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Old 1st January 2020, 07:23 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Micro-ethnic differences in weapons

We usually discuss differences in weapons belonging to pretty large countries/principalities. Usually, these weapons are very different: North Indian Tulwar vs. South Indian Khanda, Turkish Kilij or Pala vs. Persian Shamshir etc.

But I would like to bring an example of the same weapon coming from 2 adjacent and pretty small principalities of the same country: Georgia.

First is the map of historical 15th century Georgia. Look at the coastal end: Samegrelo ( Megrelia) and Guria. Both are populated by people speaking the same language and belonging to the same religion ( Christian).
Both are small: Megrelia 3,800 sq. mi. ( or, to simplify, ~65x65 mi), Guria is tiny at 785 sq.mi. ( ~40x20 mi). Both had kindjals as their main weapons.
But here the differences start:
The upper one: Gurian kindlal is massive, wide, and has pretty rounded tip. Its blade is hollow-ground. It is a slashing weapon.
The lower one, Megrelian is rather small, narrow, having a very sharp tip, flat panel at the ricasso and a central rib for strengthening the blade : a stabber.

These features imply major differences in their actual use.

Their decorations are also very different: Gurian has scabbard with monstrous iron chapee and square pommel; Megrelian has elegant silver decorations.

These differences were preserved for as long as we know these weapons; these are firm tradition peculiar to the same people occupying the area size of Long Island.

Can we show other examples of similar micro-ethnic construction? I would probably not touch Indonesia/Philippine, because they have not even micro, but nano-differences belonging not only to different islands, but to different villages.
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Old 1st January 2020, 07:58 PM   #2
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Here is a picture of 3 Gurians with their kindjals
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Old 1st January 2020, 08:56 PM   #3
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And here - Megrelians with their kindjals.
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Old 4th January 2020, 10:06 PM   #4
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I have a question about the Khevsureti.As a matter of fact, their weapons are even different from those shown
....Or as comrade Suhov says :...."Восток - дело тонкое" (It’s a mystery inside an enigma)
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Old 4th January 2020, 10:17 PM   #5
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I do not think Khevsurian kindjals had anything specific about their blades. Their hallmark was flat brass decorations of scabbards and handles.
And, of course, we should not forget Khevsurian ( and Kakheti) Dashna, often misidentified as Iranian Quaddara.
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Old 5th January 2020, 12:58 PM   #6
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Any idea as to the purpose of those horns they are holding?
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Old 5th January 2020, 03:10 PM   #7
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Other than their traditional Caucasian role as wine-drinking vessels, - I cannot come up with any idea.
It is a staged picture, and the photographer likely wanted to include all aspects of local life:-)
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Old 5th January 2020, 03:32 PM   #8
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Ariel, please, could you show any picture of a typical Dashna ?
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Old 5th January 2020, 09:19 PM   #9
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I just recalled addressing Dashna in the topic “A riddle just for fun and learning”

Go there and have fun!

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Old 7th January 2020, 01:56 AM   #10
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Sorry for not being able to bring pics: I was in Toronto and just came home.
I am just copying the pic from the old topic and copy the text to keep everybody more comfortable.


"In that part of the world wars were an uninterrupted chain of events. Weapons were consumed rapidly, and there was no sufficient capacity to renew their supply. People had to rely on "re-purposing" broken parts, blades in particular.

The upper one is Khevsurian Dashna. Pay attention to the blade: typical Khevsurian low quality job, and pretty old and worn to boot. The word "dashna" was mentioned in the Georgian dictionary of Sulhan Saba Orbeliani in the 17th century.
Classical examples had kindjal-like handles and plenty of brass on the handle and the scabbard.
The one I show is a much later example, mid 20 century: D-guard, handle materials.

Believe it or not, those were in active use even then, despite all the restrictions imposed by the Soviet regime. Khevsurs never paid much attention to any government:-)

The second one ( quaddara-like) is even more interesting.
I got information about it from Vakhtang Kiziria, a Georgian researcher, who wrote several articles about these short improvised weapons.
He consulted with 2 more Georgian weapons researchers and...

This is a weapon that originated in Eastern Georgia, Kakheti, and is locally known as Sabarkali.They were known there since the end of the 18th century till ~ 1820 ( when the Russians came). After that , beginning ~1850 they penetrated to the neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan, where they were called Quaddara and widely used in the religious ceremonies of Ashura. Azeris expanded its presence to Persia.

My example has a village-made Georgian palash blade of unexpectedly high quality: no caverns at all and in more than 20 years since I got it, I did not oil it even once, and there is not a trace of rust, just thin beautiful patina. Ian was astute: the fuller goes ~2.5 inches inside the handle, indicating that the current blade is just a remainder of a broken old one. Taking into account chronology of Sabarkali ( beginning of 19th century at the latest), the blade must be even older."
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Old 7th January 2020, 02:00 AM   #11
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And here are Khevsur saber and kindjal. Just garden variety Caucasian Georgian work, but with extensive use of brass decorations.
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Old 7th January 2020, 05:31 PM   #12
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Thank you Ariel
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Old 5th February 2020, 08:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
...
First is the map of historical 15th century Georgia. Look at the coastal end: Samegrelo ( Megrelia) and Guria. Both are populated by people speaking the same language and belonging to the same religion ( Christian).
Both are small: Megrelia 3,800 sq. mi. ( or, to simplify, ~65x65 mi), Guria is tiny at 785 sq.mi. ( ~40x20 mi). Both had kindjals as their main weapons.
But here the differences start:
The upper one: Gurian kindlal is massive, wide, and has pretty rounded tip. Its blade is hollow-ground. It is a slashing weapon.
The lower one, Megrelian is rather small, narrow, having a very sharp tip, flat panel at the ricasso and a central rib for strengthening the blade : a stabber.

These features imply major differences in their actual use.
...


Dear Ariel an all, thank for the very useful topic. I will try to address my personal opinion, as someone interested in ancient warfare.
The first difference between the usages of the two qama/kindjals should be examined within the geography, as you have just mentioned. Generally, one would assume that the "peoples of the mountains" should carry larger weapons, and those on the coastal areas would have weapons of some more "regular" size. However, this is the very opposite when we consider Gurians and Megrelians. As far as I know, Guria was (nearly always) a part of the Ottoman Empire, or, the Georgian Kingdom, situated near the important trading centers of the Black Sea coast, and in close interaction with the local Greek population of Anatolia (Gurian kindjals are still being called as Greek Qamas in Anatolia). However, the Megrelians, especially after being pushed to the mountainous zone, had interaction with the tribes of the north-western Caucasus, mountain Circassians and Apkhazians. This would have effected the cultural process. Secondly, the "primary weapon" is an other issue. Guria was under permanent control of various centralized imperial powers, and was relatively a part of the "civilized" world. It is much more likely for them to have a single beast as a "daily" and "main" weapon, for it was probably not allowed - or not necessary - for any Gurian "commoner" to have other weapons of war, such as swords or fire ones. But I think this is not the case with the Megrelians, for they were in a relatively far geographical position to the central powers, and -through their interaction and/or quarrels with the independent tribes of the Caucasus- kindjal/qama was probably a secondary weapon for them in the "daily life": a stabbing instrument in the absence of the other ones. Is it not the case also for the Circassians? If the kindjal/qama was the primary weapon, so were are they? The archaeological record exhibit a series of war instruments from the northern part of the Caucasus, but kindjal or qama have a very little percentage among them.
This would lead us to the older kindjal/qama question, which rare people know or think over anymore: what is a "Shapsugh" kindjal, and what is the "Kabardian" one? We know nothing but the first one was broad and hefty, and the other one was narrow and elegant. But we also know that the Shapsugh live on the coastal areas, but the Kabardians inside.

Just wanted to share my mind , thanks again for the topic, waiting for more contributions.

BTW: Ariel, forgive me if I missed a point, but why do you think the second one is Megrelian, for I would bet it is a Circassian one, according to the decoration, of course, "as far as I can see"
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Old 5th February 2020, 05:50 PM   #14
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Yes, the motives of decoration are Circassian but this is expected: Meghrelians belonged to the Circassian “group” in the esthetic sense. Please see Rivkin’s book with multiple examples of it. The distinctive feature of Meghrelian blades is the flat panel at the base of it.

I see your point re. “ flatlanders” vs. “ mountaineers”. But at least 2 independent papers ( one by a Georgian arms researcher Vakhtang Kiziria, another by a Russian museum worker from the staff of the Hermitage museum, if I am nor mistaken) carefully discuss the ethical dimensions: slashing or cutting wounds were not life-threatening whereas a stabbing one was. The use of the latter was frowned upon in the majority of Caucasian traditions and was limited against animals but was used very grudgingly against humans and only in extreme circumstances ( mortal enemies, horse thieves etc.)
Why were Meghrelians so very liberal with stabbing ? I do not understand it and could not find any decent explanation.
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Old 6th February 2020, 12:31 PM   #15
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Here are papers by Kiziria and Sheremetjev I mentioned earlier.. I guess you can read Russian?

http://historical-weapons.com/ru/po...-dagger-fights/

http://historical-weapons.com/ru/to...th-century-abs/
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