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What is the correct name for the style of sword the Uruk Hai use?

I specifically mean the flat blade which either does not taper, or tapers slightly outwards as it gets further from the grip, with no hand guard, and with the perpendicular hook or spike on the opposite side as the cutting edge, like this:

Uruk Hai Sword

I have seen these called "scimitars" on some reproduction websites, but Wikipedia says a scimitar is a curved, single-sided, blade with a hand guard.

I have seen swords called "hook swords" but these are double-edged and fully curve around so the top of the blade looks like a U.

I have seen reference to a blade with a "gut hook" but these seem to be small hand knives which look like a bottle opener at the end, you'd probably use them for fishing or small game.

The closest I could find is a "bill hook machete" but the hook is on the cutting edge, not on the reverse side.

Or is this just an imaginary style of sword either invented in Middle Earth or used by Peter Jackson because it looks cool?

  • 1
    It looks more like a type of machete that a sword. – Joe L. Jan 17 '15 at 15:22
  • Also, is it me, or does the cutting edge seem to be on the back? – Mac Cooper Jan 17 '15 at 15:44
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    They remind me of a falchion, but those don't have the hook. – Kevin Jan 17 '15 at 17:30
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    @MacCooper I have wondered if they have two cutting edges. You can definitely tell the direction of one cutting edge from the direction of the hand grip. – suprjami Jan 17 '15 at 21:32
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    I don't think the swords used by the Uruks in the movies resemble any real-world weapon. Like Ixrec comments in his answer, in the books the Uruks wielded broadswords. Maybe that's what an Orcish broadsword looks like in Peter Jackson's mind? – Andres F. Jan 18 '15 at 5:07
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The closest match I found is a Sugarcane Machete. At least this type of machete has the broad flat blade as well as the hook on the back edge.

enter image description here

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In terms of how Tolkien described these swords in the LotR trilogy, "broad-bladed sword" is the most specific term I can find in the text. Both of these quotes come from The Two Towers.

And Aragorn looked on the slain, and he said: 'Here lie many that are not folk of Mordor. Some are from the North, from the Misty Mountains, if I know anything of Orcs and their kinds. And here are others strange to me. Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all!' There were four goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands. They were armed with short broad-bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs: and they had bows of yew, in length and shape like the bows of Men. Upon their shields they bore a strange device: a small white hand in the centre of a black field; on the front of their iron helms was set an S-rune, wrought of some white metal.

After some discussion the Fellowship agrees that the "S-rune" stands for "Saruman". It seems reasonable to assume these "goblin-soldiers of greater stature" are meant to be Uruk-hai (this is from before Saruman's creations get a proper introduction).

The term is used again here:

The others gave way, and one stepped backwards and fell over Merry's prostrate form with a curse. Yet that probably saved his life, for Uglúk's followers leaped over him and cut down another with their broad-bladed swords.

Uglúk shouts "We are the fighting Uruk-hai!" shortly before this, so the "followers" in this quote are also Uruk-hai.

All the quotes I can find with "scimitar" refer specifically to swords wielded by Orcs (or in one case, Men), and that first quote even says "not ... curved scimitars", so it seems like it's technically incorrect to refer to Uruk-hai swords as scimitars.

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This was Peter Jackson's or his crew's attempt to creat an anti-cavalry broadsword, most of the weapons and armour they designed for the forces of Sarumon are overtly designed to fight cavalry because the Horse Lords of Rohan, the Rangers of the North, and the Eldar were his targets, all of which had great riding capabilities. While most anti-cavalry swords in the real world were giant thing with 2 meter long blades like the Chinese Horse Chopping Sabre, Jackson has said that he didn't think it seemed right that all the Uruks without pikes would have claymores (but the early designs for that ended up being the film universe Uruk Beserkers). In the end they took an Indian Khanda sword that has a flat or blunt tip and gave it a machete handle and a spike at the flat tip, Jackson reasoning that the backstory for it would be that Sarumon's Uruks would be trained to use the spike to hook riders and pull them from their horses.

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    Could you possibly add referencing (and paragraphs) to this answer? – Valorum Jun 14 '16 at 8:43
  • I agree. I would love to know where this info can be found. This sounds like the correct answer. – suprjami Jun 16 '16 at 11:00
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Every website or source I've looked at describes them as a scimitar, so I just assumed it was Jacksons take on what they might look like, trying to make them look like they'd belong to an Uruk-hai

They wouldn't have been the most skilled of craftsman, and I think not having a curve to the blade like traditional scimitars would be an example of that

Although I'm sure somewhere I read that the Uruks of Mordor typically had curved blades, and Saruman created his own take or improved on Uruk-hai when he was ordered to make an army

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    Like Ixrec's answer shows, regular Orcs did use scimitars, so that can't be it. I'm leaning toward "Peter Jackson's idea of what an Uruk-hai broadsword would look like". – Andres F. Jan 18 '15 at 5:05
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These are 'movie-magic' weapons and the "style of the sword" weapon is that of a polearm.

Polearms were common weapons on medieval European battlefields. Their range and impact force made them effective weapons against armored warriors on horseback, because they could penetrate armor.

They most closely resemble a fauchard or a glaive. (I guess orcs just don't need it on a pole.)

enter image description here enter image description here


Or a guisarme:

A guisarme (sometimes gisarme, giserne or bisarme) was a pole weapon used in Europe primarily between 1000–1400. It was used primarily to dismount knights and horsemen. Like most polearms it was developed by peasants by combining hand tools with long poles, in this case by putting a pruning hook onto a spear shaft.

While hooks are fine for dismounting horsemen from mounts, they lack the stopping power of a spear especially when dealing with static opponents. While early designs were simply a hook on the end of a long pole, later designs implemented a small reverse spike on the back of the blade.

Eventually weapon makers incorporated the usefulness of the hook in a variety of different polearms and guisarme became a catch-all for any weapon that included a hook on the blade. Ewart Oakeshott has proposed an alternative description of the weapon as a crescent shaped socketed axe.


Or a kama:

enter image description here

The kama can be used singly or in pairs. Both the point and sharpened edge of the metal blade are called into use, Okinawan kata suggesting that it could also be used to block, trap and disarm an opponent's weapon.


Notice how none of these is a sword, because swords don't have hooks on the end of them.

A sword is a bladed weapon intended for both cutting and thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration. A sword in the most narrow sense consists of a straight blade with two edges and a hilt, but depending on context, the term is also often used to refer to bladed weapons with a single edge (also referred to as a backsword).

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Pretty sure it's just a one handed variant of a military cleaver or possibly a squared falchion. Military cleavers were straight, single edged broad swords normally with a square blade used for anti infantry or anti cavalry purposes. Most of them were two handed. However I've never seen them outside of mount and blade. And a falchion was basically a machete with a cross guard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falchion

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The correct answer would be an early seax with a broad head. Oddly most early blades resembled and behaved like an axe being tip heavy and it wasn't until early common era that they began to become balanced.

A lot of early crucible swords were also only one piece, the large bar stock simply being tapered on the horn for the handle leaving a large chuck of metal before and after the handle then a second taper for the blade.

  • A seax is a knife... – amflare May 16 '18 at 14:32

protected by Edlothiad May 16 '18 at 14:18

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