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Old 14th July 2006, 07:17 PM   #1
eftihis
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Default Karabela? Persian? Balkan?

Hallo,
Any opinions on this sword please? It is very well made, has a great feeling on handling, and it looks of having a lot of age. The blade has wide and a narrower fuller that start that do not cover all length of the blade. There is a star on the blade. The handle is chisseled with birds and flowers. To me the sword has details that look like persian but also like balkan swords. But some elements remind karabella. Any ideas?
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Old 14th July 2006, 11:40 PM   #2
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Persian and verry fine. Possibly older blade with qajar era hilt.
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Old 15th July 2006, 02:09 AM   #3
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Why do we call it Karabela if it is Persian?
As far as I know, the name Karabela is of European origin, mostly Polish.
According to Z. Zybulski, the potential origins are:
Cara e bella ( Italian for " deaar ann beautiful")
Arabella ( Italian for "Arabian")
Karbala ( town in Iraq)
Karabel ( town in Turkey)
Is there a special name for a saber with an "eagle head" handle in Iran or Turkey? Tough to imagine that Turks or Iranians called it Karabela.
What about Hungary or the Balkans?
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Old 15th July 2006, 05:28 AM   #4
S.Al-Anizi
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Nice sword. Interesting to see the star of david (seal of solomon) on a Persian blade. I dont think the persian shiism used this mark. It was more connected to the Ottoman sunni empire, and its arab lands.
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Old 15th July 2006, 12:33 PM   #5
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Yes, I agree, the "david" strar is ottoma, maybe even caucasus. Reminds me of some shashka blade, but the hilt is persian I think.
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Old 15th July 2006, 01:53 PM   #6
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Caucasian "shashka" blades were widely exported to as far as Oman in the 19th century (the origin of curve-bladed Kattaras).
But this one doesn't strike me as Caucasian.
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Old 15th July 2006, 08:12 PM   #7
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Nice silver work. The silver content seems to be coin silver, about 80% silver to 20% copper.
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Old 18th July 2006, 11:37 AM   #8
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Default Arms of Georgian kings by Rivkin

In the very interesting post of Rivkin regarding Georgian arms on page 6 (i cannot copy here the photo), there is a photo of a Chesvur(?) sword (first from the right) that althougth is not all visible, resembles this one.
It has 2 fullers one more wide like this, and a deep "star" althought with more points, on the blade.
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Old 18th July 2006, 01:01 PM   #9
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Hey, Eftihis,
Just now noticed you are from Crete. Look up Stathis Papavasiliou in Iraklion. He is a Prof. of Medicine at the University of Crete. To say he is just a good friend of mine would be an understatement of the year!
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Old 22nd July 2006, 08:08 PM   #10
Radu Transylvanicus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Why do we call it Karabela if it is Persian?
As far as I know, the name Karabela is of European origin, mostly Polish.
What about Hungary or the Balkans?
All people of the Balkans pretty much reffer to it as "Karabela" and the only thing different I can help you with is that sometimes the type of cossguard is named "shariban", meaning moustache, hence the striking resemblance with a French chef's upper lip . The most important elements are the crossguard and then the eagle head pommel, not necesarilly the blade which can be straight and still qualify as a karabella.
Generalising many museums reffer to them as Pallasch (German) palasz (Hungarian) Palos (Romanian pron. palosh) or Pala or Palah past the East borders of Europe. Its a very vague and arguable therm but nonetheless, not incorrect.
INMHO I see a posibility of this Karabela not being Persian, have you asked Wolviex yet?
Probably seven out of ten karabelas in Europe are Polish, the rest mostly in Hungarian kingdom or vassal princely states like Transylvania, where most of karabellas comming from Persia were rehilted and bejewelled like the famous one for Miklos Zrinyi, from 16th century completely covered in thick gold and gems, work done in Transylvania but sword was traded from Persia;today part of the Collection of Hungarian National Museum in Budapest.
I heard the therm "Qaddara" used by Persian and Ottoman in conjunction with the karabelas sources if I remember correctly but to confuse us further the therm is also asociated with the kindjals. Others, mostly when from Persian-Mughal-Afghan parts reffer to it as "Poulwar", I heard that one many times and I preffer it; therefore keeping matters simple: if Eastearn European or Turkish is a "karabela" or if loose features, safely stick with "palasch" and if further Middle East or Indian subcontinent to me is a "poulwar"
The Golden age of the karabela was in the 17th & 18th century when most nobles would own at least two of them, one for war and one for parade, a lighter and more ostentaciously decorated version.

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Old 22nd July 2006, 08:12 PM   #11
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You are right: that is what it's called in Europe.
But what about Turkey or Iran?
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Old 22nd July 2006, 08:18 PM   #12
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youre too fast. I was still updating my post while you answered
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Old 22nd July 2006, 08:29 PM   #13
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I see this Karabela as being possibly Ottoman rather than Persian. The good thing is that this one could definatelly be called a karabella, not much of a hybrid with other types. Like stated already I dont see much Caucasian features in it.
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Old 22nd July 2006, 10:36 PM   #14
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The blade is almost certainly not persian, whilst the hilt is Persian I think, qajar, with those quillions and the hilt motif.
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Old 27th September 2006, 10:38 AM   #15
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Default It is definitely persian, the Zand period

Hallo all, i have just seen the photos i attach in the great new book of Manoucher "arms and armor from Iran".
In the photos are swords that exist on Iranian museums and belong to the Zand era, (arround 1750, before the Quajar).
The similarities are obvious, and allthough there is no exactly the same swords, its elements exist in the swords of the photos.
Therefore it is for sure Persian, made during the Zand era.
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Old 27th September 2006, 12:58 PM   #16
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I still think it likely an early Qajar with a shashka blade.
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Old 27th September 2006, 02:00 PM   #17
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The blade has no markings that can tell if its persian, but it has a mark, the star, which says its not. The hilt is certainly qajar.
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Old 27th September 2006, 03:11 PM   #18
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Actually, karabela is also loosely translated in turkish also Ariel. kara for black and bela for pain/annoyance/giving or making trouble. So karabela is just not a loose translation in Italian. How it applies i dont know, just my 2 cents worth. but nice sword either way.
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Old 27th September 2006, 04:20 PM   #19
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It is possible that both blade and hilt are kadjar. The star symbol actually appears in Azerbaijan, both Persian and independent; here one can see a quadara with Qajar coins, making persian attribution easy. Again one might speculate that the blade is from somewhere else, but I believe it is a local Iranian (Azerbaijani ?) production:
http://oriental-arms.com/photos.php?id=1170
Slightly more modern:
http://oriental-arms.com/photos.php?id=135
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Old 27th September 2006, 04:58 PM   #20
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Interesting find rivkin, this says that the blade could be Persian then.
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Old 1st October 2006, 07:52 PM   #21
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Gentlemen,

The hilt of the sword is late Qajar, the blade is a Caucasian, probably Amuzgi made, copy of a Persian saber blade. This type is covered in Elgood Arabian Arms.
The name 'karabela' may or may not derive from Turkish. Both Elgood and Pinchot argue for the city of Karbala, see Elgood Arabian Arms, Pinchot Shamshirs.

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Old 1st October 2006, 08:44 PM   #22
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I see so many similarities from Manoucherís book that I am certain for Zand period too. The Qajar supporters must give us some examples to backup their opinion.
Of course I have to admit that I didnít knew anything about Zand period before this. Eftihis, did I earned my salary?
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Old 1st October 2006, 09:56 PM   #23
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If my memory does not betray me, Zand is a family that ruled in the second half of XVIIIth century. The only dynasty of farsi (lori) background, spent zt least the half of their rule fighting turkish lords-Qajars and other semi-independent leaders. Lost to Qajars in the end of XVIIIth century.

Now I am no specialist on the matter, but first of all I always found it to be problematic to definitely distinguish between some of Qajar and Zand pieces, they are often done in the same style. The similarities are substantial, with an exception of touristy or very low quality revival pieces. Why I think this work is Qajar? The image is kind of soft and gives me the feeling of XIXth century processes - etching or something else. Indeed the style is reminiscent of Zand-Qajar, but I do think it is Qajar and btw not early Qajar.

Now with the blade I am even less of an expert - my take was somewhere in Azerbajan, north-south. Ham is probably right (?) with his Dagestani attribution.

Last edited by Rivkin; 2nd October 2006 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 5th October 2006, 05:49 AM   #24
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Rered Minorsky - Zand dynastry was kurdish and not farsi. Shame on me.
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Old 12th November 2006, 09:24 PM   #25
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Ladies and Gentlemen (or minding that so far we have only Dr. Feuerbach, should I say Lady and Gentlemen ?)

After rereading Astvatzaturjan and some other literature, I think I can rephrase their ideas on how to distinguish Dagestani from Persian per se shamshirs (never mind the georgian shamshirs for now, their fullers are different):

1. If the blade is wootz, the blade is most likely Persian
2. If the blade is plain steel or mechanical damascus, it something like half by half or so.
3. If the blade has fullers, it is most likely Dagestani.

Do you agree with such classification ?
It seems that in this case the blade is most certainly Dagestani ?
This blade actually satisfies what Astv. thinks to be distinctive Amuzga qualities: fullers start 1/4 of the blade away from the hilt, one is small next to the blunt side, other(s) are bigger, they slowly converge towards one to another, and around the blade only the big one(s) remains.
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Old 13th November 2006, 04:14 PM   #26
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I've be rereading this thread and would like to continue it a bit further, I think the discussion had some excellent input and would like to learn a bit more on the topic (s).
In doing a little research, I wanted to add some observations on the term 'karabela'. I don't think it is a general term for sword used in the sense of 'qaddara' or 'puluoar', but is applied distinctly to the hilt form on primarily Polish sabres with this hilt. As has been observed, the form has carried into other Eastern European countries as well.
The hilt typically is of stylized eagle head form, and seems to have been taken from Ottoman sabres with such hilts captured by the Polish at the Siege of Vienna in 1683 ("Polish Sabres: Their Origins and Evolution" by J.Ostrowski & W.Bochnak, in "Art,Arms and Armour" Ed.R.Held, Chiasso, 1979).

In this paper, it is noted that the 'karabela' term etymology remains unexplained, noting further the suggestions of the Italian possibility of 'cara' and 'bella' (the dear beauty) and the name of the city in Iraq, Kerbala.
The authors propose that more likely would be the city of Karabel in western Turkey, due only to the phonetic similarity, and noting the Turkish sabres which were captured in Vienna which had the same hilts.

While the highly stylized eagle profile does seem Ottoman, especially as evidenced by the captured examples from Vienna (see Wagner, "Cut and Thrust Weapons", London, 1967, p.214, pl.8), it does seem the stronger case for the 'karabela' term would be the Karbala origin. That is unless the Turks somehow conveyed the term to thier Polish captors, but it does not seem the term was used by the Turks in what I have seen so far. It should be noted here that the crossguards on the Turkish examples were with straight quillons.

It seems that for some reason, the Polish versions of the karabela typically had the key stylized eagle head hilt and had the downturned quillons on the crossguard form termed 'shariban' (per Radu 7/22/06). Examples of these hilts are seen in Wagner (op.cit. p.214, pl.9) and in "Ciecia Prawdziwa Szabla" (Warsaw, 1989, p.108) where the author notes the drooping quillons form was made by Armenian smiths (Lvov) while straight guard versions elsewhere.
It would seem the Armenian smiths may have carried considerable influence from the Caucusus, which in turn carried heavy Persian influence.

The almost trapezoidal profile of the hilt of the sword in discussion clearly represents Persian style as seen in the Zand example from Manouchers book, and the 'shariban' form crossguard reflects the early Islamic styles shown in "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths" by Yucel (Istanbul, 2001, pp.15,74).
I agree that the hilt appears latter Qajar and as commonly seen reflecting 'revival' styles , as well as the blade being most likely Caucasian. It seems that the star occurs quite a lot on qaddaras which are made in Azerbijian, as shown in prior posts. Interestingly Azerbijian was the ancestral home of the Qajars, so the star may have some such association, and since regions there were so active in trade, possibly the sword is a 'revival' form item made likely last quarter 19th c.

Although I present nothing new with the conclusion on the sword here, except possibly the suggestion of Azerbijian being its origin, I just wanted to furnish some hopefully supportive detail, besides I enjoy wandering through the books ! Still unresolved on the karabela term, but I think its pretty much structly a European term. I dont think I would call this a karabela, but would note the hilt shape as resembling one.

All best regards,
Jim
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