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Old 14th April 2008, 03:29 AM   #1
CourseEight
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Default Ottoman Dagger for Comment

Recently received this from ebay. A shame about some of the missing bits but still I thik its one of the nicest pieces I own. A lot has been written about these coral-decorated pieces in other threads, so I gather this is an Ottoman court dagger, from anywhere from the late 18th to late 19th centuries. I'm curious about the particular blade type, however, and whether the blade itself and the markings on it might narrow its timeframe. I haven't been able to find a piece quite like it...

Photos of the details of the marking on the blade to follow in a second post. The blade shows evidence of bluing, and the designs are etched in and then gilded around.
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Last edited by CourseEight : 14th April 2008 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 14th April 2008, 03:31 AM   #2
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Details of the blade:
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Old 14th April 2008, 04:01 AM   #3
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THE BLADE IS OBVIOUSLY EUROPEAN. AM I MISTAKEN, OR IS IT JUST A "STABBING" TYPE? NO EDGE? IF SO, THAT WOULD SUGGEST ( TO ME) THAT IT IS A FRAGMENT OF A SMALLSWORD. I WOULD NOT HESITATE TO REPLACE THE MISSING CORALS. THANK HEAVENS, THE IVORY HANDLE IS INTACT! THAT WOULD BE A CHALLENGE TO FIX!
VERY NICE! CONGRATS AND MANY YEARS OF ENJOYMENT!
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Old 14th April 2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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This is not Ottoman court dagger. It is a very good small straight yataghan with european blade. Blade comes from a very good and older smallsword as Ariel said. French origin, I think.

Scabbard is a composite piece from 2 different styles. Hilt and throat of the scabbard are in match but the rest of the scabbard dont. This is most probably an old repair. What you have there is a very interesting piece with a lot of history.

The so called Ottoman court daggers are straight and their hilt has no ears. Look the example in the photo, from Oriental Arms
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Old 14th April 2008, 02:47 PM   #5
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Thankss so much for your replies! I think the small sword origin of the blade is spot on. Since the decoration at the base of the blade terminates appropriately, I'm thinking this is the lower half of a small sword blade, reshaped at the tip (after breaking?) and modified to accomodate the yataghan handle. I still wonder if the inscriptions on the blade could better pin down its country of origin. Also, more generally, how would a modification such as this come about? Would the orginal small sword owner commision such a knife for himself, would a broken blade make its way via trade to some industrious swordsmith? We can't probably ever know about this one in particular, but I'm curious what is known about these processes in general.

My reference to the "Ottoman Court Dagger" were meant as an allusion to this thread and others, where Jim writes that

Quote:
these sumptuous sabres, and such like decorated weapons in general, are presentation items of probably late 18th to mid 19th century, and likely were mounted in Turkey, and purchased for such use by influential Ottoman figures and thier courts.


I hadn't realized an Ottoman Court Dagger was an actual name for a specific weapon, so I've changed the title accordingly.

I don't necessarly agree that the scabbard is composite. Not to say it definitely isn't, but check out the photos below from Oriental-Arms (from here and here). They are both pieces with the standard coral decoration at the throat of the scabbard only, with silver work (one of them chased) below. There is evidence that the green portion on my scabbard should have a continuation of the chased white metal (the transition is abrupt in the pattern, and there are signs of "ripping") but no evidence of a slopy transition on the coral side. Also, the white metal fits the scabbard size perfectly (the seams are exact), and the sword fits the scabbard perfectly, so I think it was all done at the same time. It would definitely not look so pieced-together, I think, if that portion of white metal were there...

Thank you Ariel for your thoughts on restoring the corals, etc. Would one go to a jeweler for that, or is a professional sword restorer specilizing in this sort of work needed? Also, there are a few rosettes missing from the handle, and the afformentioned missing chased white metal. And thoughts on if/how to restore these aspects?

Thanks a bunch for your help!

--Radleigh
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Old 14th April 2008, 03:44 PM   #6
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Well, "Court Dagger" is not a defined form of a weapon ( like, for example, Flyssa or Kindjal). rather, it denotes a more sumptuous and decorative examle ( Like Kothimora Kukri).
I understand Yannis' point, but the main feature of a Yataghan is its blade: most often recurved ( with some "straight" exceptions) but always designed for cutting.
This one if a purely stabbing weapon. Thus, in my mind, it is not exactly a yataghan, handle notwithstanding. It is quite lavish and, taking into account the grossly non-standard blade ( trophy??? memento of a successful encounter???) I would be inclined to suggest more ceremonial, decorative function. True? False? Who knows.... This thingie is old and could have told us rather nasty campfire stories.
The "ears" are smaller that most, rounded and elongated: I wonder whether it hails from Greece. BTW, I love the old yellow color of the ivory!
And, as to the source of stones: there are plenty of arts and crafts shops that sell all kinds of stones and corals, very cheap. Check around: you must have one in your neck of the woods. In my small town ( ~125K) we have at least 2 that would supply corals of the needed size, form and color in 5 minutes flat. Atttaching them is easy: that was why God created "Gorilla Glue"
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Old 14th April 2008, 07:43 PM   #7
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Interesting. The blade is obviously from a smallsword (mid 18th century? and I agree with Yannis most likely French), and how it ended up married to the hilt is anyone's guess. In the latest Hermann Historica auction I think I saw an almost identical one, which means that there are at least two of those daggers. They could have still belonged to the same person though.
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Old 14th April 2008, 09:31 PM   #8
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Well, after your comments I have to add

1. I have seen bronze with corals, silver with corals but not all three together (and in different styles). The items of Oriental Arms, you are pointing for us CourseEight, are silver with corals.

2. Ariel, yes there are Greek straight yataghans with ears like this, but not with corals, at least not on the scabbard. The use of corals is typical turkish style. Of course during the battles lot of weapons were changing hands. The silver part of scabbard could be later and Greek.

3. The blade could come from a thousand places. Napoleons army in Egypt, French diplomats, French volunteers (Philellenes) who helped Greek revolution etc.

4. Red Mediterranean corals are protected species under European Union law so you cannot find new ones here to replace them. I suppose (and I hope) that in US you find red corals from other seas, but these may look different on the item.
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Old 14th April 2008, 10:19 PM   #9
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What you have is an Ottoman naval dirk of circa 1800. The triangular blade is not uncommon on these and were modeled after British examples when they came in vogue after Ottoman experiences with the British in the late 18th century. The scabbard is a bit atypical for these and may have been made at a later time for austentatious wearing occassions.
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Old 14th April 2008, 11:19 PM   #10
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Thanks once again for the responses, this is all very interesting. I found the Hermann Historica auction on ebay, thanks TVV:

Link

And of course Rsword's explanation would also explain the existence of more than one. This one on Oriental-Arms does have quite the similar handle:

http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=2563

Pity the Hermann Historica one has no scabbard, VERY happy about what they thought it was worth...

--Radleigh

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Old 15th April 2008, 04:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannis
Well, after your comments I have to add

1. I have seen bronze with corals, silver with corals but not all three together (and in different styles). The items of Oriental Arms, you are pointing for us CourseEight, are silver with corals.

2. Ariel, yes there are Greek straight yataghans with ears like this, but not with corals, at least not on the scabbard. The use of corals is typical turkish style. Of course during the battles lot of weapons were changing hands. The silver part of scabbard could be later and Greek.

3. The blade could come from a thousand places. Napoleons army in Egypt, French diplomats, French volunteers (Philellenes) who helped Greek revolution etc.

4. Red Mediterranean corals are protected species under European Union law so you cannot find new ones here to replace them. I suppose (and I hope) that in US you find red corals from other seas, but these may look different on the item.


1. Paraphrasing my friend (surgeon) "If you have not seen a particular weapon, you have not seen enough of them"

2. Corals were very much in use (besides Northern Turkey) in Serbia and Bosnia ( short walk to Greece) and North Africa.
3.100% agreement
4. European Union????? Laws????? In the Mediterranean?????

There is still enough venerable Levantine spirit not to care about such pesky matters like "protected species" .
Besides, half of the Mediterranean countries are not members of the EU and do not give a dam about Brussels bureaucrats.
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Old 15th April 2008, 02:16 PM   #12
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Is bluing typical to Ottoman court daggers?? Is it exclusive to court daggers? I have only seen it on two.
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Old 15th April 2008, 09:43 PM   #13
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No Charles. Bluing is not Ottoman at all. It is european stlyle.

But as the friend of our friend Ariel says "I have not seen enough of them"

Ariel, in Ottoman empire time, Greeks were living up to Romania and Slavs down to Peloponnese, so I dont mind about clean "ethnic" styles anymore. But a sort walk inside the borders, in local museums and books about traditional craftsmanship, shows an mysterious absence of red corals.

Maybe it is quite ridiculous as idea, but is it possible that red corals were a privilege of Muslims and not allowed to other populations? I know that in Byzantium red color, mainly porphyr, was only for the aristocracy and there was heavy punishment for the commons who used it.

Later, in Ottoman empire, if I am not wrong, emeralds were only for the sultan and his family. I wish someone can tell us more about the social taboos of stones and colors in Ottoman empire.

And please Ariel, let Brussels bureaucrats be. Sometimes, accidentally, they make fair rules, like this. After all these years of hunting them, in the end, the only red corals in Mediterranean we be in kitsch souvenirs and in our precious arms
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