Join Date: Oct 2007
What defines a Shashka; It is a sabre, unique to the Caucasian regions, and as far south and to include Turkey, and later adopted in to Russia.
What is a sabre; A curved, single handed, single edged sword, historically derived from and used from horseback. Not hand and a half, not two handed or longer, a grip for single handed use. Note, not all Shashka have their hilt engulfed by the scabbard throat either.
Qualities of a Shashka; I do not have my notes to reference, so I do not know who first wrote about the qualities of the Shashka, but, the most desirable Shashka, should be feather light, vine supple and razor sharp...very few swords anywhere in the world have all of these qualities.
I do not believe there are any sub-types of Shashka, only different cultural appearances throughout the regions of the Caucasus mountains and northern Turkey.
Russian adopted arms and terms of military regulation type, of the form or later types, should fall within modern Military cold arms, not Ethnographic arms.
Swords in discussion beyond the Caucasus Mountains and Northern Turkey should not be classified as Shashka.
To quote Mahratt's categories;
1) Caucasian shashka
2) Afghan shashka
3) Bukhara shashka (and I think more correct to say - Central Asian shashka)
4) Russian shashka (Cossack)
I do not believe #s 2 & 3 exist as Shashka, nor a sub classification, but sabres in their own right. Type 4 I have noted in my opening text.
Type 2 exists with some common features and sits sheathed in a similar manner , but do not share Shashka "qualities" or linage. Perhaps visually inspired from a Caucasian Shashka but, but certainly not developed from and there really is not any development, more regression than anything when compared to a Shashka.
Personally, I feel these are only sabres, unique to their specific regions. These sabre all carry bolsters like their knives and Salawar, and have little to no grace in the hand.
Type 3. My Bukhara sabre, now so often seen in these pages, is not in my opinion, a sub class of the Shashka. The blade is not very supple but is sharp, it is somewhat light but not as balanced as a Shashka. It is single handed but not of a Shashka style grip despite it having small ears... It is more akin to the Pesh Kabz. It wears a grip strap like a Turkish sword or Pesh Kabz, has grip slabs like a Pesh Kabz or North Indian Karud (check the detail), is much thicker in cross section than a true Shashka hilt too. Also, the tang protrudes through the grip strap and is riveted in 5 places, not the traditional 2 places seen on Shashka.
Mahratt makes an observation about the hilt style being unique, and in a way it is but there are other non related arms such as the Sinai Bedouin sabre that is often mistaken as a Shashka in profile, and no doubt other forms that do not come straight to mind.
Dah should also be removed from this discussion, they are so far off the Shashka trails.