a strong blade of weighing 771 grams, it handles very well and has very good balance and harmonics. It is heavier and longer when compared to many antique examples that are kept in the Military Museums of Iran and selected, private collections.T he following table shows the statistical dimensions of the qame:
Width of the blade at the forte: 5 cm
Width of the blade in the middle: 5 cm
Weight without scabbard: 771 grams
Weight with scabbard: 1185 cm
The corners of the blade, close to the edge on both sides, are etched with inscriptions from the holy Qur’an. On the obverse side, the inscriptions are the ayats 1-3 from the sura al-Nasr (see Al-Qur’an, 1993:557):
"In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful. 1. WHEN THE HELP of God arrives and victory, 2. And you see men enter God’s discipline horde on horde, 3. Then glorify your Lord and seek His forgiveness.Verily He is relenting."
Further, there are inscriptions ayat 1-3 from the sura al-Asr (see Al-Qur’an, 1993:550) on the obverse side:
Close to the handle there are two further inscriptions: La Elaha Ellah Allah (There is no God but Allah) and Mohammad Rasool Allah (Mohammad is his messenger).The reverse side of the blade is also etched with inscriptions from the holy Qur’an.These inscriptions are the ayats 1-6 from the sura An-Nas (Men) (see Al-Qur’an, 1993:561):
"In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful.SAY: “I SEEK refuge with the Lord of men, 2. the King of men, 3. The God of men, 4. From the evil of him who breathes temptations into the minds of men, 5. Who suggests evil thoughts to the hearts of men – 6. From among the jinns and men."
There are also inscriptions ayats 1-5 from the sura al-Falaq (see Al-Qur’an, 1993:560): In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful. SAY: “I SEEK refuge with the Lord of rising day, 2. From the evil of what He has created, 3. And the evil of evening darkness when it overspreads, 4. From the evil of sorceresses who blow the incantations on knots, 5. From the evil of the envier when he envies. Close to the handle, there are inscriptions revealing the maker’s name, Hossein Farajian, and Yadollahi fogho Aydahum (There is no hand above God’s hand). Following the tradition, the handle is made of two horn scales riveted to the tang. The wooden scabbard is covered with leather. The scabbard fittings are made of brass.
2) Qame with gold-inlaid inscriptions
The second qame made by Ostad Haj Hossein Farajian has also a steel blade.There are gold-inlaid inscriptions on the forte of the blade on both sides.Close to the tip, there is further gold inlaying.The blade is multi-fullered.The wooden scabbard is covered in leather, and the scabbard fittings are made of brass.On the obverse side, close to the forte, there is the following gold-inlaid inscription: Amal-e Hossein Farajian Zanjan (The work of Hossein Farajian [from] Zanjan).On the same side, close to the tip of the blade, there is the following gold-inlaid inscription:Hag, Hag, Ali, Ali (Justice, Justice, Ali, Ali).On the reverse side, close to the handle, there is the following gold-inlaid inscription: Yadollahi fogho Aydahum (There is no hand above God’s hand).Close to the tip on the same side, there is the following gold-inlaid inscription: Enna Fatahna Lakka Fathan Mobina (We have given you a splendent victory).This is the first ayat of the sura al-Fath (Victory) (see Al-Qur’an, 1993:439).
The following table shows the statistical measurements of this short sword:
3) Qame with bronze blade
Note that the above inscriptions are the same that are gold inlaid on the steel blades of the two swords of Karim Khan Zand (one is kept in the Military Museum of Tehran, and the other in Pars Museum in Shiraz; see Moshtagh Khorasani, 2006:492-494, Cat 122, Cat. 123). Note that Vakil (representative) is the title that was used by Karim Khan Zand. Further inscriptions on the obverse side are taken from the nohekhani (mourning for Imam Hossein) during Moharram or the taziye (Shiite passion ceremony).
"On the day of Ashura, the thirsty king [referring to Imam Hossein] said, “Sacrificing oneself for one’s friend is not difficult; [yes,] I am thirsty [but] thirsty for justice and freedom. Otherwise, I am not thirsty at all).”
Close to the forte of the blade, there are engraved inscriptions in Arabic: Yadollahi fogho Aydahum (There is no hand above God’s hand). On the reverse side of the blade, there are the following engraved inscriptions in Persian:
"(Yesterday, Ahmad broke the idols with the help of Ali, and he destroyed the blasphemy for the justice of Ali)"
"(The person who with his sword made loyal Gabriel lose his shield is the Sword of God, Ali)"
"The whole world is made of drops, and Hossein is the sea; all the good people are slaves, and Hossein is the lord"
"I am afraid that he even forgives his killer because Hossein is so forgiving and generous."
Close to the forte of the blade, there are engraved inscriptions in Persian: Sakht-e Hossein Farajian Zanjan (Made by Hossein Farajian [in] Zanjan). The wooden scabbard is covered in leather and has iron fittings. Qame with bronze blade and engraved inscriptions made by Ostad Farajian
Total length: 63.5 cm
Width of the blade at the forte: 4.4 cm
4) Qame with filigree decorations
Width of the blade at the forte: 3.8 cm
Width of the blade in the middle: 3.7 cm
Weight without scabbard: 365 grams
Weight with scabbard: 529 grams
The following qaddare has a beautiful fullered blade and is very sturdy. The inscription on the reverse side of the qaddare is ayat 115 from the sura al-Mum’minun (The True Believers):
"In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful. 115. Do you think We created you for nothing, and that you will not return to us?"
On the reverse side, there is also ayat 1 from the sura al-Fath (Victory) (see Al-Qur’an, 1993:439):
"We have given you a splendent victory".
There is also the maker’s name on this side: Farajian.
On the obverse side, there are the following etched inscriptions: "In the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful" and "Help from God and early victory", part of the ayat 13
from sure al-Saff (Formations), see Al-Qur’an (1993:482-483). There is also
an etched inscription of the name Hossein Farajian.
© M.Khorasani Consulting