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Old 13th July 2020, 07:14 PM   #1
Gavin Nugent
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Default A personal favourite, Uzbek knife

I'm often asked what it is that I collect... I probably collect way too many things in some peoples eyes, perhaps not enough in others and am forever asked why on earth did I sell this or did I sell that...

Of all the items in all the draws and cabinets, my favourite piece is rather simple by comparison to many items here, including related knives from the region.

My favourite is this delightfully simple Uzbekistan pichoq or pchak from the Karatagh mountain provinces of Southern Bukhara.
Ergonomically perfect and razor sharp with a nasty up-swept tip.
By design it just begs to work as a daily utility knife. From cooking and eating to personal defence, it is perfectly suited.

Gavin
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Last edited by Gavin Nugent : 13th July 2020 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 13th July 2020, 07:20 PM   #2
mariusgmioc
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What a beautiful blade.

I understand why is your favourite!
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Old 13th July 2020, 07:48 PM   #3
Rick
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She's a beauty Gavin.
What's the handle material; looks interesting.
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Old 13th July 2020, 07:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
She's a beauty Gavin.
What's the handle material; looks interesting.


Thanks Rick,

It's a burl timber.

I can't find any literature that specifically identifies the timber types used in sword and knife making
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Old 13th July 2020, 07:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
What a beautiful blade.

I understand why is your favourite!


Thank you mariusgmioc. By repute from the region, the blade surfaces do likely hide a Central Asian wootz... this one I prefer to leave as is though
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Old 13th July 2020, 08:05 PM   #6
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Moreover, trees and bushes over there are largely unknown at the West. Try chinara, saxaul.
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Old 13th July 2020, 09:06 PM   #7
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Incredibly beautiful blade!
This style makes me associate with East Turkestan - knifemakers in modern Uzbekistan do not know how to work.
About this wood I was told that this is the burl of Pistachio tree (Latin - Pistacia vera).
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Old 13th July 2020, 09:46 PM   #8
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Lovely knife, Gavin. The blade almost looks like the end of a (broken) sword with that wide fuller.
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Old 14th July 2020, 11:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Moreover, trees and bushes over there are largely unknown at the West. Try chinara, saxaul.


Thank you Ariel. A quick look reveals some stunning timbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ren Ren
Incredibly beautiful blade!
This style makes me associate with East Turkestan - knifemakers in modern Uzbekistan do not know how to work.
About this wood I was told that this is the burl of Pistachio tree (Latin - Pistacia vera).


Thank you Ren Ren. I agree, modern makers seem to have lost all flair and do not deviate from what their peers are doing nor look to history
Pistachio tree... Ariel and yourself have given me much to digest

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Originally Posted by Ian
Lovely knife, Gavin. The blade almost looks like the end of a (broken) sword with that wide fuller.


Thanks Ian.

I've attached an image of it with BIG brother.

A burl timber hilt is also seen on the Bukhara sabre, to my eye, not as bold a grain and a different timber species.

Like big brother, the wide "root" of the blade narrows quickly and turns upwards.

Gavin
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Last edited by Gavin Nugent : 14th July 2020 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 14th July 2020, 11:27 AM   #10
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Hi,
Burl wood indeed. Possibly from a small bush, judging by the fact that they needed two pieces to make one scale. The chances of finding out what kind of wood depends on finding evidence in literature. Beautiful dagger
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Old 14th July 2020, 12:42 PM   #11
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Motan has a point about the bush.
If this is correct, Saxaul ( saksaul, Haloxylon ammodendron) might be the answer. It is a ubiquitous desert plant with gnarly and very hard wood.

The raised tip of the blade suggests utilitarian use and such p’chaks were called «Kayке». I found a Russian article about Central Asian knives and it alleges that such form was dictated by Timur, to make these knives less useful for stabbing.The form with the tip below the spine line was called tolbargi ( ivy leaf) and was used by butchers. The third forn had a wide semilunar and sharpened indentation of the distal half of the spine and was called kazakhcha, after Kazakh fishermen of the Aral sea. Allegedly the indentation was used for scaling the fish.

The same article mentioned chinar (Platanus orientalis) and apricot trees as handle materials.

Mass produced p’chaks were forged from cheap low-carbon soft steel . This required very frequent sharpening usually done with the use of the bottom of ceramic tea cups. The positive side was the ease of sharpening in the field: any rock will do. Because of that p’chaks got progressively more narrow and were rather short lived. Expensive examples for rich people used high quality steel, including Indian wootz.

Last edited by ariel : 14th July 2020 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 14th July 2020, 07:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motan
Hi,
Burl wood indeed. Possibly from a small bush, judging by the fact that they needed two pieces to make one scale. The chances of finding out what kind of wood depends on finding evidence in literature. Beautiful dagger


Thank you Motan. A bush perhaps Or a tree with a small burl growing on it
It is an interesting pursuit pondering the possibilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Motan has a point about the bush.
If this is correct, Saxaul ( saksaul, Haloxylon ammodendron) might be the answer. It is a ubiquitous desert plant with gnarly and very hard wood.

The raised tip of the blade suggests utilitarian use and such p’chaks were called «Kayке». I found a Russian article about Central Asian knives and it alleges that such form was dictated by Timur, to make these knives less useful for stabbing.The form with the tip below the spine line was called tolbargi ( ivy leaf) and was used by butchers. The third forn had a wide semilunar and sharpened indentation of the distal half of the spine and was called kazakhcha, after Kazakh fishermen of the Aral sea. Allegedly the indentation was used for scaling the fish.

The same article mentioned chinar (Platanus orientalis) and apricot trees as handle materials.

Mass produced p’chaks were forged from cheap low-carbon soft steel . This required very frequent sharpening usually done with the use of the bottom of ceramic tea cups. The positive side was the ease of sharpening in the field: any rock will do. Because of that p’chaks got progressively more narrow and were rather short lived. Expensive examples for rich people used high quality steel, including Indian wootz.


You raise some good points there Ariel, utility being key and social standing bringing quality to the mix, sometimes exotic quality as seen in the turquoise encrusted examples with wootz blades in my collection.
Olufsen notes knives of this similar shape and construction as being from Hissar and are known as Karatagh knives which are made in Karatagh, Hissar and Kulab.
He goes on to note from his collecting, double knives (of this form I've presented), in their stunning textile covered and leather lined sheaths complete with textile suspension were a sign of dignity for the Emir's cook, another of the type mentions an armed messengers belt, "dshigit or mercenacy"
It's hard to distinguish by descriptions alone what profiles constitute what role. Some are noted as weapons, others are distinctly noted as not weapons, others being for cooks in prominent families.
I was lucky enough to be in touch with Thomas Otte Stensager in years past. Thomas had a wonderful little collection of the types which he wrote about in The Journal of the Danish Arms and Armour Society. A very good article from Nov 1995.

Gav
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Old 18th July 2020, 10:54 PM   #13
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Default For comparison, pichoq from Bukhara

A beautiful knife Gavin, thanks for posting. Is the medial ridge a common feature on the pichok? I have not seen one before. I do love the upswept blade.

Here is a pichok from Bukhara in my collection. One of my favorites, but I have too many favorites to single one out!
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Old 20th July 2020, 10:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA
A beautiful knife Gavin, thanks for posting. Is the medial ridge a common feature on the pichok? I have not seen one before. I do love the upswept blade.

Here is a pichok from Bukhara in my collection. One of my favorites, but I have too many favorites to single one out!


Dave,

That's a nice knife. I've enjoyed your online collection when looking in to these knives in the past.

Question; Is yours Bukhara or further east in to Uyghur regions?

In answer to your question about the ridge, not something I have seen before but to be honest, I've never looked too hard either.
The other five here all have flat backs. Some have incised lines running the length of the spine but no other notable features.

Gavin
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