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Old 23rd June 2020, 03:27 PM   #1
ariel
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Default A cutlass: where from?

Here is a smallish cutlass with a " bird-like " pommel and a pronounced yelman.
Similar examples were shown in Elgood's Greece book and identified as North African (Algerian most likely). I agree wholeheartedly.
However, I am a bit confused with the scabbard. It is covered by a thin shagreen-like leather and has a brass chape of ( what looks like) North Indian/ Afghani open-work fashion.

Even though Afghani Navy can be safely excluded:-), the scabbard still nags me after many years of hanging on my wall.

Any opinions? Please put my hesitations to rest.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 08:45 PM   #2
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Central Asian"Varient Shashka" based on a Kilij trade blade?.........
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Old 24th June 2020, 12:08 AM   #3
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It does have a sort of Turkish/Caucasian vibe.
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Old 24th June 2020, 12:44 AM   #4
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An interesting combination of styles... I don't think your mind will rest...

At face value, Algeria in style all the way... then you break down the components...

Scabbard drag you note as Indian, also seen on Afghan weapons on occasion...

Then consider the bolster, Afghan sabres carry the same bolsters and to some degree the grip and pommel too...

What lines and parallels can be drawn

Gavin
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Old 24th June 2020, 01:23 AM   #5
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And then... “ indian ricasso” and a slit at the mouth of the scabbard to accommodate the curvature of the blade...

The more one looks at it , the more one gets confused.
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Old 24th June 2020, 08:02 AM   #6
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Ariel,

Is the pommel cloven like the Afghan sabres?

Gavin
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Old 24th June 2020, 08:22 AM   #7
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The bolster and grip (shashka like?) look very Afghan to me, and the scabbard has some indian flavor to it that wouldn't surprise me on an Afghan weapon. However, I can't see anything that looks typically Algerian on this saber 🤔
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Old 24th June 2020, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Nugent
Ariel,

Is the pommel cloven like the Afghan sabres?

Gavin



....Afghan, and Caucasian, Turkish, Greek, Cretan...
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Old 24th June 2020, 08:54 AM   #9
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Whatever it is, I like it!
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Old 24th June 2020, 10:23 AM   #10
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No, not cloven.
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Old 24th June 2020, 10:55 AM   #11
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A bit like this one then......
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Old 24th June 2020, 11:38 AM   #12
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A bit... But this one is what Lebedynsky called a " pseudo-shashka" from one of the Central Asian Khanates.

At the beginning of this thread I have casually mentioned Elgood's Greece book as a source of attribution. Memory failed me: I went through that book and could not find it, although I distinctly remember the image. I went through several books and could not find an attribution to Algiers. Gavin also supported the Algerean origin.

Gavin, can you provide a reference, please?

Meanwhile, the closest thing I could find is the very same book by Lebedynsky ( " Les Armes Orientales", p. 68). Both are guardless ( just like mine) and just as short ( compared to the handles) and are labeled as Ottoman, mixes of Pala blade with yataghan mounts (E) and Pala blade with Caucasian shashka mounts (F). Both scabbards are distinctly different, with suspension rings, whereas mine was carried tucked under the belt ( Khyber-like).
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Old 24th June 2020, 12:00 PM   #13
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An interesting and important twist to the story was provided by Aleksej Kurochkin ( here participating as Mercenary). He unearthed an old ( 1757) Persian manuscript describing battles of Nader Shah with the Afghanis.
Here are couple of illustrations: some fighters carry typical Persian Shamshirs with hand guards, but some carry clearly guardless sabers. I cannot be certain whether the latter belonged to both sides or only to one of them. I may only cautiously assume that to both, based on head covers: helmets vs. white turbans.
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Old 24th June 2020, 01:31 PM   #14
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From another post Ariel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurt
Hi ,

I'm sure this sword comes from Algeria.
See:
Splendeur thes arms Orientales.
Figure 62
Kurt


I can't reference it, I lent it and others out just last night!!!

This is the thread to lead down rabbit warrens... Ex Hales, seen on page 218, similar seen on page 228 but none exactly of the ilk as yours...

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=judicial

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Old 24th June 2020, 03:59 PM   #15
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Gavin, thanks a lot!
I checked both references, - both correct.

Funny, but I had a mental picture from Splendeurs and somehow connected it to the Elgood’s book.

Hope I never have to serve as a witness in a court of law:-)
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Old 24th June 2020, 04:12 PM   #16
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Here is a link to another thread with Algerian palas:

www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12160

Looking at your sword Ariel, I believe it was entirely made in Afghanistan or Northern India. The blade as you pointed out has a ricasso and with the fullers it is closer to what we see on tulwars as opposed to Ottoman palas. The scabbard is also Afghan or Indian, same as the bolster on the hilt. The bird shaped pommel is intriguing but bird shaped pommels were used in many regions.

Whatever the case, it is a very nice and interesting sword.
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Old 24th June 2020, 04:53 PM   #17
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Thanks a lot Teodor!


Yes, weapons travel, but a rational reason why on earth would Pashtuns copy a naval cutlas from North Africa escapes me. Obviously, they did: some “fashionista” Gilzai desperately wanted something different from a traditional Khyber:-)
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Old 26th June 2020, 01:37 PM   #18
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Gavin’s mention of Hale’s book was very helpful.
For additional example from the same source see p. 222, #542: a rare Algerian kilij. Regretfully, no view of the entire blade and no dimensions. But: “ Algeria under the Ottoman rule produced these distinctive kilij made without a crosspiece”
Thus, my memory of Algerian attribution was correct, only the source was wrong. At least some neurons are still working...

But it seems to me that my example was unanimously attributed in toto to N. India/ Afghanistan.

Thanks to all of you for your help
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Old 26th June 2020, 03:14 PM   #19
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Quotation Ariel:
Meanwhile, the closest thing I could find is the very same book by Lebedynsky ( " Les Armes Orientales", p. 68). Both are guardless ( just like mine) and just as short ( compared to the handles) and are labeled as Ottoman, mixes of Pala blade with yataghan mounts (E) and Pala blade with Caucasian shashka mounts (F). Both scabbards are distinctly different, with suspension rings, whereas mine was carried tucked under the belt ( Khyber-like).

... Just to complete a little information about mixes of saber blades with yataghan handles ...http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=16437
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