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Old 30th November 2017, 05:05 PM   #1
Drabant1701
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Default Uzbek knife for comment

I have recently purchased this knife. Grip is ivory, blade looks like watered steel. The scabbard is leather with niello mounts. My resarch points towards it being from Uzbekistan, any comments on origin and age would be much appriciated.
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Old 30th November 2017, 11:45 PM   #2
ariel
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Very, very nice!
It is indeed Uzbeki knife P’chak ( which means exactly what it is : a knife, Turkic dialect).

This variety with gradually narrowing blade and distinctly curved profile is usually generally referred to as “ old Bukhara” or “ old Khokhand” , and in Russian is usually called “ Afghanka” ( kind of feminine of Afghani).

The entire north of Afghanistan is populated mainly by Uzbeks and Tajiks, the latter being the second largest minority behind Pashtuns.

Please notice the nielloed coat of arms of Afghanistan, the Blue Mosque in Mazar -I- Sharif. This city is ~ 60% Tajik.

I think this P’chak actually comes from Afghanistan, made by an Uzbeki bladesmith for an Uzbeki owner.

Generally, the majority of Uzbeki knives have blades of two forms: Kaike, with the raised tip, and Tugri, with straight spine. The story goes that Tamerlane banned the manufacture of straight bladed variety to minimize their use as stabbing weapons.

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Old 1st December 2017, 02:22 AM   #3
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Nice example, it is Afghan work as Ariel observes, following an Uzbek prototype quite closely. It dates to the eary 20h century.

We had a very interesting Uzbek dagger from Bukhara in our last sale:

it is diminutive, probably made as a by-knife. The grips are rhino, the blade is pierced at the spine. But what is most unusual is the forging: it features a double-ladder step on one side and a zigzag double-ladder step on the other.
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Old 1st December 2017, 09:16 AM   #4
ariel
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Many sources incorrectly classify Kirk Narduban ( "40 steps") as a separate variety of Wootz, along with Khorasan, Taban, Shams etc.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
Kirk Narduban is not a variety of Wootz, it is a decorative element artificially created by the bladesmith. To get it, the smith chizels the grooves into the body of the blade, distorting the Wootz structure and then heats and pounds the blade. The famous steps are just the result of distorted Wootz patterns.

Kirk Narduban can be easily created as just parallel steps, zigzagz, double steps, kirk and rose , double kirk and rose or whatever. It can be created using whatever variety of Wootz the blade consists of: there are Shams blades with it. In a way it is somewhat similar to any other superficial embellishment , such as koft or zarnishan. Old metallurgists took a lot of time to understand the technique of Kirk Narduban, attributing it to inherent Wootz structure, but the "secret" was much simpler.

Even the wootz structure is in a way artificial: the inherent dendrites within the ingots can be arranged as straight lines, curly lines, wavy lines etc. by a skillful smith pounding the ingot with different force and in different directions. Pay attention to the most sophisticated Wootz blades: the body has complex patterns, but the edge always shows straight, - Shams-y,- lines, the result of intense pounding to thin that part of the blade. Wootz ingots were manufactured in India in tens of thousands per year and sold all over the Islamic world, but in each locality there were established traditions of smithing, explaining why Persian blades were largely Taban or Khorasan, but the Mamluk or Ottoman were Shams. Older Indian Wootz has not lines, but a "grainy" structure: these are dendrites subjected to extra intense pounding that was breaking them into small segments ( what modern smiths call spheroidization). I was told that Indian Wootz blades were superior to the Persian from the mechanical point of view. Indian bladesmiths acquired the sophisticated Persian techniques sometimes around 17th century, learning them from the Persian masters imported to the Mughal courts. It is the main reason why modern bladesmiths still cannot make the sophisticated patterns.

The quality of Wootz blades vs. good European monosteel is another matter: they could not withstand cold, they shattered easily, and their hardness was low: ~20-25 Rockwell units. Make it simple, stupid:-)))

Last edited by ariel : 1st December 2017 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 1st December 2017, 11:39 AM   #5
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Ariel and Oliver, I am quite amazed at the depth of your knowledge and greatful that you are willing to share it. I had no idea that it was the coat of arms of Afghanistan on the scabbard, but it is of course quite the clue to its origin.

The blade on the knife from the Imperial auction is simply amazing, thanks for sharing.
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Old 1st December 2017, 02:42 PM   #6
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I want to second the comments of Draban1701. Thanks to Ariel and Oliver for their detailed comments and attribution of the original knife, and for Oliver posting pics of the other Afghan knife. Great stuff guys.

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Old 1st December 2017, 10:25 PM   #7
OsobistGB
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Dear colleagues,please specify what it means Wootz?Is this English term for a Bulat?
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Old 2nd December 2017, 10:40 AM   #8
ariel
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Yes: wootz=bulat.
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Old 4th December 2017, 01:33 PM   #9
Roland_M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Pay attention to the most sophisticated Wootz blades: the body has complex patterns, but the edge always shows straight, - Shams-y,- lines, the result of intense pounding to thin that part of the blade.



Hello Ariel,

thank you for your detailed explanations, as always very interesting.

Here is a Kilij of the type, which you described, differential hardened, complex pattern on the sides of the sword but straight lines at the cutting edge.

Compared to my Indian wootz-tulwar, it is a difference between night and day, the Kilij would destroy the Tulwar within seconds. I can bend the Tulwar easily in the air between my hands, while the Kilij is too strong to straight out the blade over my knee.

BTW, the Tulwar with its ~2% carbon content is much easier to etch than the Kilij with ~1% carbon.


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