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Old 19th October 2014, 04:11 PM   #1
Marcus
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Default What is the script of this Kindjal

This came from Oriental Arms and was identified as Georgian. The back side has ornamental designs and what looks like a bit of script in the circular cartouche. Can anyone identify the language?
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Marcus
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Old 19th October 2014, 04:28 PM   #2
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Hello Marcus,

you are willing to show us the blade? Sorry, can't help by the script!
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Old 19th October 2014, 07:09 PM   #3
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Default more pictures

As requested
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Old 19th October 2014, 09:31 PM   #4
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Default the obvious answer

It's probably Georgian. Whether I can translate it is another question.
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Old 19th October 2014, 10:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus
As requested



Thank you! Not my area of collecting but a good dagger IMVHO!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 20th October 2014, 05:31 PM   #6
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It's Arabic. What is legible appears to read, Kar Ahmad Ibn (?)... and some numerals. It means, Work of Ahmad son of.... The numerals 287 can be read as a date, 1287, or 1870 c.e.
It isn't Georgian per se, although it may have been wrought in the arms bazaar in Tbilisi. But the signature and motifs speak more of Circassian or Chechen craftsmanship.

Last edited by Oliver Pinchot : 21st October 2014 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 20th October 2014, 06:58 PM   #7
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Default Arabic

Oliver,
Thank you. I have been trying to decide where to place this piece in my book, with European items or Arabic ones.
Marcus
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Old 20th October 2014, 08:02 PM   #8
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Marcus, I should clarify that there is an important distinction in the context of inscriptions on arms and armor: when I referred to Arabic, I used the term to distinguish that alphabet from Georgian. The Arabic alphabet was used in Islamic cultural spheres by numerous peoples, often (as is the case here) by groups who were neither Arab nor Arabic-speaking. Very generally, this dagger can be distinguished as Islamic, but Caucasian is more precise.

Too, English can be confusing where the terms Arab, Arabic and Arabian are concerned. "Arab" refers to peoples of a large but specific ethnicity with a complex culture and language. "Arabic," however, refers specifically to the language and alphabet, not to people, i.e. Arabs speak, read and write Arabic. "Arabian" is now antiquated, but when it was in use, it generally referred to the Arabian Peninsula.

To this mix we can add the English terms Muslim and Islamic. Though both words come from the same root in Arabic, a Muslim is a person who follows Islam-- it only applies to humans. Islamic refers to everything else: Islamic culture, books, buildings, states, etc. And finally, not all Arabs are Muslim, and a large percentage of Muslims are not Arab. It seems involved, but as you know, specificity is an essential element of historical writing! Hope this helps.

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Old 20th October 2014, 09:24 PM   #9
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Default Arabic vs Islamic

Oliver,
Thank you for your interesting points. Regarding the original attribution to Georgia, which as I understand Georgia was part of Russia when this item was made, do you think the Arabic script indicates an origin in some other Caucasian area that was in the Ottoman sphere at the time?
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Old 20th October 2014, 11:52 PM   #10
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The Russian Empire annexed Georgia in about 1801, but any Georgian
can tell you it never adopted Russian culture-- the language, religion,
cuisine etc. are all entirely different.

These daggers follow a very similar form wherever they were made. In order to establish the culture that produced them, you need to consider the decorative motifs and quality of workmanship. The hand which crafted this one was probably Chechen or Circassian. The engraved lines in the fullers are likelier to be Chechen, if they are original to it. Both Chechen and Circassian smiths worked in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi was a cosmopolitan city, and had a large, primarily Christian population of various denominations. It also had Jews and Muslims, both Sunni and Shia. Muslim smiths were likelier to sign their names in Arabic characters, while Christian smiths used Georgian or Armenian. By the 1870s, Russian was also used, due to a clientele which had shifted from local men of means to Russian military officers and gentlemen. Interestingly however, many smiths, including celebrated Georgian masters like Geurk and Osip Popov, signed variously in Georgian, Arabic, and Russian. There are examples of their work in which all three languages appear on a single piece.

Chechens, Circassians and other mountain peoples of the North Caucasus did emigrate to the Ottoman Empire, primarily after 1865. There, smiths of those ethnicities would have signed using Arabic characters.

The point is, the way a smith signed his name was first and foremost indicative of his ethnicity, not where he worked. Only with a substantial influx of foreign clients, did craftsmen in major centers begin to represent themselves as brands across cultural and thus linguistic, lines.

Last edited by Oliver Pinchot : 21st October 2014 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 21st October 2014, 12:21 AM   #11
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Default Thanks again

Insights like yours are very much appreciated.
Marcus
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