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Old 28th August 2017, 10:15 AM   #1
Tatyana Dianova
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Default A hunting sword with Damascus blade of Yataghan type

I normally do not buy European arms, but I couldn’t let go this huge yataghan-style blade forged from the fine Damascus steel! I believe it is a completely European-made sword. Maybe it is a Hungarian Pandur sword? The fittings also resemble French hunting swords from the 18th century?
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Old 28th August 2017, 01:35 PM   #2
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Hello Tatyana,

Very interesting sword (Karabella Yatagan), but for accuracy one needs to mention it is PATTERN WELDED Damascus and not true/oriental Damascus steel (aka WOOTZ).

Regards,

Marius

PS: And my guess is that it is pretty recent, more exactly XX (or late XIX) century Turkish...

Maybe you should post the thread on Ethnographic forum.

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Old 29th August 2017, 11:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Hello Tatyana,

Very interesting sword (Karabella Yatagan), but for accuracy one needs to mention it is PATTERN WELDED Damascus and not true/oriental Damascus steel (aka WOOTZ).



Hello Marius,

absolutely no one can say for sure what the famous oriental Damascus was .
The ancient descriptions we have are not exactly enough.
What we can say for sure is that Wootz was 5-6 times more expensive than pattern welded steel of best sword-quality (early 19th ct.).
Average Wootz-blades are highly overrated, either soft and easy bend or hard and brittle. Top Wootz-blades with differential hardening are extremely rare.


Regards,
Roland
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Old 29th August 2017, 02:42 PM   #4
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Hello Roland,

I believe we can say with sufficient certainty that the ancient "oriental Damascus" is Wootz.

However, I believe the often used term "Damascus steel" is terribly confusing and imprecise as it can refer to both, pattern welded and wootz steels and we all know there is a huge difference between them.

In Tatyana's example, I stressed this distinction because the pattern of the blade is very similar to the pretty famous "Turkish ribbon" and in my oppinion is a pointer towards Turkey.

Just my two cents...
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Old 29th August 2017, 03:52 PM   #5
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This looks like patterned wootz to me (folded cast steel). Plain folded patterns are usually more homogenized steels worked together with few voids, rather than one cake of wootz being manipulated with a minimum of being beat on. There are grades of wootz/cast as well.

Cheers

GC
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Old 31st August 2017, 09:16 AM   #6
Tatyana Dianova
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Thank you guys for your replies!
Of course you are right: the blade is made of twisted-core pattern-welded steel. In the place where I live it would be called Damast- or damaszener steel, that's why I used the word Damascus without further thinking - sorry for the misunderstanding!
Still it would be interesting to know the origin of this sword. I believe it is not later than 18th century, having fire-gilt bronze mounts (please see the original pictures - I have cleaned later the fittings with Flitz) in a typical baroque style. The Karabela type hilt made of green painted bone (most probably ivory) and it points to the Eastern Europe, and the blade shape is yataghan inspired, although most probably European made. I wasn't able to find a similar sword in my books or online.
One of the heads on the guard have a small moving detail in his chin - I do not know it purpose, but it is not occasionally there :-)
I will ask the administrator to move the thread to the Ethnographic Forum, maybe we will get more ideas there.
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Old 31st August 2017, 12:39 PM   #7
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Hello Tatyana and thank you for he further photos.

My bet is still on Turkey and definitely not 18th but 19th century. Even the decoration on the crossguard appears to be classic Turkish... to my eyes.

Let's hope someone will be able tu identify it with more accuracy!
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Old 31st August 2017, 01:08 PM   #8
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Tatyana, I agree with your initial assessment. This is European hunting sword, I'd say German (based on the pattern) or French (based on handle design). Certainly at least 19thC. The blade is of Damascus mechanical pattern of course and resembles yataghan shape but is not of Turkish or Ottoman production.
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Old 31st August 2017, 07:20 PM   #9
Tatyana Dianova
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Thank you Alex - I have never seen such kind of a German or French made blade, but I know near to nothing about European arms... In any case, it is an interesting example of cultural exchange between Ottoman empire and Europe.
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Old 31st August 2017, 10:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
However, I believe the often used term "Damascus steel" is terribly confusing and imprecise as it can refer to both, pattern welded and wootz steels and we all know there is a huge difference between them.


As far as I can tell, "damascus steel" was used historically for both patterned crucible steels and pattern-welded steels; a suitable alternative English term is "watered steel" (c.f. damask = watered silk).

Descriptive not of the type of steel, but of the appearance of the steel, so both watered-pattern crucible steel and watered-pattern pattern-welded steel should be considered "true damascus" (and "false damascus" is if the pattern is engraved/etched into homogeneous plain steel). Similarly, unpatterned crucible steels would not be "damascus", historically.

Al-Kindi mentions Damascus swords, but that has nothing to do with patterns, just geographical origin (just another type of "native" sword, along with Khurasani, Basran, Egyptian, and other "native" swords).

Some readings and quotes from sources: http://www.history-science-technolo...ticles%205.html
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Old 31st August 2017, 11:27 PM   #11
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I will bring to the attention of Lee to move this to the Ethno section.
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Old 31st August 2017, 11:52 PM   #12
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Tatyana, production of mechanical damascus was widespread and not at all uncommon in Britain and Western Europe from the 1500's through to the end of the 19th century. It was used for bladed weapons and for gun barrels. Some superb examples exist which in my opinion equal or exceed the beauty of mechanical damascus produced in other parts of the world.

Two excellent references are:-

Damaszener Stahl - Manfred Sachse, I have the English edition:- ISBN 3-514-00522-2

On Damascus Steel - Leo S. Figiel, ISBN 0-9628711-0-9 & ISBN 0-9628711-1-7

This particular sword that you have shown is outside my area of expertise, so I will not express an opinion on place of origin, however, it was not uncommon for sword smiths in Western Europe to copy Eastern styles.In fact, Germany has a long tradition of highly skilled damascus smiths, who continued into the era of WWII and after. One exceptionally skilled smith was Paul Muller who worked during the WWII period. An example of his work is shown below. As you will understand, this sword of yours does not need to be particularly old to be particularly beautiful and valuable.
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Old 1st September 2017, 08:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
for accuracy one needs to mention it is PATTERN WELDED Damascus and not true/oriental Damascus steel (aka WOOTZ).

I would not even mention the word "damascus" when describing what is clearly pattern welded. I know the terms are commonly mixed up but pattern welded is pattern welded and damascus / wootz / watered steel is something completely different.
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Old 1st September 2017, 08:49 AM   #14
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Marius is correct. Damascus means any pattern, and further categorizes into mechanical (pattern welded) and true/Oriental (crucible/wootz). Even artificially induced pattern such as acid etch is also Damascus.
Refer to Leo Figiel "On Damascus Steel" classic.
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Old 1st September 2017, 08:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatyana Dianova
the blade is made of twisted-core pattern-welded steel.

Twisted core / Turkish ribbon steel is made from rods of steel welded together, the pattern runs with the blade as far as I know, I am not sure that your blade is actually twisted core, see the example comparison below, twisted core Turkish ribbon yatagan and your pattern welded blade. Some other opinions? Pattern welded blades go back as far as viking swords
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Old 1st September 2017, 09:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
Marius is correct. Damascus means any pattern, and further categorizes into mechanical (pattern welded) and true/Oriental (crucible/wootz). Even artificially induced pattern such as acid etch is also Damascus.
Refer to Leo Figiel "On Damascus Steel" classic.
People use the term "damascus" incorrectly (in my opinion) to describe several types of steel, but this term is most accurately used to describe wootz / watered steel and not pattern welded which is a completely different type.



Purdue University, Materials Engineering
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Old 1st September 2017, 09:18 AM   #17
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"Damascus and pattern-welded steels - Forging blades since the iron age: Forging blades since the iron age" by Madeleine Durand-Charre, 2014

Quote:
Steels are a class of materials with multiple and complicated transformations; this is true even for steels of the basic cutlery industry. A damascus steel is a fascinating subject to study, rich in multiple facets, that appears in a first approach as a composite material artistically exploited. Damacus steel was developed in the first millennium AD in India or Sri-Lanka. Its reputation is related to its exceptional properties and to the moire pattern. A similar damask pattern could be obtained by forge-welding giving rise to controversies. Recent findings allow a better understanding of this pattern formation. This book presents firstly, observations of ancient blade samples examined with modern technologies such as electron microscopy. The features of many typical swords from different periods are discussed: Celtic, Merovingian, Viking and oriental wootz swords, Persian shamshirs, Japanese katana, rapiers etc. In the second part, microstructural observations at different levels of magnification are displayed and their interpretation is discussed in detail, thus revealing the secret of sophisticated forgings. One chapter is devoted to introducing the main transformations undergone by these steels during the forging processes. The book is intended for all those people interested in the history of science and more specifically to the metallurgists, to the archaeologists and all the researchers confronted with the problems of the expertise of the vestiges, to the blacksmiths, and to the collectors of valuable artistic blades. Madeleine Durand-Charre has taught structural metallurgy at the Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble and at the University Joseph Fourier of Grenoble. Her research work concerned microstructure formation and determination of phase equilibria. She investigated complex alloys such as superalloys and steels. Her work on vanadium cast irons was awarded the Vanadium Shield in 1989 from the Institute of Metals. She is author of several books and articles in metallurgy.
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Old 1st September 2017, 09:27 AM   #18
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Amateur Mechanics: Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Volume 1, Trübner & Company, 1883
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Old 1st September 2017, 12:48 PM   #19
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Since wootz has no relations to the city of Damascus, insisting on "wootz only" being a true Damascus is of dubious validity. Alex and Alan are right: it is just a matter of appearance, and sometimes it is even difficult to distinguish between wootz and pattern welded blades. Damascening is a well established technique, and refers not only to the above varieties, but also to etch-induced surface, incrustation with metals of different color etc.

It is just a general unifying term. Within it there are varieties of prettifying the object.

Wootz and pattern welding are two different birds, but birds nevertheless: inhomogeneous steels.

Partly, the confusion is due to the accepted usages ( as also shown by Tatiana): in the English usage wootz ( fulad, bulat) is a part of a broader group collectively called Damascus Steel, whereas in Russia pattern welded blades were traditionally referred to as one of the "bulats".

Manfred Sachse knew a thing or two about blades:-), and addressed them together in his book on Damascus Steel.
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Old 1st September 2017, 04:34 PM   #20
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Privet Tatyana,

This is a very nice example of German or Austrian work in Ottoman style,
dating from the second half of the 18th century. The yataghan form was used by the Pandours, as you noted, as well as many other Balkan groups. By association, it became popular amongst officers (famously, Von Trenck) and this is where the unusual combination of hilt and blade originally arose.
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Old 1st September 2017, 05:25 PM   #21
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The yataghan form often entered European weapon design.
French regulation Chassepot ( from which modern-made fake yataghans are sometimes made for a quick e-bay sale to abject novices), Austrian Pandour examples, occasional Russian examples ( sometimes even marked as "ZOF", Zlatoust Weapon Factory) and even Italian ones: G. Labruna from Naples. There are some French examples shown in the Splendeur des Armes Orientales, AFAIK ( I can check in the evening at home).

However, this one (IMHO) is more of a hunting variety, based on the quillons.
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Old 1st September 2017, 06:57 PM   #22
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Thank you all for the great information and for the interesting discussion!
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Old 2nd September 2017, 05:23 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Privet Tatyana,

This is a very nice example of German or Austrian work in Ottoman style,
dating from the second half of the 18th century. The yataghan form was used by the Pandours, as you noted, as well as many other Balkan groups. By association, it became popular amongst officers (famously, Von Trenck) and this is where the unusual combination of hilt and blade originally arose.


Ahah!!! von Trenck!!!
We know that these yataghan type blades were used in certain European armies in Pandour-type units long after the original units were disbanded mid 18th c. These large yataghan type blades seem to have been favored by cavalry officers of French cavalry around 1809 possibly slightly earlier in some Balkan regions, Illyrian if I recall.

Yataghan type blades were even in some consideration as various forms were evolving in British cavalry swords in the opening years of the 19th century, and I believe a stirrup hilt cavalry example with yataghan style blade was carried by an officer of the 10th Hussars at Waterloo.

As has been well described, the term 'damascus' is rather collectively used in describing the various types of 'watered steel' or patterned, and as also noted very confusing, so detail best left to our metallurgists here.

It does seem that imitation forms of these kinds of steel were being made in some shops in Solingen, as well as in Russia (I think Tula) around this time, but production was extremely limited. There have been examples of other European officers swords with highly patterned steel blades known but again, not sure of exact character.

The combination of these 'hirschfanger' style hilts were on occasion combined with 'oriental' style blades in carrying forward the convention of this exotic fashion favored by the earlier pandour forces as mentioned.

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 3rd September 2017 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 2nd September 2017, 07:56 PM   #24
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Very interesting Jim, thank you a lot!
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Old 3rd September 2017, 04:28 AM   #25
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Absolutely Tatyana! very nice example with some intriguing history, thank you for sharing it with us
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Old 6th September 2017, 07:58 PM   #26
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..at the other end of the spectrum, here's one i just acquired, appears to be a yat bladed hunting sword/hanger. blade looks like the latter half of the 19c yataghan bayonet type popular thru europe. appears to have a side shell or rain guard on the right side. should arrive in a few days. no dimensions or markings were mentioned by the vendor.

organised mounted hunting was indeed the province of the rich, especially the nobility, but they also supplied their staff with these weapons, plain to start, and increasingly ornate as they wanted to show off their ability to equip their helpers.

hunting swords, hangers, daggers, trousse, were carried by the lower classes, usually more functional than their bosses more ornate models that may not even be sharpened or ever tasted blood.

as noted, the naval officers liked the handy hunting hangers too. spain issued some nice yat blades artillery swords for the last couple of decades in the 19c, some of which wound up in the states after our little war with them in cuba. i have one model 1881 marked 1895 and Toledo i posted earlier here somewhere...i like yataghan-like sharp pointies.
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Old 6th September 2017, 08:18 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
..at the other end of the spectrum, here's one i just acquired, appears to be a yat bladed hunting sword/hanger. blade looks like the latter half of the 19c yataghan bayonet type popular thru europe. appears to have a side shell or rain guard on the right side. should arrive in a few days. no dimensions or markings were mentioned by the vendor.

organised mounted hunting was indeed the province of the rich, especially the nobility, but they also supplied their staff with these weapons, plain to start, and increasingly ornate as they wanted to show off their ability to equip their helpers.

hunting swords, hangers, daggers, trousse, were carried by the lower classes, usually more functional than their bosses more ornate models that may not even be sharpened or ever tasted blood.

as noted, the naval officers liked the handy hunting hangers too. spain issued some nice yat blades artillery swords for the last couple of decades in the 19c, some of which wound up in the states after our little war with them in cuba. i have one model 1881 marked 1895 and Toledo i posted earlier here somewhere...i like yataghan-like sharp pointies.


I always wondered why hunting swords come with those curious sea shell ornaments on the side. So you reckon they are rain guards to keep the rain out of the scabbard and avoid corrosion of the blade?
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Old 7th September 2017, 06:19 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
I always wondered why hunting swords come with those curious sea shell ornaments on the side. So you reckon they are rain guards to keep the rain out of the scabbard and avoid corrosion of the blade?


Basically, yes. they were of course a decorative addition as well.

earlier ones i am told had the 'shell' or nagel perpendicular to the blade where it could protect the hand if used in combat, like the re-purposed french hunting/GB naval hanger one of mine below from around 1705, they transitioned to having them tilted further and further forward (see the other later ones also below in sequence, of other members from an earlier post) till they were parallel to the blade, covering the scabbard mouth. many even earlier swords had a leather version, at the blade/grip junction that were 'rain guards' that similarly covered the scabbard mouth, which got lost over time.
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