The articles are of archaeological, historical and museological interest and are mainly related to the region of Banat, although some deal with Romanian and universal history as well
Jan. 1, 2020
The collection of weapons in the National Museum of Banat includes two 19th century Hungarian ceremonial
swords which feature many design and ornamental elements that can mislead the laymen in the field of old heritage weapons. Made in accordance with the tendencies of the historical style, the two pieces imitate the design of
the end of the Middle Ages Transylvanian princely swords. Moreover, representations and inscriptions dedicated
to the Transylvanian princes Gabriel Báthory (prince between 1608–1613) and Gheorghe Rákóczi I (between
1630–1648) are preserved on both sides of the blades.
The two swords from the NMoB collection are part of a larger series of pieces inscribed with the names of
Transylvanian princes, similar swords having been identified both in the online bibliography and in two other
museum collections in our country: at the National Museum of Romanian History (Gabriel Báthory) and in the
collection of the National Military Museum “King Ferdinand I” in Bucharest (Gabriel Báthory and Gheorghe
Rákóczi II). The common element of all these swords is the blade, the basic component of the weapon, which
is identical in all these pieces, from a typological point of view: it has a curved shape, with a wide fuller placed
under the blunt edge, on both sides, more than two-thirds of the length of the blade. The decorative motifs and
inscriptions are engraved in identical layout in all the analyzed pieces. Regarding the arrangement of the engraved
decoration, it must be emphasized that it is laid out on superimposed registers, perpendicular to the length of the
blade, in the same order on all the swords examined. As regards the inscriptions present on these blades, especially
the princely portraits, we can appreciate that the main source of inspiration was the Transylvanian princely numismatic heritage, preserved to this day in museums or private collections. The princely portraits present on the blades
of the swords are copies of representations present on the obverse of the vintage coins. The princely bust and the
official title, which appear on the obverse of the coins, are elements shown on the reverse side of the blades, while
the princely coat of arms, present on the reverse of the coins, is engraved on the reverse side of the swords.
The swords from the NMoB collection were analyzed with an XRF spectrometer, and the results obtained show
a very high similarity between the two blades: a very high concentration of iron and an insignificant presence of
other related chemical elements. The other components of the swords are of different types and shapes and the
materials used range from solid gilded silver to plain brass. Based on the results offered by the XRF spectrometer,
we can conclude that the blades used on the two swords were made in the same time interval, using modern metal
processing techniques. The differences found in the other components of the swords indicate a ranking of the
pieces according to value, which corresponds to the social status of the sponsors.
From a chronological point of view, the two bladed weapons from the NMoB collection date from the second half
of the 19th century, possibly the last decades of that century. We agree to this point of view, given the evolution and
impact of the historical style in this space, an artistic current which the two analyzed weapons represent.
The lack of information on the origin of the two swords negatively contributed to the long process of identifying
and documenting the parts. The two swords were registered in the museum’s inventory on January 8, 1959, being
part of a swords lot which also includes that of the noble Osztoics family from Șemlacu Mare and Șemlacu Mic.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the origin of the swords, we hope that future research will elucidate this mystery and will be able to identify the sponsors of the pieces.