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I have an easily answered question. A bellows thrall is the mechanism that actually pumps the bellows. The lever you pull or push to pump the bellows. Please let me know if I am correct in my assumption as I haven't seen it defined anywhere. I am guessing based on the context that I see it being used.    

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I believe that traditionally the thrall was the person that pumped the bellows, not a piece of equipment (though I'm sure they were often treated as such).  I'm not familiar with any modern update.

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"Thrall" is an Old English word (originally written þrǽl) that simply means "person in bondage" or "slave", hence "servant" or "laborer". The only common modern usage is in the verb "to enthrall", which is synonymous with "to captivate" or "to enslave".

The term "bellows thrall" gets used around here by folks who have experience with SCA-type reenactment of pre-industrial smithing, to denote the person who pumps the bellows.

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I knew thrall was synonymous with "bondsman" or servant but I didn't make the connection. I thought ,"That couldn't mean slave."  But I guess it does. Learn something every time I log in here.   

My rationale was that the lever was in service to the bellows. That is the direction my thinking lead me. I didn't think it was the literal meaning of a bellows thrall (bellows servant). I thought it had to be something else Lol  

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Looking at the OED, "thrall" seems to apply exclusively to people, rather than to things.

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Yes. Thats why I couldn't make sense of it. People were writing about it like a piece of equipment and not a person and as latticino points out they probably were treated like equipment. I just assumed it was a blacksmith specific term I wasn't familiar with  and not the common usage of the word. I know now though. ;-)

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Yes it is a person who is tasked to do the unfun work of running a double single action bellows set up rather then the fun of actually working the hot metal.  It also is indicative of the fact that a single person smithy just did NOT occur in historical times unlike what fantasy books and Hollywood would have us believe.

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8 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

...  It also is indicative of the fact that a single person smithy just did NOT occur in historical times unlike what fantasy books and Hollywood would have us believe.

What??? You mean that the main character in Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls should not have had what appear to be London pattern anvils while work in the smithy of an ancient middle eastern village?

ScorpianKing.thumb.jpg.664ee677c5f1655a8d997b735d0c58cc.jpg

The things we notice since taking up the hammer. :rolleyes:

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Like having a London-pattern anvil in the Japanese setting of the "Akane No Mai" episode of "Westworld"? Or EVERY SINGLE UNNECESSARY QUENCH in every blade forging sequence ever filmed?!?

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They still use this method in Africa  every documentary or magazine article shows a younger person whom I am assuming is the apprentice operating the bellows for the older master smith.     

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English London Pattern anvil at that, A mousehole or mousehole clone...Should be using charcoal too. 

Or that common village blacksmiths would forge swords. Or that the smith does all the work on the blade himself.  At least the Japanese still hold to the historical methods where each step in the process is done by an expert in that process.

Another fun one is that early Middle Eastern swords tended to be straight, the curved ones came later. (Remember the 13th warrior where Antonio Banderas' character could not easily lift or use a sword that weighed 2-3 pounds; so he ground off the hardened cutting edges to make a soft bladed curved weapon?)

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2 minutes ago, pnut said:

They still use this method in Africa  every documentary or magazine article shows a younger person whom I am assuming is the apprentice operating the bellows for the older master smith.     

Richard McNaughton's book The Mande Blacksmiths talks extensively not only about how this task was the most important job of the apprentice, but also about how the rhythms of the bellows serve a vital role in underlying the rhythms of the hammer blows and helping set the pace for the day's work. If I recall correctly, a knowledgeable observer could tell by those rhythms with whom a smith had originally apprenticed.

 

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Would have taken a minute or two to roughly slap some stain on the handle so it didn't "look" commercial---but would still handle the same...

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In the video series jhcc posted on traditional African blacksmithing you can see and hear the rhythm of the apprentice on the bellows. It's great as those are two things I'm very interested in. Smithing and percussion. It's the best of both worlds.

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In National Geographic's "Living Treasures of Japan" sword smithing scene the 3 strikers are chanting a prayer to keep in sync.

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1 hour ago, David Thomas said:

I also liked the manufactured handle on the hammer in the foreground

Not to mention the industrial chain that everything is hanging from.  Some of it still looks plated...

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Another little Hollywoodism that's grated on me for years is what they use for a hammer. Take note, they often use a top tool instead of a hammer to forge with. After they quench of course. I've seen swages, fullers, hot cuts and some unidentifiable top tools used upside down as hammers. Probably because they look cool. 

It kills me but I don't notice much in blacksmith scenes anymore, a glance is all I take. Even if it IS educational I've completely lost interest. Educational in the nobody does it this way educational.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thomas, I'm not sure if it's the same documentary but I bet If you watch you can see the master smith directing the strikers with his hammer.

Did you notice how clean the Japanese sword smiths stay. I watched a video and thy were wearing white

If I go near anything sooty or grease covered I get it on me.

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Virtues of having other folks do the dirty work for the Master Smith!

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On 2/5/2019 at 4:36 PM, ThomasPowers said:

The minutes aren't bad it's the hours that begin to wear on one...

Enlist more thralls and spread the wear. SHEESH! :rolleyes:

Frosty The Lucky.

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