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Old 24th March 2010, 08:10 PM   #1
buendia
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Default Wootz kindjal - have you ever seen?

I`m analyzing a poem by Lermontov called Kindjal (1837) (in original) and Dagger in English. The poet uses the expression "булатный мой кинжал" - what would exactly mean >my kindjal made of bulat<. English translation is "O trusty dagger mine, My comrade wrought of cool Damascus steel!".
Lermontov uses the word bulat, English equivalent of which would be wootz.
I have seen a couple of pattern welded - "damascus" kindjals, a few imitations of pattern welded flutes/grooves made by etching, but never any wootz!

So what sort of kindjal could Lermontov possibly possess?

The Dagger
I like you well, O trusty dagger mine,
My comrade wrought of cool Damascus steel!
Forged were you by the Georgian with revange in the mind,
By the Circassian free -- for war were you made keen.
A lily-white hand it was gave you to me --
You were affection's keepsake, its last gift...
Not blood, but pearl-like tears born of the agony
Of bitter parting down your blade ran swift.
Her dark eyes rested, full of secret pain,
Of sadness and of mystery, upon
My face, and like yourself when lit by flickering flame,
Now clouded and turned dull, now glowed and shone.
O dagger, love's mute pledge, you will my true
Friend stay, and an example set to me, a wanderer:
For faithful, yes, and firm of soul like you
I'll be like you that tempered was by fire.
Translated by Irina Zheleznova

КИНЖАЛ (1838) Mikhail Lermontov
Люблю тебя, булатный мой кинжал,
Товарищ светлый и холодный.
Задумчивый грузин на месть тебя ковал,
На грозный бой точил черкес свободный.
5Лилейная рука тебя мне поднесла
В знак памяти, в минуту расставанья,
И в первый раз не кровь вдоль по тебе текла,
Но светлая слеза жемчужина страданья.
И черные глаза, остановясь на мне,
10Исполненны таинственной печали,
Как сталь твоя при трепетном огне,
То вдруг тускнели, то сверкали.
Ты дан мне в спутники, любви залог немой,
И страннику в тебе пример не бесполезный:
15Да, я не изменюсь и буду тверд душой,
Как ты, как ты, мой друг железный.
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Old 24th March 2010, 08:37 PM   #2
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Buendia,
This is a brilliant question (and of course a fantastic poem). Thank you for bringing it to the Forum.
As well known, bulat was a widely used term in Russia to identify high quality steel. First, I'd think this term would be commonly referred to just that - good quality, very strong and well forged steel, and not necessarily Damascus. Persian wootz blades were popular and highly regarded, and many Kindjals employed them with their locally made fittings. Not many Caucasian smiths were forging wootz, so I believe term bulat was used for both locally produced quality non-wootz blades as well as wootz trade blades (sort of to equal them in quality terms). I think Lermontov used "bulat" with no specific reference to "wootz" or Damascus (my personal opinion of course).
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Old 24th March 2010, 10:59 PM   #3
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Well, ain't no that simple...
The same Lermontov, in one of the variants of his poem " The Poet" (1838), writes about bulat kindjal ".. creation of old Geurk". Also, in his diary, he mentioned bringing a kindjal to Geurk, who confirmed the "authorship". Thus, they must have been acquainted.
Geurk Elizarov ( Elizarashvili) did work with real wootz and made several known bulat ( wootz) blades. He was known to possess the secret of making wootz, and his son Kahraman was ordered to teach the secret to several Russian masters.
Most likely, both father and son used Indian wootz ingots for their best blades. In this, they did not differ from the most famous Iranian masters who also bought wootz ingots from the same source.
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Old 24th March 2010, 11:48 PM   #4
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Very interesting Ariel.
Maybe others have comments to this as well, although I doubt it - but it could be interesting.
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Old 26th March 2010, 02:43 AM   #5
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Thank you for this wonderful information.
I found out that in 1837 a ship with British weopons for Circassian rebels was intercepted by Russian fleet.
Maybe some some tool made of shear steel was reforged into kindjal?
Somewhere here I saw photos of a chisel made of Sheffield shear steel compared to some Sham type of wootz, and there was some reference to Itame I think...

IMO it`s almost impossible to differentiate them for a non-specialist.
Maybe Lermontov considered the English shear steel as a Sham pattern?
007 scenario - I know, but maybe?
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Old 26th March 2010, 01:00 PM   #6
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According to Ann Feuerbach, she found 2 wootz blades dating back to ~8th century in the North Caucasus. No need to invoke British shear steel.

Also, "caucasians" had contacts with India and Persia well before Brits had a navy and Russia was an empire :-)
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Old 26th March 2010, 11:56 PM   #7
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My example of Wootzklinge.
These Kindjal I found a few years ago at a secondhand shop.
Greeting chregu
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Old 27th March 2010, 06:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chregu
My example of Wootzklinge.
These Kindjal I found a few years ago at a secondhand shop.
Greeting chregu
Chregu,

I have a very similar kindjal to yours, with the same pattern on the blade. At first glance, it does resemble wootz, but I do not think it is. In my opinion, these are fine pattern welded blades.

I am also attaching pictures of the blade of another kindjal, which could be sham wootz, or sheer steel, not sure.

Regards,
Teodor
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Old 27th March 2010, 09:41 AM   #9
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Interesting conversation,
Would be great to hear other opinions on whether these blades are pattern welded, sheer steel or wootz? The pattern on Chregu blade does not look mechanical to me, neither on Teodor's first blade, I think they are wootz. Teodor's second blade might be sham or sheer. I attach similar closeup of mine, and it is undoubtedly (Persian) wootz.
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Old 28th March 2010, 12:44 AM   #10
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hello together
theodor believe me, I know wootz.
've Already seen from other Kindjal and Kamma wootz. It is rare but not impossible. They all had one thing in common they were of the same style.
I guess South Caucasus. Greeting Chregu
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Old 28th March 2010, 07:15 AM   #11
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Alex,

When you compare your blade to mine and chregu's, you can clearly see the difference. Yours is wootz, no doubt. Ours on the other hand, look quite different on closer inspection and I still think they are pattern welded.

Teodor
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Old 28th March 2010, 09:02 AM   #12
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Teodor,
Yes, there are differences in pattern between them. Nevertheless, the difference are in wootz pattern type in my opinion.

Could it be Russian i.e. Anosov's wootz? Attached is a closeup of allegedly Zlatoust produced wootz shashka blade. There are similarities to your patterns, but still - I do not think these are typical pattern welds.

Ariel, Rick what do you think?
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Old 28th March 2010, 03:43 PM   #13
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Alex,

I agree with your assessment of all 3 blades. I think Chegru's is wootz and I think TVV's first example is a nice wootz. The 3rd example is definitely not wootz.
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Old 31st March 2010, 04:30 PM   #14
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Thank you very much for your help. I have found a picture of shear steel from Sheffield - a fragment of a chisel.

This one comes from Hermitage museum in Petersburg, Russia. Wootz kindjal made by Geurk Elizarashvili, 1846, Tiflis, Georgia. The very same guy probably made Lermontov`s kindjal...
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Old 1st April 2010, 08:01 AM   #15
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Personally, I would not be disappointed at all if it turns out to be wootz (naturally). But bladesmiths that I have shown the dagger to tend to think otherwise. Their opinion of course is just that - an opinion, and the opinion of collectors such as Rick and Alex, who have handled a great number of wootz blades is probably more important here.

As of now, I am not convinced one way or another, but it does not really bother me, since to me a nice blade is a nice blade, wootz or pattern welded.

Regards,
Teodor
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