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Old 17th June 2022, 02:38 PM   #1
Sakalord364
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Default Mysterious Afghan Military Sabre

I recently obtained this Afghan Sabre at auction, the handle is quite similar to the “regulation Khyber knives” made in the late 19th century at Kabul, however this is full length Sabre, not a European style cutlass. Have any forum members seen this type of sword before?
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Old 17th June 2022, 03:43 PM   #2
mahratt
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Hello Sakalord364.

This curious saber is made as an imitation of "regulation Khyber knives". There was no "standard" for them. Everyone ordered the sample that he wanted to have. For example, in my collection there is a similar version of the "arbitrary saber imitating regulation Khyber knives" with wootz blade
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Old 17th June 2022, 04:05 PM   #3
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Old 17th June 2022, 04:51 PM   #4
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Hello Sakalord364.

This curious saber is made as an imitation of "regulation Khyber knives". There was no "standard" for them. Everyone ordered the sample that he wanted to have. For example, in my collection there is a similar version of the "arbitrary saber imitating regulation Khyber knives" with wootz blade
Hi,

Do you think these were made in the official government factory in Kabul, or were these forged by private blacksmiths for their clients?
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Old 17th June 2022, 07:14 PM   #5
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Hi,

Do you think these were made in the official government factory in Kabul, or were these forged by private blacksmiths for their clients?
Judging by the wide variety of blade shapes of these sabers, they were made by private craftsmen. This, in my opinion, is also indicated by the fact that their blades were made both from ordinary steel and from wootz steel. I think that these were private orders from representatives of irregular units.
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Old 17th June 2022, 09:00 PM   #6
Jim McDougall
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Dima I recall the fantastic research you did on these while writing your book, and how much I learned about my own 'mysterious' Afghan sword during conversations with you then. I had obtained my example many years earlier, at a time when these were not much around, and there were wild speculations about what they were, the most bizarre calling them 'Greek cutlasses'! among others.

My example has the date 1896, though it seems these were produced from 1893-1903, I presume with state stamps (Mazar i Sharif) marking them they must have been produced or at least entered and assembled in the Kaar Khaana e Jangalak (Machin Khana) in Kabul.

It seems like most of the production of arms at the Machin Khana was rifles, I believe Enfields, and I always wondered about the very 'sword bayonet' styling of these hilts, thinking perhaps the rifle making context inspired the hilt form with wood and steel. The open pierced knuckleguard carries the theme, along with curled back terminal (swan neck) recalls some paluoars so an interesting hybrid.

The Machin Khana though seemingly begun with British support after the end of 2nd Afghan War in 1880, does not seem to have produced much or at all until end of 1880s, and the earliest known examples of these was 1893.
It does seem the basic hilt form existed by 1879, from the photo that year showing Daoud Shah wearing one with similar hilt.

The example (in previous linked thread) with spurious 'made in Enfield, 1857' marking is interesting but not helpful in date of origin of the hilt form.

I have been under the impression that examples of these with the brass hilt but same form were most notably of the 3rd Afghan War (1919) period. As has been mentioned, it would seem these and many of the variations suggest outfitting by private vendors and local artisans, which has always been prevalent in all Afghan tribal areas.

The numbers of examples of these hilts on traditional 'Khyber knife' (silliwar) blades suggest these were assembled for the numerous tribal levys (irregular forces in accord with British army), and the state stamp on the blades seems to support this.

I am recounting this from memory mostly, and from my understanding as recalled, so I hope you will pardon any errors and correct as required.
This was fascinating and important research and I want to establish correctly for my own awareness and others reading here.

In pics, the first is the 'tribal levy' type with native Khyber blade; next with scabbard is my 1896 example, then the state stamp.
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Old 17th June 2022, 09:52 PM   #7
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Dima I recall the fantastic research you did on these while writing your book, and how much I learned about my own 'mysterious' Afghan sword during conversations with you then. I had obtained my example many years earlier, at a time when these were not much around, and there were wild speculations about what they were, the most bizarre calling them 'Greek cutlasses'! among others.

My example has the date 1896, though it seems these were produced from 1893-1903, I presume with state stamps (Mazar i Sharif) marking them they must have been produced or at least entered and assembled in the Kaar Khaana e Jangalak (Machin Khana) in Kabul.

It seems like most of the production of arms at the Machin Khana was rifles, I believe Enfields, and I always wondered about the very 'sword bayonet' styling of these hilts, thinking perhaps the rifle making context inspired the hilt form with wood and steel. The open pierced knuckleguard carries the theme, along with curled back terminal (swan neck) recalls some paluoars so an interesting hybrid.

The Machin Khana though seemingly begun with British support after the end of 2nd Afghan War in 1880, does not seem to have produced much or at all until end of 1880s, and the earliest known examples of these was 1893.
It does seem the basic hilt form existed by 1879, from the photo that year showing Daoud Shah wearing one with similar hilt.

The example (in previous linked thread) with spurious 'made in Enfield, 1857' marking is interesting but not helpful in date of origin of the hilt form.

I have been under the impression that examples of these with the brass hilt but same form were most notably of the 3rd Afghan War (1919) period. As has been mentioned, it would seem these and many of the variations suggest outfitting by private vendors and local artisans, which has always been prevalent in all Afghan tribal areas.

The numbers of examples of these hilts on traditional 'Khyber knife' (silliwar) blades suggest these were assembled for the numerous tribal levys (irregular forces in accord with British army), and the state stamp on the blades seems to support this.

I am recounting this from memory mostly, and from my understanding as recalled, so I hope you will pardon any errors and correct as required.
This was fascinating and important research and I want to establish correctly for my own awareness and others reading here.

In pics, the first is the 'tribal levy' type with native Khyber blade; next with scabbard is my 1896 example, then the state stamp.
Hello Jim. Always a pleasure to read you!

Thanks for the nice words)

You are absolutely right in all the ideas expressed.
I would like to add just one. Of course, the basic hilt form for all similar items existed by 1879. You may remember that I managed to find an English-made saber (with English stamps) with a very similar hilt shape. It is likely that the hilt of such a saber inspired the one who came up with the design of the hilts of the regular Khyber knives. In the book, I gave drawings of this saber. But somewhere in the archive I have preserved photographs of this saber.
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