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Old 13th October 2019, 04:14 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by TVV
I remember that one Ariel, and it is an exceptional piece:

Your especially seems to support the theory, that in Algeria and Tunisia the yataghan was not just a weapon, but also a status symbol, reserved for the Ottoman descended elite. The flyssa is the Kabyle interpretation, and in my opinion, a not very good one based on the badly balanced, thick and generally poorly made blades.

This is an exquisitely succinct assessment of the yataghan in Ottoman North Africa, and its Kabyle counterpart Teodor, and brings back memories of all the research and discussions here some years back.
Indeed what I learned from that was that the flyssa had become the symbolic weapon of a young Kabyle man's rite of passage, and that the yataghan itself was a much admired sword. While the Kabyle's were not subjugated by the Ottoman's in notable degree, the influences of the yataghan was distinctly present. As noted, the Ottoman focus on these swords in such capacity probably carried into the Kabyle communities.

It does not seem that any feasible explanation as to the manner of use of the flyssa was ever determined, and while illustrations of Kabyle's holding or wearing them exist, none show them in battle. In the actions by the French in 1850's apparently at least one was 'captured' (I found that one held in the Foreign Legion museum in France, date 1857 I believe) but that did not mean it was taken in battle. As often the case, these elaborate swords were probably found in the possessions of people in the communities after any action subsided along with other items considered souvenirs.

The terrible balance, inadequate hilt in most examples with these much oversize blades suggest the status orientation and such use. While the decoration on the blades carries collective theme of talismanic devices and Byzantine motif, there are personalized symbols added as well.
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