Thank you for coming in on this Ariel, as I know you know the topic of wootz etc. especially in Russia well. I am unclear on the 'bulat' that I mentioned, which as I understand is a form of pattern welding (?) but has characteristics of mechanical Damascus (?).
I was under the impression that there was a maker at Zlatoust trying to reproduce the character of wootz in the 1830s and this was the source of bulat in some blades.
I am likely not describing this well, so hoping for your elucidation on this.
Is it possible that this may have been a sabre blade made in the early 19th century and in circumstances I have mentioned, and perhaps remounted in the present hilt later?
I know that the Russians were very big on heirloom and especially trophy blades, which were often remounted in more contemporary hilts. Somewhere in the archives I have a Russian book with many of these (it will take some excavation to find it!).
Perhaps an officer or official in the time of Nicholas II had such a blade and had it remounted? much in the manner of the Caucasian shashkas being copied in the ranks of the officers of the Russian military (as described in Mollo, "Russian Military Swords"). The attempt at reproducing the well known cosmological groupings often seen on earlier European blades may have been genuinely placed in a commemorative sense, despite the less than adept rendering.
bulat is the Russian version of wootz. Just like in the US there are modern makers of it. The Russian version can be found here;
Full disclosure, I am not a believer in the lost art of working steel.
So "bulat" is nothing more than the Russian word for wootz.
There are many modern bladesmiths who can make very good quality wootz in US, Germany, Russia and in the Scandinavian countries. They all attempt to replicate the patterns and properties of antique wootz.
Among the best of them are the Georgian Zaqro Nonikashvili and the Russian Ivan Kirpichev. I have seen a blade made by Kirpichev that comes very close to the Kirk Narduban pattern of ancient Persian wootz.
Yet, from all I have seen, none of the modern wootz makers managed to get the same mesmerizing watering as the old masters, albeit their blades are in most cases mechanically superior.
PS: The mechanical properties of wootz are not that impressive when compared to modern steels. Even the average kitchen knives of our times have in most cases better mechanical properties. Wootz had the merit of holding the crown for best steel up to approximately 16th century when it was surpassed by the European steels made in Toledo, Solingen, etc.
PPS: Regarding this blade, I do not see any indication that it may be anything else but monosteel, so etching will only contribute to the advancement of corrosion of the blade.
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