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Old 3rd October 2006, 10:04 AM   #1
the_Nazgul
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Default Yatagan questions

Hi!

I recently got 2 yatagan swords as a present from my grandmother.
I already posted those pictures in the german Messerforum and got the hint to ask here for more information.
I added some pictures and some closeups of the inscriptions.
Maybe someone can help me to find out more about origin and age of those pieces.
Also the question came up if the blades could be made of wootz steel. Could that be possible?
Thanks in advance for any help.

greetings from Vienna,

Eugen aka the_Nazgul
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Old 3rd October 2006, 03:17 PM   #2
Zifir
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I would definitely like to get such presents too, but no luck so far

Ya Muhammed kıl şefa'at ümmetindir Hasan

O Muhammed! Intercede on the day of Judgement on the behalf of Hasan,
who is one of your Ummah (community of believers).



Bıçak elde gerek dilde sübhan

"One should have sword(knife) in his hands and the Subhan (popular name for Sorat Al-Isra from Quran) in his tongue."



1216 Amal-i Mustafa Sahib Hasan Beşe

Year 1801/2 Swordmaker Mustafa Owner Hasan Beşe( beşe title suggests that he was a janissary)



Amal-i Ahmed Alemdar sahib İbrahim Ağa sene 1116

Sword maker Ahmed Alemdar (alemdar is another janissary title used by subordinate officers) Owner İbrahim Ağa Year 1704/5

I have difficulty in reading the second line, maybe a better picture helps.


Last edited by Zifir : 3rd October 2006 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 3rd October 2006, 04:26 PM   #3
Valjhun
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Hi Nazgul!

You have two verry nice pieces there. The first is the most typical example of Sarajevo manufacture from 19th century. The hilt seems to be bone. The mountings could be newer than the blade. I would guess around 1850-1880.

The second one is a real sweetie. Balkan provvenience also, but more difficult to say for exactly and The mountings seems contemporary. The hilt is walrus ivory.

Any chances you want to sell the pair?
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Old 3rd October 2006, 04:47 PM   #4
spiral
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Both look like walrus ivory to me. Just the core pattern is more evident in the darker one & was from a larger tusk.

Spiral
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Old 3rd October 2006, 04:54 PM   #5
Rick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
Both look like walrus ivory to me. Just the core pattern is more evident in the darker one & was from a larger tusk.

Spiral


Agreed .
The stuff was also known as fish bone if I recall correctly.

Two very lovely Yataghans !
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Old 3rd October 2006, 04:54 PM   #6
ariel
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Wish I had grandmothers like yours....
Very nice Yataghans. Traditionally, ivory hiltswith corals and repoussed scabbards were attributed to the Balkans.
As to wootz..... Rarely were Yataghans made of mechanical Damascus, and most of those that were , had "Turkish ribbon" as a pattern. I do not think I've ever seen a wootz Yataghan . Wootz was primarily an Iranian specialty and they were not fond of the Ottoman Turks or their national weapons.
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Old 3rd October 2006, 05:43 PM   #7
the_Nazgul
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Thanks for the translation Zifir!

Sorry Valjhun, but I won't sell them. I guess I won't be that lucky a second time to get such a present
My grandfather (who I've never met, he died long before my birth) purchased those two pieces in the 1950s, but my grandmother had no further informatin about them. But she knows about my gread interest for blades of all kinds

@ariel - ok, so no wootz steel in yatagans. Thanks for the info!

I attached two more pictures of the inscriptions on the larger one (I just noticed I only uploaded a photo of one of the two inscriptions so far)
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Old 3rd October 2006, 11:26 PM   #8
erlikhan
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Very nice pieces.Completely original and intact with no restorations. Zifir,your existence here is a great plus,as the only member who can read and translate Turkish written in Ottoman alphabet. I must learn that too,when I find some free time.I just need to ask about the date on the first one. It must be 1216 instead of 1116,not? I think age would matter a lot on the rarity and price of a piece so intact and complete,especially if it is an early date like 1704.
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Old 3rd October 2006, 11:40 PM   #9
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The silver one is 1216, the gold one is 1116. That's my reading, too
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Old 4th October 2006, 12:34 AM   #10
Zifir
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erlikhan,
Thank you for your comment. I did not have much experience in reading and translating inscriptions on swords or other materials, I am used to read formal documents and historical texts. I learned that you cannot expect similar formality from yatagan inscriptions. Most of the time, there are no rules and the people who inscribed them can be considered between being literate and illeterate. I am learning it by doing it. My interest in yatagans is just forcing me to do it

Of course, my only expertise is reading the inscriptions. I can't say much about age or other specifications of a yatagan by just looking its material. I believe my reading as 1116 is correct. But to state the obvious that's just an inscription and there is no rule that an inscription cannot not lie. I suppose there were also Grand Bazaar seller type guys back then...
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Old 4th October 2006, 01:40 AM   #11
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While we cannot determine from your pictures whether or not your blades are wootz I can say that there are examples of wootz bladed yataghans, albeit not that common. There is a lovely example of one pictured in Sasche's book "Damascus Steel" on p. 79, figure 127. I also know of several examples in private collections.
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Old 4th October 2006, 08:38 AM   #12
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Zifir,sorry. My confusement because the dates of the two swords are very similar. I didnt notice the date on the gold one and thought you wrote 1216 for the upper picture. Then yes, gold one is a real rarity and beauty,as it is so complete and intact with especially 300 years of age! And about literacy level of artisans writing on yataghans, yes I have heard it from several experts before.Much of them were inscribed by less literate swordmakers, perhaps many of them just copying 'shapes' written on a paper and given to them.
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Old 4th October 2006, 03:25 PM   #13
Zifir
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The second line in the first gold inscription still escapes me. But I have the translation for the second gold inscription. This time I got a little assistance from a friend who has more literary taste than I do. So you won't be exposed to my terribble translation for once

Ey gönül bir can içün her cana zillet eyleme
İşret-i dünya içün sultana zillet eyleme


Do not hold oh heart all the lives in contempt just for a life
Do not abase the sultan for the pleasures of mundane life

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Old 30th November 2006, 01:07 PM   #14
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i'm pretty sure this is wootz, but i could be wrong. my blade lamination knowledge stops at filo weapons...
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Old 30th November 2006, 03:04 PM   #15
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Very interesting.
We usually have a knee-jerk reaction of calling every wootz blade "Persian" or "Indian" as if the knowledge how to make wootz was limited to these 2 countries.
But here are Yataghan blades, typical Ottoman weapon and ... made of wootz.
Were there Persian/Indian masters in Turkey? Do we need to postulate their existence at all?
I guess there were enough Turkish, Caucasian and Balkan masters who knew how to make wootz blades.
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Old 1st December 2006, 06:20 PM   #16
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I would say this looks like Persian wootz. Turkish wootz is so faint it is hard to see (unless it is a well etched Turkish wootz).

Lucky jerk!
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