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  Black Sea Yataghans ( Again??)

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Author Topic:   Black Sea Yataghans ( Again??)
Senior Member
posted 08-21-2004 14:09     Click Here to See the Profile for Oriental-Arms   Click Here to Email Oriental-Arms     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In a previous thread ( )
I posted the story of an old collection originally purchased in the Holy Land in 1918 - 1920, and was now returned home. Three of the swords in this collection are related to the intriguing issue in dispute of the Black Sea Yataghan. The three swords are shown below:

A close up on the handles shows that all has very long ears which may relate them to the Black Sea Yataghan:

Number 1. is a rather common Black Sea Yataghan. It is 30 inches long, slender but thick and heavy blade, decorated with the classical punched dot decoration. It is dated to 1294 ( 1877 in the Gregorian calendar) and definitely forged from high carbon hard steel edge welded to a softer steel back. The welding line is very clear along the entire blade. See below:

Number 2 is an extremely interesting animal. It is 26 inches long, very deeply curved, thick blade with wide fullers, which looks as if made from an old British or French Yataghan Sword Bayonet. This is indeed a possibility. However, no marking were found on it (As far as I know, all the sword bayonet from the period were marked) and the blade is entirely etched with a classical Mediterranean style etching, which is also found from time to time in the fullers of Caucasian Qamas. Bayonets were not commonly decorated with etching. See a section below:


Number 3 is a rather common Turkish Yataghan. The blade is also decorated with etching. The ears of the pommel are rather wide and beautifully engraved on their inner side with birds, also in a classical Mediterranean style. See below:


Close comparison of the grips of swords 2 and 3 suggest that they were made by the same smith: Chevron style decoration with in brown black horn. See below:


So far so good. What do we learn from it? I will not suggest an ultimate answer to the question of the Black Sea Yataghan origin: North Africa or North Turkey. Both schools has very strong and valid arguments. I will merely point out three facts, which in my opinion will only add to the mystery:

1) All three swords were collected in one place, in the midway between North Africa and Turkey.

2) Forge welding and lamination techniques were not common in North African swords but very common in Turkish Yataghans.

3) The same smith probably made two Yataghans in a rather short period, both decorated in a similar Middle Eastern style: one classical Turkish, and one quite similar to the classical Black Sea Yataghan. Did he try to imitate a North African Black Sea Yataghan and decorate it with the period and region style? Or did he only made what was common in weaponry of the region?

I will refrain from expressing my opinion, and rather give the stage to other forumists.

[This message has been edited by Oriental-Arms (edited 08-21-2004).]

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Senior Member
posted 08-21-2004 16:22     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No. 2 is almost certainly a remanufactured yatagan bayonet. It looks like it could have been produced from a Turkish model 1874 NCO's bayonet* used on the Peabody Martini rifle. The original bayonet blade would have been completely unmarked.

pic. courtesy of TherionArms

The blade has been reforged (it was much straighter) and decorated, so it is hard to say, but the original dimensions would have been:

Blade length: 575mm
Blade width: 32mm
Blade thickness at crossguard: 8.4mm

* These bayonets were actually produced under contract in the US.


[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 08-21-2004).]

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 08-21-2004).]

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Senior Member
posted 08-21-2004 16:54     Click Here to See the Profile for ariel   Click Here to Email ariel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got a small Black Sea yataghan with almost identical "punched" decorations but mine is dated 1890 in Gregorian (no Islamic numbers at all!). This would mean that it was made by a Christian swordsmith.
Interesting but, again, no clue as to its origins...

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 08-21-2004 22:31     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey! I know that sword! The blade is indeed unmarked (the pommel is marked). It is point-hardened, and the fuller is flat-bottomed. It is almost exactly the same length, thickness, and outline as the French ones, but much heavier.

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