Steel ? / What is Damascus steel ? / Wootz Steel / S Lounyov
P.P. Anosov researchs...
following text is from Serguey Lounyov.
will find the original text at : http://www.wootz.ru
Lounyov address is : firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Ustyuzhanin : email@example.com
is Serguey's interpreter
Updated December, 30 th, 2000
This site contains materials on Cast True Damascus Steel/Bulat/Wootz,
True Damascus cold steel and tells about work of a group of Masters,
headed by Sergey Lounyov.
It is hard to find a collector, a hunter and anyone fond of cold
steel, who had never heard anything about this legendary material.
Unfortunately, nearly for more than one and half of century the
secret of production and treatment of True Damascus Steel was
considered to be lost. In 1838 our famous compatriot Pavel Petrovich
Anosov recreated this technology of ancient masters. Russia has
in fact returned to the world this unique metal, which, by that
time, was considered to be lost for about 300 years. But, as it
happened many times in the history of our country, brilliant discoveries
of Anosov in this field again were lost after his death.
And now, 150 years later, the rumors of discovery of the True
Damascus Steel secrets again started in Russia. To be true, today
Russia cannot, as before, pretend on the absolute monopoly in
production of True Damascus. There are Masters in the USA (Verhoeven,
Pendray), as well as in Europe (Roselli), who are engaged in research
in this field. But, nevertheless, in our country, several teams
started to solve this task simultaneously. Of course, the results
of Russian Masters differ greatly one from another, as in the
aspect of quality, and in the aspect of quantity, but the fact
of returning of True Damascus Steel to Russia is very pleasant
In 1990, on the basis of training and production center of Physical
Metallurgy Department of Moscow Aviation Technological Institute
named after Tsiolkovsky, we started numerous experiments, aimed
on working out various industrial methods of producing of Damascus
(laminated forged or "wrought") steel. Simultaneously with this
process, a small group of specialist of the Institute, under the
guidance of Sergey Lounyov (then the head of Physical Metallurgy
Department Computer Center), started works on recreation of technology
of production of so called True Damascus Steel or Cast Wootz (Bulat).
Two years of hard work, conducted in the Institute gave no definite
results. It was found out, that in the works of P.P. Anosov, devoted
to this technology, there were many preteritions or deliberate
inaccuracies. Of course, the great Russian metallurgist did not
want to open all his secrets to the wide public. The works of
D.K. Tchernov appeared to be more close to practical activity,
but, as his followers, this group of enthusiasts from MATI did
not succeed in producing Wootz. But we must stress here, that
we are talking about production of so called Russian Bulat, which
was produced for the first time by P.P. Anosov in 1837 in Zlatoust.
In 1992 when I left from the institute, the works in the Physical
Metallurgy Department, aimed on production of the Wootz Steel,
were stopped. I'd like to note, that "Wrought Steel" or Damascus
Steel are produced in MATI with quite good quality. And, as I
know from unofficial sources, Damasteel AB applied these technologies
in 1992 in Sweden.
Thanks to possibility to communicate with some of the most authoritative
thinkers, scholars, as well as with fencing and martial arts Masters
from Japan, India and China (since 1991 till 1994), I was lucky
to get acquainted with myths, legends and "superstitions" about
Wootz, which were scoffed some time ago by the authors of the
Full Soviet Encyclopedia.
These lengthy discussions, which sometimes lasted for several
days, accompanied with a cap of good green tea, forced me to reconsider
my personal, internal attitude to the Wootz. From ordinary hobby,
this investigation slowly transformed into serious, speaking orientally,
In 1997, on the basis of one of defense enterprises of Moscow,
I managed to produce first ingots of steel, which could be called
Wootz Steel, though not of high quality. 1998 was wholly devoted
to scrupulous job aimed on perfection of technology. I can proudly
note, that my steel was made with completely new technology, different
from Anosov's and Tchenov's technology, but based on the same
main principles and general understanding of Wootz production
I align="justify"n autumn 1998, my team and me, according to recommendation of
Olga Kulyasova from Crosna Gallery, started cooperation with Valery
Koptev, famous Tula Armourer. Final stage of Wootz production
technology elaboration started. Large lots of our metal (5 - 10
kg) were shipped to Tula. Coordination of the Moscow and Tula
teams activity was maintained (and is maintained) constantly.
Various modes of ingot production were tested and chemical composition
was changed. Forging and heat treatment technologies were changed.
Since autumn 1998 and till spring 1999 a large-scale experiment
was conducted. 50 kg of selected cast Wootz Steel were "spoiled".
Over 100 of "tactical" experiments were conducted. The most interesting
results were produced by "non-standard" forging and heat treatment,
as it was supposed from the very beginning.
So, today we can say, that in Tula, patterned cast steel is being
produced, with carbon content from 1.5% to 2%. There are samples
with 1% and 3% of carbon. The softest Wootz Steel (1% C) has average
hardness of 62 - 63 HRC, a blade, made of it easily scratches
glass, cuts nails without notches and can be bent more than by
120 degrees without residual deformations. Special brands of our
steel possess such high quality parameters, that currently we
are undertaking measures to fix officially these properties of
our Wootz Steel with the help of famous metallurgical laboratories.
started to produce first samples of cold arms. Two blades, made
by Valery Koptev currently are in the Administration of the President
of Russia. 10 more items are being manufactured. In Moscow we
are starting organization of an enterprise for production of small
folding penknives of cast Wootz under trademark of "Lounyov and
Koptev". Negotiations with armourers from Uzbekistan on joined
manufacture of blades in Fergana.
But currently, despite achieved results (quite good ones), my
colleagues and me are continuing our quest…
Lounyov, 1998, December
What arouse your interest to the Wootz Steel?
In my family this subject was always on agenda. During childhood,
when my family lived in Minsk (Byelorussia), I listened to stories
of my grandmother, Olga Nikolayevna Lukashevich, about travels,
developing of North, about metallurgy, steel works, nickel and
titanium production. She was a very interesting story-teller.
align="justify"Olga Nikolayevna Lukashevich is honorary citizen of Norilsk and
honorary metallurgist of the USSR, worked on metallurgical enterprises
of Podolsk, Kazakhstan, Norilsk. In Norilsk she was the first
manager of experimental workshop where the first industrial nickel
was produced in the USSR.
She was a broad-minded person and her curiosity, intelligence
in combination with ability to wonder childishly at most common,
at first glance, events, all these created around us a spirit
of pioneer- scientist of the end of 19th, beginning of 20th century.
Her long friendship with Ivan Yefremov, science-fiction writer,
assisted in forming of our world outlook, which harmoniously combined
concepts of modern science and ancient doctrines.
Thanks to her, when I was 5 or 6, I knew already something about
metal properties. And it was her from whom I first heard mysterious
and attractive word "bulat" (Wootz Steel in Russian).
Olga Nikolayevna's father, Nikolay Fyodorovich Margorin, attended
at chemistry and metallurgy lectures in Mikhailovsky Artillery
College, which were read by Mendeleyev. Later he instructed metallurgy
in Minsky Polytechnics Institute. His lectures there attended
Martsenkovskaya, who in future became my first instructor of physical
What do you think, how and why the secret of Wootz Steel
production was lost?
Lost? I think, that from the point of view of civilization, we
have moved somewhat aside from that wave of knowledge and concepts,
in which we existed many centuries ago… Why, for example, nobody
in the world can make violins as Amati or Stradivarius? Where
are those artists, who were bearing the spirit of Renaissance
Age? Numerous skills and a lot of knowledge has vanished in the
past… But I think that we can get them back if we tune on that
wave. One can talk a lot about capability of modern science to
explain and analyze the whole multi-century history of previous
generations. All so called "technologies", experience, attitudes…
even the soul. But I think that modern people became more primitive
and more straightforward. There is no respectful trepidation before
the Nature, the Universe, and God. There is no sense of complicity
with great and incomprehensive mysteries of Cosmos. The so called
"button instinct"… It is especially visible with modern teenagers,
that a consistent conception is formed, that someone, somewhere
has calculated everything and has learned to use everything. Push
a button - get result… If there is no button, no problem - will
be available soon… some money will be invested for this purpose
and everything will be bought.
So, I guess that the Wootz Steel did not get into new system of
internal values, which has formed together with beginning of scientific
and technical progress.
Very few of similar technologies survived till our days. In case
of blank following of ancient receipts, without corresponding
spiritual mood, appears the risk of loss of a secret. But together
with return to initial perceptions of the material, the secret
may revive. Think about the Wootz Steel as of sapient substance.
Here you see the ore. From initial ocean a giant is born - King
of Steel - Bulat/Wootz Steel. At his birth "midwives" are present
- fluxes, additives, catalysts. All this happens in protecting
and careful bosom - in crucible. The sacrament is surrounded with
divine force manifestations: heat, light, gravity, electromagnetic
and acoustic fields.
With such attitude it is hard to agree with such authoritative
persons as V.I. Basov and such scholars as P.P. Anosov and D.K.
Tchernov, who declared that bulat (Wootz Steel) must be put into
"service of the mankind" and all produced earlier steel must be
melted into the Wootz Steel. What for? Wouldn't it contradict
to the Nature? Doesn't it remind efforts of some ardent alchemists,
who instead of searching of philosopher's stone, gave all their
time and forces to melting all lead on Earth into gold? Let's
imagine for a moment that all cars in the streets are turned by
someone into Rolls-Royces and Bugatti, all clocks - into Cartie
and Rolexes, only elite French wine is available, in Bolshoy Theatres
are filled with Stradivarius violins and so on, but people are
the same! I feel that there is something wrong is such situation…
Wootz Steel remains valuable from practical point of view, in
From the point of view of mechanical properties? Yes, of course.
This idea was discussed already on many occasions. The book of
Borzoonov and Scherbakov Bulatnaya Stal (Wootz Steel) these aspects
were examined carefully… Hardness, flexibility, toughness. All
these properties are available. And what acoustic properties!
Hardened strip of Wootz Steel, containing 2% of carbon, sounds
with steady tone at least for 3-4 minutes! From practical point
of view the Wootz Steel is very effective. My friends every now
and then ask me to lend them a knife, made by my father of Wootz
Steel with 1% of carbon (the softest Wootz, which we are making),
in order to slice a screwdriver, made of U10A steel… or to scratch
But there is another side of the problem. Recently very authoritative
representatives of Tadjikistan Islamic community addressed to
Valery Koptev and me. They suggested to recreate the legendary
sword of Ali called Zulfakar from our cast Wootz Steel. By the
way, they interested greatly namely in acoustic properties of
our metal. This is very serious… so to say, these are manifestations
of social influence of Wootz. We asked them to wait a while and
give us some time to think it all over. We have our own artifacts,
of Slavonic, Indo-European origin. Dovmont's Sword, for example,
or Aryan Sword, Rama's Axe. All these pieces must have internal
life, some internal hidden force. By the way, it is very interesting
to observe a man, who for the first time takes a Wootz weapon
in hands. Some kind of intercourse occurs, may be this is my personal
comprehension only, I do not want to force my opinion on my readers.
these properties of Wootz today, as well as in all times, possibly,
in greater part define its value.
place do Wootz items occupy in modern collections?
Frankly speaking, I am not a great specialist in the area of weapon
collecting. It would be better to address this question to Valery
Koptev and Olga Kulyasova. By the way, it was Olga Kulyasova,
who, being a cold steel specialist in Crosna Gallery on Novy Arbat,
pushed me to move from theoretical laboratory researches to practical
work on creation of cast Wootz. To achieve this, she acquainted
me with Valery Dmitrievich Koptev. If anyone have any questions
to these people, please write to my address: firstname.lastname@example.org