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Old 8th January 2021, 01:32 AM   #1
RobT
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Default Plain Jane Yataghan Origin Requested

Hi All,

I was wondering if anyone could tell me where this no frills Yataghan comes from. Perhaps the design on the sheath throat (which looks to me like a bird in a tree) is a clue. The blade measures 19.125" (48.5775cm) and has a slight T-rib. There are no maker's marks or other inscriptions. The hilt scales are wood that have been painted black (now very worn). Three steel rivets secure the scales to the tang. The backstrap (top part missing) between the scales is brass, as is the ferrule which also shows the remains of a very plain ricasso. Despite the obvious wear, blade and hilt are still quite solid. The sheath is wood with a brass throat and a black painted fabric center section. The fabric & the wood are both in poor condition and the brass throat shows an area where a suspension lug may have been. I believe that the bottom section of the sheath also had a brass covering which unfortunately is now missing. Its unprepossessing nature notwithstanding, the sword is very well balanced and pleasing in form. In use it would be as effective as more Princely Yataghans.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 5th February 2021, 03:41 PM   #2
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Default Nothing?!

Hi All,

Last month I posted a request for info on the origin of this yataghan. Despite over 500 views there has been zero response. I have been a Viking Sword member for a long time and this is the first yataghan post that I can recall seeing that didn't generate a healthy response. I find it hard to believe that this piece is so odd that nobody has seen its like before. It is a very well made blade despite its lack of bling. I am currently cataloguing my collection and would appreciate origin info so I can correctly categorize the piece. In my opinion, because of the member knowledge base, Viking Sword is far and away the best source for reliable info of this type. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 5th February 2021, 03:53 PM   #3
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Normally these are identified by the inscription, or by distinctive mounts, having neither this is impossible to place. Sorry mate, sometimes that happens.
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Old 5th February 2021, 05:54 PM   #4
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Hello,

I am not at all a Yatagan specialist but I acquired one 1 week ago in a batch of Indonesian weapons. It is also very simple, very similar in construction, except that the brass of the handle is replaced by a white metal with the same zigzag decoration as the copper of the scabbard (I have also a Bichaq with the same construction). The only visible mark is the date 1877 marked in small dotted lines on each side of the blade. I suspect my specimen was not made for a soldier, but to be sold as a souvenir.
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Old 6th February 2021, 08:57 PM   #5
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Default Thanks For The Responses

David R
You have a good point. Save for the motif on the sheath throat, my piece is certainly without any inscription or decoration. So, unless somebody knows of an area where yataghans are made without embellishment, I may be out of luck.

Athanase,
I don't know what your yataghan looks like but I don't believe the one I have was meant as a souvenir for the following reasons: The blade on mine is well forged and well shaped and the hilt is solidly mounted to the tang. The wear patterns on all components indicate use and carry. And finally, there is an absence of any bling. Why would anyone go to all the hard work of making a combat ready item as a souvenir and then not provide it with the eye candy (no matter how tawdry) designed to catch the tourist's eye? Perhaps you could provide a photo of your yataghan for examination and comment? You may have judged it too harshly.
Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 6th February 2021, 11:32 PM   #6
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I re-looked at the photos of your Yatagan, and indeed your blade is much better than mine. But the scabbard the same construction. Of course when I was talking about a souvenir weapon I was talking about mine. I'm trying to take pictures on Sunday.
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Old 7th February 2021, 04:06 AM   #7
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Default The Sheath May Hold the Clue

Athanase,

I look forward to the photos of your yataghan. The sheath for your blade may provide a clue of origin. If yours is very similar to mine and you are sure that yours is from Indonesia, then I have a starting point for further research.

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RobT
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Old 7th February 2021, 10:14 AM   #8
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Hello,

I must have expressed myself in a confusing way (I'm not good at English).
I bought my Yatagan in France, in a group of Indonesian weapons (tombak, keris ...), the seller had everything mixed up. But it is clear that my Yatagan is from the Ottoman Empire and not from Indonesia.
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Old 7th February 2021, 10:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
Normally these are identified by the inscription, or by distinctive mounts, having neither this is impossible to place. Sorry mate, sometimes that happens.
Of course, it's an authentic 19th c yataghan, but as David said it's almost impossible to say more than that.

Your yataghan could be from anywhere, between the Balkans, Turkey or even Syria...

You should post a good photo of the blade, I cannot see any back edge / flat spine on your photos...

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Old 7th February 2021, 04:33 PM   #10
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Pictures of my Yatagan for comparison.
I just cleaned the scabbard with soap to remove the dust, but I haven't touched anything yet.

The scabbard is made of wood covered with leather sewn with copper wire and covered with thin sheet of engraved copper. The tip of the scabbard is made by a copper thimble. The handle is in horn and white metal. The blade is made of steel, maximum 3mm thick. It is a little sharp, but the groove is very badly hollowed out.
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Old 7th February 2021, 05:45 PM   #11
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Default Spine, T-Rib & Tip Close-ups

Kubur
I have made close-ups of the spine at hilt, T-Rib and tip of my blade. Caliper measurement of the spine at hilt measures 11/32" (between 8 & 9mm, .34375 decimal inches). The T-Rib tapers distally from the hilt and ends 1-7/8" (44.45mm, 1.875 decimal inches) before the tip. I can't recall ever having seen a yataghan with a T-Rib before but maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention (they are usually so darn expensive that I only glance at them).

Athanase,
Your English appears to be quite good. Are you sure the spine on yours is only 3mm? I ask this because that is well under 1/8" and otherwise, your blade looks OK to me. Certainly, based on the photos alone without the measurement, I would be inclined to buy it if the price were right.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 7th February 2021, 06:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobT
Kubur
I have made close-ups of the spine at hilt, T-Rib and tip of my blade. Caliper measurement of the spine at hilt measures 11/32" (between 8 & 9mm, .34375 decimal inches). The T-Rib tapers distally from the hilt and ends 1-7/8" (44.45mm, 1.875 decimal inches) before the tip. I can't recall ever having seen a yataghan with a T-Rib before but maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention (they are usually so darn expensive that I only glance at them).
Sincerely,
RobT
Hi Rob,
You have a good steel blade and Marius will tell you to polish it and he will be right!

I wil take some risks and say that your Yat is from Bulgaria or Turkey...
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Old 7th February 2021, 06:14 PM   #13
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Balkan karakulak yats are frequently fairly crude. They and many longer Bulgarian/Greek shepherds knives are made by local blacksmiths for less well off locals. most have integral bolsters, which the Turkish ones tend not to, having formed sheet metal, usually decorated or embeded with colored stones extending partway up the blade..Like yours (which has no stones).

Longer Balkan shepherds knives can look very yat-like.

In other words, without specific indicators, yours has mixed signals, Balkans Or Turkey sounds reasonable (or both).

p.s. - something simple, like a photo of the stitching on the scabbard may help too. Turks tended to use a sort of ladder with short horizontals wound with wire (example from a sabre below)

My Bulgarian (Balkan) Karaculak/shepherd's knife:
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Last edited by kronckew; 7th February 2021 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 7th February 2021, 07:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobT
Kubur
Athanase,
Your English appears to be quite good. Are you sure the spine on yours is only 3mm? I ask this because that is well under 1/8" and otherwise, your blade looks OK to me. Certainly, based on the photos alone without the measurement, I would be inclined to buy it if the price were right.

Sincerely,
RobT
The length of the blade is 60 cm, its width is about 3.6cm and its thickness is 8mm at the base (because covered with decorated white metal) then between 4 and 3mm on the majority of the length of the blade except the last 10 cm of the point where the thickness obviously decreases.
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Old 7th February 2021, 07:38 PM   #15
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Kubur,
Thanks for the complement and possible origin. I cleaned up the blade a bit when I first got it but it does deserve some more work (including replacement of the missing back strap).

Athanase,
After I wrote about the thinness of your blade, I realized that I have a yataghan in my collection that has a very thin and flexible blade (only a hair over 1/8" [3.175mm]). Perhaps it and your blade are one of those shepherd karakulak that kronckew mentioned. If I had to do the amount of walking that a shepherd does, I would want the lightest blade that I could get that would still be effective. Also, I don't think leather sewn with copper wire is the type of thing that would be put on a souvenir. It sounds too serviceable.

kronckew,
Well, we have two votes for Balkans/Turkey so that is probably it.

I thank you guys for all your help. I will be posting some more puzzlers.
Sincerely,
RobT
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