Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 7th May 2021, 01:24 AM   #1
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default An interesting Yataghan sword-stick for comment & analysis!

Hi all, long-time-no-post! I suppose like a lot of people that frequent this forum, I have plenty of topics that I want to ask/comment about as a posts, but very little time to sit down and type up such things. Introductions aside, I was motivated by the unique & pretty clear history of this item to sit down and post about it!

I just got this off of ebay earlier this week by the way, so the pics I'm sharing are just from the seller, but according to USPS it should be here tomorrow! Fingers crossed a truck doesn't accidentally sit on it or something lol.

Anyways, what I have here is clearly a sword stick with handle scales transposed onto it from an archetypical, large-eared yataghan! To me the most logical story here is that it's some kind of bring back/trophy, either from actual combat or (I suppose more likely) from some kind of exploitative tourism or colonialism. This then to me seems like it would be a rather cool heirloom piece - the valuable, identifiable handle scales passed on to a style of sword more owner-friendly, long after the blade was deemed obsolete. Or, perhaps less romantically, stripped soullessly from the original piece, put on a more "refined" and "eloquent" style of weapon. Either way, a very cool juxtaposition of cultures and martial traditions. One further origin that's possible is that the whole piece is natively made; perhaps the native turkish owner of the original yataghan wanted this sword stick to be fashioned for it, keeping the scales, and reformatting it as a more western, then-socially acceptable style of sword, allowing them to be able to carry their ancestry about in public without scrutiny. Either way, somehow it got to Ohio, and will soon be in Minnesota lol.

I have yet to memorize the attributions for different yataghan styles, but I believe ears of this kind were just found on straight turkish-made examples right? Not greek or balkan? Also are the handle scales a discernible kind of ivory? I know walrus was quite auspicious but idk if elephant is the more likely material.

Also also I'm no expert on sword sticks, so if this one belongs to any identifiable style please let me know that too. That's actually part of the reason why I'm sharing it here, as the whole item is rather out of my area of expertise.

To be honest, part of the reason why I bought it in the first place was just because I liked the contrast between the wood, ivory, and metal fittings. I've always wanted a large-eared yataghan, but as a college student I've never had the money saved up for one, so this is a welcome alternative.

Finally, speaking on the materials, I'll post more close up pics of everything once I get it, but I'd be interested in conserving pretty much every aspect of this sword, so if someone could give me advice here or in private it would be much appreciated. There are some gaps/cracks in the wood and also quite clearly some kind of epoxy was used to fill several chips between one of the handle scales and the rest of the grip, so any advice on how I could remove that and at least replace it with a slightly less blatant repair would be similarly appreciated.
Attached Images
      
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 07:05 AM   #2
mariusgmioc
Member
 
mariusgmioc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 1,750
Default

This is a very interesting piece and I must confess I have never seen anything like it.

The hilt may be some kind of ivory (walrus ivory?) but we will need better photos to make an educated guess.

However, characteristic for a yataghan is not only the eared hilt but also the recurved blade with a single cutting edge on the interior. To the extreme, the blade can be straight, but it still has to maintain the general shape with a single cutting edge.

In this case, the blade appears to be a multi-faceted rod with no edge and a pointy tip, more like a stiletto. That's why I wouldn't call this a yataghan but a "sword-stick with yataghan hilt."

Regarding the attribution, for yataghans it is generally very difficult to pinpoint to a geographical area because within the Ottoman Empire skills and smiths traveled freely. Sometimes, for some particular pieces the geographical location can be pinpointed accurately, but this is generally if the yataghan has some revealing text or some characteristic style/decorations, which isn't the case here. Moreover, in this case the only clearly recognizable Ottoman feature are the scales, while all the rest appears quite European.

So, the eared scales could have been taken from an older yataghan and mounted on an European blade simply for their exotic appearance, since the mounting style is quite different from the Ottoman style and looks very European.

Last edited by mariusgmioc; 7th May 2021 at 07:24 AM.
mariusgmioc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 11:12 AM   #3
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 8,559
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post
... So, the eared scales could have been taken from an older yataghan and mounted on an European blade simply for their exotic appearance, since the mounting style is quite different from the Ottoman style and looks very European...
Agreed .
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 01:02 PM   #4
Kubur
Member
 
Kubur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2,145
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post
That's why I wouldn't call this a yataghan but a "sword-stick with yataghan hilt."
Even I would call it, sword-stick with yataghan grips.

I saw several sword-sticks with nimcha type hilts. I don't think the blade is European. Please send us good photos of the scabbard, stick and the blade. The grips are, of course, from the Balkans, but the sword stick might be North African.
Kubur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 03:15 PM   #5
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
The grips are, of course, from the Balkans, but the sword stick might be North African.
Ah so big eared Yataghans like that are balkan in origin, not (anatolian) turkish? Good to know!

Also yes for everyone else hopefully I will be able to post better pictures of it soon, assuming it arrives today.
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2021, 06:33 PM   #6
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default

Update: it arrived this morning! I have to run some errands today however so I probably won't be able to take, let alone post, images until the early evening. Initial impressions though are that it's quite nice! It's definitely not a super professionally made piece (i.e. made by a super skilled artisan), but I very much like how rugged & functional it feels, outside of the fragile handle lol.

Overall length is 38.5 inches, blade length is 18.5 inches, handle 8 inches including the ear protrusions, with the scales themselves taking about 4.5 inches of the total hilt length (the part of the hilt you can actually hold is 5 inches).

Everything is surprisingly solid, and the only movement is in the metal collar that connects the handle to the scabbard. There have clearly been numerous repairs to the wood and ivory over the years, as you guys will see once I post pics. The blade is of an elongated diamond shape, tapering steadily to the tip. The edges are indeed blunt but the tip is still very pointy and interestingly there's a section of the blade close to the guard that actually was beveled and sharpened at one point, perhaps for utilitarian purposes. The scales now appear to me to be clearly walrus ivory, as there are sections that feature that characteristic warbled texture

Apologies if this update doesn't provide much substance for anyone to comment on, but I figured I'd just get my initial thoughts/observations out there. Close up pics and "review" coming soon lol
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th May 2021, 07:54 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,561
Default

Nihl, this is an incredibly unique item!! and with remarkably exotic character.
I very much agree with Marius' well described observations, especially with the fact that like many ethnographic weapons, regional classification of 'yataghans' is often difficult. As noted the larger 'eared' examples are typically regarded as Balkan, and within the Ottoman Empire. With those two very broad denominators, it is often hard to define more specific attribution.

While reference material on sword canes and walking sticks is very esoteric, and I dont know offhand of any specialized works, it seems that most likely general antique references might have some insights.

I like your approach recognizing the romantic character of such an exotic and clearly personalized item. It is clearly a case of the Kipling-esque "East meets West' in the combining of the sword cane concept to the traditional yataghan weapon, and very likely signifies colonial times. The Ottomans by the mid to latter 19th century were keen on adopting western ideas, weaponry and fashion. The notion of such a fashionable weapon by a member of standing in Ottoman context or gentleman in European gentry is hard to resist.

You have certainly piqued my interest in sword canes, so now I see another obsessive quest to find more .........thanks Nihl!!!
Absolutely wonderful item, well done!
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 02:06 AM   #8
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default

Alright sorry for the delay folks! I tried to take these pics in one go, so if they're a bit rough around the edges then my apologies. This first post will be focused around the hilt, with the next around the scabbard, fittings, and blade. Let me know what you think or if there's anything you want a specific closeup of.

Also thanks for the positive words Jim! I had a feeling you would appreciate this one
Attached Images
      
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 02:50 AM   #9
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default

Pt.2
Attached Images
      
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 09:01 AM   #10
Kubur
Member
 
Kubur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2,145
Default

Mmmmm nice screws and nail, definitively something recent, early or mid 20thc.

The blade doesn't look European to me and the scabbard is flyssa like type...
Kubur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 10:43 AM   #11
mariusgmioc
Member
 
mariusgmioc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 1,750
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
Mmmmm nice screws and nail, definitively something recent, early or mid 20thc.

The blade doesn't look European to me and the scabbard is flyssa like type...
Well, the blade looks pretty European to me, and while I understand the similarities with flyssa scabbards (two wooden halves kept together by metal bands), I do not believe this is a strong enough indication towards African origin. But this may change depending on the answer to my question below.

The scales on the other hand, appear quite clearly to be of walrus ivory, and indeed of a more Balkan shape (albeit this attribution is quite fuzzy since skills and styles travelled and overlapped greatly within the Ottoman Empire).

Question: Are the metal bands of the scabbard continuous (like metal rings) or are they metal bands surrounding the scabbard and having the ends joined together by bending (flyssa style)?

PS: The metal rings/bands on the scabbard can also be a later addition.
mariusgmioc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 05:37 PM   #12
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post
Are the metal bands of the scabbard continuous (like metal rings) or are they metal bands surrounding the scabbard and having the ends joined together by bending (flyssa style)?
.
They're continuous! There's a barely-visible seam on each one indicating where the band was forged-welded together.
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 05:47 PM   #13
Nihl
Member
 
Nihl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
Mmmmm nice screws and nail, definitively something recent, early or mid 20thc.
Those repairs certainly are, yes. Somehow I doubt the scales were that fractured when they were originally attached...

That said, the screws themselves actually look rather roughly made, so I suppose they could be original with the piece if the whole thing was made earlier. Maybe late 19th or something like that.
Attached Images
 
Nihl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th May 2021, 07:53 PM   #14
Saracen
Member
 
Saracen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 121
Default

The general shape is very similar to the Carpathian shepherd's ax-staff (valaška, fokos).
They were not always with an ax on the top; there were also other forms of pommel.
The authorities often tried to ban them because it was a serious weapon.
Maybe valaška with a blade inside is the result of such a prohibition?
Attached Images
 

Last edited by Saracen; 10th May 2021 at 08:03 PM.
Saracen is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 07:46 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.