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Old 7th July 2022, 03:09 PM   #1
Conduit
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Smile Caucasian kindjal

Hello,

I believe this Caucasian kindjal is of Circassian origin but I would be grateful for more information on this piece and its maker mark.

Тоtal length 41 cm, blade length 30 cm.
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Old 7th July 2022, 03:45 PM   #2
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According to Kirill Rivkin, decorative pattern of "horns" were widespread on Circassian weapons. One should be careful, however: these motives, just as Circassian influence in general, were not limited to Circassia proper, but rather to the wider "Circassian sphere" that included Chechnya, Meghrelia and other localities. Moreover, the late 19th century development of semi-industrial workshops created decentralization of decorative tradition where a Vladikavkaz ( say) workshop manufactured any formerly specific ethnic pattern according to the buyer's wish.

The stamped mark of 2 "vases" was seen on Circassian blades as well.

Yours is a good and honest kindjal, but beyond that it might be harder to pinpoint its origin. Perhaps, a more vague attribution , like "in Circassian tradition" might be preferable.

BTW, for some reasons red scabbard leather is considered particularly desirable among the contemporary Russian collectors.
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Old 7th July 2022, 04:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
BTW, for some reasons red scabbard leather is considered particularly desirable among the contemporary Russian collectors.

Thanks for your input.
As far as I know Russian leather, topped with strong smelling birch oil, was a major export good from Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries because of its unmatched quality.
As the actual tanning and dying process has been lost since Russian Revolution it is understandable why pre-Revolution leather is so desirable.
Some pieces of the Russian leather recovered from Metta Catharina shipwreck has been sold at top price for both contemporary and restoration purposes.
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Old 7th July 2022, 05:19 PM   #4
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The last quarter of the 19th century. The territory of present-day Armenia and Azerbaijan
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Old 7th July 2022, 10:56 PM   #5
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i am not sure whether the leather is of “Russian” manufacture. Caucasians had their own. What for some reasons is desirable to contemporary Russian collectors is not the origin, but the color:red.
Why? Because Y is a crooked letter:-)
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Old 7th July 2022, 11:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conduit View Post
Thanks for your input.
As far as I know Russian leather, topped with strong smelling birch oil, was a major export good from Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries because of its unmatched quality.
As the actual tanning and dying process has been lost since Russian Revolution it is understandable why pre-Revolution leather is so desirable.
Some pieces of the Russian leather recovered from Metta Catharina shipwreck has been sold at top price for both contemporary and restoration purposes.
Thank you for remembering the wonderful story of the finds from the ship "Metta Catharina"! At present, the situation has changed somewhat. In 2011, the French researcher and restorer Elise Blouet, with the help of the famous British tannery J & FJ Baker, began serious work to find the lost secret of Russian leather. It's also an amazing story! For example, the researchers found that the wood of the Brazilian tree pernambuco was used as a dye. Just imagine it! In the 18th century! In Russia! Brazilian wood! Six years later, this work was completed with success! Today, J & FJ Baker produces Russian leather according to the original recipe and it is a hit with some of the world's most renowned leather goods manufacturers.
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Old 8th July 2022, 12:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
What for some reasons is desirable to contemporary Russian collectors is not the origin, but the color:red.
Why?
In former times, the peoples of the Caucasus had strict rules for public demonstration of social status. For example, among the Kabardians, only princes had the right to wear red shoes. Every nation had similar rules, and weapons covered with red leather declared the high social status of the owner.
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Old 8th July 2022, 01:08 AM   #8
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Ren Ren,
Thanks for the info.I never thought about it.
As to the source of red pigment, I went to Wiki.
Apparently, 16th century visitors to S. America allegedly gave it name Paubrasilia., i.e. “ reddish wood” in Portugese. It became a valuable commodity as a source of red pigment brasilin and as a favourite material for violin bows. It became so profitable and popular, that the entire place in S. America became to be popularly known as Terra do Brasil, Land of Brasil. And that stuck: the entire country became known as Brazil. Fascinating story: the biggest country in S.America got its name from an exotic tree!
Of course, Russian manufacturers of tanned leather did not get the dye directly from Brazil: the dye was exported first to Portugal and from there sold to other European countries. Russians might have imported it from Germany, Poland, somewhere closer to home.

One would immediately think that the varnish used by Stradivari for his red violins employed brasilin as a vital component. Just a little bit closer, but still no cigar.
He used cochilin, a red pigment from the bodies of cactus-eating female bugs from tropical and subtropical America.

Last edited by ariel; 8th July 2022 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 8th July 2022, 07:46 PM   #9
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And just to extend: Paubrasilia is sometimes referred to as Pernambuco (tree).
Here is a similar story but in reverse: the tree got its name from the state of Pernambuco, but the origin of the state name is uncertain: either from a native (extinct) Indian language “ long river” ( Parana river, that is indeed long), or from Portuguese "Boca de Fernão", an old name for the Santa Cruz channel.

One thing I love this Forum for is the urge it gives to digress into surprising directions and learn totally useless things:-)

Last edited by ariel; 8th July 2022 at 08:08 PM.
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