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Old 6th January 2019, 01:39 PM   #1
rumpel9
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Default Bulgarian or Afghan knife?

I recently bought an interesting knife. The shape of the blade and the handle of this knife show the Ottoman influence. Similar knives (local name is karakulak) existed in Bulgaria and the Balkans. However, the seller claimed that this knife was brought from Afghanistan. The style of the ornament on the handle of the knife really seems to me Afghan. What are your opinions about the origin of this knife?
The total length is 47 cm.
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Old 6th January 2019, 03:59 PM   #2
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To me this is 100% Balkan. The circle and dot motif is quite universal, and not just typical of Afghanistan.


Teodor
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Old 6th January 2019, 04:40 PM   #3
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Not Afghanistan
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Old 7th January 2019, 04:17 PM   #4
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Teodor, Dmitriy, thank you for your opinion.
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Old 7th January 2019, 04:48 PM   #5
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Оформление рукояти очень характерно для ножей из Сараево. Босния и Герцеговина.
С белой рукоятью называют аккулак.

The hilt design is very characteristic of knives from Sarajevo. Bosnia and Herzegovina.
With a white grip called Akkulak
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Old 7th January 2019, 05:18 PM   #6
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In my opinion it is clearly a small Balkan yataghan.
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Old 7th January 2019, 05:21 PM   #7
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in my opinion its an algerian iflissen yatagan
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Old 8th January 2019, 12:28 AM   #8
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Balkan.
I have an early Algerean flissa that is very much yataghan-like, but the differences are obvious.
Balkan karakulaks are massive and kind of crude, while Algerean are more elegant and carry elements that later on migrated to full-fledged flissas: doghead pommel of the handle, deeply carved blade decorations and very pointy and sharp tip..

I tend to believe that both stemmed from a classical Ottoman yataghan, but the interpretations were very different.

Top: Balkan ( likely Bulgarian) Karakulak, with Cyrillic initials and date “1838”

Bottom: early Algerian flissa.
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Old 8th January 2019, 09:14 AM   #9
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Well I didn't say flissa,
I wrote yatagan from the iflissen, Algerian copies of Balkan / Turkish yatagans...
the last one is the yataganish, some of them don't have any engravings or cooper inlays
look at the hilt of the second one...
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Old 8th January 2019, 11:42 AM   #10
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Thanks for the pics. They clearly show examples of Algerean “yataghans” from Iflissen in their varieties and support the notion that they are very distinct from Balkan karakulaks ( ot Ak-kulaks if the handle was made from a light material, as in case of Rumpel9’s example).
There is a short but nice segment in Elgood’s Balkan book about magic properties of black handles, as opposed to any other variety.

Sword and knife making was the one of the main occupations of the Iflissen el-Bahr, or in French rendition Flissa-sur- mer.
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Old 8th January 2019, 11:52 AM   #11
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If we are already discussing this topic, allow me to digress a little. The peculiar structure of full-blown flissas, with their disproportionally long and thin point suggest stabbing action. Was it a preferred way of their usage among the Kabyles?

They remind Tatar-Circassian sabers popularly known as Ordynkas, where stabbing action was specifically mentioned , as well as Laz Bichaqs that were clearly unfit for that purpose (or any other:-))
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Old 8th January 2019, 03:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
If we are already discussing this topic, allow me to digress a little. The peculiar structure of full-blown flissas, with their disproportionally long and thin point suggest stabbing action. Was it a preferred way of their usage among the Kabyles?


Yes, it was. To my knowledge, like the Ottoman Janissaries, the Berbers also used chainmail till quite late in the 19th century so they developped sharp pointed Flyssas to penetrate chainmail.

My two cents...
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Old 9th January 2019, 01:55 AM   #13
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BTW, according to the "La colonisation de la Kabylie par l' immigration..." etc

http://buysomebooks.com/product/978...migrants-colons

page 22, the native name of what the French ( and we, after them) called Flissa was Khedama.
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Old 9th January 2019, 05:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Yes, it was. To my knowledge, like the Ottoman Janissaries, the Berbers also used chainmail till quite late in the 19th century so they developped sharp pointed Flyssas to penetrate chainmail.

My two cents...



Janissary corps was very brutally disbanded in 1826. Wilkinson sold very poor quality chainmail to the Khedive of Egypt at the end of 19th century. That is as much as I know about chainmail in N. Africa. Can you direct me to your source of Berber chainmail, please? AFAIK, Berbers were dirt poor and very much oppressed in Muslim N. Africa. Thus, it would seem strange to me that their tribes maintained organized military with a significant use of expensive chainmail.

Also, the long points of flissa ( at least those that I happened to handle) were incredibly flimsy, unlike Tatar ordynkas. Difficult to imagine that they had any practical value against chainmail. And virtually all Islamic swordplays did not include stabbing , with the exception of Ottoman version of estocs. Something does not jibe there....

Last edited by ariel : 9th January 2019 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 9th January 2019, 09:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Thanks for the pics. They clearly show examples of Algerean “yataghans” from Iflissen in their varieties and support the notion that they are very distinct from Balkan karakulaks ( ot Ak-kulaks if the handle was made from a light material, as in case of Rumpel9’s example).
There is a short but nice segment in Elgood’s Balkan book about magic properties of black handles, as opposed to any other variety.


Stop the fire Ariel, I'm convinced.
But I've seen some Algerian yataghan without cooper inlays and without pointed blade.
I confirm there is NO chainmail in Morocco-Algeria for the 19th c.
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Old 9th January 2019, 01:29 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Janissary corps was very brutally disbanded in 1826. Wilkinson sold very poor quality chainmail to the Khedive of Egypt at the end of 19th century. That is as much as I know about chainmail in N. Africa. Can you direct me to your source of Berber chainmail, please?


I mentioned it because I remember reading somwhere a long time ago about the use of chainmail in N Africa in 19th century. Cannot point the source. Will check some of my books later today. It is quite likely to be the case you are referring to.

Regarding the ability to pentrate chainmail, we can speculate ad nausea without reaching any conclusion without actually trying it. However, my flyssas have a remarkably strong tip that I have no doubt could quite easily penetrate ordinary chainmail. As with regards to flyssas cutting capability, it is pathetically poor, so I have no doubt they were used almost exclusively for thrusting/stabbing.

But then again, my two cents.
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Old 9th January 2019, 03:49 PM   #17
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You might be right. I doubt we will ever have experimentally-obtained evidence:-)
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Old 9th January 2019, 08:49 PM   #18
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A typical Balkan Akkulak.The decoration of the handle is typical of the Western Balkans,but it may have been made in Rumeli.
Here's one with similar decoration.
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Old 9th January 2019, 10:18 PM   #19
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Janissary corps was very brutally disbanded in 1826. Wilkinson sold very poor quality chainmail to the Khedive of Egypt at the end of 19th century. That is as much as I know about chainmail in N. Africa. Can you direct me to your source of Berber chainmail, please? AFAIK, Berbers were dirt poor and very much oppressed in Muslim N. Africa. Thus, it would seem strange to me that their tribes maintained organized military with a significant use of expensive chainmail.

Also, the long points of flissa ( at least those that I happened to handle) were incredibly flimsy, unlike Tatar ordynkas. Difficult to imagine that they had any practical value against chainmail. And virtually all Islamic swordplays did not include stabbing , with the exception of Ottoman version of estocs. Something does not jibe there....





Im very much in accord with Ariel regarding the 'needle' points on the flyssa, and while by free association I was always inclined to think of this feature having possible Tatar influence via Janissaries, they seemed too fragile for armor penetration.

As far as Berbers having mail, I had not been aware of presence of it in these regions, despite being well known from Egypt, Sudan and into Bornu and Nigeria via Mamluk trade. The note on mail being produced for the Khedive is well placed, however it was soon realized that rather than being defensive against bullets, the links would fragment and contribute to the wounding material instead.


The Kabyle Berbers were remotely situated, which helped them avoid being taken by Ottomans or French in most cases, and there seems to be little information as to how the flyssa was used in action. As Ariel mentioned, the thrust was little used in Islamic swordplay, though in Berber context is uncertain. Presumably slashing cuts were favored, but flyssa's are terribly cumbersome and ill balanced. The lack of guard would be detrimental to either thrust or slashing blow and the balance issue would also be a factor.


In trying to establish the earliest presence of the 'flyssa' sword, I found one example with provenance to 1857 (if I recall) in the French Foreign Legion museum in France which was said to have been captured then. It was in the familiar form, suggesting that style had been around for some time earlier, the term is used as early as 1827, but beyond that there is no real record I am aware of.


With that, getting back to the knife at hand....... the Ottoman yataghans topic and the nod toward Iflysen yataghans,....it is known that while the flyssa was a kind of rite of passage weapon for young men, the Ottoman yataghan these evolved from remained highly desirable.


This seems to have been the conduit for the digression from Ottoman edged weapons to flyssa.


I appreciate the great input on the terms for these Ottoman weapons and Ariel, the term 'khedama'...that is good to know on the flyssa proper local term.
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