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Single-edged, slightly curving sabres were popular among the nomad tribes of the eastern steppe. The sabre was adopted by the Rus in the later tenth century, along with many other steppe fashions. Under the influence of Turkish steppe tribes, single-edged slightly curving sabres were introduced to Byzantium and the middle East in the later eleventh century.

The sabre of this period should not be confused with its later descendants. Sabres should only have a very slight curve to the blade. ‘Proto-sabres’ became popular in Byzantium and the middle East – swords with a straight blade, but with the tang curving slightly; they were normally used with the index finger over the cross-guards. Such swords had distinctive cross-shaped hilts which could be gilded. The sword-hilt may have a leather or strong fabric strap attached so the sword can be suspended from the wrist in order to shoot.

Sabre scabbards should be highly decorated. They were slung horizontally from the belt with two or three leather straps, hanging at about 45 degrees (and in some cases nearly horizontally), as this design was easier for mounted warriors.