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Old 24th August 2021, 07:30 PM   #1
awdaniec666
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Lightbulb The Ultimate Karabela Guide

Hello there!
Iīd like to start a new thread about sabers of the Karabela type. I have already seen an old one on this forum which seems abandoned for a while.

My goal is to share and gather information consisting of pictures and data on weapon-architecture (point of balance, blade lenght etc.) and design linked with specific time periods and origin.

I will post information condensed in parts for this thread.

This topic has been researched with passion by people like Andrzej Nadolski, Wojciech Zablocki, Zdzislaw Zygulski or Wlodzimierz Kwasniewicz. I will share information I have gathered from many of these sources and original antiques. This could be interesting to non-polish speakers since I dont know of any translations of their works and authentic antiques are hard to get ones hands on.

The following text is meant to be useful for beginners and people already familiar with sabers in general. If anybody wants more information or is seeing wrong information on a certain topic, please comment.

I am aware of the fact that it is necessary to use some form of classification when talking about "swords". I would propose using the one set up by Wojciech Zablocki since its the easiest, yet still an accurate one.



One disclaimer left:
Andrzej Nadolski, one of the godfathers of antique polish saber research wrote in his book "Polish Arms" that the saber we call "Karabela" was called "szabla czarna" (Black saber) back then.
What does he mean by that? He further (fully rightly) distinguishes between
battle and parade version of sabers with that typical "Karabela"-hilt. In his opinion "szabla czarna" meant the battle-version, the term Karabela however is said to be used for the parade versions (Karabela kontuszowa; "kontusz" is the traditional polish dress from the sarmation period in Poland reaching its peak in times of Jan III Sobieski in the late 17th century. Polish nobleman (Szlachta) wore decorative versions to this dress. Sometimes with easy replacable hilts for further battle use of the blade).

I dont aim at researching the origin of the word Karabela or the origin of the saber/hilt as primary question since this topic leads to a lot of opinions and further professional historical research needs to be done and I am not a historian but a passionate on antique polish arms. This is important to me.

Writing this text I saw different passages sounding like my appreciation goes solely to the Polish variant of this saber type. This is not the case and I assure that this little work is free of politics and more, there has been always admiration from the polish side towards the near-eastern culture.

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Nomenclatura

I am aware of traditional terms for sword parts. Since Iīm not an native english speaker, nor a polish one, I will translate some parts directly when it comes to Karabela-specific parts. I apologize for wrong terminology and will be happy and thankful for helpful constructive critique.

Since there is no actual pommel on the Karabela hilt, I will still use this term for the eagle-shaped end of the hilt. The polish term for that is "glowica" meaning something like "the heading".

Feather: Directly translated from the polish "pioro". This is the part on blades which have a sharpened false edge. The feather includes the whole part of the blade from the beginning of this false edge towards the tip. Since not all blades have sharpened false edges, not all blades have a feather. The feather is often marked by a "hammer". The term used for this part in english literature is the turkish word "Yelmen".

Hammer: Direct translation from "mlotek". This means a prominent part on the false edge on the blade often seperating the feather from the rest of the blade. Its purpose is thought to strenghten the blade architecture and force distribution. Some blades have one, some do not.

Beard(s): Translation from "wasy". This is the horizontal part going up-and downwards off the quillons. The beard going towards the blade is made to seal and rest on the surface of the sabers scabbard. The one going towards the grip is part of the grip attachment. (I searched for langets but am usure if its the same, sorry!)

Szewrony: "V-shaped" cuttings in the softer shell-parts of the grip made to protect the grip from slipping out of the hand.

---

PART 1

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Wojciech Zablockiīs (Further: "Mr.Z") classification of karabela-hilt sabers
(Source: "Ciecia prawdziwa szabla" 1989, p. 76)

Mr.Z: Has been a famous polish olympic fencer in the 70s and professional architect. As a passionate on antique polish arms he researched sabers especially from a fencers point of view. He described the combat characteristics for antique sabers and extracted theorys of practical fencing use for these weapons. His main interest lied in battle versions. Parade versions of sabers are uncommon in his analysis. Therefore the following classification describes those sabers which were knowingly used in battle or offer themselves by design to be used in such.

Mr. Z. categorizes polish sabers into different groups numbered with roman numbers. Class "I" are sabers we recognize as "16th-18th century polish hussar sabers". Those sabers we understand as "Karabela" are given the number "II".
He suggests dividing class II into three sub-groups: IIa, IIb and IIc.
Differences are mainly in blade design, but also partially hilt design too.

All class II sabers have the specific hilt design in common which looks like an abstract eagle head looking from the flat sides of the blade.

This classification is, of course, an open one, meaning there is no black and white. Some sabers share and mix characteristics.

---

Mr. Zīs classification

IIa:
"Sabers with blades shapes consisting of a changing curvature (meaning "not forming a part of a perfect circle) and a broadened tip with a hammer with an anatomical grip broadening towards the pommel used from the 17th to the first half of the 18th century.

IIb:
Sabers with blades shaped as part of a perfect circle, without broadened, with an anatomical grip not broadening towards the pommel, used in the second hald of the 18th century.

IIc:
Short sabers ("tasak", old word which comes from czech meaning chopper, see also: Dussack/dussege. Tassak->Dussack->Dussege; sometimes called sinclair saber by english speakers but that isnt the same at all) with short and broad blades, with anatomical grips, broadening towards the pommel and quillons often bend towards the tip. Used in the 17th-18th century.

---

Functionality


"Class II sabers have the following functional-constructional atributes:
IIa and IIb are designed for tangential cuts from the wrist (Fencing on foot) and chopping cuts from the shoulder (Fighting from horseback). Under the defensive point of view this sabers are made for reflecting/deflecting parades."

Explanation for non-fencers: There are static parades (blocks/parries) and dynamic ones. The dynamic ones can be deflecting (adjusting the own blade to let the opponents blade slide down it) and reflecting parades (answering the opponents attack with a quick and short hit against the incoming attack to "deflect" the enemy and quickly do a riposte (answer-attack)). Class II is supposed to be used in the last manner since it enables the fencer to act very fast in theory. Mr.Z. claims this fencing style is easy to learn by beginners and very useful for experienced fencers.

Holding the Class II saber: One can hold the saber like a hammer with the thumb around the grip (Horseback-fighting) or place the thumb on the back of the grip for additional control (Fencing on foot). The main advantage of the specific "beak of the eagle" is in locking ones pinky finger tighly on it to ensure a secure grip. This is what he means when describing this grip as "anatomical".

---

Grip construction (Based on my experience and knowledge from literature and authentic antiques)

There are two ways class II hilts can be built. The main idea is to have the eagle-head shaped grip parts made of wood, bone or other materials securely attached to the blade by stabilizing it with metal parts shaped in the same form.

1. "Simple sandwich design"/"Full-tang-design": The blade has been made in a way that the tang already has been shaped in eagle-head form. Either primarily or secondary: Forging it in one go or attaching a plate to a simple tang afterwards. The softer grip plates are now attached by rivets through (mostly 3) holes in that tang from both sides. This is the strongest construction. It shares similarities with the hilt design of the german "Langes Messer".

2.1. "Uni-Blade-Design": The blade is made with a simple, thin and round tang met on sabers of all kinds. This same tang can be also peened to a pommel-style hilt in a typical "sword-manner". Since we want it to be mounted on a class II hilt, we need to weld it secondarily to a eagle-head shaped piece of metal which forms a "tub". "Tub" means it forms edges going in a 90° angle away from the flat piece for the softer "shell-parts" (again, wood, bone or other materials) to be placed securely in there.

2.2. The tub construction can be replaced with a simple flat metal plate. The break between the soft shell-parts and the metal can be now covered with a metal tape around the grip. This construction is the weakest one and many of antique saber hilts made this way are in bad condition after those 300-200 years.

---

The raw way of differentiating a polish Class II saber from near-eastern (NE) ones after Mr.Z.

This is only valid for Class II sabers in our context!

- Polish grips have an eagle-beak which forms an angle of max. 90° to the grip. Near-eastern hilts can be bent in the same angle but are mostly more open (>90°). More open beaks are an advantage in certain fencing techniques but carry a higher risk of losing the weapon when parried hardly.

- Polish grips are rounded, not flat, with the back of the grip still narrower then the sides. This enables the fencer to carry out moulinets. Near-eastern hilts tend to have more round grips.

- Polish blades (Blade made for polish class II sabers) are shaped to form a curvature consisting of two perfect circle-parts (here you have to differentiate between IIa, IIb and IIc) with a short straight part between them. Near-eastern blades (Again, I mean blades for NE-sabers) tend to have more complicated shapes.

- Polish blades commonly have a more pronounced "feather" in opposition to NE ones. There are known examples of the opposite, but keep in mind there is no black and white and we do a generalization here.

- Polish grips broaden towards the pommel. Szewrons, rivets and all decoration are always made to protect from sliding and ease the holding of the weapon. NE-grips stay the same thickness and decorative elements have no functionality.

Mr.Zīs short usage conclusion: NE-style sabers were mainly designed for chopping attacks from the shoulder. Polish sabers had the "advantage" of a grip designed for movement from the wrist. Overall, thse differences are not a big deal and come in play when comparing advanced fencing styles.

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Quillons and beards

The Quillons can be straight, forming a cross or bend towards the tip. Class II sabers have no knuckle-bow or any other protection. Quillon lenght goes from 8 to 14 cm. They were made of stell or brass. Endings had different shapes but always in a simple style like spheres or rhomboids. Those bend towards the tip could have fish-tail looking shapes.

Beards are mostly from 7-9 cm in lenght (both together), mostly formed triangular with a rounded peak.

---

Who used the Class II saber in the 17th and 18th century (Mr.Z.īs Overview)


- Ottoman Empire (mainly auxillary troops from the balkans, see Side-Info 1)
- Russia
- Moldavia
- Armenia
- Poland-Lithuania
- Marocco (similar style but with very short quillons; Museum Armeria Reala, Madrid, Spain; Items No. M45 and M46)

Side-info 1: In 16th and 17th century ottoman armies armor w asstored and distributed centrally, sabers were given out by the provinces setting out certain troops.

---

Physics

This one is interesting and helpful. To enable scientific comparison of whole weapons when it comes to handling and way of usage, Mr.Z set up a simple equasion:

A/B


A: Blade lenght in mm
B: Point of balance (PoB) in mm (usually measured from the middle of the quillons)

He took this data from many sabers in museums and private collections to determine "standarts".

His results for the polish ones:

- Polish Class II: 3,50 - 4,00 (main mass is located towards the hilt)
- Polish Class I: 4,5 - 5,5

(Keep in mind that blade were often re-used. If a Class I saber blade would be used on a Class II hilt this variable would grow to over 5,5)

He introduced a compoment C: Maximum curvature (this is measured from 1. the straight line (lets call it line X) between middle of quillons to the tip and 2. the point on the blade located farest away from that line X.

The following logical step is therefore (A:B):C

Polish Class II: 4-8
Ottoman Class II: 9-24
---



END OF PART 1
Please comment!
Part 2 will consist of few selected examples with images
Until then!!!

Last edited by awdaniec666; 25th August 2021 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 26th August 2021, 04:43 AM   #2
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Wow! This is outstanding, and welcome. Talk about a great entrance, and I like the way you have skillfully outlined the elements of the study of this fascinating sword form.
I like that you have noted the difficulties and issues with determining the etymology and origins of the 'karabela' term, which typically leads to distracting from the course of study of the form itself.

Also the political aspects of the karabela as far as its profound association with the Polish as a 'national' sword form often present distraction. That it was deeply revered as a sword form involved in parade and ceremony, as well as in battle is well noted, but its presence elsewhere is important to remember in addition to the Polish context.

Nadolski does have an English version of his book, but the others do not as far as I have known.
Another excellent work which is in English is "The Polish Saber: Its Origin and Evolution", Jan Ostrowski, 'Anthology of Arms & Armor, ed. Robert Held, vol.I
1979-80, pp.221-237.
In this he does give interesting overview on the karabela.

We have discussed the karabela many times over the past two decades here, mostly examining examples and discussions of their elements and features. As far as I recall there has been little attention to the more detailed descriptive terms (i.e.szabla czarna etc.) and the term karabela used collectively for the examples discussed.

It is great that you have added the nomenclature. While most here are familiar with the yelman term, I had only heard the 'feather' aspect many years ago from a Polish fencing master in New York.

You note English, nor Polish are not your first languages, but your thorough entry here is excellent. I look forward to seeing more discussion, and hope that those out there with examples of these sabers will post them for benefit of those discussions.

All very best regards
Jim
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Old 26th August 2021, 04:13 PM   #3
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Interesting work, awdaniec. Look forward to part II
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Old 26th August 2021, 07:52 PM   #4
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Great info. It dovetails nicely into some of my other reading. Especially the moulinets and shoulder vs. wrist cuts. I love bringing in practical applications of these items into our study of the metals, artistic decorative techniques, and cultural importance of pre-20th century edged weapons.

On a slight tangent. Would most sabers with a pommel that is bent forward ninety degrees or more from the hilt be for use of the moulinet? I.e. the Caucasian shaska?

Yours,
I.P.
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Old 26th August 2021, 11:22 PM   #5
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Interesting aspects I.P. though not sure most technical elements of fencing or sword fighting techniques are widely familiar to many researching these weapons. What I could find in Ostrowski ("The Polish Saber: Its Origin and Evolution", op.cit. 1979, p.233.

"karabela hilts have the shape of a stylized birds head................
...this shape assured a firm grip but like all Eastern sabers, the karabela was suitably chiefly for inflicting single slashes, in a duel, it required an uncomfortably high position of the hand and continuous parrying with the blade only instead of with blade, quillons and guard".

It is also noted that parade or dress examples often had damascene blades while combat versions had the same type blades as hussar sabers.

It appears that the oldest examples in Poland were among those captured in Vienna in 1683, and of course Turkish. By the second half of the 18th century the karabela had become a 'national' form and widely known during the campaigns for Polish independence and worn in a patriotic sense.

Apparently by second half 19th c. most examples were made in Cracow, Lvov and Vienna.

Other resources I do not have access to, but would be useful are by C. Jarnuszkiewicz :
"The Oriental Saber and its History and Technical Development", 1926
"The Oriental Saber and National Types", 1973
Both I believe are in Polish, but the 1973 publication was in London.
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Old 27th August 2021, 03:49 PM   #6
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Thanks again for those kind words!
You made few interesting points there Jim on which i wanted to briefly respond here, but get into in detail in a later part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
"(...), it required an uncomfortably high position of the hand and continuous parrying with the blade only instead of with blade, quillons and guard".
I think it was Zablocki who reported the "standart stance" for fencing with karabela-type sabers was the "seconde", for those who arent familiar with that: This means you hold the weapon with a very slightly bent ellbow with the hilt on the height of your eyes and the tip pointing in an angle of about 45° downwards and a little forward towards the opponent. I used to use this stance in a different saber-school and can say that it really tires your arm in the beginning but you get used to it. The main benefit of that stance is according to F.C.Christmann (German fencing master of Napoleonic dragoons and author of a fencing manual published in 1838) in beeing able to apply a lot of force into a cut by using the leverage of your wrist only ("moulinet-like-cuts").

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
It is also noted that parade or dress examples often had damascene blades while combat versions had the same type blades as hussar sabers.
I would love to see examples of those since I honestly cant remember seeing a damascene or wootz blade mounted on a karabela. But I know a lot of older battle-blades were mounted later on parade versions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Apparently by second half 19th c. most examples were made in Cracow, Lvov and Vienna.
Indeed! Just to bring two names of decent karabela makers: Ignacy Hofelmayer from Cracow who worked in the mid 19th century and creating Karabelas in such a way that a lot of auctions houses nowadays have problems in telling the age and declare them as 18th century. I think price wouldnt be the reason since Hofelmayer sabers are very desired. Another makers were in Munich. Their names were Thomas and his son Johan Baptist Stroblberger. The father founded the workshop in 1791.
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Old 27th August 2021, 10:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party View Post
On a slight tangent. Would most sabers with a pommel that is bent forward ninety degrees or more from the hilt be for use of the moulinet? I.e. the Caucasian shaska?
For what I understand of fencing and deducting from Mr.Zīs description moulinets are riskier the opener the pommel angle is because of the lack of "locking" your fingers into it it. This indeed is just an educated guess!
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Old 28th August 2021, 08:50 PM   #8
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Default The Ultimate Karabela Guide PART 2

In this part I will try to bring some hopefully clear examples to allow a first approach for determining the origin and age of a Karabela-type saber which will be called like in the foregoing part "Class II" (after Mr.Zīs classification we now know).

The following pictures are from books which I own, past auction lots and also from forums around the world (this one and also some Russian websites which I walked through with a translator addon for my browser). Since this Guide is obviously for educational purposes only I will try my best to name the sources well. If anybody has an issue with an image posted, please contact me and I will try to replace the image.

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The Ultimate Karabela Guide Part 2
---

Now that we had a brief but solid overview of the characteristics of Karabela-type sabers under the umbrella of Mr.Zīs classification, its time to link it with visual context.
The human mind works best with putting things into its neural drawers. The expert on a certain topic is differentiated from the beginner by building bridges between different straight paths and allowing the variable "OR" coming into one's considerations. Therefore I will not get tired by repeating a mantra which was also mentioned in Part 1 of this Guide: There is no black and white.

Example:

"Polish karabela-type sabers had a pommel bent by a maximum of 90° degrees AND NE (Near-eastern) ones had a more open pommel."

The next step is bringing in our new friend "OR". Conclusion:
"Karabela-type sabers with a pommel bent by max. 90° are of polish origin OR can be of NE origin depending on different other aspects which can be found on a specific weapon."

The other aspects can be specific ethnic decoration, makers' marks, blade architecture, and many others.

---
A (very brief) look on the Class II history

As I continued to write I have seen a big informational gap when it comes to the time period in which Class II has been used, what it looked like in specific times, what the main purpose was (decoration/parade sword or for battle) and what materials were used.
I will address this problem here briefly to give a glimpse at my way to put things into some order.

Poland:

Today's Poland has a little in common when compared to its historical geography and ethnic mix. When talking about Poland in the sense for our study about Class II sabers, I mostly mean the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (PLC) which existed from 1569 until 1795. This time period marks also the peak of use for this kind of weapon in history and all places it was actually used. PLC was home not only to the Polish and Lithuanian people, but also Armenians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Huns, Germans, Czech, Jews (Iīm of course aware of the fact that Jewish culture is defined by its religion but nevertheless it's a very distinguishable culture) and many more. This comes into play since the troops of the PLC were composed of those different ethnic groups also. One PLC nobleman could have had a Class IIa saber with certain decoration on it which resembled his, f.e., extreme Catholic belief and without a feather, because he may not have used backhand cuts. Another PLC nobleman with his IIa saber could have been more on a political trip and therefore ordering a swordmaker to put his king's image in gold on the blade and wanting a very long feather since backhand cuts were his favourite way of fencing. Just keep that in mind that every antique weapon belonged to a real person as you, with different tastes and things that were important to them. It was a very personal item and made to assist in surviving an often very rough environment.

The earliest Class II-like sabers are said to be from the late 16th century and are supposed to come from the near east. One theory is claiming those swords evolved from an early Byzantine short curved sword with a stylized birds-head grip. This can be true or may be false, it doesn't matter for our purposes.
What does matter is what is hanging in different museum or private collections and can be therefore taken into consideration. Simply hard facts.

We see that the time period in which Karabelas started to get more and more decorative and for parade purposes is the mid-18th century. Those weapons had more complicated hilt designs (often accompanying a weaker construction and therefore vulnerable and risky to use in actual battle). We can assume that simple looking versions with attributes of a durable weapon are from the time period before, mostly between roughly 1650-1750. I will get into later and parade versions a different part.

Stanislaw Meyer helps us a lot.

[Figure 1]

There is an english version of that but I sadly don't have it. Wschód means "East" and Zachód means "West". Polska means of course Polish. The West was naturally everything westwards of Poland on continental Europe and "East" is meant to be the area from Hungary to modern day Turkey. Keep in mind that the "East" and the "West" were influenced by other cultures too, so you will find f.e. Persian influences on Ottoman culture bringing it further to Hungary and later Poland. Just for short: The Class I saber (I don't like calling it the "Winged Hussars Saber" (really don't like it for historical reasons, but you should know which type I mean) is such a marriage of East and West. The Polish knights used swords like everyone else in Europe at that time (f.e. Longswords) but after a time they adopted sabers which came from the East with different ethnicities like the Huns and Tatars to name just two. What the Poles did was to produce sabers with hilt-designs coming from the West, like a thumb-ring. This is just an example. It went further by the West replacing f.e. rapiers by sabers to their regular troops later than Poland and Hungary as we see in the 18th century.

But what is this kind of knowledge good for? Its good for knowing differences of weapon-purpose and therefore materials which limit this use. You simply will not find an original example of a battle Class II saber decorated with gems and its grip made of ivory. Battle weapons were made of strong materials in a very durable construction (f.e. see the hilt-design chapter in Part 1).

Class II sabers (all over Eastern Europe and the near-east) were used for battle, mainly from the beginning of the 17th century up to the mid 18th century. And that's it! Everything before will be some kind of (maybe even similar looking) predecessor and everything afterwards will very likely be a parade version or a memorial saber. There are exceptions but this is something for a different chapter.

What materials can we expect then on early Class II sabers? Simple and durable ones! Good steel was of course a high class technology back then. The grip shells were made of bone and wood. The guards were made of forged steel with sometimes mixed in silver (I don't know the reason for that silver though). The rivets were made of brass or steel and could be peened with iron or steel nails.

What techniques of decoration were used for battle Class II sabers? Mainly chiseling on the guard and the blase. Etching has not been used. There are examples with gilded decoration on the blade but this does not exceed very few square centimeters.

With that knowledge we can now take a first try on our first example!

---

The first saber we take a look at is a classical Class II saber similar to the ones one can find in the Museum of the Polish army in Warsaw. The source is polisharms.com. There is much to talk about a weapon like this as you will find examining this weapon along with me. As for the image quality I have chosen this picture consciously since a lot of antiques posted in the internet and on auctions sites too is in this (for a person looking for details) fairly poor quality. I won't get into scabbard analysis for now. Firstly we will examine this object straight by Mr.Zīs classification, then we will try to broaden our opinion outside of it.

But lets see what information we can extract from it.

As you are looking at the image, try to use the information given in Part 1 to make an educated guess where this weapon could have come from and how old it might be!

[Figure 2]

Now, what can be found? We start by the simplest things. Lets just name the materials we can determine.

1. Handle:
-Shell:Very likely dark wood. (Could be oak or ebony alongside few others)
-Rivets: Likely brass with what it seems something unclear inside them
-Spine: Looks like brass too.

2. Guard: Steel (guess: unlikely casted, probably forged)

3. Blade: Simple Steel (But the image doesn't allow for a closer look if there is something like wootz/damascene)

Conclusion:

After this first glance we could say with a good conscience that this is a weapon made for battle use, because we see no gems or gold or any other laborious decoration. To strengthen this theory lets go on.

The Grip with its pommel

[Figure 3]

Clearly this shape looks like an abstract eagle head from the side. Its beak seems to form an angle of 90° or less: Going by Mr.Zīs classification this saber is clearly of Polish origin. If you are stuck at this point and don't know why, take a look at part 1 of this guide.

The wood shells have szewrons and three brass rivets which are hollow.
[Experience input: A lot of hollow rivets were additionally riveted with steel or iron nails. These nails are absent in some antiques because of f.e. corrosion of iron or repeated remounting of the blade.]
Nothing else is found in the grip and everything seems to be just for securing the fencers grip on the weapon.

Conclusion:

Again, going after Mr.Z., this is a characteristic of polish Class II.

The Guard

Simple quillons with three lines on each side ended with angular spheroids. The beards are slim. Ones sense of proportion could tell its about 10-12 cm long. No further decoration, no inscriptions and no coat of arms.

Conclusion:

The guard here is just practical. For now, it doesn't allow for further investigation about the origin, but we can tell something about the age.

The blade

The whole shape of the blade is not a part of circle but begins with a straight section on the ricasso (the part of the blade just after the guard). It then moves on to form a consistent bow.
We find a feather at the blades later part and a prominent hammer on the edge of it marking the false edge. There are multiple fullers carved in, probably three. One of them ending by the hammer, two ending few centimeters from the tip.

It seems there are some makers marks and/or decorations on the ricasso but the picture quality does not allow for further investigation.

Conclusion:
The blade is typical for Class IIa after Mr.Z. The furrows and the hammer indicate that this blade architecture was made for durability in battle. The feather, which is a lot work to add on a blade, shows us somebody needed it (and was willing to pay more for that!) to use certain fencing techniques.

Main Conclusion

In short, our working-hypothesis for this weapon is:

"Karabela-type saber (of class IIa by Z. Zablocki) from the end of the 17th century of Polish-Lithuanian origin".

You might ask why I excluded the beginning of the 18th century? I would argue that sabers from that time very often had some kind of imagery on them since it was a time period of opulence and changeable politics. It was common for nobleman to demonstrate their affiliation to a certain party or belief by letting the swordmaker place corresponding decoration on the weapon. This is just an opinion matching with other characteristics of that specific weapon shown above and an overall "feeling" for this kind of swords. There are of course sabers with political/religious decoration before and later without!

---
You try now!

Below I post an image of another Karabela. Feel free to examine it yourself and think about it. I will be happy if you post your results in a comment. This next Karabela is from a well known source, so if you already know the exact answer, you can still write it down, but hide the source so somebody who doesnt know it can still make his or her own guess. I admit that I could have choosen an easier example, but this is not about winning or loosing, but just about the fun exploring and learning. I will reveal the correct answer in a few days!
The next part will be about two weapons compared to each other but of different origin. I hope you enjoy reading and as always, please comment if you see something what doesnt match with your information or if you have any questions!
Have fun and until next time!

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Last edited by Ian; 31st August 2021 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Replaced graphics links with attachments
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Old 28th August 2021, 11:23 PM   #9
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Default The Ultimate Karabela Guide PART 3

I decided to change the topic for Part 3 of this guide from a comparison of two weapons to something different to dive deeper into the possibilities of deciphering the history of a Karabela. Namely the possibilities of origin of older blades mounted on Karabela sabers.

This part will be more about images rather than written information.
Please consider looking for more information in catalogs of museums, auctions and so on. There is much to discover and the following is just an impression about where to start your search when considering if a blade has been reused.

---

The Ultimate Karabela Guide Part 3

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Throughout history many blades have been reused on newer hilts. A good blade was expensive and fencing techniques depend equally on the design of the blade as well as the hilt design. In particular, European saber blades had a quite consistent design which permitted a fencer to use a 17th century blade with an early 19th century hilt. No problem in that.

Below is a list of sword-types which I know regularly or sometimes had blades we can find on later made Karabela-hilts, the kontuszowa versions (parade) and also battle versions:
  • Hungarian sabers
  • Polish-Hungarian sabers (Stefan Batory influenced, Polish King from 1576)
  • Ottoman sabers (a lot were captured at f.e. Chocim in 1673 and Vienna in 1683)
  • German sabers (f.e. "Säbel zu teutsch gefasst" or the Dussack
  • Older polish sabers (f.e. Class I, "Hussar saber" (this is the last time I use this term for class I!)

---

Examples:


Figure 4. Hungarian saber, 17th century


Figure 5. Polish-Hungarian saber, 16th century (Rüstkammer, Dresden, Germany)


Figure 6. Ottoman saber, age unknown to me


Figure 7. German saber, 17th century (Wikipedia)


Figure 8. Polish saber Class I, around 1700(?) (National Museum in Cracow, Poland)


Figure 9. Example of a reused blade on a newer Karabela hilt - A Karabela kontuszowa with a 17th century blade (Gold inlay "IOANNES III REX POLONIARUM") with a mid- to late-18th century hilt (former Nuri Museum, Switzerland)



Figure 10. Another reused blade (Spocki Dom Aukcyjny, Poland)



---

Part 4 will continue as planned with a comparison of two sabers the same age but from different origin.
Enjoy and comment!
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Last edited by Ian; 31st August 2021 at 11:14 AM. Reason: Replaced graphics links with attachments
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Old 4th September 2021, 09:30 PM   #10
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awdaniec666,

Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into these posts. It is greatly appreciated.

I have received a request to transfer this thread to the European Armoury Forum on this site, where you may likely receive more responses. You will still be able to post in the thread after it has been transferred.

Ian.
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Old 4th September 2021, 09:31 PM   #11
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Transferred to Euro Forum.
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Old 5th September 2021, 04:52 AM   #12
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Fig 6. was just sold on liveauctioneers for $750 + 23% fee.. It was described as Russian Cossack Ukrainian or Don. I asked a question on what grounds , but did not receive any answer.
Pics and description were taken off the page.
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Old 5th September 2021, 10:48 AM   #13
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Thanks Ariel for that info!
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Old 5th September 2021, 05:49 PM   #14
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Fig 6. was just sold on liveauctioneers for $750 + 23% fee.. It was described as Russian Cossack Ukrainian or Don. I asked a question on what grounds , but did not receive any answer.
Pics and description were taken off the page.

I would imagine this association may be based on the well known 1891 painting by Ilya Repin, "Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire" by painter Ilya Repin.

This painting has well influenced the images of this famed host of Cossacks since then, and I can recall a number of times I have seen swords identified against this backdrop. I can recall discussions with Iaroslav Lebedynsky years ago about these Cossacks and the type of sabers they used (he is of Ukrainian descent). While mostly they used the 'L-guard' sabers of Poland and Lithuania (their original descent ) they of course would have used forms of Ottoman weapons as well.

The saber illustrated in #6 is of course Ottoman, with familiar pistol grip hilt, and likely early to mid 18th century. Aside from well evidenced provenance there is not really a way to distinctly align this with Zaporozhians. It is unlikely it would have been of the Don Host, but again, possibilities.

The reason this Ottoman saber might have been included among listings of 'karabela' is that I have seen images of Polish swords of this Ottoman form with pistol grip termed 'karabela', using the term in a more collective sense.
Returning to the Zaporozhian use of these types of swords, it is indeed possible they did use these as well as the L-guard form of Polish sabers of the 17th century.
The use of the L-guard sabers was confirmed by excavations from the Battle of Beretschko (1651) in the Ukraine, and the numerous examples found were documented in a 1992 article. I do not recall these types of Ottoman hilted sabers among those shown.
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Old 6th September 2021, 01:32 AM   #15
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Thank you for the excellent write up awdaniec666 Polish swords have a lot of charm to them, that's for certain!
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Old 11th September 2021, 01:12 AM   #16
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I had a conversation with an extraordinary swordsmith from Poland lately.
We discussed sword usage in relation to the damage the blade is taking especially from parrying.
We came to the conclusion Mr.Zīs theory of how blows were parried with the type II saber is one which you can expect from an olympic fencer (as Mr.Z was) but will not get you and your blade far in battle.
Reflecting parades will lead to serious edge damage to such an extend that the used blade must be fully replaced after fighting multiple opponents.
Therefore my personal working theory is now, like old sources from the medival (f.e. my time-distant teacher Peter von Danzig from the 15th century) tell us that one should only parry with the strong ("Stärke") of the blade, near the ricasso or the crossguard itself.
While this can seem obvious, one has to keep in mind that fights with sharp weapons are very uncommon these days (I know of certain madmen) and such a theory could be only verified by clashing ORIGINAL blades, not modern replica grade to see how our forefathers steel behaves.
As usual: There is no black and white, make your own conclusions using your logical mind but mind the experience of people who know their stuff.
Cheers
P.S.: I would very much appreciate input in form of images of your Karabelas or thoughts on this thread. Nearly 1300 readers must have something interesting to say. Thanks go out to the people who commented so far. This is for you guys, so if you want to hear more, I need feedback. I know the stuff and donīt need to write it down for myself :P
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Old 11th September 2021, 04:52 PM   #17
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I must say this thread you have posted is not only informative, but fascinating, and I am learning more on the actual use of the saber itself in combat, not just the karabela. While I have indeed fenced (many years ago) I would not consider that experience offered me enough experience to speak with authority from that perspective, but I do think my years of research give me a viable working knowledge.

I do very much want to keep the discussion going, as I think there is much more to learn, and as you note, the number of viewers indicate a most notable interest. The fact that there is a paucity of entries to the discussion overall, is an unfortunate situation that is most often the case on many threads. Many readers fear placing entries as they do not feel they have enough knowledge etc., but do not realize that asking questions is extremely important, just as placing ideas and observations.

In an earlier entry of yours, for example, you pointed out that in the attack with the saber, the position known as 'seconde' was used......describing the arm with bent elbow, holding saber at eye level, point slightly downward.
I had not known the correct term, nor it seems position, though I thought I did, thinking it was higher (high tierce). This was valuable to know and I thank you for the correction.

Here I would like to add my thoughts on the use of the saber in combat, in the 17th into 19th century, and typically of course with cavalry or mounted forces.
While the concerns about parrying are of course well placed as far as damage of the blade, it would seem that in actual battle, the prospects for 'one on one duel' were fairly limited in the chaos of the melee. Naturally if he were attacked suddenly by one of the swirling mass of opponents, he would have to defend and probably with parry as noted. However, these kinds of reactions could not have been conditioned, nor 'scheduled', as in a fencing match. These were adrenaline fueled, 'knee jerk' reactions.

The circumstances for positioning were also limited with the element of complete chaos and impact of deadly combat factoring in the swirl of combatants, panicked or wounded horses, terrain and its conditions, noise and visibility (weather, smoke from guns, screaming etc.)..

Initial contact relied on set draw cuts or scheduled blows, but after that, despite any conditioned training, that would degenerate in the ensuing chaos of the melee. Consider as well, the use of other weapons such as the battle axe. There were no holds barred in combat, nor rules, of course.
The damage to a sword blade was therefore, in my opinion, incidental rather than the result of improper parrying procedure.

On the note on the use of 'watered steel' on the high end versions of karabela for dress etc. I have not ever seen examples, but would imagine they did exist with the artisans from Ottoman regions in Lvov etc.

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Old 11th September 2021, 07:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
...While the concerns about parrying are of course well placed as far as damage of the blade, it would seem that in actual battle, the prospects for 'one on one duel' were fairly limited in the chaos of the melee. Naturally if he were attacked suddenly by one of the swirling mass of opponents, he would have to defend and probably with parry as noted....
...The circumstances for positioning were also limited with the element of complete chaos and impact of deadly combat factoring in the swirl of combatants, panicked or wounded horses, terrain and its conditions, noise and visibility (weather, smoke from guns, screaming etc.)..
...The damage to a sword blade was therefore, in my opinion, incidental rather than the result of improper parrying procedure...
Wise words, Jim .
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Old 11th September 2021, 08:34 PM   #19
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Wise words, Jim .
Thank you very much Fernando!!!!
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Old 11th September 2021, 09:46 PM   #20
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Thanks Jim for that important input and yet again for your kind words. I am glad to hear this information is uselful.

It seems to me that people debating historical fencing techniques (including myself) forget about the practical process of a battle which has been, as you comprehensible pointed out, a total chaos sometimes (most of the times?). I think I understood correctly that you brought the aspect of fighting/defending against different kinds of weapons and this has, without doubt, a huge impact on the way one has to use his weapon, a saber in our example.

As for the fencing stance, the "seconde", as I translated it from Mr.Zīs work, I am not sure if this can be taken as the standart for this specific time period. As fencing instructors have often traveled across Europe to share their knowledge, there are some written sources left for us to take a look on. And here comes a huge difference when it comes to the "Polish fencing style". There is practically no written source for that from the 17th-18th century. We have short mentionings in italian or german sources. But overall, its a riddle how the Polish saber has been used. I have heard the theory that saber fencing was tought by battle-experienced soldiers to young men or amongst the troops when gathered. This is a good question for a historian and I canīt wait until somebody finds a manuscript. Another problem is that a lot of documents are lost forever because of the destruction which has taken place in Poland during its "non-existence", the occupations and both world wars. Sad!
I can give you the additional information which I have been tought by my fencing instructor who teached F.C.Christmanns German saber based on a manual from 1838: The seconde is held with your arm as straight as possible. Your wrist so high, that you can see the eyes of your opponent under your hand. The thumb may not be placed on the back of the grip, you shall hold the weapon in a hammer-grip style. This is to prevent from thumb contusions while thrusting, which Christmann tells us, occured very often if the saber wasnt hold in a different manner. Side note: Christmann was a German who taught the use of the saber to Napoleons Dragoons.
As you see, there are a lot of interpretations of stances through time and location and Mr.Z. The one Christmann proposes reminds me of the "Prime" stance from other sources.
There is a book about the polish saber written by an US-American (i will not name him) which I have not read. I dont know where he has his information from since the Echelons of historical fencing in Poland are clueless about their own countriesī historical fencing techniques. So be aware of misinformation from such sources. If I am incorrect and someone knows of accurate sources he mentions in his work, please write.
There is a family of fencers in Poland (The Sieniawskis) which has "created" (I think that is the most appropiate word for it) a school of using the polish saber, namely "Sztuka Krzyzowa" (translation: "Art of the cross"). While I highly appreciate the effort of re-creating something forgotten for a long time and promoting ones countriesī legacy, these people base all of their fencing-style, as far as I know, from a single sentence in a italian description of european weapon use from the, I think, 17th century (sic! just one sentence). This sentence is loosely translated "...and the Poles cut crosswise.". So "all they do" is to parry with a cut down and riposte with a cut down from the other side, but not in moulinet-manner, but with swings form the shoulder. They do it very fast so one could argue there is no need to take a stance which claims you a safe space in front of you (f.e. "langort" in german longsword).
They produced a movie ("Born for the saber") which I can recommend when it comes to a historical accurate picture of a young boy becoming a soldier in 17th century Poland-Lithuania. But keep in mind what I mentioned before when watching these, admittedly very good looking, duels.
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Old 11th September 2021, 10:01 PM   #21
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Another thing I forgot to mention...
I am lucky enough to own a type II polish saber with nicks of battle use. Those nicks are located mostly in the middle of the blade. The middle is sharp, nut not as sharpened as the later part. The Part going towards the tip has been strongly smoothed and sharpened again. Mentioned nicks are 1,0 to a max. of 1,5 mm deep. Most of those go into the blade in a 90° angle to the edge. Some are angled in a smaller degree.
This contradicts the conversation and theory I worked out with mentioned swordsmith.
Since this is only one, very old blade, I cannot and will not abstract anything from it and claim it goes for all sabers from that time (17th c.). It can be that some youngers in 1885 just did light sparring with two of these sabers, history can go strange ways.
But a working-theory can be rightfully that the middle of the blade was for parries and the last part for cutting (When in control of the fighting situation and not in total chaos). Somebody obviously cared for re-shapening (getting rid of the nicks) only this part of that saber. This, of course, may be just coincidental and it can be the work of somebody much later and not familiar with the authentical battle preparation of a saber.
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Old 12th September 2021, 03:35 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
The fact that there is a paucity of entries to the discussion overall, is an unfortunate situation that is most often the case on many threads. Many readers fear placing entries as they do not feel they have enough knowledge etc., but do not realize that asking questions is extremely important, just as placing ideas and observations.
100% agree with that.
I myself have witnessed a gatekeeping/elitarism mentality on certain polish forums, especially when some people who claim they have the absolute knowledge are confronted with somebody not beeing a Polish person. Then argumentation mixes with patriotism. But these, often "load people", in a way one can be "loud" on internet forums, are very few and the majority uses such threads for asking questions about a weapon they recently bought/found and dont know what it is or where it comes from.

So: Feel free to ask anything here. No question is dumb and I will be happy to help out if I can. As far as I got the mindset right, this goes for all of us already exchanging thoughts here. If you have informations different than those I have noted, please share it. As I said, I am not a historian or professional in any matter on this topic and my word is not to be chiseled in stone!

I totally forgot about the interactive part of my guide. Here is something I posted in Part 2, but the image somehow was lost on its way.

---
You try now!

Below I post an image of another Karabela (edit: Type II saber). Feel free to examine it yourself and think about it. I will be happy if you post your results in a comment. This next Karabela (edit: Type II saber) is from a well known source, so if you already know the exact answer, you can still write it down, but hide the source, so somebody who doesnt know it can still make his or her own guess. I admit that I could have choosen an easier example, but this is not about winning or loosing, but just about the fun exploring and learning. I will reveal the correct answer in a few days!
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Old 15th September 2021, 12:30 AM   #23
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Excellent information on a convoluted topic, I am personally reading Wlodzimierz's book right now just for the reason to get smart so I can make an educated purchase on a karabela!

Jim, I had the ability to see the famous reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks in person while in Kiev back in 2010, I think it was touring there if I remember correctly. I didn't have the sword bug, the way I do now when I was there but I do remember there being a large number of Mongolian arms in the museum there. Cool stuff!
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Old 16th September 2021, 03:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by awdaniec666 View Post
Below I post an image of another Karabela (edit: Type II saber). Feel free to examine it yourself and think about it. I will be happy if you post your results in a comment.\
This is a hard one. I have stared at this item a bit for several mornings puzzled. The size of the picture makes it hard to see the overall proportions (maybe 900-1000 tall so that it fits the screen next time).

Blade: The blade reminds me of 17th century Tatar examples with a bluntish spear point. It lacks fullers and/or a central rib. The forte seems straighter and slightly slanted towards the back of the hilt, not the mild forward lean of the Turkic/Mongol peoples from the steppe to the east (Kipchaqs/Mongols/Tatars). Of course if the blade was a recycled blade, the blade/hilt angle could have been altered then. There is a hint of a yelman without a definitive hammer. I cannot see if there is a ricasso. I am guessing that it is a laminated blade from the picture.

Hilt: The hilt is of the Polish type with a 90 degree birds beak. Is it of sandwich construction? There seem to be hollow rivets. Horn scales?

Guard: Small guard with the overall shape influenced by the NE sabers from the 15th century. To echo awdanie666's question; What are the pieces of the guard that go down into the handle and project above the guard forming a cross called? Wasy in Polish? Langlets or beard in English?

Time: Would this be a 18th century saber with a recycled blade? To me it looks like it could be functional or parade depending on the sheath.

Do we know where the balance point is?

A side note on technique. Rivkin said that the reason for the bend in the NE sabers was that when cutting the bend allowed the grip to be relaxed just before before impact to reduce the chance of breaking a wrist.

awdaniec666, thank you again for doing all this research and translation. It is a fascinating subject.

Last edited by Interested Party; 16th September 2021 at 07:43 PM. Reason: Additional thought and punctuation
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Old 17th September 2021, 08:32 PM   #25
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To echo awdanie666's question; What are the pieces of the guard that go down into the handle and project above the guard forming a cross called? Wasy in Polish? Langlets or beard in English
Its lovely to see I am not alone when it comes to this part of a saber. For our cause. Lets just call its "wasy" or "beard" then. ("Beard" is directly translated).

Following comes the official statement for this saber as shown on the wikipedia.
It is located in the "Livrustkammaren" in Stockholm, Sweden.
The image I have used is for common share (Thanks to the museum! ). Its official description on the wikipedia is as follows (translated from swedish to english via google):

"Fastener clad with plates of dark brown wood, fastened with rivets with knurled brass heads, two preserved of originally three. At the top bent forward in lace and contoured, around, the front and back rail of gilded brass with punched vine.

Short straight pair bars of gilded brass with spherical ends and in one with guide rails. The cross is decorated in chiseled relief with a cross surrounded by flowers.

Steel blade, 34 mm wide, curved, single-edged to the approximately 154 mm long two-edged tip portion.
"

The information on wikipedia says its from the 17th century. This is not the case. As I know from the offical exhibition in the museum, the sign under this specific Karabela is signed "Polish saber, around 1700".

So... There you have it. The answer which is backed by historians is: "A Polish saber around 1700".

But what would we be if we would not intend to be more catholic than the pope in this thread?

The following is my own opinion. I respect the scientific expertise and limits of archeology and history and therefore dont aim at correcting professionals on antique weaponry. The following is just a guess based on my experience and knowledge for educational purpose...


Style of blade:
To be honest, this is a shape I came across only once. It looks like somebody wanted a Karabela-ish blade. The point was and is not really meant to thrust. I would go that far and say this is meant to look like an actual battle-ready blade, but it doesnt show things like fullers etc.. Yes, there is something like a "feather"/"pioro"/yelmen but very, very rudimentary. Just from that I think this blade is way too heavy-balanced tipwards, to be used for combat and too short to be a cavalry-chopper.

Crossguard: Shape is in ottoman style of the 17th century. The thickness/strenght is questionable. Broader/stronger crossguards made of steel can be found bent in other museums. This is not meant for battle in my opinion. The decoration looks like made in the mid 18th century for somebody who wanted to wear this saber for "parade" reasons. Brass is a good material, but not as durable as steel, so again...

Hilt: Polish decorative style of the ending 18th century. Absolutely no signs of architecture which helps to avoid sliding in the hand (szewrony, prominent rivets). Just plain wood. Brass rivets clearly dont go through the tang but are mounted on iron nails (can be seen because one brass "rivet-crown" is missing. I know this weapon only from this angle of view, there cannot say anything about the hilt design (sandwich/uni-blade?).

Conclusion:

Decorative polish saber with a karabela-hilt from between 1750-1850. (Karabela kontuszowa).
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Old 17th September 2021, 09:26 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by awdaniec666 View Post
Its lovely to see I am not alone when it comes to this part of a saber. For our cause. Lets just call its "wasy" or "beard" then. ("Beard" is directly translated).

Steel blade, 34 mm wide, curved, single-edged to the approximately 154 mm long two-edged tip portion.[/I] "

Style of blade:
To be honest, this is a shape I came across only once. It looks like somebody wanted a Karabela-ish blade. The point was and is not really meant to thrust. I would go that far and say this is meant to look like an actual battle-ready blade, but it doesnt show things like fullers etc.. Yes, there is something like a "feather"/"pioro"/yelmen but very, very rudimentary. Just from that I think this blade is way too heavy-balanced tipwards, to be used for combat and too short to be a cavalry-chopper.
Wasy it is then. I have not found a better word.

I am posting a blade with a similar cross section and a profile that is in many ways similar as well, if you take the forward slant away from the forte. Rivkin in his book A Study of the Eastern Sword although he says there were similar 13th century Kipchaq and Mongolian blades attributes this pattern to Mamluk Egypt. He states that in the 16-17th centuries it was produced in Egypt, Persia, and the Ottoman empire congruently. They could be made of bulat or plain steel.

PS. it seems 800 mp high might be the most we can use and fit a picture entirely on the screen. This attachment was 900 tall.
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Old 18th September 2021, 11:49 AM   #27
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Thank you for this correction. You are right, the blades do look very similar!
Iīm happy to have the opportunity to learn here
Is the image from " A Study of the Eastern Sword"? It looks very well made.
Edit: Looking at the tatar blade on the image you have posted, it seems to me that there is a wide fuller (or should it be called a broad and shallow depression) on the blade as well as a little hammer. I missed these kind of things on the Livrustkammaren Karabela. This is why I had the thought of a decorative-only blade in the first place. It looks like just a plain piece of shaped metal to me.

Last edited by awdaniec666; 18th September 2021 at 11:54 AM. Reason: a word about the tatar blade
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Old 19th September 2021, 12:05 AM   #28
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The Ultimate Karabela Guide - PART 4

This part is about makers marks. It is a quiet difficult topic and there is enough to write a book about it. This here is just for orientation. I recommend reading the "Early Makers Marks" thread in this forum, since a lot of Karabelas are marked with the toothed sickle mark, sometimes called "Gurda" in the Caucaus, "sierpy" in Poland. Those marks appear on A LOT of blades from between 1500 to 1700, Dussacks, Schiavonna, Wallon-swords etc..

---
Brief overview

Smiths providing blades which were used on Karabela hilts and had marks which allow for differentiation were mainly located in:

- Persia
- Ottoman Empire
- Hungary
- Northern Italy (Genua)
- Southern Germany (Solingen, Passau)
- Austria (Steiermark)

When it comes to the European workshops there is a huge problem in distinguishing some makers marks. Take the sickle for example. It is said to come from Genua and its colonies (They had colonies in the Caucasus -> Gurda). It has been copied by at least a handful of locations across Europe: Steiermark, Hungary, Poland and the Caucasus region.

How do you approach research in distinguishing similar marks:
Take the "Passauer wolf" as an example. This mark has been changed through history and locations and there is enough literature where you can easily look up how the wolf mark has been made in a specific time and which workshop used a specific example (as far we can know now).

See Image 1

The following images are here to provide you a basic understanding of how those marks were made and how they look like. Keep in mind that most of them (not all) have been stamped into the blade when it was still formable. Those stamps could be used few times before beeing destroyed in the process.

When it comes to the sickle-mark there are many variations. Sickles besides each other, sickles above each other, with stars around them, with simple dots etc..
The same goes for other marks, as you see in the Passauer wolf image.

There is no complete list of marks and their workshops. I doubt that there will be one. All we could do is to create a database where we gather those marks. One will probably not find out where every mark is from since import/export of blades back then was very common. Weapons were often build by "sword-makers" (German: "Schwertfeger") from imported parts: A blade could come from Germany, the crossguard could have been made by Armenians in Lwów, the wooden handle by a Hungarian craftsman. Such items were delivered or even ordered to a certain workshop where they were matched to a user-optimized weapon.

Most of these images have been taken from type II sabers. Three are from the "makers marks" thread on this forum. One has been taken from a 17th century German rapier. Another depicts the Persian lion mark which can be also found on Stephan Batorys saber in thr MWP in Warsaw. Because of time-lack I wont get into presenting the whole weapon with its marks. This would take too much time which I sadly have not.

Keywords you can use to find makers marks on the internet:

-FRINGIA
-Sickle-mark
-Gurda
-Passauer Wolf
-Solingen mark
-Persian lion mark
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Last edited by awdaniec666; 19th September 2021 at 12:11 AM. Reason: added persian lion mark
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Old 19th September 2021, 11:09 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by awdaniec666 View Post
Thank you for this correction. You are right, the blades do look very similar!

Is the image from " A Study of the Eastern Sword"? It looks very well made.
Edit: Looking at the tatar blade on the image you have posted, it seems to me that there is a wide fuller (or should it be called a broad and shallow depression) on the blade as well as a little hammer. I missed these kind of things on the Livrustkammaren Karabela. This is why I had the thought of a decorative-only blade in the first place. It looks like just a plain piece of shaped metal to me.
Not a correction. Just an idea.

I've noticed that there are of Indian/Afghan tulwars of a similar cross section and profile. As you mention wide shallow fullers are notoriously hard to determine in photographs. I would not know how this relates to your subject as Indian sword techniques to my understanding have a stiffer wrist (I have heard that the disc and short grip may lock the hand in place) and the Indian style used a lot of slicing/ draw cut movements. How these preferred movements would effect the desired balance, weight of the blade etc., I do not have the competence to answer.
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Old 20th September 2021, 01:30 PM   #30
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This is a problem we share. I am very much into Karabela sabers, a little bit less into hungarian-polish types and everything else oscillates around that for me, so I very much appreciate knowledge on tangent topics, when it comes f.e. to re-mounted blades of distant origin
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