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War Hammers - Nadziak, Czekan and Obuch

Towards the end of the 16th century distinctive types of war hammers evolved in Poland, which previously had been of German or Italian style. Though at first their differences were not clear cut, with time they developed into the Nadziak, Czekan and Obuch:-

< Czekan
It consisted of a hammer head on one side and an axe on the other side.

. Nadziak >
The most popular war hammer had a hammers head which was often hexagonal in cross-section and tapering to the shaft. It was usually balanced by a long slightly drooping beak.

Unlike the other two whose names evolved from Turkish, obuch is an old Polish word - originally the blind end of an axe. It is similar to a Nadziak but with a curved beak which ended up pointing towards the shaft.

These weapons differed from other countries war hammers principally in the longer length of their shafts. They were used both on horseback and on foot, and were not only used as weapons but also walking sticks - the obuch was probably more of a decorative walking stick than a weapon.

These war hammers were popular amongst the nobility between the 16th and 18th centuries, second only to the sabre as favourite weapons. They were regarded as particularly dangerous being banned by law in 1578, 1601 and 1620 and having heavy penalties for their use except in war. This did not diminish their popularity.

Rev. A Kitowicz wrote:

"It was a terrible instrument in the hands of a Pole, and particularly so when he was in the mood for quarrels and scuffles. With the sabre one could cut of somebody's hand, cut the face, injure the head, and the running blood of the adversary would calm the rancour. But with the obuch one could cause a deadly wound without even seeing blood, and-not seeing it-he would not calm down instantly, but would strike several times without cutting the skin, breaking ribs and bones at the same time"

"The nobleman walking with an obuch often injured his serfs and sometimes even killed them. Because of the danger it represented it was forbidden to come armed with a nadziak at the time of big meetings, sessions of parliament..... "

"And indeed it was a brigandish instrument for if someone should hit somebody else with the nadziak's sharp end behind the ear he would kill him instantly, pushing though his temple a fatal iron."