Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1714 Caribbean pirate
Subject: pirate
Culture: colonial English
Setting: Golden Age of Piracy, Caribbean/Atlantic early 18thc
Object: swords 


* Breverton 2004 p43
"CUTLASS, CUTLASH  A short curved sword, ideal for close range fighting on deck.  One lashes out to cut the opponent, hence the name. ... The cutlass was shorter, thicker and wider [than rapiers and small swords], used like a machete for hacking at limbs.  A 'basket-guard' covered the handle to protect the hand.  However, some Caribbean cutlasses could be up to 3 feet in length.  As the curve was slight and the tip was sharpened, a pirate with strong arms could also use it as a rapier as needed.  Another origin of the name is the medieval French 'coutelace' or knife.  The handles were usually fashioned with leather, strapped on a bone or ivory stock.  There was also a straight cutlass called a 'shortsword' or 'stabbing dagger.'"

* Little 2005 p67-89
"The cutlass, or hanger as it is sometimes called, served as the primary boarding arme blanche.  Its virtue lay in its serviceability in confined and cluttered decks among a press of boarders after pistols had been discharged, and certainly before they could be reloaded.  With its short sturdy blade and strong protective hilt, its was the weapon for a coup de grace as the smoke cleared."

* Konstam/McBride 1998 p12
"When it came to cold steel, the most popular weapon was the cutlass.  Manufactured as a cheap but effective cutting weapon, it was related to the earlier English or Scottish broadsword, or later heavy cavalry blades.  Although a clumsy weapon in a confined melee, it was the maritime sidearm of choice."

* Fryer 1969 p64
"Cutlass  A term generally given to the short sword with broad, single-edged, curved blade, used by sailors.  The semi-basket hilt is often of plain iron."


* Konstam/McBride 1998 p12
"Naval officers and some merchant captains preferred the more gentlemanly smallsword.  A flimsy weapon, it was designed to thrust with the point, and although effective in a confined space, it lacked the robustness of the cutlass."

* Breverton 2004 p43
"Rapiers and 'small swords' had long thin blades to slide between an opponent's ribs to puncture the heart of lungs [SIC]."