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Old 11th June 2019, 02:53 PM   #1
Kubur
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Hi Guys,

It was a difficult quest but i got one...
A bit different from the one posted previously (one large fuller instead of three).
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...menian+yataghan
It seems that the blades are coming from shashka and then twisted by a twisted mind...

Kubur
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Old 11th June 2019, 07:52 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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No matter how weird it seems, these are among some of the most intriguing sword forms around, and who can forget our quest for the origins of the Black Sea yataghan (Laz bichagi, the term found thanks to Ariel).
It seems these are 'Armenian' but with the note that these ethnic classifications are often if not typically tenuous.

The diffusion of forms and diasporas of ethnic groups throughout these regions creates a difficult climate for reliably accurate classifications. In the 1941 article by Jacobsen & Triikman "Origins of the Shashka", the BSY was mentioned and illustrated in the context, and the source cited was an 1897 paper on the 'kardok' (=swords) by a Hungarian writer. This was focused on a number of these almost wildly recurved blade swords.
Many of these had cleft pommels and no guards, perhaps the reason why they were included in an article ostensibly on the shashka.
I wish I could recall the title of the Hungarian article but still have not located.

Whatever the case, these often dramatically recurved blades on these swords attributed from Anatolia, Transcausus and into the Caucusus seem to be a peculiarly similar genre. Even the so called Black Sea yataghan is known in Georgia sometimes with inscriptions in that script.

Some years ago in researching these (after I had found the 1941 article) I contacted Gerhard Seifert, who had shown one in his 1962 book "Schwert Degen Sabel"), and was listed as a Kurdish-Armenian yataghan. He told me he no longer had it, but that it was inscribed in a 'strange' script. I take it this was probably Georgian

I recall in those years thinking that perhaps these strangely recurved blade swords might have been atavistic nods to commemorate ancient forms, such as seen in Burton (1885, p.206, fig. 221), see attached. However this similarly recurved blade (but not as dramatic of course) sword apparently termed 'sapara' was not displayed until 1876. It was acquired by a British officer from a Bedouin at Nardin sometime prior.

These recurved 'Anatolian/Armenian' swords, like a number of ethnographic forms of such ancient or historic character seem to have been late interlopers into weapon groups in the end of 18th well into 19th c.
Even the shashka itself does not seem to be reliably represented earlier than end of the 18th c.
Possibly these might have been produced from iconographic sources for traditional and hereditary commemorative purposes much in the manner of Qajar revival arms and armor and others.
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Old 11th June 2019, 08:35 PM   #3
Bob A
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Did anyone notice the laz bichaq on ebay? I made a desultory bid on it, but failed to win. It is noteworthy for the lack of the typical curve in the blade.

I'm unable to capture a picture from the site. I don't know if posting a link to the completed auction is permitted. I can PM the link to interested parties, I suppose, or fwd it to moderators if they can grab the image.
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Old 11th June 2019, 08:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob A
Did anyone notice the laz bichaq on ebay? I made a desultory bid on it, but failed to win. It is noteworthy for the lack of the typical curve in the blade.

I'm unable to capture a picture from the site. I don't know if posting a link to the completed auction is permitted. I can PM the link to interested parties, I suppose, or fwd it to moderators if they can grab the image.


Interesting note Bob. These variations of this curious genre of what we have come to consider Anatolian/Central Asian swords have varying forms of hilts, and the curvature of their blades. For example the Laz Bichagi is not always with the 'horned' hilt. .I wish I could find the pics of some of these variations. That Hungarian article was fascinating, but that research was back in the 90s and I need some serious excavation to find that detail!
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Old 11th June 2019, 10:43 PM   #5
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I am sure it has nothing to do with Armenians and Kurds.
Attached you will find a picture from a Russian book-album , a catalogue of the collection of Eastern weapons from the Russian Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg.

My train of thought uses 3 elements: the remarkable similarity to the North Anatolian Laz Bichaq; origin from Tashkent ( Uzbekistan) and the date of acquisition ( 1948).

I suggest this is a Meskheti Turks weapon.
Meskheti Turks lived in South Georgia, right on the border with Turkey and close to ( or even mixed with) Laz Turks. Both ethnicities were Turkish ( or islamized Georgians), both spoke Turkish language and had overlapping cultures and likely weapons.
In 1944 Soviet government forcibly exiled 115,000 of them to Central Asia ( Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan), accusing the entire people of spying on behalf of Turkey. They were loaded into train cars and sent to their new destinations without food and warm clothes. In the 2-months long transit 20-30% died of cold and hunger ( mainly children, women and old people). This is identical to the fate of Chechens, Kabardians, Balkars, Kurds, Crimean Tatars et cetera.

The place of acquisition of this sword is Tashkent, a capital of Uzbekistan, where most Meskheti Turks were exiled without any right to change their place of living. The date of entry is listed as 1948, just 4 years after the exile. Russian " ethnographers" just likely bought it from one of the starving exiles , likely for pennies. Or got it as a confiscated item from the local security goons for a bottle of vodka.

I would gravely doubt the alleged name "Shoi", the attribution to Kazakhs and the alleged acquisition by the closed Museum of the Nations of USSR : the museum records and the authors of the book committed so many attributional errors that one cannot rely on any statement.
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Old 12th June 2019, 01:16 AM   #6
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Excellent entry Ariel!! and thank you for sharing that source.
I think you are right, and the Armenian-Kurd notation was intended primarily with reference to the earlier classification of the Laz bichagi from 1941 in the Triikman-Jacobsen article and as Seifert called it in 1962.
Other entries called it a Transcaucasian yataghan.

I cannot think of the reference I was trying to cite that had images of various recurved 'Central Asian' swords, many with cleft pommels. It was by a Hungarian in 1897, I think it may have been Vichy(?) It was not the 'Karkok' book by Lugosi & Temesvary, but you know these Hungarian references. Can you think of it?
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Old 12th June 2019, 12:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
My train of thought uses 3 elements: the remarkable similarity to the North Anatolian Laz Bichaq; origin from Tashkent ( Uzbekistan) and the date of acquisition ( 1948).
I suggest this is a Meskheti Turks weapon.


Ok i take it as a Laz Bichaq variation, Meskheti Turk sword.

Difficult to find on the web, but i found another photo of a very similar model...
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Old 14th June 2019, 11:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob A
Did anyone notice the laz bichaq on ebay? I made a desultory bid on it, but failed to win. It is noteworthy for the lack of the typical curve in the blade.


Since it was brought up, here are some pictures of the aforementioned laz bichaq, if anyone is interested.
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Old 15th June 2019, 05:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl
Since it was brought up, here are some pictures of the aforementioned laz bichaq, if anyone is interested.



Thank you very much Nihl, apparently while we brought this up in discussion it seems we did not include an image to illustrate the form. It is of course of interest as it has been used in comparison to the examples we are discussing.
Well done and thank again!
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Old 15th June 2019, 06:10 PM   #10
Kubur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you very much Nihl, apparently while we brought this up in discussion it seems we did not include an image to illustrate the form. It is of course of interest as it has been used in comparison to the examples we are discussing.
Well done and thank again!


Hi Guys

Then I have a question, the laz bichaq, is a particular blade or a particular hilt??

Nihl do you have a stamp on your blade?
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Old 15th June 2019, 08:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Hi Guys

Then I have a question, the laz bichaq, is a particular blade or a particular hilt??

Nihl do you have a stamp on your blade?


That is a very good question Kubur!! and I was so preoccupied with the 'horned hilt' which is that typically seen on these. However, the key element seems to have been the typically recurved blade. I have seen other styles of hilt on these blades, but rarely.
This becomes a common issue, where it becomes a problem in terming a weapon, by hilt or by blade.

Take for example the tulwar, where we automatically see the dish pommel of the Indo-Persian hilt, but the talwar term applies in a general sense to 'sword' usually a sabre. I have seen 'tulwars' of Deccani form with solid steel shamsir (Persian) type hilts, quillon terminals and langet identical to the Indo-Persian.....it is called still, tulwar.

This becomes one of the most confounding conundrums in naming or terming edged weapons. I think Rawson considered it far too daunting to try to follow the hilt terminology for naming forms, though it is occasionally noted . Pant took the hilt route, arbitrarily trying to designate regional tulwar hilts, and trying to further delineate blade forms as well. The mix becomes of course confusing, at least as far as I have experienced.

Back to the question, in this case, but not following any particular axiom, I would consider the sword posted by Nihl a Laz Bichagi hilt on regular sabre blade.

Illustrations are the typical recurved blade form on the Laz Bichagi, the unusual scabbard shape and the typical 'horned' hilt. These seem to recall the horned head seen on the 'devils head mace' seen in some varied instances of Persian and other examples. However, it has been suggested that these 'horns' may recall similar devices on some early Turkic tribal standards which later became used in tamgas and symbolic devices.

The symbol for the St Irene arsenal in Istanbul has the horned design (with ox tails etc.) which derives from the IYI symbol of the Kayi tribe, one of the 24 Oguz tribes from which the Ottomans descended through Osman Gazi.
This MAY be a plausible denominator for the horned element on these swords but remains of course speculative.
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Old 15th June 2019, 09:36 PM   #12
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Kubur,

Unfortunately I was not lucky enough to win this sword, I simply saved the pictures from the website. Because of this, though I can't say for certain, I'm pretty sure the answer is no.



In regards to classifying this piece, I would simply say it's of an atypical/idiosyncratic form. I can't say I've seen any sabers that just happened to be laz-hilted, only sabers produced by the laz with the laz hilt. As I see it this example is no exception. Though I am by no means truly knowledgeable of caucasian sword production, to me the fullers and overall shape of the blade still point it to be of laz origin. The fullers are (relatively) thin and grouped tightly together, and are distributed in clusters along the blade. Though I think 3 sets of fullers are more common, I happen to own a shorter laz bichaq that also only has two sets of fullers. I'm pretty sure the number of fullers in each set varies blade-to-blade though. Looking at the forte of the blade points to a laz origin as well. While the "finger stopping" projection could be carved out of any old blade, the forte itself is notably of the standard smooth, cylindrical laz bichaq form, existing as a built in transition between the blade and the hilt. It's probably more proper to call that part the ricasso, but either way it exists in the general forte area past the hilt, and is of the same style as every other laz bichaq blade. Overall, in my opinion, though there may be outliers from time to time, the laz bichaq exists as a solid type of sword, and not a general form. Of course if there are notable examples of odd combinations of hilts or blades, then feel free to post them and I'll totally eat my words, but as I see it a laz bichaq almost always has a horned hilt and a "dramatic" recurved blade.

On the other hand maybe the blade production for this specific sword was outsourced to some non-laz, who made a generic saber blade, and then sent it back to laz land where it was given the standard hilt.

Also, not to distract, but just a quick question that I've always had - has this forum ever come to a conclusion as to the "origin" of the laz bichaq form? I remember the possibility of it coming from the khopesh was briefly discussed, but beyond that I haven't heard anything. IMO it just seems like the laz combined a saber and a yatagan and called it a day, i.e. extended the tip of the yatagan to make it more slashy (maybe they preferred sabers). BUT I'd very much like to know what the collective "expert" opinion is.
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Old 17th June 2019, 12:37 AM   #13
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Hi Nihl:

Ariel may be able to help with your question about origins of the laz bichaq.

You mention atypical examples of the laz bichaq (a.k.a. Black Sea yataghan), and I think I have one (presently buried deep in my boxes that were moved not long ago from the U.S. to Australia). Attached is a group picture that shows this sword (second from right), flanked by two more laz bichaq of typical form. The sheathed one has three groups of three fullers, similar to other examples shown on this site.

I have also shown a close up of the unusual hilt. Apologies for the grainy picture, but it's the best I have at the moment.

Ian


P.S. This unusual sword was actually discussed previously on the Forum here and I see that I never got around to posting pictures of it (only the auction link). I will try to dig it out of the collection and post much clearer shots.
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Old 17th June 2019, 02:52 AM   #14
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An allusion to the Egyptian Khopesh or to Babylonian Sappara has occasionally slithered into collector's /dealer's lingo and is still regularly appears in Russian books. IMHO, any connection is improbable: both of the above were in use literally thousands of years ago in particular locations and nothing similar appeared since till the ~mid-19 century in a place far away from both of those ancient civilizations, in a very small ethnic group in a tiny location ( yes, I know, Christian Greeks from the same area also used it).

Who on Earth had a brilliantly-delusional idea to combine features of Algerean Flissa and Ottoman Yataghan and to add to it a distinctive forked pommel, is a mystery. But the survival time of Laz Bichaqs was short: they vanished at the most after 50-70 years of their existence. Transition to firearms did not help, of course, but the sheer impracticality of that design was likely a decisive factor. After all, Caucasian kindjals of similarly peculiar appearance ( Gurian, for example) continued to be used in Georgia, Turkey (next to Laz Bichaqs) and even became a regulation weapon of the Black Sea Cossack Host. They were engineeringly sound, unlike Laz Bichaqs.
It's like the mule: a crossbreed of a horse and an ass, that is unable to reproduce. There are limits to the viability of evolutionary process and failed progeny is mercilessly eliminated.
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