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Old 21st June 2020, 09:53 PM   #1
Gonzoadler
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Default Great Qama

Hello, I am new in the forum
I'm from Germany and I collect antique edged weapons from Europe and Asia and letter openers.
In my first post I will show you my most beautiful Qama. It has cutted and gold-backed deers and flowers on the blade which is made of wild damascus with a fuller of ribbon damascus. The gold-koftgari shows a floral dekor. I think this combination of different decorations is really rare and shows the high quality of the dagger.
The hilt is made of walrus, the scabbard is shagreen and both have iron mountings with a fine gold-koftgari.
Length overall: 50cm
Without scabbard: 47cm
Length of the blade: 34,5cm

I think this dagger was made in the early 19th century in northwest Persia.
Are you agree with that?
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Old 24th June 2020, 09:28 PM   #2
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I agree with your opinion.The kindjal is definitely Persian.
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Old 24th June 2020, 10:08 PM   #3
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Stunning!
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Old 25th June 2020, 05:17 PM   #4
Oliver Pinchot
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Definitely not Persian.
It's Georgian work c. 1850. There were a number of Tiflis masters who worked in this style. Very nice piece, congrats.
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Old 25th June 2020, 07:38 PM   #5
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Has anyone pictures of similar pieces here in the forum. I searched in the Internet and in my books and I found only one. This Qama was sold in an auction and later by a dealer (I dont know if it is allowed to send a link). But the blade of this one was in a worse condition, mountings and scabbard were newer than the dagger.
I add some more pictures of my Qama.
Greetings
Robin
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Old 25th June 2020, 07:39 PM   #6
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More pictures...
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Old 25th June 2020, 08:28 PM   #7
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Absolutely stunning! Congratulations!
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Old 26th June 2020, 11:02 AM   #8
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Agree with Oliver: Georgian, most likely Tiflis. May be even older: as per Rivkin, solid piece of walrus ivory and “ shoulders” on the handle were in fashion even in the first quarter of the 19 century.

Can you show the Damascus pattern on the flat surfaces of the blade and within the fullers? I would expect to see not “ ribbon Damascus” ( like on Turkish blades) there but the so-called “ Tiflis zigzag”, a very tight Damascus pattern with thin lines. It is frequently found on South Georgian kindjals from Guria.
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Old 26th June 2020, 03:07 PM   #9
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Here are examples of 2 Gurian kindjals with Tiflis Zigzag within the fullers.
Is yours similar?
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Old 26th June 2020, 03:48 PM   #10
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Beautiful! Thank you for showing this. Made my day!

Interesting. I noticed a few things. I looks like the blades edges run in a parallel configuration narrowing gently after the midpoint rather than an overall triangular blade shape. Blade decoration on both sides. Hidden tang but riveted with decorative incerts. Thank you Ariel for the term "Shoulders", I will add that to my vocabulary. Nice detail on the carving and koftgari. I saw what appeared to be the incised grove around the decoration on the blade to keep the scratches from the koftgari contained and blend the carving with the overlay technique. Is the golden ground in the carved deer section gilding or koftgari? Also no duckheads surrounding the fullers. As for the scabbard, the final on the chape was very subdued. The koftgari patterns on the collar I thought were unusual. There is a cross hatched cup motif that ties in with the flower below the deer on the blade. I saw what appeared to be zoomorphic shapes, almost proto-duckheads near the throat. Peacocks or waterfowl? Are those oakleaves in the motif in the central section of the collar? Some of the vegetative sub-motifs are abstract to the point of almost being comas. A Circassian influence on the artist? I have always been struck by that pattern's similarity to bronze/iron age Celtic motifs. I couldn't make out much on the suspension ring. I would love to see a detail of the back of the blade.

I hope the form members forgive me for documenting my impressions. I always hope when I write to see other opinions expressed about a subject. What all this means for area of production and date with the experts weighing in all ready I would only show my ignorance to hazard a guess. One question; I am guessing that in this period of production the decoration was by an Armenian craftsman?

Ariel any more information on the tifis zigzag? I consulted the images in Miller and Rivkin but did not find a good example. There are some suspects in Miller but he did not seemed concerned in that kind of detail as he had so much other information he needed to convey.
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Old 26th June 2020, 03:57 PM   #11
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Thank you. I see. It looks close to what Hrisoulas would call a star or chevron made be twisting laminated bars in deferent directions and welding. I wonder if the core of this type of blade was different than the edges or was the pattern enhanced by removal of material?
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Old 26th June 2020, 05:50 PM   #12
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Hello,
unfortunately I can't answere immediately, because the moderation checks the contributions of new members at first (because of spambots or sth. like that),so there is some delay...
I hope the new pictures are helpful.
No, the fuller is ribbon damascus and not torsion or turkish damascus. I think it's persian because of the decor. I have seen much other Qamas with a fuller with a damascus structure, but the most pieces had a completely different decor and only one had a cutted picture on the blade. Because of that Im not sure that my dagger is from the same region like for example ariels Qama.
Regards
Robin
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Old 26th June 2020, 07:06 PM   #13
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Re. Armenian armorers.
The majority of them worked as jewelers, Papov being the ultimate example. Blades were mainly produced by Daghestani and Tiflis masters and sold to workshops.
There are some clearly Armenian blades with Armenian inscriptions, but they are often over-embellished with almost kitschy inlays and koft decorations and personally I do not like them. Pure IMHO.
Exceptions: we do not know for certain whether Eliarov was Georgian or Armenian or whether Purunsuzov or Master Khachatur made their own blades. They worked relatively early in the 19 century, and most of the splendid kindjals and shashkas available to us date much later, when the entire field was captured by large and medium sized workshops mass producing generic products with rather faceless appearance . The role of bladed weapons in warfare plummeted at that time and they became part of a wardrobe, status symbols and souvenirs.
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Old 26th June 2020, 07:28 PM   #14
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By the way, Rivkin mentioned the similarity of the “Tiflis zigzag” with some Indian mechanical damascus patterns and noted the presence of Indian merchants and armorers in Tiflis.
Surprisingly, one can find Indian blades on Caucasian swords. Trade connections may be the reason, but Georgian mercenaries ( often of the highest rank!) served in Persian armies since Shah Abbas I times and went to Afghanistan and India. Globalization was not invented yesterday:-)
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Old 27th June 2020, 02:49 AM   #15
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Welcome to the forum!

With Ariel's examples, the fullers clearly exhibit twistcore. I doubt that there is any difference in basic construction between Tiflis zigzag, Turkish ribbon, stars, what-have-you: made from twisted bars and differences in appearance result from obvious forging details as well as how much material is removed from the surface of the twisted rod. A rose is still a rose...

BTW, twistcore is a widespread technique known pretty much all over the place; no need to invoke any specific connection with India.

I'm less convinced that the fullers of the blade in the first post show twistcore - to me it looks more like pattern-welding with some surface manipulation from the limited pics. We need close-ups for getting a better grasp on its construction!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 27th June 2020, 05:39 AM   #16
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Kai,
You hit the nail on the head: every variety of mechanical Damascus is a product of mixing/ twisting chunks of steel with different carbon content. Suffice it to take a book by Manfred Sachse and look at the endless combinations and perturbations of “ hard” and “soft” iron to realize that they all, without exception, are in fact “ twistcore”. But devil is in the details: different masters in different cultures had their favorite schemes of twisting to produce their favorite final pattern. Not for nothing contemporary Indian artisans manufacture blades with the “ bird eye” pattern: simple , quick and flashy. Turks twisted their rods creating “ Turkish ribbon”, old Vikings braided them, but Tibetans just bent their rods on themselves for their unsophisticated “ hairpin “ pattern.
It’s like music: every composer from Bach to ABBA had same do-re-mis, but arranged them differently.
This is why we can look at the Damascus pattern and guess where it came from, and why pattern A and pattern N have a lot in common implying a connection between the traditions.
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Old 27th June 2020, 09:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Definitely not Persian.
It's Georgian work c. 1850. There were a number of Tiflis masters who worked in this style. Very nice piece, congrats.


You may be right that it was probably manufactured in Tiflis.After consulting an expert , I will add that it was made between 1830-1840 in Tiflis , but the Persian influence is obvious!That was the reason to knee-jerk react with its identification.So let us not miss the fact that Eastern Georgia was part of Persia.
It's definitely a classy kindjal!
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Old 27th June 2020, 03:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Kai,
You hit the nail on the head: every variety of mechanical Damascus is a product of mixing/ twisting chunks of steel with different carbon content. Suffice it to take a book by Manfred Sachse and look at the endless combinations and perturbations of “ hard” and “soft” iron to realize that they all, without exception, are in fact “ twistcore”. But devil is in the details: different masters in different cultures had their favorite schemes of twisting to produce their favorite final pattern. Not for nothing contemporary Indian artisans manufacture blades with the “ bird eye” pattern: simple , quick and flashy. Turks twisted their rods creating “ Turkish ribbon”, old Vikings braided them, but Tibetans just bent their rods on themselves for their unsophisticated “ hairpin “ pattern.
It’s like music: every composer from Bach to ABBA had same do-re-mis, but arranged them differently.
This is why we can look at the Damascus pattern and guess where it came from, and why pattern A and pattern N have a lot in common implying a connection between the traditions.



Not an easy book to find in English. Cheap in German though.
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Old 27th June 2020, 06:01 PM   #19
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OsobistGB:

“but the Persian influence is obvious!”

———————————-

Can you elaborate what particular features you view as specifically and obviously Persian?
Thanks.
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Old 27th June 2020, 06:51 PM   #20
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Interesting that the moment I saw it, I also thought that is Persian.

Why?

Simply because it looked so much alike others I saw in Persian museums.

The size, the shape of the hilt and also the chiseled decoration on the blade looked very Persian to me.

PS: Yet, the fullers do not look very Persian...

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Old 27th June 2020, 09:21 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
OsobistGB:

“but the Persian influence is obvious!”

———————————-

Can you elaborate what particular features you view as specifically and obviously Persian?
Thanks.

Ariel,

Standing on the outside looking in, perhaps the gazelle

Gavin
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Old 28th June 2020, 02:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Nugent
Ariel,

Standing on the outside looking in, perhaps the gazelle

Gavin


My point is that I cannot find anything that would not be compatible with a 100% Georgian origin.
Can somebody point it out to me?
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Old 28th June 2020, 05:36 AM   #23
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At this point I do not think anyone is disputing the Georgian attribution. It is important to know where the arms we discuss originate from, but it is equally important to try to avoid going down a rabbit hole and shift the focus away from what is a very high quality, high level of craftsmanship kindjal.
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Old 28th June 2020, 09:46 AM   #24
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Hello,

furher pictures are above now, because of the forum rules for new members all my posts be inspected before they appear. It seems that this process needs a bit time.
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Old 28th June 2020, 06:22 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzoadler
Hello,
unfortunately I can't answere immediately, because the moderation checks the contributions of new members at first (because of spambots or sth. like that),so there is some delay...
I hope the new pictures are helpful.
No, the fuller is ribbon damascus and not torsion or turkish damascus. I think it's persian because of the decor. I have seen much other Qamas with a fuller with a damascus structure, but the most pieces had a completely different decor and only one had a cutted picture on the blade. Because of that Im not sure that my dagger is from the same region like for example ariels Qama.
Regards
Robin


Robin, welcome. Sorry sidetracking things with the talk of twist patterns, in the Gurian examples that could be completely unfounded. I took another look at Ariels examples and the white almost straight line each fuller. Could it be welded rods with a birds eye (zig zag) on the weld? I then took another look at your kindjal, the post's subject, and decided to upload Rivkin's descriptions. Rivkin defines the Zigzag as a very fine birds eye that protrudes perpendicular to the blade. Common on beaked sabers. I uploaded a detail of a beaked saber from the same book, "Arms and Armor of the Caucasus." It is more similar to your pattern without the appearance of strait white lines in the pattern than the Gurinan kindjals have. My understanding of a birds eye is that it is a surface manipulation technique, not a twisted rod. That said the elongated "eyes" could be a ladder pattern as well, but why doubt the gold standard of modern scholarship? As long as I'm waxing philosophic may I suggest that yours and the beaked saber detail shown both have an ornate core that seems to have little to do with the rest of the blade suggesting a core of at least different construction if not different materials. Although your appearance could be from stock removal in the fullers as I have seen this type of fuller described as cut and references to them being retro fitted on existing blades. Or both could be from a master using precise surface manipulation during the forging process. Either way production by a savant.

Now for the big disclaimer of my theories in that Ariel I am sure has knowledge outside the text mentioned and can give clarification. It is nice to see the second Gurian example at a different angle and magnification. I had not seen it clearly before to be able to make out the amazing patterns in the fullers.

PS. Robin notice the similarity in style in the Georgian made beaked saber's cartouche and the incised line around the koftgari, especially on the back, of your blade.
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Last edited by Interested Party : 28th June 2020 at 06:53 PM. Reason: Epiphany
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Old 28th June 2020, 07:39 PM   #26
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One of the best Georgian blades I have ever seen! Thanks for posting!
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:07 PM   #27
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Hello,
I have thought about ariels and Oliver Pinchots opinion that the dagger could be made in Daghestan or Tiflis. I found this map in the internet (see also the link) and if the dagger has been made at the early 19th century these areas were a part of Persia at this time.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kadsc...ran_1900-en.png

In this case it is not wrong to say "it's (northwest) persian", but it is also right to say "it's from Tiflis or Daghestan"
That would explain the persian decor and the similarity of the blade to georgian examples. Maybe the decor was made by another artist than the blade.
But I think the customer was a Persian who maybe lived more in the south.
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:25 PM   #28
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If it is allowed, here are the links of the only dagger I found which looks very similar to mine. I think the mountings are newer than the dagger and the blade was cleaned very extensively

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/ite...-kindjal-dagger

https://armsandantiques.com/product...cus-blade-rd779

Regards
Robin
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Old 30th June 2020, 03:38 PM   #29
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I don't think anyone is questioning Persian influence. Just in the current belief system Tiflis seems a reasonable attribution. I would love to see a book on Persian and Turkish blades of this type. Possibly world view and scholarship related to Persian Qamas would have been different if the 1979 revolution had not prevented the exchange of ideas in the region. Hopefully 30 years from now everyone will play nice and scholarship with flow across borders again.

The blade geometries are very different on these linked examples. Yours is what I had associated with earlier blades and a different technique of use. They are all gorgeous and I would be honored to own any of them. I liked the pomegranate on the sheath of the 2nd linked example, but I believe the sheaths don't help you argument. The style of the pomegranate I thought was associated with later Russian influence on the genre. The first linked sheath seems very solidly in the Kubatji/Dagestani tradition from the late nineteenth century. The second example's blade if I remember correctly had traces of duckheads on the koft a very Tiflis touch. All that said blades moved around the region, sometimes waiting many years to be mounted or were mounted successively for different owners. Often works were an amalgamation of several craftsmen often from different regions and traditions or people working outside their cultural traditions. So really the sky is the limit concerning the truth of production and the critic imposes their own bias upon what they see.... The knife being made for an Iranian, expat or otherwise, is as likely as anything else. Thankyou again for showing your collection and giving me the chance to play this game of attribution.

Attached are two plates from Rivkin's Caucasian Arms. That to me seem to be a similar style. though honestly I like yours better. Personal taste.

BTW did anyone else notice the first auction house had the blade backwards in its sheath. One of my pet peeves. It makes things sloppy and leads to dull blades.
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Old 30th June 2020, 05:59 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party

I don't think anyone is questioning Persian influence. Just in the current belief system Tiflis seems a reasonable attribution.


I do. And the map looks quite deceiving.

Persians tried to absorb Eastern Georgia for centuries, and invaded it repeatedly, sometimes being victorious, sometimes beaten. But they never made it a part of Persian Empire: Georgians were fiercely independent and their Christian faith resisted Moslem rule.

Persian military and political influence of Caucasus and Transcaucasia ended in 1801 by the entrance of Russia as a player, when it officially made Georgia as part of the Russian Empire. Persians tried to offer a feeble fight, but were beaten mercilessly and in 1813 they officially ceded any claims on Eastern Georgia and the entire Daghestan ( Golestan treaty). Thus, by the time this kindjal was created there was not a trace of Persian military or political influence or presence in that area ( see map).

Artistic, -yes, because art has no borders. But I have gone over Khorasani's book showing multiple examples of kindjals and sabers from major Iranian museums and there is nothing even remotely similar. On the other hand, there are multiple examples of similar decorative motives on Georgian weapons from that era. Moreover, the "almost wild damascus" of the flat parts of the blade and " Tiflis Zigzag" within the fullers is typically Georgian and has no analogies in Iran.

IMHO: pure Georgian, most likely Tiflis, second quarter of 19-th century.
And gorgeous.
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