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Old 20th August 2016, 02:30 PM   #121
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Marius:

I understand and that is a perfectly legitimate and logical position. It also fits within the rubric of discussing shashkas and shashka variants.

Ian.


Yes, it is, if we ignore the inconvenient fact that Bukharan saber has nothing to do with shashka from the developmental point of view.

If we go that way, Beduin sabres and Sardinian leppas ( see above) are also shashkas :-)))
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Old 20th August 2016, 02:52 PM   #122
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Yes, it is, if we ignore the inconvenient fact that Bukharan saber has nothing to do with shashka from the developmental point of view.

If we go that way, Beduin sabres and Sardinian leppas ( see above) are also shashkas :-)))


What kind of Bukharan sabers are you referring to, because I know at least two types that have significantly different characteristics?! You mean the Bukharan shamshirs?!

Does the "Beduin sabres" display the majority of characteristics that define a Shashka?!
Would the term "Beduin Shashka" be clearer and less ambiguous than "Beduin sabres?"
If one thinks so, then one is free to call them "Beduin Shashkas" but run the risk of being missunderstood.

Does the "Sardinian Leppas" display the majority of characteristics that define a Shashka?!
Would the term "Sardinian Shashkas" be clearer and less ambiguous than "Sardinian Leppas?"
Like I said before, if one thinks so, then one is free to call them "Sardinian Shashkas" but run the risk of being missunderstood.

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Old 20th August 2016, 03:26 PM   #123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
... one is free to call them "Beduin Shashkas" but run the risk of being missunderstood.

...one is free to call them "Sardinian Shashkas" but run the risk of being missunderstood.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfwN0X8YnWo

:-)))
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Old 20th August 2016, 06:04 PM   #124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel


Thanks! Brought back memories! I didn't even know they had a video.
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Old 20th August 2016, 07:02 PM   #125
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Glad you liked it. Enjoy!
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Old 24th August 2016, 09:25 AM   #126
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Hi all. Thanks for this useful thread. Here is a companion from me:

Yes, the word seshkho (сэшхо) is the Circassian word for "big blade", even in modern Circassian. "Se" practically means the "edge", and there are a series of words derived from it, such as: se+shkho (сэшхо) = big blade = checker, or, se+zii (сэжъый, шэжъый) = small blade = knife (these words are still in daily use).

However, and I think this is important, seshkho is not the only word for "sword" or "shashka" in Circassian. Seshkho, or "shashka" is the word for this type of blade, and the word for "saber" is "chate" (чатэ) in Circassian. "Chate" is again a single handed, single edged, curved or strait sword, but with a longer blade and bayonet-type tip, with small crossguards, which is to say, a Khevsurian sword or an "ordynka" or "Tatar style saber" But, the word "chate" "should" had been used for the double-edged and strait swords before the development of the sabers, for there is no other word for sword, or saber, or checker in Circassian (as far as I know ). An other proof for this: Big kindjals (strait or curved, but longer than 60 cm) are called khamachate, literally kindjal-sword, which have nothing to do with the ordynka type

Older Circassian sagas (before 17th century - and especially the Nart sagas) never mention "shashkas", but frequently talk about the heroes or heroines, and their "chate"s and their wonderful features. This is quite reasonable if we all agree that "shashka" is a later invention, but is also a proof that it does not mean "sword" or "saber", a shashka (or seshkho) for a Circassian is just what it is, "a big blade".

About the "origin", I am quite sure that the word "shaska" derives from the Circassian word, but I can not be that sure about the "ethnic" origin of this weapon. As we know, the first and strong contacts between the Caucasian tribes and Russians began with the Circassians, and most features of the Caucasian culture are known to be "Circassian" to the Russians (today Georgian ). A very good example is the traditional and general Caucasian coat with cartridges, which is called "Cherkesska" in Russian. The Russians must have adapted the shashka from the Circassians with its original but deformed name, but the "invention" of this blade well may be a different story

Thanks again for the thread.
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Old 24th August 2016, 10:24 AM   #127
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True enough.
Prior to their conquest of the Caucasus there were multiple Cossack settlements adjacent to the Circassian borders. This was the earliest channel of penetration of Caucasian culture into the Russian areal. During and after the Russian-Caucasian wars in the 19 century there was a massive presence of the Russian military and bureaucracy there and the cultural dam was completely broken. Russian officers started to carry Caucasian weapons and dress like the natives.

It was an unusual occurrence: the vanquished imposed their culture upon the conquerors. Tsars started to have their official portraits painted while dressed in the Circassian garb and carrying kindjals and shashkas and both of these weapons became regulation weapons of the Russian military. Of course, mass production did not allow the artistic elements to be reproduced, but the idea remained , in case of shashka incorporating saber blade with minor curvature, guardless design and eared pommel. The final result was, IMHO, pretty ugly but both the construction and the name became very Russian.

The very presence of these elements on the Afghani pseudoshashkas betrays powerful Russian military influence upon the emerging army building in that country.

The "Uzbeki" example was just a parallel development. Conquered Khanates were not allowed to have organized military and there was no opportunity or need to adapt Russian weapons for mass production. They remained as occasional examples preserving their cultural military heritage owing nothing to the Russian influence.
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Old 24th August 2016, 10:27 AM   #128
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Very interesting comments! Thank you Ariel and Kamachate!
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Old 24th August 2016, 11:27 AM   #129
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Good point, Ariel:

"It was an unusual occurrence: the vanquished imposed their culture upon the conquerors."

Maybe sometime we should talk about the Victorian perception of the "mountain warriors", or, "Noble Savages"... Even some English "sirs" were having photos or paintings in Circassian warrior costume, even with chainmail armours, which is really hard to carry if you are not really going to a war, and already was an "ancient" dressing during 1850's, preferred only by high level aristocracy
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Old 24th August 2016, 01:44 PM   #130
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Suggest reading "Sabers of Paradise" by Leslie Blanch. It is a history of Russo-Caucasian wars. Marvelous book!

There is quite a lot there about Victorian British reactions to that war. Their sympathy toward Shamil was boundless, just as their hatred of the "Russian Bear". There were some unofficial channels between the Brits and Shamil but overall, the Brits did very little, if anything, to assist him.
He even wrote to Queen Victoria, offering his assistance in the Crimean war, but got no answer.
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Old 24th August 2016, 01:49 PM   #131
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kamachate
.... chainmail armours...was an "ancient" dressing during 1850's, preferred only by high level aristocracy


And Khevsurs. But those continued to live in the 15th century:-))
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Old 24th August 2016, 03:03 PM   #132
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Interestingly, Circassian noble classes (wearing chainmail shirts, helmets and carrying bow-quiver), including the royal guards of the Czar's convoy, are rarely depicted with "shashkas". Especially the highest ranks seem to prefer "ordinka" type sabres, instead of a regular and modest shashka. Shashkas seem to be preferred mostly by the free highlanders, and only after the Russian war, we see high ranks carrying very elaborately adorned shashkas. Maybe this can be the difference between a big blade (shashka) and a regular sabre (chate) to a Circassian.
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Old 24th August 2016, 04:21 PM   #133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kamachate
Interestingly, Circassian noble classes (wearing chainmail shirts, helmets and carrying bow-quiver), including the royal guards of the Czar's convoy, are rarely depicted with "shashkas". Especially the highest ranks seem to prefer "ordinka" type sabres, instead of a regular and modest shashka. Shashkas seem to be preferred mostly by the free highlanders, and only after the Russian war, we see high ranks carrying very elaborately adorned shashkas. Maybe this can be the difference between a big blade (shashka) and a regular sabre (chate) to a Circassian.


Plenty of shashka here, supposedly showing Circassians with an Ottoman official. It would be interesting to go through some of the old photos and see exactly what type of sword was preferred.

Quote:
Group portrait of eight Circassian men in uniform, with another man, possibly an Ottoman official by Abdullah Frères, 1880.
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Old 24th August 2016, 07:18 PM   #134
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These are muhajirs, the exiled Circassians on Sultan's service. Couple of them even wear Ottoman medals.
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Old 24th August 2016, 07:29 PM   #135
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Caucasians serving in the Tsar's convoy wore garb likely approved by the Tsar himself and not contemporaneous with the real local one.
Some of the "misyurkas" ( flat, plate-like helmets with mail on the edges) were even made for them in Russia proper.
They had to look exotic, slightly wild and and archaic.
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Old 24th August 2016, 09:15 PM   #136
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Thank you both Estcrh and Ariel,
Yes, the photo is just what I meant, after the Russian-Caucasian war, and despite their position in the Ottoman court, one can not see any exaggerated fittings on the shashkas or the kindjals... modest weapons carried for the aim
Since it is an other subject, and remembering that some other older threads had already discussed about it, here I add a photo with a "chate" (чатэ) = saber in Circassian (Tatar sabre or ordynka???) and other "regular" Circassian armory. To note again, the real Circassian word for the saber or sword is "chate", not "shashka" or "seshkho"

Ariel, maybe we can discuss about the plain, even flat misourkas later, for I think they were the original ones in the Caucasus, and the high and pointed ones were introduced sometime later with the impact of the European-Russian aristocracy.
Thanks again.
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Old 24th August 2016, 10:25 PM   #137
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I think it was Gutowskl who was the first to advance the theory that the so-called " ordynkas" and " czeczugas" traditionally attributed to Crimean tatars were in fact Circassian. There are two tantalizing pieces of info: first, a brief note of a European traveler that Circassians first pierce their opponents and then slash them and the second one is the actual similar saber taken by Gustav Adolph from a Polish Hussar as well as 3 others, similar, (##65-67), 2 from Sweden, one from Dresden ( Gutowski, "Tartar Arms and Armour).All are originally from Poland that had sizeable populations of Crimean Tatars.

I am not so sure that sabers with bayonet tip ( dating back to The White River examples) are the true Jates. Yes, this was asserted by Kirill Rivkin, and I respect him immensely, but to my best knowledge there is no direct reference to these sabers being addressed as true Jate.

As to Misyurkas, again IMHO, they are a pretty old pattern encountered in Crimea AND Circassia. Whether they were introduced to Circassia through Circassian Mamluks, or through the Ottomans I do not know. But the common denominator is their name: Misr i.e. Egypt. They are the simplest of the local helmets, from almost flat through low to high.

We are diverging quite a bit.
The question was whether all Caucasian, Afghani and "Bukharan" guardless sabers can be equally defined as Shashkas or the name should be retained to the patterns clearly deriving from the Caucasian tradition ( directly or through intermediate steps). My opinion is that only the Caucasian ones are the true shashkas, the Afghani ones are influenced by them ( through Russian Cossacks) and are thus conveniently called " pseudoshashkas" and the Bukharan ones have nothing to do with them except for superficial similarities.

Last edited by ariel : 25th August 2016 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 24th August 2016, 11:02 PM   #138
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
My opinion is that only the Caucasian ones are the true shashkas, the Afghani ones are influenced by them ( through Russian Cossacks) and are thus conveniently called " pseudoshashkas" and the Bukharan ones have nothing to do with them except for superficial similarities.

My opinion based on what I have read here is that there are Caucasian /Circassian shashka with the Cossack and Russian ones being included in this group, then Afghan shashka as has been noted here they were influenced by the Caucasian shashka, then there are the non Caucasian / Circassian pseudo shahska type swords, these come as noted from several regions / cultures....pseudo due to the fact that they are not actually shashka at all according to what I have read.

If the Cossack and Russian shashka are not considered to be pseudo then the Afghan shashka should not be either as they all were based on the original shashka while the Bukharan type have simply been misnamed as they have a similar appearance by coincidence.
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Old 24th August 2016, 11:41 PM   #139
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Eric,
I think you are operating with wrong definitions of Cossack and Russian shashkas.

Cossack shashka is a misnomer: they were not CREATED by the Cossacks: they merely BELONGED to them. Their origin was North Caucasus, Circassians and related ethnic groups. Cossacks bought or captured them from the locals. These shashkas are purely Caucasian. Importantly Don, Terek and the rest of Cossach Hosts had no industry at all: at the most they might have had a village smith to shoe a horse or fix a broken axe. All "professionals" were Russian peasants who spent limited time in Cossack settlements and went back home. Engaging in any trade was considered a disgrace for a Cossack and the violators were beaten up and thrown out. Even in the Ukraine , the seat of the most developed Host, Ukrainian Zaporogian one, great majority of weapons were either imported or captured and the rare examples of locally-manufactured weapons were crude imitations of Persian and Turkish examples. See book by Denis Toichkin "The Cossack saber", the most detailed account of virtually all Ukrainian museum collections, lists of professions in Ukrainian towns, data on importation of steel etc, etc. An indispensable book. Elgood might have been proud of it.

The Russian shashka is a different kettle of fish: there were single examples made in St. Petersburg faithfully imitating Caucasian example. Jewelry creation, not a weapon. However, when we talk about "Russian shashka" we are talking about mass-produced regulation designs, borrowing guardless handle, eared pommel and slightly curved blade. This is what they got, with minor variations in the amount of brass, scabbard material etc.
A true "pseudoshashka":-)))
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Old 25th August 2016, 12:48 AM   #140
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And a million $$ question: was there an old local weapon serving as a "prototype" or an "ancestor" for both Afghani and Uzbek shashka-like sabers?

Quite some time ago Mercenary posted on a Russian Forum a series of pictures from a book TARIKH-E JAHANGOSHAY-E NADERI written by a Nader Shah's secretary Mirza Mohammed Mehdi Esterbadi and published in 1757. It refers to the war between Persian and Afghani armies, comprising several battles.

Here are several examples: mostly Afghanis, but also some Persians hold guardless swords. It might be an artist's lack of accuracy, but there are clear depictions of shamshirs WITH guards. Moreover, there is a fragment showing 2 Persian horsemen, with empty scabbars on their sides: one traditional saber "edge down", another a typical shashka " edge up".

These pics open a Pandora box of questions:

-were there Persian but mainly Central Asian guardless sabers that we were not privileged to see in nature?
- if so, were they purely local or brought by other ethnoses? For example, Caucasian ( Circassian, Georgian, Armenian) mercenaries fought alonside Nader Shah troops. Even more, the same mercenaries constituted the bulk of Shah Abbas cavalry during his invasion of Aghanistan.

It is so tempting to suggest that shashka-like weapon came to Afghanistan and Central Asia straight from Caucasus. However, we should temper our enthusiasm until we figure it out better. There is, apparently, only one Caucasian shashka in the Kremlin Armoury allegedly documented to be of XVIII century. Nothing earlier. Thus, even if we believe the documentation, it is dated well after the reign of Nader Shah and a century and a half after Shah Abbas.


In any case, please see for yourself.
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Old 25th August 2016, 12:52 AM   #141
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+1
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Old 25th August 2016, 01:33 AM   #142
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Ariel, these are great images showing armor and weapons.
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Old 25th August 2016, 02:44 AM   #143
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Here are 2 examples of Afghani sabers, both with elman.
The one with the scabbard is mine.

The integral bolster, the chape and the top of the scabbard are distinctly Afghani. The top of the scabbard also has a slit, similar to what we see on Ottomas palas.

The other one is, of course, M D, Long's example.

Are they what we are talking about as a predecessor of the Afghani "pseudoshashka"? And, perhaps, even the Bukharan saber?
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Old 25th August 2016, 02:49 AM   #144
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Strangely, both very much resemble the Algerean boarding cutlasses as shown in Elgood's book on Balkan weapons.
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Old 25th August 2016, 04:14 AM   #145
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Strangely, both very much resemble the Algerean boarding cutlasses as shown in Elgood's book on Balkan weapons.

Like these?
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Old 25th August 2016, 11:04 AM   #146
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Yes.
The very same:-)
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Old 26th August 2016, 04:54 PM   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Eric,
I think you are operating with wrong definitions of Cossack and Russian shashkas.

Cossack shashka is a misnomer: they were not CREATED by the Cossacks: they merely BELONGED to them. Their origin was North Caucasus, Circassians and related ethnic groups. Cossacks bought or captured them from the locals. These shashkas are purely Caucasian. Importantly Don, Terek and the rest of Cossach Hosts had no industry at all: at the most they might have had a village smith to shoe a horse or fix a broken axe. All "professionals" were Russian peasants who spent limited time in Cossack settlements and went back home. Engaging in any trade was considered a disgrace for a Cossack and the violators were beaten up and thrown out. Even in the Ukraine , the seat of the most developed Host, Ukrainian Zaporogian one, great majority of weapons were either imported or captured and the rare examples of locally-manufactured weapons were crude imitations of Persian and Turkish examples. See book by Denis Toichkin "The Cossack saber", the most detailed account of virtually all Ukrainian museum collections, lists of professions in Ukrainian towns, data on importation of steel etc, etc. An indispensable book. Elgood might have been proud of it.

The Russian shashka is a different kettle of fish: there were single examples made in St. Petersburg faithfully imitating Caucasian example. Jewelry creation, not a weapon. However, when we talk about "Russian shashka" we are talking about mass-produced regulation designs, borrowing guardless handle, eared pommel and slightly curved blade. This is what they got, with minor variations in the amount of brass, scabbard material etc.
A true "pseudoshashka":-)))


Very good information Ariel, unfortunately when you look online, there are Caucasian / Circassian shashka being described as Cossack, Georgian, Russian etc. Most with a few exceptions as you noted have simply been improperly described but just like the so called "Bukharan shashka" the descriptions are already out there so I have grouped these together in one category (for now). As you also noted, the mass produced Russian shashka should probably be in its own category, much like the Afghan shashka. In the English speaking world there are a lot of misconceptions about shashka which are slowly being revealed.

As for the term "pseudo", I use it for shashka like sabres that are not actually shashka based weapons and since it appears that the Russian and Afghan shashka have a common relation to actual shashka I do not see them as being "pseudo" based on my understanding of the word, but not everyone has the same understanding of the word. We will have to agree to disagree
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Old 26th August 2016, 04:58 PM   #148
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Hello Kamachate,
Your posts have been very interesting and informative. Searching in Loewe’s Dictionary of the Circassian Language (pub. 1854), I could find the following words for sword/sabre. Do you think you could comment on them?
Thanks,
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Old 26th August 2016, 06:52 PM   #149
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So how would this be described? It looks like a "Russian" shashka to me.
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Old 27th August 2016, 03:28 AM   #150
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Well, can I call i this one a "pseudoshashka"?:-)
It is a Russian made chimera of a regulation Russian saber blade with the all-silver handle and a .... handguard. The distal part of the handle is polygonal, which was never done by the Caucasian masters, the artistic engraving are alo not Caucasian. I can't say much about the pommel, because I can't even see whether it is eared ( presumably), but the suspension system is totally unknown an We can't even say whether it was worn edge up. There is a monogram of Ekaterina II on the handle and an inscription on the throat says something about Don settlement. There seems to be a assayer's mark, but I can't see the details ( place of manufacture).

Just as I said, this saber borrowed heavily from the Caucasian pattern, but the master deviated enormously from the classical pattern.

One can call it an old Russian idea of a shashka, but it's master either was not well acquainted with the real examples, or more likely decided to create something "different".

How to address it? Any which way one chooses. Russian shashka, Russian pseudoshashka, Russian free imitation of a shashka, Russian saber with eared pommel .... Anything else comes to mind? I am game.
It is in the same category as the Afghani one or the Russian regulation one.. Shashka but not quite:-)

Perhaps, its main value is the proof that even in the 18 century shashkas were extant in the Caucasus and served as an inspiration for the Russian jewelers. We did not get to see the originals, but the copies testify to their existence.
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