exhibition overview

By displaying both objects (boo­ks, arms and armour) and intangible cultural heritage (martial arts), this special exhibition of­fers the visitors of the European Games a unique experience in rediscovering a forgotten martial culture. The ancient ways of the sword will be celebrated throu­gh a visualisation of the pro­cesses behind the development of martial ethos, from the forge to the use of weapons.


The Forge: A Weapon is Born

From  the  power  of  the  river  and  the  treasures  of  the  earth,  for the object to be born the  elements  of  the  weapon  are  brought  to  the  workshop.  Through  the  arms  of  the  artisan,  the  steel  is  forged  with  hammer  and  fire. Mind and hands combined are put to work and the weapon is born, a physical object reflecting the intellectual and physical process and labour of its creator. 

This room of the exhibition will include a  reconstruction  of  an  antique  forge,  as well as  the  tools that reflect the  different  steps  of  sword-making.  A  video  showing the forging of the blade and the recorded sounds of a forge will create the perfect ambience to immerse the visitors in the history of the workshop. The objective of this room is to introduce the audience to the complicated and laborious process of the creation of a weapon that is required before the object is finished. This will result to visitors further appreciating the craftsmanship that has gone into the objects that they will later visit in the exhibition.


The Masters’ room: A Martial Art Put in Writing

Mastering  the  art  of  fighting is a way  of  life  and  a  lifetime  achievement.  When today we look back to the work and lives of the old fighting masters and try to interpret their teachings we are merely dwarves  on  the shoulders  of  giants. The  masters often put their  art  in  writing, which could later be used and perceived as teaching tool and aid, a celebration of an individual, or a testament to their craft and skill.  They all wrestled  with  the  limits  of  words  and  images  on  the  page,  and with the limitations of them as mediums for transmitting knowledge. This room explores the life of the masters through the scarce objects they left behind, that are directly associated with them, the relationship between the teacher and the student, and how the masters found a way of turning their skill and experience to writing, and then their writing to livelihood.

The objects in this room include coins, a cabinet with manuscripts and books, and roof tiles, all related to the lives of fighting masters. A video will be showing how fighting is transferred from the page to practice with the demonstration of European martial arts forms. The visitors will have the opportunity to observe how martial knowledge was transmitted by people that dedicated their lives to the art of fighting.


Weapons’  hall: The Martial Art and the Weapon Comes to Life

Martial  art  is  not  about  fighting,  it  is  about  adapting  to  how  things  are.  It  is  a  way  of  life,  in  ancient  times  and  nowadays.  The aim of this third and largest part of the exhibition is to immerse the visitors to the martial and material culture behind European martial arts. Objects, manuscripts, books and videos create a mosaic that represents different parts of martial arts tradition. Once all these elements come together they create a wider perspective of this part of history that is deeply rooted in a broad geographical and chronological context. Through the changing form of the weapons and the material covered in written sources the visitors can observe and partake in a particular thread of history and culture as it evolved in Europe.

A  large  hall,  separated  in  several  spaces  according  to  martial  disciplines will help visitors navigate through the rich history and tradition of European martial arts as they changed and evolved.  Each discipline will be represented by a manuscript or book showing a technique from a fighting system, a displayed weapon that matches those used to perform it, and a video that will demonstrate the interpretation of the technique. These three elements will represent and transmit to the audience the complex physical and mental process of practicing martial arts.