Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 20th December 2005, 08:59 AM   #1
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Question Huge sword - Persia or Caucasus

Hello all!

I have a question. On the pictures you can see a very huge sword - 110cm/43inch. long - it's bigger than sabre

The shape of the handle is like of Caucasian knives, the blade is quite solid, thick not cheap metal, but resilient, with fuller on both sides in the centre. On the blade are etched squiggles, and ornaments with letters or just pretending the letters (sorry no photo of this part).

Main question is: do you think it's Caucasian or Persian - like some catalogues described it. I'm sure it's 19th century, maybe even 2nd half of the century. But what was the purpose of such huge weapon - only ceremonial? It is made very solidly, just like the weapon for use, but its size seems to be ridicoulus .

I'm waiting for your opinions
Thank you in advance and regards!
Attached Images
  
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2005, 02:39 PM   #2
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,503
Default

We usually attribute those to Persia and call them Qama, but I have never seen the "sword" -size one: at the most, they are large kindjals, up to 25inch total or thereabouts. This one is huge and obviously could not be used as a "kindjal", or secondary, sidearm. Should be looking elsewhere.
There is a semi-mythical Chechen sword, called Kaldan (with a crossguard, however) and there are swords with kindjal-type handles in Eastern Caucasian region (Daghestan, Chechnya). One is even illustrated in, I think, Askhabov' s book. I shall take pics.
That is what I think it is.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2005, 06:18 PM   #3
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

Here is another monster that was sold by Artzi (43 inches). He identifies it as persian, and the engravings are quite typical persian work (I would guess ?).

I think it is somewhat similar to your sword.

P.S. It would be really great to see the letters on your sword.
Attached Images
  
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2005, 06:23 PM   #4
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Arrow

Thank you Ariel and Rivkin.

Indeed, the handle and the fuller of Artzi's piece are the same. I'll try to take a picture of these "letters" in a few days, but can't promise.

It's good to hear you're tending to call it Persian. In one of the catalogues it was called "shamshir" - but I'm not convinced it's a proper name for such "monster"

Regards!
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2005, 08:16 PM   #5
Oriental-Arms
Member
 
Oriental-Arms's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Haifa, Israel
Posts: 183
Default Huge Qama

Hi all

An interesting sword indeed. In all our career we have examined three such swords, all of huge dimensions (we call it Qama to end all Qamas). 42-45 inches total length, 4-5 inches wide. One of these is posted above by Rivkin. The other one is shown below:



For more details on this sword see:Huge Qama

Another similar sword is shown in Tirri’s book, page 206, Fig 143, shown next to a normal size kindjal and defined as Quadarra.

In our opinion, these are Persian, Qajar period, second half of the 19C. In spite of the well forged steel, good sharp edges and good workmanship altogether these are ceremonial swords and not a fighting weapons. They are too big and cumbersome for battle use. We have heard several suggestions as execution swords, swords used in the Ashura celebrations of the Shiites etc.

One more word on our sword posted by Rivkin: It was originally purchased in Jerusalem in 1918, wandered to the USA and returned to Israel. This gives a latest possible date for it.
Oriental-Arms is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2005, 12:57 AM   #6
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,503
Default

Here it is, and it is, of course, from the Bible of Caucasian swords: Astvatsaturyan. It is a Khevsur Palasche. The handles on those were covered with brass, just like the regular Khevsur swords (on top). I guess, the swords under discussion in this thread are, indeed, Persian. The Khevsur ones were not ceremonial: these people were too poor to manufacture ceremonial weapons. The price of a sword labeled "David Ferrara " was 25 cows, the simple straight "pranguli" cost 10-12 cows and the simplest one, "rusuli", 2-3 cows. At prices like that nobody could afford a "toy" weapon.
Attached Images
 
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2005, 05:59 AM   #7
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

There is such thing as a georgian mega-kindjal, called satevari ("attack"). I have seen examples with total length of 27+ inches, and heard of XVIIIth century ones that were up to 35+ inches. I have never heard of anything larger than 40 inches.

At the same time these mega-kamas remind me of japanese "swords of gods", humongous, up to 10 feet long, but very high quality and quite functional swords, attributed to great heroes and gods of the past.
Concerning the ritual connection to ashura: I have seen lots of spires, knives and whips being used, but I can not imagine anything repeatable about someone taking this 7 pounds monster and trying to inflict some pain with it.

However, in my very humble opinion, Qajar period is known for not very functional but very symbolic and may be even slightly apprehensive for a muslim weapons - like Gorz-mace. While the shia sect is a complete darkness to me, it is Shahnameh, not Quran, Hadith or anything of a traditional islam that fueled these "revival" forms.
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2005, 11:05 PM   #8
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,503
Default

I agree with Rivkin.
There may be some psychological undertone: Persians were losing one war after another and were much better swordmakers than swordwielders. Perhaps, as a compensation, they tended to exaggerate their past military glories, exploits of their national heroes and the grandiosity of their weapons.
I have a strong suspicion that these giant Qamas were just an equivalent of "mine is bigger than yours". I also do not think these things were used for self-mutilation at Ashura festivals. The scalp wounds were in a large measure for show: bleed a lot but heal fast. With the giant Qama one could inadverently inflict some real damage.....
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2005, 05:30 AM   #9
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

and I concur with Ariel .

The problem I always had with understanding Qajars is that on one side Qajars are from Azerbajan and they are turkoman. After 1820 they started to follow extremely pro-modern and somewhat anti-religious route, which included modernization of the army and later, imitation of russian military (which ended up with iranian "cossack" regiments). Azerbajan historical museum has an impressive collection of locally made gorz-maces, "revival" helmets and shields.

The problem with me (and it's probably that I don't know iranian history that well) that pre-islamic pan-persian nationalism a-la Pahlavi have always been anti-azeri in nature (they were declared to be turkish-speaking northern persians), at the same time there is nothing panturanistic or even turkophilic about Qajar period weapons (even those made in Azerbajan). Was turkish nationalism so dead there that people considered persian culture their only choise for nationalistic expression ? Or was it symbol of a reunited countries, after almost a century of internal strife ?
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2005, 07:48 AM   #10
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Default

Thank you for discussion Gentlemen. For answers on your questions you'll have to wait for someone else Rivkin, becasue in Persian history I'm definitely less educated than anyone of you.
Stupid but obvious question passed through my head yesterday. We're agree all this is Persian, and if it's Persian than it can be only 19th century. But this weapon, it's shape, sheath are characteristic for another country (or maybe only I think they are) - so do we have any historical resources this is Persian not, i.e. Caucasian - literature, drawings, etc.? Or maybe the size of this thing per se means Persian. On my piece there are symbols on the blade - ok, we can probably say they're Persian for sure, but what about other pieces, and conviction about their origin?
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2005, 10:40 AM   #11
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Default

Well, it was real pain to take this pitures, so quality isn't the best. Here you can see etched blade. On one side something what could be letters, but it's hard to see on this pics, on the second side, just etched curled lines. On both side there is picture of "humanoid".
Regards!
Attached Images
   
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2005, 04:25 PM   #12
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

Do you have a bigger resolution of the first picture ? The letters of two sides of a fuller are slightly reminding me of some caucasian alphabets (old georgian or even armenian).
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2005, 05:45 PM   #13
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Default

I'll try to take better picture tomorrow.
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd December 2005, 09:29 AM   #14
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Default

I don't know if these picture will do, but let's make a try.I can upload bigger pics on photobucket if those posted below won't be enough.
One thing seems to be sure: these aren't Persian letters.
Thanks!
Attached Images
     
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd December 2005, 04:06 PM   #15
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

looks like very strange version of armenian to me. I will try to find out more.
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd December 2005, 09:26 PM   #16
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,503
Default

Armenian Kindjals were supposed to be big. Perhaps, that is what you have. This would be a very rare find!!!
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2005, 05:21 PM   #17
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

Have shown the writing to some armenians, they confirmed that the characters, with an exception of 2 are armenian (I guess it is probably some old dialect writing, so some characters can be different). Bigger resolution pictures would be appreciated, thanx in advance. I will try to see if someone can translate it.
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2005, 06:03 PM   #18
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Default

Rivkin - thank you very much for your efforts, I really appreciate it!

Does Armenian letters excludes Persia as a place of workmanship?

I don't know if these (a little bigger) picture will help:
pic1
pic2
pic3
pic4
pic5
pic6

The problem is, this is only a part of the blade. The letters are barely visible and it's a real pain taking them with camera.

Thanks!
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2005, 06:41 PM   #19
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolviex
Rivkin - thank you very much for your efforts, I really appreciate it!

Does Armenian letters excludes Persia as a place of workmanship?

Thanks!
My pleasure. Even today, there is a very strong armenian minority in Iran. However, in the past, Armenia per se and surrounding armenian populated areas (like Karabagh/Arzagh) were a battlefield for ottomans and iranians. Control over Armenia was going back and forth, with ancestors of modern armenians in general being more supportive of iranians and iranian culture (this topic is a subject of many heated and politisized debates). A very large number of armenians was moved by iranians to more steadily controlled iranian provinces, like Azerbajan and Mazandaran.

Now, when talking about Qajars - the early years of Qajars were marked by qajar army establishing control over entire azerbajan and eastern armenia, wrestling large armenian centers under their control. This ended with iranian defeat in ruso-iranian wars, with the borders being finalized in 1828, leaving iran with much smaller armenian diaspora.

It well may be that the sword is early qajar and was made by an iranian sympatizer, even through early Qajars were far less popular among armenians due to their turkoman origins and their support of northern iranian turks (azeris etc.).

It is also possible that the sword is of later period (if its indeed an armenian mega-kama), and in this case was most likely made in one of the armenian diaspora centers in Fars.
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th December 2005, 12:16 AM   #20
Alan62
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 164
Default Here is my little one

I am still trying to figure this one out





It measures 21 and a half inches total
blade 18 inches
Just thought I would post it here too
I am trying to translate the script



and the enhanced version

Alan62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th December 2005, 04:05 AM   #21
Alam Shah
Member
 
Alam Shah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 1,248
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan62
I am still trying to figure this one out
Just thought I would post it here too. I am trying to translate the script
Your script seems to be in Arabic (upside down).
Alam Shah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th December 2005, 04:14 PM   #22
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

I have shown it to many armenians, and they all basically confirm my opinion - 80% of letters are armenian, but the other 20% are not (at least they are not modern armenian). I will try to email some armenian studies professors around here.
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th December 2005, 12:24 AM   #23
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

I have received a few replies. They all agree the language on the sides is armenian. The language in the fuller is not, probably persian (??).

The problem is that it is some obscure version of armenian, a few characters are not typical for armenian writing. They are puzzled on where it was made - they basically cited the same information on persian-armenian relationships I posted above, does not make our job any easier. They gave me a few adresses of armenians who might be capable to work with the signature, but the closest one to you is in Venice...

They are asking is it is known how the kindjal ended up in Poland ?
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th December 2005, 07:56 AM   #24
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Thumbs up

Great work and thank you very much Rivkin.

No, we don't know how it finds itself in Poland, it was purchased in 1962 without any knowledge about it.

Second time, so all in all in two Polish catalogues of arms and armour, I found this sword is called SHAMSHIR . Is this some misunderstanding or something, or do we really can call this huge, big and clumsy sword with the name od light, slick sabre?
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th December 2005, 12:12 PM   #25
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Default

Hello!

I draw the letters from the blade. My skills aren't fabulous but I hope it will do. Anyway now everything is readable (I hope). Some of the letters are damaged because of abrasion or acid.






Regards!
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th December 2005, 05:26 PM   #26
trajan
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68
Default another large piece

I have a similar piece 34 inches---is the inlay possibley Armenian too?


Attached Images
  
trajan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st January 2006, 10:23 AM   #27
mita981
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1
Default

both swords are persian. the larger one is a persian heavy blade which dates back before shamshir became popular. persian swords were double edge heavy blades just like that one the only problem was that it was too difficult for persian immortals to weild them thats why shamshir took over. designed in the town of shamshir in current kermanshah of iran refering to lion's tale. the curve made it much stronger and easier on impact at the same time smaller and lighter. head on collision with a heavy blade became possible with introcution of shamshir so those blades became obselete. the carvings on the sword definitely are persian carving though they are armenian and seems like it has mix of kofi but i can't make any thing out of it. kofi is hard to read in perfect writing let alone in that condition. it seems as if someone built the sword in memory of something if it is truley a 19th century. as for the second sword is persion and the writings are more modern kofi its still missing dots so its not current arabic and its not as bad as the old kofi. there are different types of swords being built even today. shamshir isn't poplur in some regions, they still like to build the heavy double edged ones but none of them are practical. i have only seen a few double edge swords that were practical but definitely not as good as shamshir.
mita981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th June 2006, 06:21 PM   #28
Rivkin
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 655
Default

Sorry wovliex - I have shown the writing to many armenians. They can read the letters (with an exception that the ones in the middle are most likely persian), but it has no apparent meaning. Astvatsaturjan wrote about unintelligeble armenian writings, and that seems to be one of them.

Any way, very rare thing - Qajar Kama with armenian signature, congratulations.
Rivkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th June 2006, 06:29 PM   #29
wolviex
Member
 
wolviex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Poland, Krakow
Posts: 418
Arrow

Thank you for your efforts. I almost forgot about that thread

This sword will be presented soon on big exhibition in Gdansk/Danzig, Poland, called "Wonders of Orient". There should be quite nice arms and armor group, while one of the authors of this exhibition is tireless prof. Zygulski.

All the best
Michal
wolviex is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 01:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.