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Old 19th March 2006, 01:44 PM   #1
ariel
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Default THE OLDEST KNOWN YATAGHAN!!!!

Every book on Ottoman weapons states that the oldest known yataghan belonged to the sultan Suleiman the Magnificient. It dates from 933H, ie 1526/1527. It was made by a master named Akhmed Tekelu who was likely a member of the Turkoman tribe Teke, a member in the Kizilbashi confederation that was established in the XV century in Meshkhed ( Iran). He might have been brought to Turkey by the sultan Selim I in 1514 from Tebriz. Showh is a pic (you all know it very well, of course) from the Astvatsaturyan's book " Turkish Weapons".
Well, I recently got a book " Zanatsko oruzhje Balkana" which is a catalogue of the collection of the Military Museum in Belgrade. They casually mention a Yataghan in their collection, that has an ivory handle with a green stone and undeciphered inscription except for a short Arabian inscription " Oh Victorious" in an elliptical mark. It is dated 865H, ie 1460/1461. No photo is provided.
If true, this would be the oldest Yataghan known !!
Do we have any connections in Serbia to go there and photograph/examine this astonishing find?
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Old 8th October 2007, 05:58 AM   #2
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Default Three More Yataghans

Hello Ariel,

Believe there are at least three more known early yataghans, one is now at the Metropoliten Museum of Art and from the same workshop, another is now at the exhibit in France was was made for Bayezid II (?), then is one more and the best of all of them with a one piece solid gold scabbard carved in three dimensions also made for Bayuzid II owned by the same collector.

These threee yataghans came from the same sale in LA about 28 years ago from the Mr Ingram collection. They were a gift from T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) to his friend Mr Ingram (Hollywood director) before his death. They were sent to auction by Mrs Ingram after her husbands death, prior to that she was hoping to receive the sum of $10,000 for the entire collection.

Sultan Suleyman the Lawgivers yataghan is either at Topkapi or the Military Museum in Turkey.

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Old 9th October 2007, 03:05 AM   #3
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Default Yataghan for Beyuzid II

Hey Ariel,

Here are a couple photo's I took about 28 years ago of the yataghan for Beyuzid II now on display at the Louve.

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Old 9th October 2007, 03:16 AM   #4
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Default One More

Hey Ariel,

There is on more yataghan from this royal workshop, one at the Met, one at the exhibition in France, the one of the photo I posted, there is also one one with a completely solid gold scabbard that is the best of the four.

These are the four I know of, have handled three of them.......

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Old 11th March 2010, 03:15 PM   #5
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Don't think I've seen this before. I was struck by how "Indian" this yataghan looks, particularly the floral decoration. Any chance of a close-up scan?
The bolster is practically of khukri type.

So eastern movement of the Macedonian/Greek kopis, eastern development, and a western return as yataghan.

Greek kopis/machaira -> Indian adoption, mixed with local experimentation -> sosoun pata and khukri -> yataghan.

Thoughts...
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Old 11th March 2010, 06:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel
Don't think I've seen this before. I was struck by how "Indian" this yataghan looks, particularly the floral decoration. Any chance of a close-up scan?
The bolster is practically of khukri type.

So eastern movement of the Macedonian/Greek kopis, eastern development, and a western return as yataghan.

Greek kopis/machaira -> Indian adoption, mixed with local experimentation -> sosoun pata and khukri -> yataghan.

Thoughts...


I respectfully disagree, and so does Dr. Elgood - there are no central Asian yataghans, and it seems the form simply never disappeared from the Balkans.

Regards,
Teodor
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Old 11th March 2010, 07:04 PM   #7
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Hi Teodor,

I unfortunately don't have Elgood's newest book yet. Are you referring to the karakulak knives in the Balkans?

It's just that the yataghan posted here has features very similar to Indian weapons, and is actually fairly different from the karakulaks I've seen. This one seems to have a separate khukri-like bolster as opposed to the integral variety seen on karakulas.

Looking forward to getting Elgood's book.

All the best,
Emanuel
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Old 11th March 2010, 07:57 PM   #8
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Emanuel,

I would not put too much importance into the bolster, as it is an element found on a whole bunch of knives from throughout the world. I have posted some examples of knives from the Balkans, found with Roman and Byzantine coins, but they generated zero interest.

That being said, I cannot claim with any certainty how the yataghan originated. What we have are 2 theories:

Theory 1: Alexander the Great and his troops introduced the form into Central Asia and Northern India, then it was adopted by the Turks, who brought it back to the Balkans in the 15th century - almost two milleniums later.

Theory 2: The form remained in existence in the Balkans, in utility knives, but was not used for weapons due to other forms being available and preferred, such as the sabre. After the Ottoman conquest and the imposed restrictions on the carrying of arms, long knives with this form made a return as a peasant's weapon, much like the bauerwehr in Central and Western Europe.

We also have some facts:
- The yataghan is always referred to as a knife.
- The earliest examples date from the time immediately after the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.
- While there is plenty of evidence that the sabre was introduced everywhere, there were Turks during the middle ages, there are no archaeological finds or pictorial evidence on the existence of yataghans in Central Asia - from Persia to Turkestan and Northern India.

Based on all the above information, we can decide for ourselves individually which theory makes more sense.

Best regards,
Teodor
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Old 8th November 2013, 04:12 PM   #9
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Hi folks,

Here are some more shots of yataghan made by Ahmed Tekelu, slightly different from the one posted by Ariel, dated ca.1525.

I'm struck by the Chinese-looking gold decoration.
Once again, the bolster construction screams "Nepalese khukri" in my eyes.

Emanuel
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Old 8th November 2013, 04:18 PM   #10
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And another shot of Bayezid II's yataghan

Emanuel
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Old 8th November 2013, 04:20 PM   #11
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I find the differences in decoration and construction method very interesting.

Note the differences at the base of the blade and the bolster.
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Old 10th November 2013, 10:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel
.
Once again, the bolster construction screams "Nepalese khukri" in my eyes.
Emanuel


Ive seen similar bolster construction on knives & & kukri from India [NWF} & Afghanistan, but never Nepal.

But the fine tooling is another dimension!

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Old 11th November 2013, 11:56 PM   #13
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The whole Kopis-machiera-yataghan question is one that has had me thinking for some time. Below are some of my collected pics from a variety of sources, alas I neglected to nail the references to them at the time. The first set were described as a Byzantine short sword I attach the label with the pics. I found them at an online museum called the "World Museum of Man" I will post the others if I can pin down their provenance
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Old 12th November 2013, 12:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
Ive seen similar bolster construction on knives & & kukri from India [NWF} & Afghanistan, but never Nepal.

But the fine tooling is another dimension!

Spiral


Yes Spiral, I think the examples I have in mind were actually North Indian.

It also looks like the bolster assembly on the Suleiman yataghan consists of two different pieces fixed on either side of the blade, not one piece brazed over.

Emanuel
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Old 8th July 2014, 09:44 PM   #15
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Hello,

Here is another yataghana ttributed to Suleiman II, the Magnificent, held at the Tokapi.

Emanuel
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Old 9th July 2014, 06:42 PM   #16
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The dragon and phoenix motif with stylized clouds is absolutely of Chinese origin. Very similar examples can be found in Persian carpets, and are usually attributed to the Mongols' habit of moving entire villages of artisans combined with trade along the Silk Road.

Given the places being discussed, Greece, North India, the Balkans, and Turkey, the Silk Road seems a possible method of cross pollination, but the Mongols seem a more significant source.

It is interesting to think of the great flows of ideas leading to these knives. Alexander headed East and the Mongols headed West along much of the same territory.
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Old 9th July 2014, 11:47 PM   #17
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"The dragon and phoenix motif with stylized clouds" actaually is a motif that can be found heavily in Ottoman art. It is a common motif especially in "Saz Üslubu" school of Ottoman art that was very popular in Kanuni Suleiman I's era, popularized by Ottoman painter "Şahkulu" in that time. This blade's decoration is a very famous and typical example of "Saz Üslubu".

These two yataghans of Kanuni Suleiman I are made by Ahmet Tekeli, the court jeweler.

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Old 10th July 2014, 12:07 PM   #18
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Sancar,
What evidence do we have that this ( and, potentilly, other) yataghan were made specifically by Ahmet Tekelu, the enigmatic master? Any signatures on the yataghans? Any mention of this particular master in the roster of court armourers/ jewelers? Any contemporary records mentioning him as the manufacturer?
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Old 10th July 2014, 02:55 PM   #19
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Hello,

There is the blade manufacturer, and the blade decorator. Was Ahmet Tekelu's workshop decorating or forging the blades?

I am waiting for permission to post a picture of what looks like an identical yataghan without the decorations, from the collection of the Madrid Royal Armoury.

Incidentally, I am still searching for images of early yataghan from the Siege of Vienna, without any luck.

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Old 10th July 2014, 07:31 PM   #20
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What stunningly beautiful work.....

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Old 10th July 2014, 10:48 PM   #21
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The yatağan in the Topkapi Palace armoury has signature on its back (Work of Ahmet Tekeli). Ahmet Tekeli, member of the court jewelers organisation is also mentioned several times in Court payroll record books (books of Ehl-i Hiref) of Kanuni Suleiman's era. One example lists the presents given by Suleiman Khan, for Ramadan Festival to court jeweler and koftgari master Ahmet Tekeli(3000 coins and a kaftan with spots). Ottoman court is famously very obsessive about keeping records of every small detail.

And , I believe Ahmet Tekeli is the decorator of these blades, not the bladesmith.
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Old 11th July 2014, 03:09 AM   #22
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Thanks Sancar!
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Old 11th July 2014, 05:43 PM   #23
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Enclosed please find some Ottoman and maybe Seljuk dragon and phoenix (and similar) motives. I would say floral motives are very typical Ottoman motives for "newer" weapons (??18th, 19th century). I am also enclosing two pictures from the book Sultanlarin silahlari by Hilmi Aydin and on this occasion I would like to ask Sancar, why the author calls the weapon "hançer", and not "yatağan" ?
Regards,
Martin
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Old 12th July 2014, 05:41 AM   #24
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I personally find Hilmi Aydın's book not a very good source. I have the same book and I only use it for its pictures. Because he makes lots and lots of mistakes, misreadings of Ottoman Turkish scripts, misjudgements about origins of weaponry and terminology. Also, existing arms and armour terminology is not as clear cut as European counterpart(due to lack of interest in art history and archeology community in Turkey about arms and armour studies; most of my professors did not even consider it as a subject of study) Aydın must have made that mistake because of the shortness of the blade relative to later longer yataghans.

There is a Timurid period yataghan in display in Topkapı armoury about same blade length and shape with the Ahmet Tekeli yataghan, with a earless jade handle(which might be a later addition) That yataghan is older than Kanuni ones, even maybe older than Bayazid one, but it is categorized by the curator(who knows absolutely nothing about arms and armour; believe me, I met him) as a "knife".

Below are some paintings in "Saz Yolu" or "Saz Üslubu" by Ottoman painter Şahkulu, inventor of the style:

Dragon in Leaves, 16th century


Dragon fighting unicorns, 16th century

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Old 12th July 2014, 09:07 AM   #25
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Sancar,
Thank you !
Regards,
Martin
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Old 12th July 2014, 11:22 AM   #26
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You are most welcome, Martin.
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Old 19th July 2014, 12:54 AM   #27
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Default And another beauty

Hello,

Here is yet another gorgeous yataghan, possibly from the same workshop of Ahmed Tekelu. It's actually featured in the Furusiyya Foundation's collection.
Dated 1500-1515. It exhibits the same phoenix and dragon in foliage theme.
Attached the plates 56-57 from "The Arts of the Muslim Knight"

Is it just me or does the blade look like wootz?

The text refers to a 9th century Tang painting of a Turkish chieftain with "a long yataghan-like knife", shown in "Palace Museum" Taiwan, Ettinghausen 1963. has anyone run accros this painting?

Emanuel
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Old 19th July 2014, 12:56 AM   #28
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And the details...
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Old 19th July 2014, 10:47 PM   #29
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This is the first time I ever saw this yatağan! Very interesting. Thank you very much Emanuel!
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Old 28th July 2014, 05:47 PM   #30
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Hello everyone,

Here is another yataghan, very similar to those posted above, but lacking the extensive decoration. It does appear to have some of the same foliage decoration, and it also seems to have a fuller at the spine. Note the bolster. Overall reminiscent of khukri blades, but more elongated and lacking the kaudi.

This piece was photographed by photographer Charles Clifford sometime in the 1860s from a collection supposedly in Madrid.

Also very similar is the following likely Indian-made sossoun-pata, that is a bit more khukri-like: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...28&postcount=25

Thoughts?

Emanuel
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