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Old 13th February 2018, 10:09 AM   #1
Kubur
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Default High quality Qajar blades

Hi Guys,

Do you have any ideas or information's about these gorgeous Qajar blades?
Always with a snake deep printed in the blade...

Thanks

Kubur
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Old 15th February 2018, 06:39 AM   #2
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Really guys no one is interested by Iranian wootz blades???
I understand that snakes are frequently used as talismans
and the two headed snake is probably a zulfikar symbol
But I would like to know more about the sword maker of this particular kind of blades...
Thanks!!
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Old 15th February 2018, 09:49 AM   #3
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The dagger looks quite Kurdish, and the sword looks like a kaskara up to the pommel. Your blades look cool tho.

My more humble ones for illustration: wootz kurdish jambiah, sudanese kaskara.
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Old 15th February 2018, 10:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
The dagger looks quite Kurdish, and the sword looks like a kaskara up to the pommel. Your blades look cool tho.

My more humble ones for illustration: wootz kurdish jambiah, sudanese kaskara.


Maybe the dagger has some Kurdish look but I am quite sure it is fully Persian.

The sword is certainly a Persian blade with probably a Sudanese hilt as you have noticed.

Other than that, I cannot say much except that the blades are exceptional indeed (both in terms of their quality and in terms of their original design).
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Old 15th February 2018, 11:58 AM   #5
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Hello Kubur,

These are very beautiful blades, the dagger is typical for Qajar-era.

But I see snakes on Qajar-blades for the first time, very interesting.

All I can say is that European medieval swords also often got a snake in the middle of the blade. As far as I know no one really knows the meaning of the snake. Maybe something religious or the blade is deadly like a snake.

Here is my Qajar-era dagger before and after restoration. Not completely finished now, the contrast is too weak.


Roland
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Old 15th February 2018, 04:10 PM   #6
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The sword is in the book "Islamic arms and armor in the Metropolitan museum of art" page 180-181

From the book (shortened) : Serpents and snakes are often found on iranian blades. Ultimatetly the image can be traced back to the biblical story of the staff of Moses, which became a serpent when thrown onto the ground.
Many representations of the prophets sword are ingraved with snakes.
It may also reflect some talismanic practice.

There is a lot more information to be had about the sword in the book. Its a nice book, and not a bad purcase if you want the whole story.
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Old 15th February 2018, 05:01 PM   #7
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Due to a number of military conflicts with the Russian Empire, the Qajar era saw the beginning of a strong European political and cultural presence during the reign of Fath 'Ali Shah (1797-1834.) This involved the French and British as well. Between his rule and that of his successor, Muhammed Shah (r.1834-48) all of these empires influenced Persia increasingly.

In terms of arms, flintlock pistols in European style, often with fine older Persian barrels, begin to appear. Sword blades (the form collectors call the shamshir) during this era are most often heirlooms, while the army adopts the Caucasian sword (known in the Persian context as a qaddareh) for use as an infantry sidearm. Muskets are a mixture of matchlock, heirloom tofang, and European-style flintlock (later percussion) muskets.

Persian craftsmanship, especially metalworking, falls off increasingly during this period. Foreign blades, barrels and locks, being much cheaper, had all but replaced traditional weapons to the degree that once-honored swordsmiths were reduced to making scissors and combs to eke out a living. This changed drastically when Nasr al-Din Shah came to power in 1848. His nearly 50-year reign reinvented the Persian state, curbed, or at least mitigated, foreign powers, and revived the economy through a series of tax reforms. Both to invigorate this new economy and emphasize Persian nationalism, swordsmiths were encouraged to begin forging fine blades again after decades of inactivity.

It is to this period in Persian history which many, though not all, of the blades such as those pictured above date. Neoclassicism was a wildly popular model, so many weapons made at this time are evocative of earlier styles, and a considerable number are dated decades, even centuries, before they were actually made. Nasr al-Din Shah promoted the wearing and display of these weapons, many of which are masterpieces, at court (something of a corollary to the revival of German sword makers under Hitler.)

The serpent often represented on blades in this period, whether double- or single-headed, is a semiotic device which refers to Zahhak, a creature of evil which appears in Persian literature as early as the Zoroastrian Avestas (generally considered to have been compiled 200-600 b.c.e.) Zahhak, like most snakes, was known not only for its ill temper, but for its capacity to strike faster than the blink of an eye, characteristics immediately understood by any audience in this cultural group.

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Old 15th February 2018, 09:13 PM   #8
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Hi Guys,

I'm so grateful, I'll answer to each of you.
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Old 15th February 2018, 09:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Maybe the dagger has some Kurdish look but I am quite sure it is fully Persian.

The sword is certainly a Persian blade with probably a Sudanese hilt as you have noticed.

Other than that, I cannot say much except that the blades are exceptional indeed (both in terms of their quality and in terms of their original design).


Kronkew and Marius,

Yes the dagger is a Persian Khanjar and yes the handle shape is a bit similar to the Kurdish ones or maybe is the other way round... You will find some Ottoman daggers with such handles and they are not Kurdish. This shape is not typical to Kurdish daggers.
Yes its a kaskara with an Iranian blade as described in the MET catalogue.

As Drabant said its an excellent book.
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Old 15th February 2018, 09:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
Hello Kubur,

These are very beautiful blades, the dagger is typical for Qajar-era.

But I see snakes on Qajar-blades for the first time, very interesting.

All I can say is that European medieval swords also often got a snake in the middle of the blade. As far as I know no one really knows the meaning of the snake. Maybe something religious or the blade is deadly like a snake.

Here is my Qajar-era dagger before and after restoration. Not completely finished now, the contrast is too weak.


Roland


Hi Roland,

Thanks and very nice work.
Did you post how you exposed the wootz?
Yes the snake is talismanic.
Have a look at Qajar Persian revival sword you will see plenty of snakes.
But they are acid etched with calligraphy and court scenes.
So basically bad quality work from the late Qajar period as described by Oliver.
But these snakes above are top quality blades.
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Last edited by Kubur : 15th February 2018 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 15th February 2018, 09:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
The serpent often represented on blades in this period, whether double- or single-headed, is a semiotic device which refers to Zahhak, a creature of evil which appears in Persian literature as early as the Zoroastrian Avestas (generally considered to have been compiled 200-600 b.c.e.) Zahhak, like most snakes, was known not only for its ill temper, but for its capacity to strike faster than the blink of an eye, characteristics immediately understood by any audience in this cultural group.


Thank you so much Oliver for all these very valuable information.
But do you agree that the examples presented above are not late Qajar or Persian revival cheap blades?
I will look again at the MET catalogue.

Kubur
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Old 16th February 2018, 05:42 AM   #12
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Specifically which examples?
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Old 16th February 2018, 11:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Specifically which examples?


The MET sword. I had a look at Alexander excellent catalogue and he says that the blade is signed by Loft Ali Shirazi from the 18th c. but also with a cartouche of Nasir al din shah as you mentionned previously, from the 19th c.
The cartouches look very similar and its highly improbable that Nasir al din cartouche was added later...
A last point to add I had this kind of blade in my hands recently and the sword has very sharp edges, not like the acid etched ones who are purely decorative or for parade. I was just curious to know how many high quality blades like that are known in the world.
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Old 16th February 2018, 11:44 PM   #14
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None of the images are cited, probably easiest just to paste it in again below
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