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For other uses see Shamshir (disambiguation). For history see Dao (sword)

A Shamshir (from Persian شمشیر shamshir) also Shamsheer and Chimchir,[1] is a type of sabre with a curve that is considered radical for a sword: 5 to 15 degrees from tip to tip. The name is derived from Persian شمشیر shamshīr, which means "sword" (in general). The radically curved sword family includes the shamshir, scimitar, Talwar, kilij, Pulwar and the Turko-Mongol saber.

A Shamshir Shekargar (Persian: شَمشیر شکارگَرshamshir-e shekârgar; literally, "hunters' sword" or "hunting sword") is the same as a shamshir, except the blade is engraved and decorated, usually with hunting scenes.[2]


Originally Persian swords were straight and double edged, just as the Indian khanda. The curved scimitar blades were Central Asian in origin. The earliest evidence of curved swords, or scimitars, is from the 9th century, when it was used among soldiers in the Khurasan region of Central Asia.[3] The sword now called "shamshir" was introduced to Iran by Turkic Seljuk Khanate in 12th century and was later popularized in Persia by the early 16th century, and had "relatives" in Turkey (the kilij), the Mughal Empire (the talwar), and the adjoining Arabian world (the saif) and (the sam-saam).

The shamshir is a one-handed, curved sword featuring a slim blade that has almost no taper until the very tip. Instead of being worn upright (hilt-high), it is worn horizontally, with the hilt and tip pointing up. It was normally used for slashing unarmored opponents either on foot or mounted; while the tip could be used for thrusting, the drastic curvature of blade made accuracy more difficult. Like Japanese blades, there is no pommel, and its two lengthy quillons form a simple crossguard. The tang of the blade is covered by slabs of bone, ivory, wood, or other material fastened by pins or rivets to form the grip.

The shamshir was similar in design to its contemporaries, the Mughal Talwar and the Saif.


Although the name has been associated by popular etymology with the city of Shamshir (which in turn means "curved like the lion's claw" in Persian)[4] the word has been used to mean "sword" since ancient times, as attested by Middle Persian shamshir (Pahlavi šmšyl), and the Ancient Greek σαμψήρα / sampsēra (glossed as "foreign sword").

"Shamshir" is usually taken to be the root of the word scimitar, being the latter a more inclusive term.

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