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Old 5th March 2021, 05:05 PM   #1
Mefidk
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Default Khevsur sabre for comments

Here is what I believe to be an interesting sword from an lesser known people in the arms collecting world (although I'm sure they are well known to some here). I have to say at the outset that I am absolutely no expert in these, but I've been in touch with Jim who I hope will share his thoughts.

I guess the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. The blade has certainly seen better days, obviously got rusted badly towards the last third of one side at some point in time. The sword itself is quite nice to handle, fairly light . Blade length is 776mm with a total length of 902mm, blade width at base 32mm.

The markings are a 'gurda' mark on one side near the hilt. The other side has CV (EV?) and then floral patterns with a opposing gurdas in the middle.
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Old 5th March 2021, 05:08 PM   #2
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Some more pictures.
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Old 5th March 2021, 05:27 PM   #3
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To my untrained and increasingly elderly eyes, some of the markings - the "floral" set specifically - look unusually crisp, given the erosion of the surface of the sword. I'd have thought they'd have been more affected.
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Old 5th March 2021, 05:52 PM   #4
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I amnot sure if it is KHevsur, or from other area of Georgia. For sure the leather on tehhandle is a caucasus characteristic. What i know as Khevsur swords are below
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Old 5th March 2021, 07:45 PM   #5
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Khevsurli stuff is cool.

Mine: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...hlight=khevsur

My Khevsuli pranguli: I have since managed to find a proper georgian/Khevsur black leather baldric for it.
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Last edited by kronckew; 6th March 2021 at 08:31 AM. Reason: oops, had to resize image, no longer missing.
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Old 6th March 2021, 06:41 AM   #6
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I've got to say that the examples you guys post are much nicer than mine which seems to be towards the functional end of the spectrum. However, at least in the pictures I see on the net, the more flamboyant hilt seems to be the norm.

Regarding the floral markings, I agree they do seem a little sharp, but partly that is due to the contrasty picture I used to bring the marks forward a bit. They are in a very much less corroded part of the blade and the parts not in the fullers are shallower. I think possibly deeply marked originally. At least I can't see why anyone would go to the considerable trouble of adding these to an old blade. This is not one of the high value swords shown by eftihis.
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Old 6th March 2021, 08:25 AM   #7
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Splendid photos, Mefidk.

They correspond to the anecdote in http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showpo...7&postcount=13 by ariel, which is one of my favourite stories.

Here in part:
========
There is a famous story about a sudden appearance of a band of mounted Khevsurs wearing chain mails, swords and shields in Tbilisi in the summer of 1915: they just heard that the Russian Tsar was at war with .. who knows whom ... and wanted to join his army. The news did not reach their mountain villages on time and the winter snows blocked the gorges. So, they came as fast as they could:-)

They had their peculiar weapons: satiteni ( fighting rings) and Dashna, short swords made of broken sword blades. Both were in active daily use as late as 1960s. Kind of, never leave home without it:-)

Splendid bastards. For Clausewitz war was yet another instrument of politics, but for Khevsurs it was a way of life.
======

I gather they were really disappointed they'd missed the start of the war.

My sword was sold by a Khevsurli to the Tbilisi dealer I bought it from. I suspect it was one of those still in use in the 1960s, but the seller never mentioned its origin or age. I've been told the Khevsurli are looked down on as low class barbarians by the Georgians. Personally, I do not think it's a good idea to anger one tho.

Update: Missing video from my earlier thread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmF8jjNGkWs

Khevsuri Knights 1915: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQbjthN5mK4

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Old 6th March 2021, 02:27 PM   #8
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The very esoteric topic of these Khevsur people has long been a personal favorite since I first became aware of them in the early 90s. They are primarily a mountaineer, tribal people of the Caucasus mountains situated closely to Georgia.
I first became aware of them from the book by the adventure writer Richard Halliburton," Seven League Boots" (1935), describing his visit to these people where he was stunned to find medieval warriors cap a' pied in mail armor, helmets and swords.

This is the source of the anecdote Wayne referenced in the last post. The straight blade sword he added is a more recent example of this type which they actually use in duels, at least they still did in the 1930s.
The term 'pranguli' for these straight blade dueling swords was told to me by the French arms author Iaroslav Lebedynsky, who had written a book on the arms of the Cossacks and Caucasians in about 1992 if I recall.

The Khevsur saber posted here appears to be with a Daghestani blade, which were fashioned after the Solingen imports heavily used prior to c. 1850s, when they began forging their own. The reason the character of these swords is so strongly Georgian is because Tiflis (Tblisi) was the main point of contact for the Khevsurs in their trade and supplies. This was a center for not only trade, but arms production where components and influences from many sources influenced the also diverse artisans working there.

As Mefidk has pointed out, there would be no reason for adding these decorative features to a well aged blade. These floral devices may have been aesthetic however they often incorporate key symbolism coming from the animist folk religion followed by the Khevsurs.

The 'gurda' mark mentioned refers to the dentated arc near the hilt on the blade, which is typical of the variations of these 'sickle' marks copied from the blades earlier brought in from Styria and N. Italy (Genoan). These dentated arcs, which originated in Italy, represented quality, and the Caucasian blade makers adopted them to express similar meaning, calling them 'gurda'. The etymology of the term is unclear, but Isa Askhabov ("Chechen Arms', 2001) suggests the colloquial meaning is 'jaws', that they 'eat' iron.
The two initials (?) as appear , CV? may be makers initials as often occur on these blades in that blade quadrant if I have understood correctly.

One of the best references on Caucasian weapons recently published and in English is "Caucasian Arms and Armor by Kirill Rivkin (2015), in which a number of swords of Ariel's are included. The examples, photography and profound insights expressed are remarkable and highly informative.

The attached grouping of Khevsur edged weapons:
On left, saber with embossed brass hilt, blade Persian, trade
small dagger with 'gurda' marks en motif.
Pranguli, believed with blade from Chechen aul of Bolshiye Ataghi with the gurda marks in linear motif as with decorative fashion there along blade back.

Remaining pics are of this 'pranguli' which began my Khevsur 'adventure' back in early 90s. This example likely turn of the century, possibly slightly earlier. Note the geometric devices at the upper quadrant of blade near hilt. These seem to correspond to other symbols used in material culture in these regions and somewhat in motif in Daghestani textiles.
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Old 17th June 2021, 08:12 PM   #9
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This is an eastern georgian saber not a khevsur one, khevsur swords have brass fittings on the hilt and the scabbard sometimes silver on fancier ones, and what you got is not like that, it is a typical eastern georgian saber.

Here is some photos of eastern Georgians with sabers
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Old 18th June 2021, 06:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dat_man View Post
This is an eastern georgian saber not a khevsur one, khevsur swords have brass fittings on the hilt and the scabbard sometimes silver on fancier ones, and what you got is not like that, it is a typical eastern georgian saber.

Here is some photos of eastern Georgians with sabers
Hello Datman,
Welcome to the discussion! and I'm glad you joined us. I am intrigued by your assertion, to say the least, and anxious to hear more on what groups comprise East Georgians, and what distinguishes their sabers as opposed to Khevsur.
Also interested on the Khevsur stipulations on the use of brass fittings. It sounds as if you have a great deal of experience with these rather esoteric weapons, and must be familiar with Kirill Rivkin's excellent book, "Arms and Armor of Caucusus".
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Old 19th June 2021, 05:09 PM   #11
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Thank you Jim for the welcome, and I wouldn't consider myself that experienced.

When talking about Georgians it is good to know as much as possible about the ethnic groups because it can be very useful, at least that is my opinion.

About khevsurs I am pretty sure you are in common with the weapons they carry, they got a khmali "sword" a shield a dashna "short sword" and a dagger, we can add to those the armour and the ursa knife and in earlier times spears (I only saw one photo of khevsur man with a spear all the other descriptions are old drawings), if we look at swords in the old photos of khevsur we will always see the brass fittings on the scabbards and the only photos I have seen that are tagged as khevsur but have a normal georgian saber tend to be photos of none khevsur models that are dressed in a way to make them look closer enough, for the dashna they have similar fittings except in the case of 20th century examples that have a D guard some of those doesn't have such fittings, but we need to remember at this time period there was a move of modernising the khevsur and we see them stop carrying swords and shields even daggers and just carry a dashna also we see changes in the way they are dressed and alot of their crafts starts to get lost, about the daggers their daggers don't have any special thing and they mostly are bought from tiblisi or dagistan, the only thing is that they kept using 4 fingers grips even through 3 fingers hilts were becoming common in most of the caucasus.

About the other Eastern georgian sabers share similar blades that we see on the khevsur examples but they also tend to have blades similar to shamshir blades or some other styles, for the hilts we either see persian style hilt with leather around the grip or like this ( http://www.caucasianarms.com/collect...shamshir-sword ) I don't know how to describe it properly but you can see the different shape of the grip and the guard.

We most of the time see them carried by nobility from Eastern Georgia and you would mostly see them wearing what they call kulazha instead of chokha.

About the photos on my earlier post those were tushins from tusheti region.

Here are some photos
1- a khevsur man with typical khevsur swords
2- khevsur man with a D guard dashna without the brass fittings as explained earlier, you can also see what looks like a Russian military saber
3- another example of such sabers
4- georgian noblemen with such saber
5- another georgian with similar saber

About that book I haven't had yet

I hope this is helpful and I will be happy to hear what you think and I will look if I have other photos that may be helpful here
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Old 19th June 2021, 07:08 PM   #12
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Dat Man, thank you so much for what I can only describe as a resounding ! response! You are quite modest as obviously you are extremely experienced with these weapons and the peoples in these region.
My personal research on this these topics is from beginning in the 90s, and frankly the resources were dismal here in the west in those times aside from a few guys who had great inside contacts.

In recent years there has been a virtual renaissance on these Caucasian arms as reflected by the wonderful book by Kirill Rivkin (op.cit.).

In my early research I added the only Khevsur weapons I have, and at the time in discussions with Iaroslav Lebedynsky (whose book on Caucasian weapons in French was one of the only resources available in the 90s) he used the term 'pranguli' for these straight blade 'dueling' swords.

It seems more than reasonable that Georgian swords would have been among those used in Khevsuria as their contacts with Georgian regions and Daghestan were well established.

I would like to continue talking with you on these, and will try to get together some more specific questions. In the meantime I hope others here with interest and experience in these areas will step in. It is amazing when a discussion ensues in which this kind of knowledge and experience can be shared.

Thank you again, outstanding and very informative response and well explained.

All best regards
Jim
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Old 20th June 2021, 06:26 PM   #13
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I am happy that you found my response helpful jim, and I hope I can expand my knowledge and experience by learning from you too, and I will make sure to share what I know with you.

I am also interested to see what others can add to this topic.
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