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Old 14th August 2014, 04:34 PM   #26
Oliver Pinchot
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 318

Ariel, I agree one can certainly argue the boundaries- to the degree there were any-- to the lands of the Afghan tribes; for the "modern" boundaries of Central Asian states, we have mostly Stalin to thank. On the other hand, the designation "Central Asia" specifies a geographical region, it isn't a political distinction.

An observant friend who has been to St. Peter's recently provided the image I've attached below. It shows that the grip of the dagger is ferrous metal, and was chiseled overall originally-- probably inlaid with gold or silver at one time as well. The image also makes it clear that the band around the pommel contains an inscription in Arabic characters. Based on this, I would argue that the dagger is in a homogenous state, which allows it to be associated with two of the examples pictured in The Muslim Knight cited above, numbers 138 and 139. The authors suggest that those examples may have been produced during the Ghazavid era in Central Asia. By comparison, the blade of the St. Peter example is more substantial, and the overall quality and complexity of the blade, even taking into consideration the condition of number 138, is substantially higher. Further, the grips of both the published examples are, or were, organic. The St. Peter dagger has an iron or steel grip, given the type and degree of corrosion. For these reasons, I would provisionally attribute it to a form that existed in Central Asia (and may well have evolved there) but was produced in an Ottoman or Safavid (or pre-Safavid Akkoyunlu) workshop, probably between 1400-1500, based upon the motifs which appear on the blade, i.e. the Timurid trefoils and segmented sun disk.

I don't think the Staritski dagger is much of an enigma. It's a Central Asian bladeform that survived into the latter 18th century; the suspension system survived even longer. The forward-curving blade remains in use by Persian, Mughal and even Ottoman smiths up to the latter 19th century; it seems to be a simplification of the very complex blades discussed above. The real key to attributing the origin of that type is the scabbard. Note the strip which runs up the back of the scabbard-- it is set with a ring at the top and bound by a series of bands. This characteristic survives on elaborately-decorated kards of 19th century Bukhara and Khiva, among other Central Asian daggers. It is also found on some Tibetan weapons and I've even seen Chinese trousses that make use of it. Too, the long chape terminating in a bead is retained on the scabbards of "Khyber knives" dating well into the 20th century. So yes, definitely Eastern....
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