Originally Posted by ariel
The last person to make wootz blades was Elizarov, and that was long before NII:-) Virtually all shashka blades are plain steel ( too expensive to make mechanical damascus, as per local masters). There are very few mechanical damascus kindjals, and the pattern is easily visible. Gurian kindjals of high quality had beautiful "Tiflis damascus" exclusively within the fullers.
Etching was widespead.
All in all, the likelihood of finding anything but plain steel in that blade is close to zero.
Thank you for coming in on this Ariel, as I know you know the topic of wootz etc. especially in Russia well. I am unclear on the 'bulat' that I mentioned, which as I understand is a form of pattern welding (?) but has characteristics of mechanical Damascus (?).
I was under the impression that there was a maker at Zlatoust trying to reproduce the character of wootz in the 1830s and this was the source of bulat in some blades.
I am likely not describing this well, so hoping for your elucidation on this.
Is it possible that this may have been a sabre blade made in the early 19th century and in circumstances I have mentioned, and perhaps remounted in the present hilt later?
I know that the Russians were very big on heirloom and especially trophy blades, which were often remounted in more contemporary hilts. Somewhere in the archives I have a Russian book with many of these (it will take some excavation to find it!).
Perhaps an officer or official in the time of Nicholas II had such a blade and had it remounted? much in the manner of the Caucasian shashkas being copied in the ranks of the officers of the Russian military (as described in Mollo, "Russian Military Swords"). The attempt at reproducing the well known cosmological groupings often seen on earlier European blades may have been genuinely placed in a commemorative sense, despite the less than adept rendering.