Middle Eastern Dance
Scimitars Basics
Below you will find basic information on buying and caring for your scimitar.

Buying a Scimitar
Buying a scimitar for belly dance is not always as easy as you might think, there are several elements which you need
to consider before you purchase one.  One of the main elements is price, Scimitars can range anywere between $30
and $200.  If you like the more decorative swords (Saroyan's for example), you have to be prepared for a higher price.
If you don't care about the decorative quality you can probably find a decent one that's under $75-$100.  Another
element to consider is whether or not the sword comes with an adjustable hilt or not.  Often times you will find that
you need to turn the hilt around to balance a sword for use in dance performances, however some are made
specifically for dancers and you don't have to worry about that.  Occaisionally, you may find a sword that can't be
adjusted and is fairly impossible to work with because of that so its best to try before you buy.  There is also the matter
of shape.  Some scimitars are extremely curved where others are are almost straight.  If you prefer one style over the
other you may have a harder time finding what your looking for.  For example if you wanted an extremely curved
sword with decorative engravings, you may have to settle for something else.  As far as decorative swords go
Saroyan's are probably the most curve your going to find.  The internet is probably your best bet for finding the sword
you want unless you live near several bellydance vendors and or sword froges... although sometimes you can find
reproduction quality stuff at Renaisssance Festivals and Fairs.  The first thing you need to do is determine what is the
most important quality that your looking for in a sword (price, shape, decoration?), what's the next most important
quality?  Once you've determined your priorities it's time to begin your search.  If your looking on the internet Tribal
based vendors are more likely to carry scimitars then ones that focus more on a nighclub and folkloric styles of dance. 
If your buying for a troupe or know several people who want to buy a scimitar, a lot of places will offer you a troupe
discount.  If they don't mention a discount on the site with their products then e-mail them and ask them if they offer
one or would consider offering one, you would be surprised at the savings you can get.  If your unable or unwilling to
use the internet to find your sword you can call vendors about a catalog or ask if they carry scimitars.  Sometimes
vendors that don't always carry them, will offer them as a special or featured item or are willing to special order them. 
One other way you can find a sword if your lucky enough to live in an area with multiple vendors is to go to them and
shop around, if you can't find any scimitars in the shops you go to ask the owners if they know any place that does
carry them, or if they have any product catalogs they could order one from.  Personally I like the scimitars offered by
Saroyan, they are specifically made for dancers so you don't have to worry if it's going to be weighted right or sharp or
if you can use it for dancing or not.  They are well crafted, have decorative engraving, and as a special bonus they have
little gooves notched into the blade, right where you need to balance it, which are not visible to the audience but allow
for a better grip on you hair and an easy reference for you toremember where the sword needs to be placed for
optimal balance, you can also purchase a cloth sheath or scabbard made specifically to the size of your sword for a
little extra.  That allows you to protect the blade and keep it looking as new or old as you want it to.  The only down
side is, that they are one of those that are on the higher end of the price scale.

Taking Care Of Your Scimitar
To get the most out of your props and costumes you need to take care of them.  This ensures that they have a long life
and better quality.  To take care of your scimitar the first thing you should do is to buy or make a sheath.  This protects
it from dust, liquid, scratches and other things that can lead to damage.  Some swords come with a sheath, others offer
one for an extra fee, and some don't come with one at all.  In any event a sheath is a neccessary accessory not only for
protection of damage done to the sword but also because most states and many countries have laws about
un-sheathed weapons (and weather it's sharp or not your scimitar is essentially a weapon).  If you can't purchase a
sheath then you can make one fairly easily.  Simply take a thick fabric that's large enough to cover your sword and
then some.  Fold the fabric in half and trace around the sword leaving a seam allowance (whatever you feel
comfortable working with but I recommend 1/2 inch to an inch).  Once you have them cut out you should have two
pieces that are exactly the same shape except that one will appear to have been cut from the wrong side.  That's okay
because you take the right side of the two pieces and place them together and sew them up leaving the top where the
handle will be open.  Fold the top down and sew along the edge of the fabric.  Leave a little open and push a small string
or rope trough the hole.  Now turn it inside-out and your done, you now have a drawstring sheath that should fit your
scimitar perfectly. 

Now that we've got that "covered" we can move on to the next part of taking care of your scimitar.  When you've used
your scimitar a lot you will notice that it may be a little dull or even stained or it could even be rusting.  This can be
avoided or delayed several ways.  First, after using your scimitar wipe it of with a soft dry cloth, if you use any creams
(like a grip cream) or liquid latex on it be sure to remove it completely.  Doing this after each use will keep your sword
in good condition for a long time.  You may wish to periodically polish or buff your blade.  Over time metal has a
natural tendancy to dull or oxidate (meaning rust).  To prevent this you should use the apropriate cleaner for the type
of metal.  When you have finished that you may want to take a soft cloth and buff it lightly.  You may also wish to rub
oil on the blade, this can help keep it from oxidating and can be purchased from most places that specialize in selling
silverware, knives, collectable swords, and daggers.  They often sell kits for keeping them in mint condition with
thorough instructions on their use.  In a pinch olive, vegetable or canola oil from your local grocer will do just fine in
the short term but will leave a sticky residue with continued use.  Some people use Tarnex and/or Turtle Wax products
to keep their swords in good condition.  If you like that old used look then you don't need to use anything (unless
it's rusting) just simply let the sword age with use.

Before (and preferably after) each performance you should check the hilt and make sure it is still secure and shows no
signs of damage or troublesome wear.  This will help reduce the chance of the blade detaching from the hilt if your
swing your blade from the hilt.  Also avoid storing it in extreme temperatues or direct sunlight.  This can cause
discoloration and warping.
DANSE ORIENTALE - La danse du sabre. chromo. 1880
DANSE ORIENTALE - La danse du sabre. chromo. 1880