Designs of Islam

Many Islamic arms are noteworthy for their elaborate decoration.  The wootz steel used in many weapons imparted a distinctive and recognizable design as well as important metallurgical propertiese. A variety of techniques are used, including damascening, gilding, inlay, encrusting and others.  One might even call some of these items jewelry rather than weapons, and indeed, many were worn purely for ornamental or ceremonial purposes.

The term "Islamic arms and armor" is generally applied to weapons of the Mamluk period (1250–1517) in Egypt and Syria, the Ottoman empire (ca. 1299–1922), the Near East, especially Persia, and those areas of India under Mughal rule (1526–1858).  However, the designs of Islam are found throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey, parts of Europe (notably Spain) parts of India, The Philippines, Southern Asia and elsewhere.

Representative portrayal of figures, especially sacred figures, is avoided in Islamic decoration although there is no specific prohibition.  Decorative designs tend to be geometric or floral. Sacred power is given to the word, so elaborate Islamic calligraphy became an decoration for arms and armor.  Such calligraphy could include poetry or Qur'anic passages and invocations.  It was thought these latter embrued the bearer of the weapon with powerful defense.  All of these designs serve as taslimans, a purpose common to decorative designs on edged weapons from other areas and times.  Okir (Okkir, Okkil) is the term used to describe geometric and flowing designs (often based on elaborate leaf and vine patterns) that are often found in Mulsim-inspired artwork, especially in the Philippines and in some parts of Southeast Asia.  The nāga or serpant motif is a variation of okir.