Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Well, I still do not know where the term “ teh-Tula” came from, but obviously it is not meant to signify niello. Likely, the author means some kind of inlay.
Overall, it looks like a very simple standard Caucasian kindjal, mass produced , end of 19 up to mid 20 ( or later) century. Chechen? Daghestani?
The issue of hardness ( “soft iron”) puzzles me. The first photograph shows an area with deep crosshatching. Is looks suspiciously as if the blade was made out of an old file, and those are hard.
Also, Caucasian often used a technique of differential tempering, deliberately hardening edges and leaving the body soft. Kind of like nihonto. This can be seen after a good polish, and definitely after acid etching.
Sorry for not being more helpful: far too many contradictions.