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Old 6th July 2016, 07:59 PM   #1
TVV
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Default Early Ottoman/Eastern European Sabre for Comment

A friend of mine in Bulgaria acquired this sword, which to me looks like it has a potential to be somewhat early, possibly as early as 17th century. The blade appears to be European - Styria perhaps, based on the markings? The hilt is walrus ivory decorated with silver nails at the pommel and by the guard.

What would you say the origin is: Ottoman or Central/Eastern European? Do you agree with the 17th century dating, or do you think this sword is later? I look forward to your comments.

Thank you,
Teodor
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Old 6th July 2016, 10:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
A friend of mine in Bulgaria acquired this sword, which to me looks like it has a potential to be somewhat early, possibly as early as 17th century. The blade appears to be European - Styria perhaps, based on the markings? The hilt is walrus ivory decorated with silver nails at the pommel and by the guard.

What would you say the origin is: Ottoman or Central/Eastern European? Do you agree with the 17th century dating, or do you think this sword is later? I look forward to your comments.

Thank you,
Teodor
To me it looks like an Eastern European sword based on the Ottoman "pala", the short version of the Ottoman kilij. I would not think it is extremely old, lets see what other people have to say.
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Old 6th July 2016, 10:58 PM   #3
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
A friend of mine in Bulgaria acquired this sword, which to me looks like it has a potential to be somewhat early, possibly as early as 17th century. The blade appears to be European - Styria perhaps, based on the markings? The hilt is walrus ivory decorated with silver nails at the pommel and by the guard.

What would you say the origin is: Ottoman or Central/Eastern European? Do you agree with the 17th century dating, or do you think this sword is later? I look forward to your comments.

Thank you,
Teodor


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Old 6th July 2016, 11:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
A friend of mine in Bulgaria acquired this sword, which to me looks like it has a potential to be somewhat early, possibly as early as 17th century. The blade appears to be European - Styria perhaps, based on the markings? The hilt is walrus ivory decorated with silver nails at the pommel and by the guard.

What would you say the origin is: Ottoman or Central/Eastern European? Do you agree with the 17th century dating, or do you think this sword is later? I look forward to your comments.

Thank you,
Teodor

This is quite interesting and I wondered if this was a cutlass ...The blade has the repeat design of the hogs back/ eyelash marks ... I also pondered if this was Hungarian?... The closest I can get to the form is Hungarian Magnat Sabre placed for comparison.
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Old 6th July 2016, 11:41 PM   #5
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It's Ottoman; it was probably made in Western Asia, but Eastern Europe is as likely. The grips are a recognizable form, generally dating from the last quarter of the 17th century to the first quarter of the 18th. Styrian blades are not uncommon in these pieces. There are comparable examples in a number of European collections, notably the Turkebeute in the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe. Most of the weapons and accoutrements there were acquired from the Ottoman camp, following the Ottoman Siege of Vienna in 1683.

Shorter, broader blades are found on many Ottoman swords intended for use at sea. These display a variety of hilt types, indicating they were popular for an extended period.
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Old 7th July 2016, 12:36 AM   #6
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Not disagreeing, but just curious.
While the scabbard is certainly not the defining factor in identification or assessment of a sword, aren't these 'baldric' type mounts mindful of the Arabian sa'if noted as Hahdramauti by Elgood? as well as what seems like the aghrab in the scabbard throat mount. These mounts were noted to have been produced in Hyderabad in India, and there seem to have been profound connections over considerable time.

If I have understood correctly, earlier blades are much stouter as with this one, and certainly the 'sickle' marks suggest Styria, of the key suppliers to Eastern Europe. Interestingly, Ostrowski ("The Polish Sabre") it seems notes the chevron style motif on grips to karabela examples (I think Lvov, but cant recall for sure).

The linear motif using smaller 'sickle' (hogs back) arcs seems to have occurred in some cases on swords in India, and via unclear associations appear on certain Caucasian blades (Ataghi?). I have seen these on some Khevsur pranguli. I have always considered influences from India may have been reflected in the Caucusus in degree.

Is it possible this might be something produced in India, perhaps for Arabia (regions under Ottoman influence) and recalling Eastern European hilt style ? According to Elgood, the Arabs did highly regard Hungarian blades and swords.
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Old 7th July 2016, 02:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Not disagreeing, but just curious.
While the scabbard is certainly not the defining factor in identification or assessment of a sword, aren't these 'baldric' type mounts mindful of the Arabian sa'if noted as Hahdramauti by Elgood? as well as what seems like the aghrab in the scabbard throat mount. These mounts were noted to have been produced in Hyderabad in India, and there seem to have been profound connections over considerable time.

If I have understood correctly, earlier blades are much stouter as with this one, and certainly the 'sickle' marks suggest Styria, of the key suppliers to Eastern Europe. Interestingly, Ostrowski ("The Polish Sabre") it seems notes the chevron style motif on grips to karabela examples (I think Lvov, but cant recall for sure).

The linear motif using smaller 'sickle' (hogs back) arcs seems to have occurred in some cases on swords in India, and via unclear associations appear on certain Caucasian blades (Ataghi?). I have seen these on some Khevsur pranguli. I have always considered influences from India may have been reflected in the Caucusus in degree.

Is it possible this might be something produced in India, perhaps for Arabia (regions under Ottoman influence) and recalling Eastern European hilt style ? According to Elgood, the Arabs did highly regard Hungarian blades and swords.
Jim,

An interesting breakdown.

I have seen similar sword types, in so far as form rather than specific detail, in Yemeni circles too.

Gavin
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Old 7th July 2016, 07:48 AM   #8
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Gentlemen, thank you for the responses. Exploring a Southern Yemen connection is interesting. The placement of the scabbard rings do indeed suggest it was worn on a baldric, and since the three leaf motif on the scabbard matches the guard, I suspect this was the original scabbard. I personally am not sure I see an aghrab, but I will post a better picture of the scabbard mouth.

The hilt is probably the key feature to determine where this sword was used within the Ottoman Empire. I am posting some pictures of similar hilts. One is from Top Kapi and shows a sword with an Ottoman blade (the one at the top). The other one is of a much finer sword from the Bayern Ingolstadt Museum with a hilt and cross guard of similar form, again with an Ottoman blade. Not sure if it is part of the Turkenbeute from the Second Siege of Vienna or not.

Sincerely,
Teodor
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Old 7th July 2016, 05:40 PM   #9
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Teodor,
The aghrab is a highly stylized element, in the case of the Hadhramauti (Yemen) saifs placed at the base of the langet receiver at the scabbard throat. Personally I cannot say whether or not this decorative element constitutes an 'aghrab' on your sabre, but it aligns with examples which have been described as such.
Whatever the case, this is a remarkably handsome sword, and most intriguing with its confluence of such a number of influences. I especially like the chevron motif on the grips, again recalling Polish karabela.
While it appears rosettes are missing on the grip, the remaining one to me only adds to the mystique of this sword as it shows what the hilt would have displayed at one time. These again, if not mistaken, recall the rosettes on Eastern European karabela.....I do not have the Ostrowski article with me, but that would probably show examples.
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Old 7th July 2016, 11:32 PM   #10
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I have looked around and have not found another sword and scabbard that match this one, the closest one is this Ottoman sword which also has a walrus ivory hilt.

Quote:
Lot Description
AN OTTOMAN CHILD'S SWORD
SIGNED DAWUD, OTTOMAN TURKEY, 17TH CENTURY
The short curved blade with single-edged upper section and widened point with double-edge, gold overlay outlined gutter, small gold signature cartouche to one side, geometric lattice on side of forte, stained walrus-ivory hilt decorated with inset diamond botehs and gold inset stellar motifs with green enamelled centres, gold cross- guard and scabbard fittings engraved and nielloed on both sides with fine floral scrolls, inset turquoises on the end of the pommel and the quillons, scabbard of green velvet decorated with silver wire floral motifs with attached cultured pearls, engraved gold belt rings with attached string with glass beads, later replaced inset hardstones to the hilt and top of the scabbard, good condition
23in. (58.5cm.) long

The mounts on this elegant sword are decorated in nielloed silver in a style fashionable during the seventeenth century. A number of similarly decorated published pieces are stamped with a tughra of Mehmed IV (r. 1648-87) and some exist in European collections, having been taken as war booty from the Ottomans after the siege of Vienna in 1683. The pieces decorated in this style and stamped with Mehmed IV's tughra include two horse caparisons, daggers and spears (Bashir Mohamed, The Arts of the Muslim Knight. The Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection, Milan, 2007, no. 35, p.71). A number of examples which do not bear a tughra, but which can be dated with some accuracy on the basis of their dates of acquisition, are illustrated in Holger Schuckelt, Die Türckische Cammer. Sammlung orientalischer Kunst in der kurfürstlich-sächsischen Rüstkammer Dresden, exhibition catalogue, Dresden, 2010, no.254, p.249.
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Old 8th July 2016, 12:04 AM   #11
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Jim, thank you for your input. As usual, your vast knowledge allows you to see similarities with swords from Poland to Yemen to even India. I agree that there seem to be a lot of features, common with Eastern and Central European swords, starting with the blade and even in the hilt. Not at all surprising considering the history of warfare between the Ottomans, Habsburgs, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and their various allies, as well as where this sword was found and currently resides.

Estrch, thank you for posting this example, which while not a perfect fit, seems to be very similar, almost like a very luxurious version of the subject sword. If you look past the gold and the precious stones, the hilt and the scabbard appear to be of very similar form, down to the rings where the baldric is attached. Apart from the Ottoman attribution, is there any additional information about this sword?

Teodor
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Old 8th July 2016, 12:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV

Estrch, thank you for posting this example, which while not a perfect fit, seems to be very similar, almost like a very luxurious version of the subject sword. If you look past the gold and the precious stones, the hilt and the scabbard appear to be of very similar form, down to the rings where the baldric is attached. Apart from the Ottoman attribution, is there any additional information about this sword?

Teodor
Teodor, look up, I added the info to my post.
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Old 8th July 2016, 01:50 AM   #13
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Thank you!
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Old 17th July 2016, 01:24 PM   #14
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Nice sword, love the hilt! Could you take a pic and show the scales in cross-section? It looks as if it has the crystalline 2. dentine of walrus visible at the end of the pommes, but the way the scales arae patinated laterally, it also looks a lot like a piece of elephant carved from the bark/core-area. Whichever it is, the patination is very beautiful!


Cheers, Thor
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Old 18th July 2016, 03:18 AM   #15
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I am with Oliver on this one.
The overall gestalt is Ottoman. However, the Ottomans spread their influence far and wide, from Yemen to Hungary and from North Africa to Russia/ Ukraine , with some forays into India.
Thus, precise geographic attribution may not be 100% possible, although some possibilities are more likely than others. My best guess ( exactly that: just a guess!) would be Central Europe. For me the blade, with uninterrupted "jaws" markings and widening toward the tip, represents a somewhat mysterious component: It is rather similar to S. Aravian nimcha.

How to put it together beats me, but old Oriental weapons in general often have so many bizarre features and so many admixtures during their life span , that nothing would surprise me.
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Old 18th July 2016, 06:48 PM   #16
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Thor,

Here is a picture of the hilt, hope this is what you were looking for. Interestingly, there is a layer of black leather between the scales and the tang.

Teodor
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Old 19th July 2016, 09:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Thor,

Here is a picture of the hilt, hope this is what you were looking for. Interestingly, there is a layer of black leather between the scales and the tang.

Teodor
Another thing that says Arabia to me.
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