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Old 12th February 2018, 04:11 AM   #1
ariel
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Default Strange ottoman handles

I am back from Milan.
At your suggestions I went to Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
They have very small collection of Oriental weapons, some of which were very nice.
However, I got confused: several Ottoman kilijes had very strange handles: very translucent, with pink tint.
I asked their staff, one told me that they were made from mother of pearl, which is very suspicious: I have never seen this material on turkish weapons. It would be grossly impractical. Moreover they were very thick, grossly exceeding the usual thickness of the mother of pearl, and the tint was very unusual. The other staff member pulled out a book, in which they were listed as horn. Also strange: horn never gets THAT translucent ( I could easily see the tang). One was clearly made of horn and labeled as such. You can easily pinpoint it on the pics.

I made several pics of them: very repetitious, but I wanted to give you the best chance. Pics were made through glass window.

I asked them whether they were new, made of some kind of plastic. The answer was " no way!", but their restorer happened to pass away last year and no direct info was available.. Please pay attention that the two most suspicious examples had no brass ring around the knot hole.

What do you think?
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Old 12th February 2018, 07:12 AM   #2
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Ariel,

I don't think translucent horn is all that uncommon. Albino horn in particular can be quite translucent. I have a siwar with an albino horn sheath and it is possible to see the blade easily through the horn. I don't recall seeing a pink tinge to albino horn, but that may vary with the species I suppose or with treatment of the horn.

Ian.
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Old 12th February 2018, 03:02 PM   #3
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Very interesting but from the photos is impossible to form an educated opinion.

The hilts get damaged quite easily and I wouldn't dismiss the possibility they were replaced/restored with some kind of resin/plastic... since rhino horn was not available.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:53 PM   #4
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Thanks to both of you. Just as I expected: different opinions.....

Ian:
I have never seen so translucent handles on Ottoman swords, and finding several in the same collection would be statistically difficult if not impossible. They are shimmering, just like mother of pearl.

Marius:

Yes, the pics are lousy, but with the available light and a thick glass between us that was the best I could do.
I have bigger pics, but they exceed the limit for posting. If anyone can put them on, I shall be glad to e-mail the pics, just give me the address.

Also, the only definitely original horn handle has a properly wide hole for the knot cord , but almost all of the "pearly" ones have minuscule holes; no cord would pass through them. Another problem is with the rivets: there usually were 2-3 rivets on the grip. Here we see one on the grip, and another on the head ( in some), the rightmost kilij has no rivets whatsoever, just the knot cord one, also quite thin.
The more I look , the more I wonder: one strange feature after another...
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Old 12th February 2018, 06:10 PM   #5
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I have no idea what this animal is, but it's got distinctly pink horns

edited: it's a Saiga antelope from Kazakhstan. Used to be found further west and south into the Caucasian mountains...protected now. They moult twice a year, summer coat is light brown & winter almost white.

From wiki: Only males possess horns. These horns, thick and slightly translucent, are wax-coloured. (i thought 'wax' was not a colour)
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Old 12th February 2018, 09:06 PM   #6
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The similarity of the material and the riveting make me believe that most if not all handles were made at the same time and in the same shop.
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Old 13th February 2018, 09:22 AM   #7
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Re Strange handles on Turkish Kiliches that are on display in Milan museum,I wish to advise these kiliches were produced in millions in 5 -6 centuries from 135o to late 1900s and some were fitted with rhino horns but most of them needed a regular supply that was easy to obtain.No rhino population in the world could could meet such a huge demand.Therefore the supplies came from RAMS which the Turks consumed extensively .These animals were raised in the plains and the slopes of north noth eastern Turkey(Erzurum, Kars area ).When fitted to swords They were all same color almost translucent light yellowish cream but in time sun shine, sweat and dirt changed this color to pink,red brown and dark brown. Regarding the absence of the rivets in late 1890-1900 + some makers used hidden rivets they were under the side plates, thıs is an indication of date of manufacture,Regards
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Old 13th February 2018, 02:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
What do you think?



Hello Ariel,

Well observed, I also think the handles are in much too good condition for 200 years or more.

No obvious cracks, nothing is splintered, no wormholes.

These handles are probably not the original ones.


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Old 13th February 2018, 04:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
The similarity of the material and the riveting make me believe that most if not all handles were made at the same time and in the same shop.
Sounds highly likely given the collection of features peculiar to most of these.
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Old 14th February 2018, 11:50 AM   #10
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YataganMan:
Can you please show examples of the ram handles you describe: translucent, pink, shimmering?
If rams became the main source of material and kilijes were made in millions, finding a couple or two should not be a problem for you.
Thanks.
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Old 14th February 2018, 07:37 PM   #11
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Smile Strange Kilich handles

Dear Ariel,I can certainly show you pictures of what we have been talking about namely Ram hornes.But the only problem is I do not know how to post pictures . However I you would give me a mail adres I will be more than happy
to do so on the understanding you would put these pictures to Etnographic arms for the benefit of all members.For your convenience I am giving as down below my private mail adres.

altaytuzuner@gmail.com

please respond to this address.
Regards
Yataganman
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Old 15th February 2018, 07:49 PM   #12
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I got an e-mail from YataganMan together with 5 photographs.
Here they are together with the text: I am sure we can learn a lot about the process of making horn handles. Regretfully, there are no examples closely resembling the Poldi Pezzoli ones, and I would like to get as many opinions as can be possible.
Thanks to YataganMan for the info and to all of you for your insights.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Ariel,First of all thank you for your speedy response,

I have tried to explain by the photos the way these handles were made and what process and what materials were used ,in addition I have tried to illustratehow much colors change over the years.
To begin with domestic ram horns are selected over various colors black ,green grays,mixed colors and are piled in open air to dry for a period of 1.5 -2 years.Then over charcoal fire they were partly melted ond turned into solid blocks (as you will know the rams horns are hollow inside all the way).Then selection is made to separate better pieces without cracks and other defects.There are various tints of white actualy there is no whites but creamy yellows and so on.It is then these blocks are flattened by a heat process.Finaly selected ones
are put inside a hot metal mould and pressed, The final result is that you will have various shades of grays creams yellows etc,It Is at this stage that after patination over the years the final color tint is detrmined.Not all horns go to brown some go to red and tints of red whilist
some go to grey and greens. For this reason I also attac a picture of diffent aged finished pieces demonstrating different colors.The way I looked at the pictures in the etnographic arms was that were the forms and propotions correct was the syle correct color did not all mattered since I know some handles were hand painted for some strange reasonI have seen a number of these in europe.I do hope my pictures will tell about the handles.
Regards
Yataganman

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Old 15th February 2018, 10:10 PM   #13
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Many thanks to YataganMan for this.
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