Bespoke blades

Karbala bladesmith turns passion for swords into vocation

KARBALA – In the Tuwaireej area of Karbala, located in the Rashida district, bladesmith Laith Fadhel meticulously handcrafts a variety of swords. Fadhel’s journey into sword-making began in childhood with a fascination for collecting swords and daggers. Now in his thirties, he has turned his passion for heritage into his profession, emphasizing the critical art of hand engraving on iron to give each sword a unique, artistic flair.

Fadhel recalls beginning as a hobbyist, collecting various swords, daggers, and other artifacts. His dedication to the craft deepened over the years as he taught himself the necessary skills, learning through trial and error, as well as from the wisdom passed down by his predecessors and through diligent research.

“One of the key skills a sword maker must master is hand engraving on iron, which adds a distinctive and rare beauty to the piece,” Fadhel stated.

Before beginning any new project, Fadhel consults with customers to understand their specific preferences for measurements, iron type, handle shape, and engravings. The process starts with shaping the iron using a hammer and anvil, followed by meticulous cleaning.

Explaining his choice of materials, Fadhel said he uses various types of iron and solid steel, incorporating sturdy car parts like springs in his creations. “For the handles, I use buffalo horn, various types of wood, ivory, and sandalwood, among others, depending on the customer’s preference,” he noted.

Fadhel is versatile in his craft, prepared to create swords in styles ranging from Arab, with its curves and Quranic engravings, to Russian and Ottoman designs.

Highlighting the challenges of his craft, Fadhel pointed out that working with iron during the forging process demands intense concentration to achieve the desired shape. “Crafting a single sword takes between 10 to 15 days,” he said, noting that prices vary based on customer specifications and materials used.

Looking to the future, Fadhel aspires to showcase his work in his own exhibition.

Photographer from Karbala pursues dream amid challenges

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Karbala sculptor finds inspiration in family roots

Karbala sculptor finds inspiration in family roots