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Old 12th May 2024, 05:40 AM   #1
Pitt1999
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Default Possible Armenian sword for comments

I won this sword in an online auction recently and want to see if my suspicions are true. It was listed as a "North African ceremonial dagger" which I am 99% certain is not correct. From what I have seen on the forum recently this sword bears some resemblance to Armenian style swords but made in a more simple fashion.

The blade is almost cutlass/messer-like rather than the khopesh/laz bichaq style blade more commonly seen on examples of Armenian swords. The diagonally ribbed horn scales seem to be consistent with known examples of Armenian swords. The ears on the hilt seem pretty thin and flimsy, I'm surprised they aren't broken. The sword hasn't been shipped yet so there is still a chance for that to happen.

The engraving covering the entirety of the blade is simple but still looks attractive with inlayed faces of what looks like brass, with the side profile face giving a sinister looking grin.

The (approximate) dimensions provided by the auction house are an overall length of 26 3/4 inches with a blade length of 19 1/2 inches.

All comments are appreciated as always, I'm hoping that those with more knowledge on these weapons give their input on this sword.
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Old 12th May 2024, 09:48 AM   #2
Tim Simmons
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Not so long ago a sword came up with very similar devil motifs.
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Old 12th May 2024, 11:07 AM   #3
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Congratulations. Interesting item. I don't think this is an "Armenian sword". In my opinion, such “swords” were used by the Kurds, who possibly lived on the territory of modern Armenia and Azerbaijan.
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Old 13th May 2024, 03:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Turkoman.khan View Post
I don't think this is an "Armenian sword". In my opinion, such “swords” were used by the Kurds, who possibly lived on the territory of modern Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Some of these weapons have Armenian writing on them, for example see the one in Tirris book (I am away from home so forgive that I don’t have the page number currently).

My best guess is that these items (To date I have seen Kindjals, Shashkas, Shamshirs, Yatagans, and Big Kindjals ie the 1.5 meter long ones) with this style of decoration, usually consisting of really cheap koftgari work and illegible Armenian and sometimes Arabic inscriptions. My best guess is these items come from somewhere in South East Transcaucasia, perhaps Zangezur and Lachin where many Kurds lived. It may have been used by both Armenians and Kurds. Kurds in this region did not have anything close to a good relationship with Armenians, due to their completely sedentary lifestyle and different religion Armenians were the favorite target of Kurdish animal robbers and this was very widely reported as the main social relationship between Armenians and Kurds. As such I highly doubt they would decorate their weapons in the Armenian script as they simply had no love for Armenians, not to mention they were a nomadic people who just didn’t have the infrastructure to be able to engage in such crafts.

The only issue is I have never seen any such weapons in Zangezur today nor are they mentioned type of ethnographic literature. Ethnographic literature about this region states that every household had at least a Kindjal dagger, curved saber, and miquelet rifle that was used for self defense, hunting, and other rituals. This certainly lines up with what you can find there in museums, its all just the basic Caucasian arsenal close to what was used in Kakheti for example.

Maybe these items come from somewhere else, Garadagh in Iran was my second guess. It would be really helpful if a museum that has one or these in their collection could provide a full report on the items provenance.
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Old 16th May 2024, 06:36 AM   #5
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Almost certainly not Armenian.
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Old 18th May 2024, 12:53 PM   #6
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Almost certainly not Armenian.
Respectfully, what’s your certainty based off exactly? There is a very similar piece to this item with Armenian letters engraved all over the guard and etched on the blade.
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Old 20th May 2024, 02:40 AM   #7
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So I received the sword the other day and I have found some interesting things. The hilt is very large for my hands, I can put two hands on the grip with my pinkys hanging off of the ears (thankfully not broken in transit).

The edge bevel is very steep, so steep that at first I thought it was completely blunt. I also can clearly see the designs on the blade which I could not make out from the auction house photos.

Some of the shapes on the blade that I thought were just abstract blobs are actually animal heads. One is easily recognizable as an elephant, the second one could be a large cat or maybe a wolf and the last one is a serpentine animal with the head of the previous large cat or wolf.

The opposite side of the blade with the side profile face giving the nasty grin has a full humanoid figure above it. I hope someone can recognize this figure's attire in spite of my terrible pictures.
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Old 20th May 2024, 06:11 AM   #8
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Very interesting, I like it. However I don't think the "elephant" motif is an elephant. I would suggest it is a
Caucasian badger.
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Old 20th May 2024, 06:42 AM   #9
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Better and more likely the "elephant" motif is probably an Aralez. What seem like elephant ears are wings and the animal is depicted in the act of licking so to heal wounds.
The other motifs also relate to Armenian mythology.

Last edited by Tim Simmons; 20th May 2024 at 08:42 AM.
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