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Old 27th November 2021, 01:53 AM   #1
Conduit
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Default Ottoman Yataghan inscription on the blade

Would you please help me to translate the inscription engraved on the yataghan's blade and possibly date it.
Many thanks for your help.
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Old 27th November 2021, 09:01 PM   #2
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The engraving on the blade and the inscription are quite standard.
It is very common and characteristic of Greek yataghans and in this form as here I would define it at the very end of the 18th century and in the first two decades of the 19th century (until 1826).
Approximate translation of the inscription: From the sight of this knife, your enemies are scattered, he takes revenge on the enemy like Zulfikar.
Only the photo is upside down. In the stamp, I think the name is Ali.
IMHO the blade is a little older than the handle and the handle is Cretan.
This is a very good yataghan.
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Old 27th November 2021, 09:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
The engraving on the blade and the inscription are quite standard.
It is very common and characteristic of Greek yataghans and in this form as here I would define it at the very end of the 18th century and in the first two decades of the 19th century (until 1826).
Approximate translation of the inscription: From the sight of this knife, your enemies are scattered, he takes revenge on the enemy like Zulfikar.
Only the photo is upside down. In the stamp, I think the name is Ali.
IMHO the blade is a little older than the handle and the handle is Cretan.
This is a very good yataghan.
Thank you very much for your help and this comprehensive information. For some reason forum turns images upside down when I attach them positioned correctly.
May I wonder why 1826 is a cut-off date in your estimate?
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Old 29th November 2021, 03:03 AM   #4
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...May I wonder why 1826 is a cut-off date in your estimate?
A very important time in the history of Greek-Ottoman relations.
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Old 29th November 2021, 08:57 AM   #5
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While i agree that this is a cretan yataghan, i dont think that the date 1826 has any significance as far as yataghan construction is concerned. Yes the yanijar corps were abolished at that date, but this had no influence in yataghan production!
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Old 29th November 2021, 11:33 AM   #6
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A more literal translation of this Turkish couplet is

“The entire enemy are scattered at this knife’s blow,
It takes revenge on the enemy like Zülfikar.”


zarbından bu bıçağın cümle düşman tar-ü mar
intikam alır düşmandan sanki misli zülfikar


There is a maker’s mark which reads “Ahmed”
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Old 29th November 2021, 01:17 PM   #7
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While i agree that this is a cretan yataghan, i dont think that the date 1826 has any significance as far as yataghan construction is concerned. Yes the yanijar corps were abolished at that date, but this had no influence in yataghan production!
I apologize for the late and very long (and probably not very literate in the language ) text, but such an event could not but affect such an attribute of the Janissaries as yataghan.
It was not just the abolition of the Janissary corps. Mahmud II was not going to forgive the janissaries for the murder of Selim (with whom he spent many months in the Seraglio during the reign of Mustafa and studied with Selim), in which he was almost killed himself (he was saved by a concubine, she hid him in a pile of pillows).
He had been preparing this action for a long time and thoughtfully and approached it very seriously in order to erase even the memory of the janissaries (and all their attributes).
For several years, Mahmud did not react in any way to complaints from residents from all over the empire about oppression by the Janissaries.
As a result, at the time of their revolt, all the residents joined the liquidation of the Janissaries (Mahmoud only needed to deploy Sanjak-Scherif).
First in Istanbul, and after the sultan's firman on the liquidation of the corps and throughout the empire. After that, the locals destroyed everything connected with the Janissaries.
Even their gravestones and their widows. The European diplomats who were in Istanbul at the time have a description of a case when the widows of the janissaries came to the square because they were left without homes and husbands.
They were promised to settle them on the Asian coast. They put them on longboats, but in the middle of the Bosphorus they pierced the bottoms of these ships and flooded them.
At that time, people even died for tattooing the orta sign on their hand, possession of a yataghan (especially its production) was too risky.
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Old 29th November 2021, 08:29 PM   #8
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At that time, people even died for tattooing the orta sign on their hand, possession of a yataghan (especially its production) was too risky.
Any actual evidence for that? Yataghans were used by many people, not just the janissaries, and given the extant examples we have plus some of the data on production from various esnafs, fairs, etc. (see Elgood) there does not seem to have been any actual drop off in production or use.
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Old 1st December 2021, 10:11 PM   #9
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Sure. Emma Astvatsaturyan in "Turkish Arms" explores the collections of two leading Russian museums: the Hermitage and the State Historical Museum. This is a large and sufficient sampling. The largest number of dated yataghans in this sampling falls on the period from 1786 to 1825. Then their number drops sharply (there are dated yataghans after 1825-26, but there are much fewer of them). And around about 1850, their number increases again. At the same time, they have serious differences from the yataghans before 1826. In addition, the author groups yataghans by types of blade decoration. This type, as shown here, has the last date of 1825 and does not occur at all later (Astvatsaturyan name this type yataghans East Anatolian, Elgood assumes its Greek origin. The engraving on the blades really resembles the Greek one, similar is present on Cretan knives). The author assumes that the production of this type completely stopped at this point. She connects this fact with Mahmoud's reforms in the Turkish army and the transition of its weapons to European models. I think this is more related to the liquidation of the Janissary corps. Probably this process was not uniform throughout the empire and on its periphery the production of yataghans did not slow down so much (most likely in Albania and Croatia, where bektashi (banned by Mahmud immediately after the destruction of the Janissaries) and fugitive Janissaries found refuge). But in the central regions, production slowed down so much that some traditions were lost.
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Old 1st December 2021, 10:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TVV View Post
Any actual evidence for that? Yataghans were used by many people, not just the janissaries, and given the extant examples we have plus some of the data on production from various esnafs, fairs, etc. (see Elgood) there does not seem to have been any actual drop off in production or use.
just a tip: I would not follow Elgood on Yataghans as he is not a specialist on that topic, at least the Balkan Yataghans,
but took his info from a Serbian lady..

this book is written not in cyrillic but in latin writting, although in Serbian language... quite easy to read for any one with basic slav language skills. And for all others: google translate does come in usefull here I can say

I can recommande this book very much :

Đurđica Petrović (1927-2003);
- Balkansko oružje (XII-XIX v.) : izabrane studije ( Balkan weapons XII-XIX),
392 pages, issued 2013 by Mijailović, Jasna and Petrović, Davor,
ISBN 978-86-81117-33-0

but not only on the yataghans, also on the pre Ottoman Balkan waepons since the Asen and Nemanja dynasties...
and often available for sales on second hand Serbian websites ( between 20-40 Euro)
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Old 1st December 2021, 11:31 PM   #11
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Sure. Emma Astvatsaturyan in "Turkish Arms" explores the collections of two leading Russian museums: the Hermitage and the State Historical Museum. This is a large and sufficient sampling. The largest number of dated yataghans in this sampling falls on the period from 1786 to 1825. Then their number drops sharply (there are dated yataghans after 1825-26, but there are much fewer of them). And around about 1850, their number increases again. At the same time, they have serious differences from the yataghans before 1826. In addition, the author groups yataghans by types of blade decoration. This type, as shown here, has the last date of 1825 and does not occur at all later (Astvatsaturyan name this type yataghans East Anatolian, Elgood assumes its Greek origin. The engraving on the blades really resembles the Greek one, similar is present on Cretan knives). The author assumes that the production of this type completely stopped at this point. She connects this fact with Mahmoud's reforms in the Turkish army and the transition of its weapons to European models. I think this is more related to the liquidation of the Janissary corps. Probably this process was not uniform throughout the empire and on its periphery the production of yataghans did not slow down so much (most likely in Albania and Croatia, where bektashi (banned by Mahmud immediately after the destruction of the Janissaries) and fugitive Janissaries found refuge). But in the central regions, production slowed down so much that some traditions were lost.
These yataghans were Greek, as in, intended for use in what is nowadays Greece. It would be therefore far more likely that any dropoff in their production would be the result of Greek independence and the transition to a modern army by the newly formed Greek state, than have anything to do with the janissary corpse.

There might be other evidence to support the theory, ideally based on facts and not just observations. The Ottomans kept detailed records of goods produced and sold within the Empire, and any serious research should focus on those.
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Old 1st December 2021, 11:46 PM   #12
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Probably this process was not uniform throughout the empire and on its periphery the production of yataghans did not slow down so much (most likely in Albania and Croatia, where bektashi (banned by Mahmud immediately after the destruction of the Janissaries) and fugitive Janissaries found refuge).
Addition:

there were 4 big Sufi orders present in the Balkans, moreover Albania and Bosnia ( Croatia being for the bigger part a part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire and Catholc) :
Mevlani, Bektashi, Halveti, Naqshbandi ( to a lesser degree also the Tabani and Rifā῾īyah).
The biggest was actually Mevlani, followed by the Bektahsi and Naqshbandi in which the latter 2 had a more militant connection.

Regardless the sultan's ban...the Balkans were far away and Sufism still maintained its strong presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Till the present day. Even after 1945 Tito's communists could not surpress them and there teki's and zikrs were practising, till the present. So Saracen is right in his statement ! That is why still some blacksmith "masters"can put a horse shoe onto an egg....
These skills have been passed on from father to son and I can tell you from my own experience that it did not take more than one minute for these gents, from father to son for centuries in Sarajevo also during the tragic events in the 1990ies to change from nice fancy tourist copper items to bullets and guns.
From fancy tourist bicaqs to real frontline trench dagger.
The Sultan's words didn't count and did not mean much in the Balkans as you can also read in the books of Andric, Kadare and a few others
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Old 2nd December 2021, 12:12 AM   #13
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These yataghans were Greek, as in, intended for use in what is nowadays Greece. It would be therefore far more likely that any dropoff in their production would be the result of Greek independence and the transition to a modern army by the newly formed Greek state, than have anything to do with the janissary corpse.

There might be other evidence to support the theory, ideally based on facts and not just observations. The Ottomans kept detailed records of goods produced and sold within the Empire, and any serious research should focus on those.
I absolutely agree with you about the importance of supporting the theory with factual materials, but I would not belittle the value of empirical data, especially supported by a sufficient statistical sampling.

After 1825-26, there was a noticeable decrease in the quantity of any yataghans, not only Greek ones.
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Old 2nd December 2021, 12:15 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by gp View Post
Addition:

there were 4 big Sufi orders present in the Balkans, moreover Albania and Bosnia ( Croatia being for the bigger part a part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire and Catholc) :
Mevlani, Bektashi, Halveti, Naqshbandi ( to a lesser degree also the Tabani and Rifā῾īyah).
The biggest was actually Mevlani, followed by the Bektahsi and Naqshbandi in which the latter 2 had a more militant connection.
Thanks for this addition
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