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Old 13th February 2024, 02:35 PM   #1
AHite
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Default Help with identifying heavy blade short sword

I recently acquired this sword, not knowing where it was made but impressed by the hefty blade. I am looking for information as to the origin of this sword, possibly the age. Some of the features strike me as Middle East, but that's just a guess. The blade has a thick spine, approximately 3/8 inch or 10mm. There are fullers that look like they were ground in, and chiseled engravings. The hilt is carved horn, with leather braided wrap. No scabbard or sheath came with it. It looks like someone tried cleaning up the blade with sandpaper or a light file. I appreciate any input from forum members!
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Old 13th February 2024, 06:11 PM   #2
Martin Lubojacky
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Hello,
I would say north-eastern part of Turkey (Rize, Trabzon....)
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Old 13th February 2024, 07:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AHite View Post
I recently acquired this sword, not knowing where it was made but impressed by the hefty blade. I am looking for information as to the origin of this sword, possibly the age. Some of the features strike me as Middle East, but that's just a guess. The blade has a thick spine, approximately 3/8 inch or 10mm. There are fullers that look like they were ground in, and chiseled engravings. The hilt is carved horn, with leather braided wrap. No scabbard or sheath came with it. It looks like someone tried cleaning up the blade with sandpaper or a light file. I appreciate any input from forum members!
They were called in Turkish Baba Bel Kaması, Babas Kama or Sürmene Bıçak after the place of manufacture in the city of Sürmene, Trabzon province in Turkey.
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Old 13th February 2024, 07:37 PM   #4
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Really nice !!
A mix between a yataghan and a shashka !!
I had never seen these Surmene bichak swords before !
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Old 13th February 2024, 08:01 PM   #5
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That is a very interesting sword. The pommel of a shashka, the pinky nook of a nimcha, the grip and rain guard of a laz bichaq, and the blade of a qaudara... it's like the whole Ottoman empire came together to make this sword!
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Old 15th February 2024, 08:15 PM   #6
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This is actually a really cool example of a rare kind of Surmene-made long knife/dagger! From roughly the middle of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th (at least based on what I've seen) different workshops in the Northeastern Anatolian town of Surmene made a variety of different knives, daggers, and short swords. I say "Anatolian" here rather than Turkish, mind you, because to my knowledge Surmene is and has historically been populated mostly by the Laz people, who by the 19th century had developed their own sword (or were at least one of the main ethnic groups using them). It seems that then in turn Surmene-based Laz artisans adopted the multi-fullered, curvaceous characteristics of these swords for their own smaller products like knives and daggers. Whilst some of these are of good quality and might have been used locally (which I'd argue includes the specific kind this thread is looking at), many of these products were produced for external/tourist consumption, much like the flamboyant arms and armor produced during the Qajar dynasty in Iran.

Anyways, before your post AHite, I was convinced that there were only 3 surviving examples of this specific kind of Surmene dagger out there! This variety is distinct for its robust blade, tight fullers, qaddara-like blade design, and intricate decoration at the forte. It is also noteworthy that so far 3/4 of the extant examples I've found have distinct Laz-style leatherwork on either their grip, scabbard, or both; something that is unique as not all Surmene items have this distinct cultural marker on them, and I would argue that their inclusion (which is completely optional) is what distinguishes locally used items from those that were made for/consumed by tourists.

Finally just to explain the four images I've attached here: the first two were both sold on eBay at the same time by the same seller, the second example (on the glass table) being the one I acquired, mostly due to the blade being in better condition (though ironically the leather is more worn). The third image/example, also sold on eBay, lacks the Laz leatherwork and scabbard altogether, but actually has superior engraving and even a makers mark stamped at the forte (which I can provide a closer image of if anyone wants to take a crack at deciphering it). The last example - which is clearly of inferior quality and likely from a completely different workshop/set of artisans - I've included simply to show that while this design is not wholly unique when it comes to Surmene-made products, most do not reach the same level of quality, even when they are clearly imitating the same shape/design.
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Old 17th February 2024, 01:40 AM   #7
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Thanks to all of the forum members who helped me identify this sword. Nihl, thanks for the photos. I wish my example had it's sheath, but at least I know what it would have looked like.
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