Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
I am going to try to summarize what I think has been said here in this, at times, unruly thread. As Jim noted, among the noise and disagreement there seems to be some common ground--or at least some points of substance that we can address, perhaps freeing us from some of the deeply entrenched positions that several have staked out.
I am seeing consensus that the broad typology of the shashka is in the class of swords we loosely call "sabers," which are primarily single-edged, fairly narrow blades (width should be specified) that may be straight or curved (but not recurved), and within that broad group the shashka belongs to those that have a guardless hilt (along with other notable swords such as certain katana, dha, parang, etc.). All of these weapons share the common function of being primarily slashing or cutting swords. [So far, so good--I hope.]
The next point of agreement seems to be the Circassian origin of these swords in the early 19th C. The Circassian shashka I have termed Type I (and here we need to define the essential characteristics of the Type I shashka).
Through diffusion within the Caucuses and eventually into Russia, the Circassian shashka becomes known as the Caucasian shashka and the Russian/Cossack shashka. These I have labeled Type Ia. So far I have not heard how these shashka differ from Type I, and perhaps they don't, but this point needs to be clarified.
The Russian version of Type Ia seems to have influenced neighboring areas resulting in them producing their own versions of the shashka. These I have termed "Shashka Variants" and they include examples from Afghanistan, from the Usbeks, Tajiks, etc. That these variations share much in common with the basic shashka model (Types I, Ia) is apparent from the pictures shown here and elsewhere on this web site. However, there are differences in decoration and minor stuctural changes that separate some of these from Type I, Ia shashka, and these differences are sufficient to label then Type Ib. I have not given the variants a Type II designation because the basic structure and function of the swords remain essentially true to the fundamental design of the shashka.
All of this is summed up in the accompanying chart. This is just how I have interpreted the data presented here. I want to say that I don't have a dog in this fight, and don't favor one person's ideas over another's. This is simply where you comments have led me.
I know that passionate opinions are held by many of you. Please keep things on track and refrain from personal comments that might inflame those passions.