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Old 5th February 2005, 10:19 AM   #1
carlos
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Question ¿ YATAGAN SABER?

HI!!
I HAVE THIS SWORD 2 YEARS AGO, I ONLY KNOW IS FROM AFGHANISTAN, SURE. THE HANDLE IS WOOD AND THE SCABBARD IS WOOD WITH SOMETHIG SIMILAR TO SKIN, BUT IS VERY DAMAGED.
WHAT KIND OF WEAPON IS?
THANKS
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Old 5th February 2005, 01:07 PM   #2
tom hyle
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Yep, nice. Again, essentially a sha'sh'ka. One wonders of there isn't another local name for these than yatagan; at least yatagan with some sort of modifier. Note the regionality; that's a salwar yatagan bolster.
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Old 5th February 2005, 01:15 PM   #3
Yannis
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My opinion is that this is a central asian shashka. Afghanistan, Uzbekistan etc. I have seen some but this is the most well done of all.
The scabbard is fine, exept the worn leather that it is normal for the 100 years of its age.

Carlos, are fittings made of silver as I suppose?
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Old 5th February 2005, 01:28 PM   #4
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Yes, it IS a sha'sh'ka, but is that what it would locally be called, or are we helplessly transposing a kazak word, having no alternative? And is that an important matter? Not really to me, in truth; just an idle wondering; all the local terminology seems to be of great interest to some other people though.
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Old 5th February 2005, 01:32 PM   #5
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Yes, it IS a sha'sh'ka, but is that what it would locally be called, or are we helplessly transposing a kazak word, having no alternative? And is that an important matter? Not really to me, in truth; just an idle wondering; all the local terminology seems to be of great interest to some other people though.
The main difference from Caucasian sha'sh'ka per se is length; with the Caucasian swords having grown to longswords, while these, like yatagan per se, seem to have remained most usually the ancestral size; what I categorize as "regular size" (ie. niether long nor short) swords. Is shah shish ka a big blade or the blade of the big? A lord of swords or the sword of lords? (It's common for barbarians, when confronted with mostly citified ideas of social division/stratification, and kazaks have a reputation for this, to speak of themselves as all being lords, kings, or heros.)
Note a tendency in Western Europe for the long sabre to turn into a regular length sword (hanger), perhaps under influence from falchion/long-sax, but I think also because its use comes more natural (no matter what Burton might have said; Burton was given to the usuall trained fencer's elitist/superiorist thing [ie "the way I was taught is THE WAY and there is no other...."], and was basically criticizing the naturalness of hanger use; giving more, perhaps too much, credit to his beloved "scientific" swordsmanship; it's not unreminscent of Samurai training manuals sneering at peasants and common soldiers and their swords.).

Last edited by tom hyle : 5th February 2005 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 5th February 2005, 03:39 PM   #6
Yannis
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Tom, as usual, you hit a point. Personally I dont care about the length of the sword as far as I feel it ok in my hand.
Talking of shaskhas my favorite sword this period is an asian type shaskha . This beauty is the one that I could choose to hold if I had to fight with swords
It has great balance and a strong blade (german I think). But before this, my favourite arm was a medium size kilij. There is a difference of 20cm (!) between them, but both have great “feeling”. I cant say the same for all my swords.
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Old 5th February 2005, 03:48 PM   #7
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Afaik the other difference is that caucasian shashka is usually mounted with the hilt fully exposed and essentially bigger in diameter than the scabbard's opening.

"Asian" shashkas usually have extremely large scabbard's opening, so the hilt goes partially into the scabbard.

Just my 2c.
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Old 5th February 2005, 07:29 PM   #8
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I thought it was quite the opposite. The most shaskhas have the kind of scabbard you describe but some of the so called “asian” have the hilt bigger than the scabbard, so they overlap it. Like the shaskha I show here.

Also my opinion is that it is better to call this type “Islamic” than “asian”, because it comes from the muslim tribes of Caucasus. So we can have a difference from Carlos shaskha that is “central asian”.

I wish I read more opinions here.
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Old 6th February 2005, 11:37 PM   #9
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Lebedynsky calls it "pseudo-shashka".
As a part of the Great Game, the Russians started their conquest of the Central Asia (Bukhara, Khokand, Khwarism, Samarkand etc) sometimes in the middle third of the 19th century. They deployed regular army units and Cossack troops. That is when the locals were first acquainted with the Cossack Shashkas and started copying it. However, they still had their local motives preserved: the bolster and the blade sunk deep into the scabbard are direct descendants of the Khyber Knife (Salawar Yataghan). Thus, the Caucasian (handle outside) and the Asian (sunk handle) types were defined as such by the Russian military and the terms are of later origin.
Whereas Caucasian Shashkas had relatively short and light blades, the Central Asian often had very large and heavy ones. Another difference is the handle: Caucasian have an almost cylindrical body of the handle , with equal width throughout. Asian shashkas have relatively thin handle close to the blade and it widens toward the eared pommel.
Subsequently, Caucasian swordmakers went to Bukhara (already under the Russian control) and there was an active exchange of techniques: that is whence enameling came to the Caucasus.
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Old 7th February 2005, 08:40 AM   #10
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Ariel

I am confused now. I have no access to Lebedynsky but I checked Stone and Tirri, not much info. Astvacaturyan has my type of shashka in Daghestan chapter, that means the asian part of caucasus. That's why I call it "islamic"

I was lucky to see many shashkas lately. The majority of them was the type "hilt in the scabbard". But some of these had Hungarian or German blades and certainly all of them had heavier blades than the Central Asian shashkas (like Carlos) the I have seen and hold.

I agree that in Russian Imperial times the exchange of styles was common. I wish once more Astvacaturyan's book was translated in a language I can read.
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Old 7th February 2005, 04:13 PM   #11
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The blades:
I am talking about locally made blades. Caucasians (Circassians and Daghestani/Chechens) liked their shashka ("big knife" is a literal meaning) to be very light. Uzbeks and the rest of the Central Asians essentially transplanted a local blade (what we usually see as Tulwars, Pulouars etc) onto a "caucasian" handle.
Caucasian shashkas used a lot of Europeaan or Persian blades, but they were all pretty light.
The handle:
The definition "asian" has nothing to do with Daghestan being nominally in Asia (just like Circassia , the cradle of Shashkas, is nominally in Europe). We are talking about tiny distances and the Europe/Asia divide being artificially imposed by the European cartographers. Georgians still view themselves (or would like to be viewed!) as the Easternmost Mediterranean nation.
The distinction between "caucasian" and "asian" handles was made by the Russian military around 1880s, when the Central Asian shashkas became known and even popular among the officers ordering their equipment in the multitude of commercial workshops around the Caucasus and exercising wide and free choice of the style they wanted. Thus, similar blades of whatever origin could have sported either type of the handle. Later the styles became officially regimented by the ministerial regulations but we start talking here about mass-produced, regulation sabers and I am not very interested in those...
"Islamic" or "Asian":
Both Central Asians and Chechens are Muslim; thus calling the style Islamic would not help. Caucasian and Asian (perhaps, Central Asian would, indeed be better?) are very adequate and precise definitions.
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Old 7th February 2005, 04:20 PM   #12
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Having unloaded my 5 cents worth of knowledge on Shashkas, I'd like to ask Carlos: how long is the blade? Looks unusually short to me. Is it a child's sword? Any markings on the blade? Very pretty weapon, congratulations!
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Old 7th February 2005, 07:14 PM   #13
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HI ARIEL!!
THE BLADE DON´T HAVE ANY MARKS , THE TOTAL LENGHT IS 61,5 CM AND THE BLADE IS 48,5 CM.I,M SORRY BY MY SHORTS MESSAGES BUT MY ENGLISH ISN´T GOOD!!. I ADD ANOTHER PICTURE.
THANKS
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Old 7th February 2005, 08:31 PM   #14
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This is a great example of Afghan/Uzbek sabre, which are fascinating if nothing else for thier scarcity here in the west. As has been noted, the blade does seem to be of characteristic trade form, whether German or possibly Styrian is unclear, however European in any case.

The use of the term shaska seems ineffective applied to these, and its use seems compelled by the obvious similarity in hilt form, especially the cleft pommel.While I cannot speak with any authority linguistically, it seems the term shashka is actually Russian, and refers to the Caucasian sabres that were later adopted into military pattern in Cossack regiments.
Terminology referring to edged weapons is often misinterpreted, misused and above all, misunderstood with many colloquial terms being typically applied 'collectors terms' for the sake of descriptive reference.

The use of the term 'Islamic' in describing edged weapons common within the geo-religious cultural sphere has often been the topic of debate, since there are occasions when that description may not best identify comprehensively all the weapons included.
In the Caucusus, which includes Circassia (where the sabre later known as the shashka developed) as well as Muslim Daghestan and Chechnya, also includes the important Republic of Georgia, which is distinctly Orthodox Christian and interestingly does in degree know the 'shashka', there are instances of these indiginous weapons known to both Muslim and Christian factions.

In Uzbekistan, as well as in bordering Afghanistan, these sabres are certainly not known as 'shashkas', to which Lebedynsky alludes by using the term psuedo-shashkas, and is referring to the term itself rather than the sword form. A number of years ago in a discussion concerning the differences in Afghan vs. Uzbek 'shashkas' , Torben Flindt wisely stated, "weapons have no geographic boundaries", which summarily described the general folly in trying to be too precise in such identifications.

Concerning the reference of smaller weapons often considered to be 'childrens weapons' it is important to consider the possibility of weapons intended for varying application, especially if the hilt itself is still of the size for the adult hand. Sometimes shorter bladed weapons are intended for use in closer quarters, such as versions of the Chinese dao with short blades that were used in crowded alleys and municipal situations. Also, the obvious shorter and heavier blades for maritime use in shipboard melee.
While most Caucasian sabres are clearly intended for mounted use, it may be that Afghan or Uzbek examples may occasion forms for use in the often crowded quarters of cities.

Regarding the hilts of Caucasian as well as Uzbek/Afghan sabres, these typically have the distinctive guardless hilts descend deep into the throat of the scabbard, often receiving the majority of the hilt.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 7th February 2005, 09:35 PM   #15
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1. Risking to provoke the rage of many, I don't believe that in all but the most simple of the cases, any classification based on religion/geography is a fail-proof.

Appealing to Oakeshott who gives an example of a sword that goes through half a dozen countries to be finally found in Danish swamp and to be classified by an overzelaous researcher as a "typical danish sword".

Yes, Solingen blades in shashka mounts, even if those are made in Saudi Arabia will be accepted by Circassian invention shashka, just as another Solingen blade in Karabela-like mounts by many will be considered a Polish invention, Hussar Sabre.

2. Asia vs Caucasian classification is due to Tsar's edicts that classified Cossack weapons (shashkas with hilt partially in the scabbard) as of "asian" type (being produced originally in Dagestan and Ingushetia and later everywhere). Another type, with the hilt outside of scabbard will be considered "Caucasian".
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