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Old 8th June 2020, 10:08 AM   #1
GePi
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Default An Uzbek pichaq for comment and request for translation of inscription

It has been a while since I posted something, so here goes.

This is a large Uzbek knife that has come into my collection last year. It sports a very nice wootz blade, which I gave a light repolish and etch. The grip is made of one piece of walrus ivory and is separated from the bolster by a band of inlaid turquoises, unfortunately with a few losses. The silver bolster has typical niello decoration and additionally sports a cartouche on the underside, also executed in niello.

Now I have tried my darndest to decipher the cartouche myself, but I cannot make any headway. I can make out the 'amal' in the lower right corner, so I am pretty certain it is a maker's mark, and also the numbers 129 at 12 o'clock (read as 1129 AH this would correspond to 1717 AD which would be rather early).
I would be very grateful if someone more proficient could give this a try.
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Old 8th June 2020, 10:35 AM   #2
Peter Andeweg
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Interesting example, could the blade been made from a cut down yataghan? the fuller seems to run through down the tip. The date is later than 1717, more likely around 1800 or later.
Nice example though!

Peter
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Old 8th June 2020, 10:54 AM   #3
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Thanks!
I do not think that the blade is cut down, take a look at this example from Czerny's (also re-sold on oriental-arms recently), which has an identical arrangement of the fullers.
I agree on the dating though, perhaps I am interpreting the numbers wrongly
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:07 AM   #4
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I think it says:

عمل استا بلال خوقندی ۱۲۷۹

"Work of Usta (Master) Bilal Khuqandi 1279 (1862-3)"

This locates it in Kokand in eastern Uzbekistan
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:19 AM   #5
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Thank you so much, I never would have gotten that myself!

If I understand you correctly the 'alef' from Bilal is partially rubbed out and the 'lam' like sign inside the date is actually a malformed 'haft'?
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:24 AM   #6
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I do not see the numerals
١٢٩ or ٢٧٩

Maybe my eyes need more coffee.
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:31 AM   #7
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Like this:
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Thanks!
I do not think that the blade is cut down, take a look at this example from Czerny's (also re-sold on oriental-arms recently), which has an identical arrangement of the fullers.
I agree on the dating though, perhaps I am interpreting the numbers wrongly


GePi

You are correct, the blade is NOT cut down, this arrangement is typical of the knife type.
Most of mine have this also, including those of the highest and rarest qualities.

Gavin
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Thank you so much, I never would have gotten that myself!

If I understand you correctly the 'alef' from Bilal is partially rubbed out and the 'lam' like sign inside the date is actually a malformed 'haft'?


Yes. I donít think itís rubbed out as much as written quickly. This is not a professional scribeís hand. There is an extra dot within the lam of the name Bilal, which made me question this reading. But I canít think what other name it might be
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Old 8th June 2020, 11:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Like this:


Yes! Again, not a professional scribeís hand
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Old 8th June 2020, 12:09 PM   #11
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Yes, 1279.
If so, it is 1862-63 Gregorian.

High class knife, congratulations.
In that part of the world sophisticated weapons were made more likely by Tajiks. The great Khanates were gradually conquered by nomadic Mongols starting in the 11th century. However, the conquered urban populations were highly cultured native Persia- related Tajiks who were the professionals. If so, the master would likely called this knife a Kord. Wootz blade suggests Persian tradition and Ann Feuerbach found archeological evidence of wootz production in the area.
The entire area was conquered by the Russians in 1864-68. Yours may be one of the latest examples of the pre-conquest era.
For some reasons we attribute local weapons to Bukhara, but forget about other great centers: Khorezm, Samarkand, Khiva, Kokand. There must have been local differences in decoration, but we have no good way of distinguishing between them. The inscription pinpoints it to Kokand.

Splendid example!
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Old 8th June 2020, 12:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
The entire area was conquered by the Russians in 1864-68. Yours may be one of the latest examples of the pre-conquest era.
For some reasons we attribute local weapons to Bukhara, but forget about other great centers: Khorezm, Samarkand, Khiva, Kokand. There must have been local differences in decoration, but we have no good way of distinguishing between them.

Splendid example!


Splendid points Ariel.

My memory fails me at the moment but one of these regions did favour Niello much more than most... I wish I could put my finger on it...

Gavin
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Old 8th June 2020, 12:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwiatek
Yes. I donít think itís rubbed out as much as written quickly. This is not a professional scribeís hand. There is an extra dot within the lam of the name Bilal, which made me question this reading. But I canít think what other name it might be


I think the extra dot belongs to the 'nun' from Khuqandi and has just wandered off to the side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
In that part of the world sophisticated weapons were made more likely by Tajiks. The great Khanates were gradually conquered by nomadic Mongols starting in the 11th century. However, the conquered urban populations were highly cultured native Persia- related Tajiks who were the professionals. If so, the master would likely called this knife a Kord. Wootz blade suggests Persian tradition and Ann Feuerbach found archeological evidence of wootz production in the area.
The entire area was conquered by the Russians in 1864-68. Yours may be one of the latest examples of the pre-conquest era.
For some reasons we attribute local weapons to Bukhara, but forget about other great centers: Khorezm, Samarkand, Khiva, Kokand. There must have been local differences in decoration, but we have no good way of distinguishing between them. The inscription pinpoints it to Kokand.


Thank your for the write-up, I will have to read up on that.
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Old 8th June 2020, 12:30 PM   #14
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Kokand was the ultimate Tajik area: mountainous eastern part of the land, adjacent to Fergana Valley, thatís where the victorious Uzbeks displaced the Tajiks.
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Old 8th June 2020, 01:05 PM   #15
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Good thing to see the blade was not cut down. I once had a Greek bichaq which was a cut down yataghan blade and it reminded me. I could not clearly see the tip of your example, so that's why I mentioned.

1862 is a very plausible date.

Peter
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Old 8th June 2020, 01:51 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=GePi]I think the extra dot belongs to the 'nun' from Khuqandi and has just wandered off to the side.

Could be, yes. I can see there is a waw too below, so Usta is spelt اوستا, which Iíve seen in Central Asia
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Old 8th June 2020, 03:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwiatek
[QUOTE=GePi]I think the extra dot belongs to the 'nun' from Khuqandi and has just wandered off to the side.

Could be, yes. I can see there is a waw too below, so Usta is spelt اوستا, which Iíve seen in Central Asia


You are right, it's also not quite completely formed. That only leaves the sign on the left of that unaccounted for, which looks a bit like a 'jim' form letter connecting into the border of the cartouche.
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