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Damascus Steel ? / What is Damascus steel ? / Wootz Steel / S Lounyov

Pursuing P.P. Anosov researchs... Serguey Lounyov's

Wootz Steel


The following text is from Serguey Lounyov.

You will find the original text at : http://www.wootz.ru

Serguey Lounyov address is : lounyov@elf91.com

Boris A. Ustyuzhanin : borust@newtech.ru is Serguey's interpreter


Updated December, 30 th, 2000

Dear Friends!

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 by itself.

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, "Karmic" work.

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 processes.

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.

We 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…

Serguey 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 metallurgy…


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…


Does Wootz Steel remains valuable from practical point of view, in our days?

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 a bottle.

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.

All these properties of Wootz today, as well as in all times, possibly, in greater part define its value.


What 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: lounyov@elf91.com

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