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Old 24th September 2016, 12:29 PM   #1
kronckew
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Default Yataghan or Flyssa?

just won this at an online auction in norfolk, uk.
listed as: 19th Century North African Flyssa sword with scabbard a/f

i seriously doubt that. no dimensions, no significant bidders, i won it for less than the packing & postage. it appears to be a turkish (no integral bolster) style karakulak yataghan with silver fittings, now black. scabbard chape may be missing, leather need a bit of TLC near the throat. blade looks laminated, with a indented stamp on the left side. pommel may have some silver-work, as well as some worm holes. will know more when it arrives. i do know it's NOT a flyssa. (they sold another 'flyssa' a few lots before that looked suspiciously like a salawar yataghan (khyber knife) for not much more than i am paying)...

will list more info on arrival.
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:01 PM   #2
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A nice yataghan.
Congratulations!!!
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:37 PM   #3
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Can someone please outline the difference between a Turkish Yatagan and a Greek Yatagan? Is there a stamp on this blade?
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:40 PM   #4
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i read elsewhere here that the balkan ones, like my bulgarian one, have integral bolsters, where the turkish ones do not, having a seperate bolster that extends decoratively up the blade for a short bit. not sure abput that tho. i'm sure someone will comment.
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:43 PM   #5
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My assumption is that there is no difference but that it signifies generally Ottoman...or at the time Greece was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire...
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Old 25th September 2016, 01:58 AM   #6
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There was no "Greece" till 1821. Just as there was no Serbia, and no "Bulgaria" till 1908 ( in 1878 they got an autonomous state).
Integral bolsters were specific for Bulgarian karakulaks and Zeibek Yataghans. The rest had thin hollow bolsters similar to Afghani khybers. There are very few minor decorative features attributing yataghans to specific localities: all silver nielloed , small-eared Cretan, smooth round corals from Foca, karabela-like handles from North Africa... Blades were made everywhere, but mainly in Anatolia and Bosnia and sold en masse. Very few are signed with Christian names or Gregorian dates.


Kronckew's question is superficiously simple ( it is a yataghan, not a flyssa), but older flyssa did have a yataghan-like appearance, suggesting their origin.
And I am not surprised that Brits called Khybers Salavar (mutilated Selaava) Yataghans: many of them do have recurved blades. This begs a question.....:-))))
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Old 25th September 2016, 07:29 AM   #7
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wasn't really a question - what it was has not been in doubt with me, just the auction house. consider it rhetorical. along with the khyber i was having a small dig at the level of expertise. oddly they also sold in the same auction a number of 'yataghan' bayonets that sold for more than my yat did, so they are familiar with the term.

my khyber knife has a very slight but noticeable s-curve to the spine, not noticeable in it's photo but more apparent if you lay a yardstick on it.

it was referred to as a salawar yataghan in an earlier thread where i'd posted it by one of our esteemed colleagues here.

photo of my integral bolster karakulak yat/bulgarian shepherd's knife from a dealer in varna also attached for comparison.
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Old 25th September 2016, 04:09 PM   #8
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I would just like to pour some gas on the fire :-))

Here is an old Flyssa with a relatively short blade that is close to yataghan's. It has an exteremely large and massive integral bolster and a pommel that is a crude but unmistakeable rendition of the karabela-like "eagle head" form so characteristic of North African yataghans. Spring in his book about African weapons refers to Flyssa's pommel as resembling animal head and mentions previous attempts to attribute it to eagles, ducks and dogs.
I would venture to support the " eagle" origin, although perhaps it is "bass ackward": it may be just a simplified karabela pattern that we read as resembling an eagle:-)
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Old 25th September 2016, 04:28 PM   #9
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And if we are just at it, here are 2 Crimean sabers and a Quipchak knife of 12-14 centuries from archeological excavations by Ukrainian scientists. All predate Ottoman yataghans by at least 3 centuries.
Reminds you of something? :-)

And the last one is a yataghan of the last Crimean Khan , Shahin Giray bin Adil Giray, ( 18th century) faithfully following older Crimean examples shown here.

I do not have pics of the old Crimean bichaqs from 16-18 centuries, but their closeness to the neighbouring Bulgarian Karakulaks is remarkable.


The above archeological drawings are taken from a paper by Sergey Samgin and myself we recently published in the " Waffen - und Kostumkunde" 2016, Heft 1, pp.49-60, " A new hypothesis on the genesis of the Ottoman Yataghan: the Crimean connection" .


This article is copyrighted to the Journal and regretfully I cannot post it here.
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Old 26th September 2016, 06:19 PM   #10
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Outstanding discourse here!!! and on some of the most intriguing and perplexing edged weapons as far as development in the ethnographic spectrum. I really enjoy the detail and historical facts presented by Ariel and Ibrahiim which helps better understand the factors in play.

It is interesting that these items Wayne noted were 'essentially' both 'yataghans', at least in the often bizarre classifications with which terms have become attached to certain weapons.

At first it seemed odd to see a 'Khyber knife' and North African 'flyssa' (?) presented together.
Then we realize that the 'Khyber' (hardly a 'knife') and the North African sword which reveals the notable similarities between early Ottoman yataghans and Kabyle flyssa......may be almost in a somewhat Freudian pairing. Here are two sword forms which really are not what they are said to be, at least 'by the numbers' and limitations of classifying terms.

Why the Afghan 'siliwar' (sic) which became known as a Khyber 'knife' became termed 'siliwar yataghan' is anybodys guess. Not only is it NOT a knife, but most certainly NOT a yataghan, by definition. Could the term 'yataghan' have had earlier, or in some language loopholes, the broader used term for edged weapon where knives and swords shared the same word?

The Kabyle flyssa has long been debated as to its origins. While the claims to ancient recurved Meditteranean swords such as falcata are tempting through free association, the lack of linear chronologically supporting exemplars are lacking. The Ottoman yataghan ancestry is far more likely in accord with the historical and physical properties.

As far as the OP example here, it does have compelling similarity to flyssa in some ways, with the cleft hilt pommel of course denoting Ottoman yataghan character. In Kabyle regions in Algeria, while never entirely subjugated by the Ottomans, the admiration of their weaponry was well known, hence the likely ancestry of the flyssa to the yataghan. In research years ago, we did find that in fact, young Kabyle men as a right of passage, sought to acquire 'their sword' as they entered manhood. While the flyssa was the locally traditional form, the Ottoman yataghan was a much desired sword even over the locally made swords.

Over the years we have seen many hybridized swords bearing features of both forms as well as other forms apparently from North African Berber regions.

The Crimean connection presented here by Ariel is also most interesting, and I would add to this another dimension to these 'deep bellied' recurved yataghan type swords with cleft pommel. In the Balkans in the latter 18th into 19th c. there was what I would regard as 'the Pandour phenomenon'.
As Balkan (typically Croatian) forces were amalgamated with Eastern Europeans in auxiliary units to the Austrian army in mid 18th c. and became known as 'pandours', they later became models for such units in Continental European armies.
These 'Pandour' units wore often almost outlandish 'oriental' fashions and used equally 'exotic' weaponry, primarily of Ottoman style including yataghans. There were many European officers using unusual hybrid types of these. I have seen hirschfanger type swords with these kinds of deep bellied recurved blades, stag horn grips with cleft, and often European type inscriptions, cyphers and ligatures on the blades.

We can see the dramatically diffused recurved blades of these yataghans in Europe, the Balkans and North Africa in these seemingly disparate cases, but it would appear that the Ottoman denominator would be the key factor.

Perhaps the very reason that the history of the development of these sword forms has so long had generally held complacency is due to the complexity which makes it so daunting. It is great to see our intrepid group advancing into these challenges! We have done it many times before over the years, and we are well on the way again!
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Old 27th September 2016, 05:20 AM   #11
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The term "Salawar" (also rendered salwar and shalvar,) was applied to these weapons because of its similarity to a type of breeches common in N. India, which are quite broad at the waist and taper continuously to the ankle. The analogy with the form of the blade is obvious.

"Khyber knife" was coined by the British, for the first place they encountered Afghans armed with it.

"Karakulak" refers specifically to a short, heavy utility knife of yataghan form carried primarily by stock breeders in Anatolia. Karakulak means "black ear," as the grips were virtually always carved of dark horn.
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Old 27th September 2016, 05:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
The term "Salawar" (also rendered salwar and shalvar,) was applied to these weapons because of its similarity to a type of breeches common in N. India, which are quite broad at the waist and taper continuously to the ankle. The analogy with the form of the blade is obvious.

"Khyber knife" was coined by the British, for the first place they encountered Afghans armed with it.

"Karakulak" refers specifically to a short, heavy utility knife of yataghan form carried primarily by stock breeders in Anatolia. Karakulak means "black ear," as the grips were virtually always carved of dark horn.



This is outstanding information!!!
Perfect insight into the linguistic origins of some of these terms which became colloquialisms for certain weapons, first locally then expanding into broader use as 'collectors terms'.
It is most interesting that the use of 'silawar' (sic) has clearly been aligned comparatively with an item of clothing, which has been suggested in another case for the term 'nimcha' which may have its origin in Baluch colloquial language. Apparantly similar alignment for 'short' may have referred to the short waist jackets worn by Baluch men, as has been suggested by Ibrahim in the discussions on these swords now running.

Though some may regard these interesting details as trivialities, they add often profound dimension in following the diffusion and development of weapon forms and the cultures that used them.
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Old 28th September 2016, 01:32 AM   #13
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To clarify:
The flyssa is particular to certain Algerian Berber groups; it is a local adaptation of the Ottoman yataghan. Yataghans which are much more closely recognizable as Ottoman in style (although with distinct characteristics) were used at urban centers such as Algiers and Tunis, where Ottoman influence dates from the early 16th century.

While all manner of weapons which can at least be loosely termed "Ottoman" were used throughout Greece, the yataghan was particularly well suited to the kind of fighting done there, i.e. guerillas operating on foot in difficult terrain. There is one distinctively Greek form of yataghan blade which is virtually straight, with a distinctive upturned tip; it is often hollowground and/or fullered. The form survives on the Cretan dagger. Mounts range from very simple to remarkably elaborate.
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Old 28th September 2016, 04:36 AM   #14
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Nimcha may be translated most accurately as "half" or "little half" , kind of Enlglish " shorty".
Per H.W. Bellew's "The races of Afghanistan" people of mixed ethnic origin or newly-converted Muslims whose adherence to Islam is still doubtful are referred as "nimchas".
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Old 28th September 2016, 10:56 AM   #15
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Great thread all...I have learned more about this style of weapon in one page of discussion than any number of books could have provided ( books on specialised subjects of weapons arent very available in this part of the world)... Library is the winner and great input from all is thus rewarded... ...Interesting note from Ariel on Nimcha .. There was a specific tribe of Baluchi called Nimcha. It gets little recognition and may not be related to the Nimcha Sword. Further we have a great note from Ariel on this word Nimcha that I already have a section relating to it on another thread...In fact, I have taken the liberty of cross referencing this additional information and I hope that is OK...see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...33&page=2&pp=30 It could be that the word Nimcha is related to a conception that the wielders of this sword were half or newly converted to Islam and since they were potentially recruited for mercenary work on the Zanj... by the Omani Sultans that the word was borrowed to name the sword.. The Nimcha.

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Old 28th September 2016, 12:50 PM   #16
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As per Elgood, Nim means half, and - cha is just a diminutive suffix.
Thus, anything "half-size" or of mixed origin may conceivably be dubbed nimcha, be it a short boarding sword, waistcoat, or a man of only partially" good blood". No need to postulate transference of ethnicity onto a style of the weapon or vice versa.

But a half-wit is a complete idiot, half full is in fact half empty and half-cooked chicken is just raw and likely loaded with E. Coli:-))
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Old 28th September 2016, 01:24 PM   #17
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Default Giving the word Nimcha a full and fair airing.

I would rather know myself where this word came from since it appears on the so called Nimcha of two entirely separate regions.. How did the term pass from one region to another ostensibly from a Persian/Baluchi word up the Mediterranean then down the red sea or vica-versa...? And in discovering that will it throw light on the origin and transfer of species?... Otherwise will we not have gone off half-cock about this weapon?
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Old 29th September 2016, 05:30 AM   #18
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Ibrahiim is asking an interesting question. Indeed, neither the Mediterranean version, nor its Omani twin can be legitimately called " half sword", "little swords" or anything like that: they are full size sabers. And to the best of my knowledge both of them are locally called just Saif.


However, in both localities there existed short boarding weapons that could have legitimately been defined as such. Could it be that the Europeans mistakenly used the specific word Nimcha as a name for the vague and general "Saif" ?
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Old 30th September 2016, 12:48 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Ibrahiim is asking an interesting question. Indeed, neither the Mediterranean version, nor its Omani twin can be legitimately called " half sword", "little swords" or anything like that: they are full size sabers. And to the best of my knowledge both of them are locally called just Saif.


However, in both localities there existed short boarding weapons that could have legitimately been defined as such. Could it be that the Europeans mistakenly used the specific word Nimcha as a name for the vague and general "Saif" ?


Salaams Ariel... You are correct in several of your pointers to the peculiar name Nimcha apparently applied to the sword of Morocco and its sister from Zanzibar. The name used by locals in both regions is Sayf/Saif/Seyf. There are many questions or possibilities as to how the term Nimcha entered the equation not least that an enterprising sword collector "expert" gave the name and it stuck! because it "looked" the same.
Please see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...33&page=2&pp=30 where it can be seen that apart from a similar hand grip the entire sword arrangement in both cases is chalk and cheese!
Regarding the Name Nimcha it is worth listing the possible reasons all of which hold water...for the Name; Nimcha;

1. Nim means half in Persian and Baluch. The conotation attached to the sword could mean half sword as applied also to half convert...meaning those half converts to Islam working amongst the Baluch on the Zanj in other words "the sword of the half converts".

2. The word Nimcha may mean blink of an eye to Moroccan people. ( This may be regional/ colloquial since they say blink of your eye in Morocco like this ghamad ainak. ) See note * below.

3a. We know that military dress in the sub continent remained almost ancient until recently thus tie ups between apparel and weapons is common(and must be of antiquity) as per Oliver Pinchots revelation about Salawar and the pantaloon style of dress known in those regions and the dagger/sword. The sword being also wide at the throat and narrow at the tip...like the pants!

3b. In this case in referring to Nimcha, it is the waistcoat of Persian, Baluch and central Asian form for men... Uzbekistan has the word Nimcha meaning waistcoat...Half Jacket. The waistcoat worn by Baluchi Mercenaries may be a reference to those worn on the Zanj ~ Mercenaries of the Omani Sultans of Saaid bin Sultan before and after his death in 1856. In this case Nimcha being the sword worn by the Half Jackets...Nimcha.

4. The great explorers technically at least, may have transmitted the word from Zanzibar/Zanj to Central Africa since they accompanied Tipu Tib the great slave captain and explorers Burton and Speke thus linking into trans Saharan trade routes (Ivory/ Slaves/ Rhino) was likely.

5. Last but not least the whats in a word phenomemna is entirely plausible though I admire the potential in the clothing link after all; naming parts or weapons after clothes also occurred with the hilt of the great Moroccan dagger One of the Khoumiya which took its name from A French Policemans Hat!! and there are many more.

*Note the arabic verb for blink is Ghamz غمز

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Old 4th October 2016, 02:12 PM   #20
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yat finally arrived!

485 grams ex. scabbard, 27 in. blade, roughly 1.25 in. wide, 0.25 in. thick near bolster. blade has a shallow fuller both sides, turkish ribbon pattern welded, no pitting at all, some patination of the steel. tarnished black silver/(or pewter(?) decorated bolster missing a few bits, as is the strap covering the tang/scales joint, one 'ear' is cracked and loose, the ears appear to have some shallow rounded holes that may once have held gemstones or coral. the ears also have remnants of silver pebbled decoration. grip appears slightly offset to the right but feels like that is deliberate, the scales curve to fit the offset. it fits the scabbard fine & with no wobble. the scales look like they are a dark brown wood, possibly they were once all covered by the silver?

scabbard shows some stitching loss near the mouth and near the tip, where a few inches of wood are exposed, wood is a bit split but essentially intact to the tip. mouth has a decorated metal covering, mostly black now..

overall, it all needs a good clean & oiling & a bit of TLC. last photo shows it with my shorter bulgarian karakulak. all in all, i'm happy with the under £50 it cost me.

some hd pics from my galaxy phone:
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Old 5th October 2016, 09:27 PM   #21
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Please see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18469 for a possible link to the stamp...ALI...?

Below a Saint Irene stamp for comparison.
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Old 18th October 2016, 01:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Please see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18469 for a possible link to the stamp...ALI...?

Below a Saint Irene stamp for comparison.

This ' kayı ' stamp , Ottoman sultans origin of Oğuz Türk klans , its use like a proofmark of weapons
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Old 22nd October 2016, 07:06 AM   #23
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thanks all for the extra info.
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