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Old 15th October 2011, 05:55 PM   #1
Joe082
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Default Please help to ID a mark on Yataghan.

I have inherited two swords which have been identified as a Yataghan and a Nimcha.
Both swords were in a bad shape and have been restored. The Yataghan's wooden handle had to be replaced entirely.
After removing the rust, it was brought to my attention that the Yataghan's blade had an armourer's mark. I have tried researching various sources but could not find a match.
Can anyone identify the mark and maybe from there guess a period in history?

All I know about these swords was that they were found together in some box by my father. The only thing he knew was the area they had been found in. The same area he mentioned lies on the route taken 497 years ago by the Ottoman army and thier North African allies during their retreat from the Siege of Malta back towards their ships. Close to that site was where the final skirmish between the Knights Hospitallers; a relief force of Spanish soldiers and the Ottoman force took place.

I am really hoping that these are relics from that siege but only a positive identification can tell if they were made in that period or not.

Attached are the photos. I apologise for the mixed up order. Basically they show the swords how they were before and after restoration; the mark on the yataghan blade and the original yataghan handle.
You can notice that the handle had very small decorative marks along the border and around the dowel pins.
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Old 16th October 2011, 02:16 PM   #2
fernando
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Hi Joe,
Maybe better results are achieved by moving this thread to the Ethnographic Forum
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Old 16th October 2011, 04:32 PM   #3
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe082
I have inherited two swords which have been identified as a Yataghan and a Nimcha.
Both swords were in a bad shape and have been restored. The Yataghan's wooden handle had to be replaced entirely.
After removing the rust, it was brought to my attention that the Yataghan's blade had an armourer's mark. I have tried researching various sources but could not find a match.
Can anyone identify the mark and maybe from there guess a period in history?

All I know about these swords was that they were found together in some box by my father. The only thing he knew was the area they had been found in. The same area he mentioned lies on the route taken 497 years ago by the Ottoman army and thier North African allies during their retreat from the Siege of Malta back towards their ships. Close to that site was where the final skirmish between the Knights Hospitallers; a relief force of Spanish soldiers and the Ottoman force took place.

I am really hoping that these are relics from that siege but only a positive identification can tell if they were made in that period or not.

Attached are the photos. I apologise for the mixed up order. Basically they show the swords how they were before and after restoration; the mark on the yataghan blade and the original yataghan handle.
You can notice that the handle had very small decorative marks along the border and around the dowel pins.
Salaams Joe,

Nice job saving the weapons !
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Old 16th October 2011, 04:36 PM   #4
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe082
I have inherited two swords which have been identified as a Yataghan and a Nimcha.
Both swords were in a bad shape and have been restored. The Yataghan's wooden handle had to be replaced entirely.
After removing the rust, it was brought to my attention that the Yataghan's blade had an armourer's mark. I have tried researching various sources but could not find a match.
Can anyone identify the mark and maybe from there guess a period in history?

All I know about these swords was that they were found together in some box by my father. The only thing he knew was the area they had been found in. The same area he mentioned lies on the route taken 497 years ago by the Ottoman army and thier North African allies during their retreat from the Siege of Malta back towards their ships. Close to that site was where the final skirmish between the Knights Hospitallers; a relief force of Spanish soldiers and the Ottoman force took place.

I am really hoping that these are relics from that siege but only a positive identification can tell if they were made in that period or not.

Attached are the photos. I apologise for the mixed up order. Basically they show the swords how they were before and after restoration; the mark on the yataghan blade and the original yataghan handle.
You can notice that the handle had very small decorative marks along the border and around the dowel pins.
Salaams Joe,

That must have taken a lot of workshop time to save those weapons which were in a real mess. Remaking the hilt was a good decision and Im amazed you were able to save the Nimcha handle as it too looked lost. They look excavated going by the termite damage on the hilts and the condition of the blades. I imagine that having got most of the rust off the best thing to do was go for a preservative coating?
May I draw your attention to the thread on restoration and call upon your support for a restoration library on the forum where ideas and concepts for restoring weapons can be centralised etc.. Good work on saving the two swords..Looks to me like 300 to 500 year old swords... though salt water would hasten the ageing process ...

Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 16th October 2011, 04:40 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Joe, welcome to the forum and congratulations on your inheritance. It is a wonderful thing to see the number of old weapons which seem to be being passed on, and the care with which they are being received by benefactors.
I'm glad you are working to restore and preserve these.
You are also fortunate to live in a region so rich in historical heritage, and the Siege of Malta certainly was a profoundly important event. Unfortunately these weapons post date that 16th century event, and are more likely to date in the 18th century at earliest, perhaps even into early 19th.

The sword with quillons is if course the well known sabre usually termed 'nimcha' by collectors, but more properly termed a Moroccan sa'if. While these are known to have been in use with the familiar hilt configuration in the mid 17th century, the blade appears to be of trade blade form of types out of Germany in the 18th-19th c. While these are regarded as Moroccan, they were seen often in maritime use along the North African littoral, and well known in the Meditteranean trade systems.
The yataghan also seems contemporary to the 'nimcha' and likely also of provenance to Ottoman regions in North Africa. The stamped cartouche resembles similar examples which seem to be either arsenal or acceptance stamps much like those seen often on blades of many Algerian nimchas (Briggs, 1965).

I am glad to see these swords have gone to a good home, and I think you may be assured that although not dating into the period of the Siege, they still represent a most colorful period of Meditteranean history.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 16th October 2011, 05:23 PM   #6
laEspadaAncha
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What a perfect pair to represent the role of North African corsairs and the Ottoman empire in Mediterranean trade at the time!

Welcome to the forum, BTW... Joe, now you're just a schiavona, old Templar's sword, bichaq, and a Mediterranean dirk shy of a full setů

A question for Jim & Ibrahilm:

In the photo of the obverse of the nimcha - with the original hilt - there is some type of stirrup wrapped underneath the quillons on either side of the blade. What is this? I don't recall seeing a similar fitting on other nimchas?
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Old 16th October 2011, 06:27 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
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Excellent observations as always Chris! I hadn't noticed that 'strap' or whatever it is. While there are several variations on these 'nimchas' with either pitones, or the so called 'Zanzibar' form with the ring loop over the blade, I cant say Ive ever seen a feature like that either. Would be interesting to learn more about this and if anyone else has seen anything like it.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 16th October 2011, 08:28 PM   #8
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Fascinated by the topic at hand, and particularly Malta, could not resist looking further into the history which may be imbued in the aged patina of these two swords. The Order of Malta has a long proud history, and their conflicts with the Ottomans extended fare beyond the Seige in 1565. The fleet contributed to the destruction of the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto in 1571. I have attached illustrations of a ship of the fleet of the Order in combat with at Ottoman ship off Alger in 1719.
The history of the Meditteranean would be far less colorful without tales of the Barbary pirates, and these weapons, despite probably being of later date than hoped, as mentioned certainly are likely to be from this period in the early 19th century. The unfortunate condition (now wonderfully resolved) these weapons were found in makes it difficult to assess actual age by photos, but it seems by visual features these correspond to 19th century examples from what I can see.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 16th October 2011 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 17th October 2011, 05:46 PM   #9
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Default Corrections and clarifications

Dear all,
Thanks for the immediate response.
In my description I commited a mistake (Maths is not my forte) and wrote that the Ottoman army withdrew 497 years ago from the Siege of Malta. I must correct this to 447 years.

Ibrahim; Salaam to you. The restoration process was not my doing but I left it in the expert hands of my sword master and mentor. Like you said, following the rust removal they have been coated in transparent grease to keep out the humidity.

To Chris and Jim: The "stirrup" feature you noticed around the Nimcha's quillons and handle had nothing to do with the sword. It was just a vulgar piece of metal wire wrapped around it in an attempt to hold the blade and handle together. You can see a similar attempt around the Yataghan's handle (when they were still together).

I have to say I'm a bit disappointed with the estimated age of the weapons. Still; they are very precious to me. In the Knight's Armoury in Valletta I have seen identical versions of the Nimcha / Saif - See attached pictures. They are behind the Janissary (correct me if I'm wrong about the armour)

Jim Could you provide more information about the mark of acceptance you mentioned? Is it possible that any armourer marks are beneath the patina? - Don't worry, I won't dare remove it.

Regards
Joe
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Old 17th October 2011, 10:51 PM   #10
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Hi Joe,
My apologies for digressing and hijacking your interesting thread but would it be possible, at some time in the future, for you to photograph in more detail the two Ottoman maces that are on the floor of the showcase in your second photo. I normally wouldn't presume to impose on you but I have just acquired an Ottoman mace and am having difficulty finding images of similar items. If it is not possible then I will fully understand.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 20th October 2011, 09:40 AM   #11
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Although not being entirely sure, the marker's mark on the yatağan reads as "amel-i Muhammed" (made by Muhammed).
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Old 20th October 2011, 07:57 PM   #12
Joe082
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Joe,
My apologies for digressing and hijacking your interesting thread but would it be possible, at some time in the future, for you to photograph in more detail the two Ottoman maces that are on the floor of the showcase in your second photo. I normally wouldn't presume to impose on you but I have just acquired an Ottoman mace and am having difficulty finding images of similar items. If it is not possible then I will fully understand.
Regards,
Norman.
I'll try to remember next time I visit the museum.
In the meantime below is a picture I found through a google search. It looks similar but I cannot be sure it is the same type of mace.
Regards
Joe
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