Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 24th January 2008, 03:22 AM   #1
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,080
Default Ottoman Pala

Just ended
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWA:IT&ih=014
Barbarically kitschy, but that was the style...
With all due respect and admiration, I am very uneasy about the state of koftgari: isn't it incredibly intact on the background of a heavily cleaned blade? And the crosshatching looks as new as the day it was made ( Hm-m-m-m....)
Opinions of professional blade restorers ( Battara, where are you?) would be intriguing.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 06:15 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,321
Default

It is interesting that the term 'palasche' is used in the auction description of this lavishly decorated sword which is of course,as further noted, an Ottoman pala.
The palasche description is noted from an uncited book on Islamic weapons, which apparantly describes a similar example as an 'Egyptian palasche'. I think the term may derive from the Stone reference (p.479) which illustrates this as a 'Polish sabre' of 17th century with blades either straight or very curved. Obviously the term either readjusted or became misconstrued as it seems now that 'pallasch' refers to a straight bladed sword. Of further interest in the entry is that the sabres shown in Stone, similar in mounts to the kilic/pala, the lavish decoration described as gold damascened and set with coral and turquoise.

As Turkish swords clearly had profound influence on the swords of Poland, despite the obvious conflicts, it is simply interesting to note the similarity of decoration, clearly Ottoman derived from 17th c. and the use of the palasche term in the uncited reference noting Egyptian attribution.

It seems that I have seen a similar example a number of years ago with lavish coral decoration of this type in a pamphlet on Islamic arms which I believe was Rich Wagners collection and I believe the text was by the late Walter Karcheski, and though only a few pages, pretty fantastic! I regret that I cannot recall the specifics, but it seems it was suggested that the sword was from Algeria. I believe these may have been for presentation or diplomatic gifts in the expansive Ottoman Empire.

With diplomatic or presentation swords, if I am not mistaken, it is not uncommon to have koftgari applied and or wording etc. placed on trophy blades which are then mounted, as this may have been. I recall seeing references and illustrations referring to this practice in Russia with older trophy blades with gold inlaid wording as awards to officers for gallantry etc. While this is just an example, it seems of course a widespread practice which likely included the Ottomans.

Although the decoration seems a bit overdone I must admit I've developed a keen admiration for coral and turquoise while travelling through the southwest lately! I am curious about the symbolic or superstitious application of these stones in the parlance of the Middle East.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 12:03 PM   #3
ALEX
Member
 
ALEX's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 934
Default

Ariel, your opinion is very valid. Not only state of coftgari is questionable, but the way/quality of application. It is not "True Inlay", as one would expect on true quality Pala blade. Moreover, it's poorly executed, considering authentic examples. I suspect the whole blade is new (relatively) and I've seen similar Pala blades coming out of India. I have a picture somewhere and will find/post it soon.
ALEX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 12:08 PM   #4
olikara
Member
 
olikara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: India
Posts: 100
Default Sad

I'm already feeling sorry for the buyer.

10,600 USD is a big deal anywhere.
olikara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 04:03 PM   #5
ALEX
Member
 
ALEX's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 934
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by olikara
I'm already feeling sorry for the buyer.

10,600 USD is a big deal anywhere.
10K would be a Great Deal IF this Pala would have authentic blade and coftgari. As Ariel noted, both look suspicious, i.e. not authentic, and I suspect even new. Any other opinions/observations?
ALEX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 04:50 PM   #6
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,080
Default

I am not saying the blade is new/replaced: it fits the scabbard very well. Taking into account the complexity of this particular scabbard and the need to create custom scabbards for each individual blade ( to account for the curve), I am sure that the blade is authentic.
The inscription, IMHO, is very recent, however.
So, the question will be: does a Kilij/Pala with a sumptuos furniture but with an unembellished, likely unmarked, blade justify such a high price? I think, yes. Not long ago, a somewhat similar sword, with (likely) ruined blade but with gorgeous furniture was sold for ~$20K. It was bought purely for the scabbard.
The price is a matter for the buyer: perhaps, he has a client to whom he can resell it for twice as much.
The real question is: is it legitimate to embellish blades with inscriptions to make it more attractive but in exchange to cloud the origins of the sword for future research ? If, as I suspect, the koftgari is new, the true origins of this Pala are now contaminated with erroneous information.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 06:18 PM   #7
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 531
Default Kilij

Have always thought this type of sword to be styled after the Sword of the Prophet kept in Tokapi Palace Museum pictured on page 15 in Yucels book, Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths. This sword has a gold scabbard/hilt adorned with rubies and turquoise.

The 18th/19th C. similar swords have a copper scabbard/hilt that has gold over a silver wash with coral and turquoise in bezels. The blades in the latter examples vary from a low quality blade to a high quality kilij. Most often the gold koftgari on these blades is a fairly low quality but occaissionally a nice example is found.

The attached example is from the early 18th C. and has I high quality kilij blade, also with low quality koftgari.

Have a photo of the Prophets sword but could not make image size small enough, can email that pic to anyone that would like to see it.

These are very desirable swords and highly sought after.....

rand
Attached Images
   
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 06:40 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,321
Default

Thank you for posting that example Rand! One cannot deny these are beautiful swords and while the lavish mounts may be considered ostentatious by some, as artwork thier effect is pretty amazing.
Perhaps you might recall the Islamic pamphlet I mentioned in my post from yesterday, I think it was Rich Wagners collection but since from memory, who knows

I mentioned in my earlier post also that I thought this might be an old blade that may have been embellished for either presentation or diplomatic gift. Perhaps I might ask for your opinion on that idea.

Thanks very much,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 07:06 PM   #9
VANDOO
(deceased)
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: OKLAHOMA, USA
Posts: 3,138
Default

JUDGEING FROM THE OBVIOUS GRINDER MARKS SEEN NEAR THE ENGRAVING I WOULD DEFINITELY BE SUSPECIOUS OF THE BLADE BEING TAMPERED WITH. IF THE BLADE IS OF GOOD QUALITY AND OLD I CAN'T TELL FROM A PICTURE. AN EXPERT COULD PROBABLY TELL MORE IF IN HAND AND COULD ALSO SEE IF THE CORAL AND TURQUOISE WERE OF THE RIGHT KIND WERE GOOD OLD PIECES OR NOT. IN ONE PICTURE THERE IS ONE PIECE OF CORAL MISSING WHICH IS A GOOD SIGN.

CONSIDERING THE PRICE THIS BROUGHT AND PRICES STATED OF OTHER SALES IT IS LIKELY SOME FORGED EXAMPLES HAVE BEEN MADE OVER THE YEARS. THIS HAS HAPPENED WITH OTHER EXPENSIVE SWORDS THAT WERE IN DEMAND OFTEN SEVERAL TIMES DURING DIFFERENT PERIODS ON THE OLD ONES. I DO HOPE THE BUYER GOT HIS MONEYS WORTH AND ENJOYS HIS SWORD, BUT IF IT WAS JUST BOUGHT FOR RESALE OR INVESTMENT PURPOSES THE SWORD IS NOT IMPORTANT JUST THE CASH PROFIT OR FUTURE VALUE.
VANDOO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 07:18 PM   #10
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 531
Default Kilij

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you for posting that example Rand! One cannot deny these are beautiful swords and while the lavish mounts may be considered ostentatious by some, as artwork thier effect is pretty amazing.
Perhaps you might recall the Islamic pamphlet I mentioned in my post from yesterday, I think it was Rich Wagners collection but since from memory, who knows

I mentioned in my earlier post also that I thought this might be an old blade that may have been embellished for either presentation or diplomatic gift. Perhaps I might ask for your opinion on that idea.

Thanks very much,
Jim
Hey Jim,

Very difficult from the photos' to make an opinion of the blade in question, but it certainly looks to be a period blade and of the period or earlier than the scabbard. Would certainly agree that the gold koftgrari is most llikely a later addition, also am of the opinion it makes little difference to the swords value.

Its surprising how crude the workmanship is on these 18/19th blades are and yet they are in high demand. It makes me wonder what it is we do not know.

Have heard that these swords may have been worn by high ranking officers (generals) for parade or court but have no published text to corroborate this.

Would also keep an open mind in that the Polish swords after the 16th C. may have had influence on the Ottoman swords.


rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 07:25 PM   #11
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 531
Default Prophets Sword

photo of the Prophets sword from Yucels book that is Topkapi. the scabbard is gold with rubies and turquoise.

According to Tahsin Oz the scabbard/hilt are 16th century additions


rand
Attached Images
 
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 07:45 PM   #12
ALEX
Member
 
ALEX's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 934
Default

I would not dismiss an idea that the blade is/was replaced because I've seen these swords and know people who can modify ANY scabbard for ANY blade and make it look 100% authentic. Looking at just pictures one will NEVER tell.

Below is a picture of newly made Pala sword. The blade of classical Kilij form was just made in India. A new coftgari is being applied as you read this post somewhere in Syria...:-)
Attached Images
 
ALEX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2008, 10:45 PM   #13
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,321
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rand
Hey Jim,

Very difficult from the photos' to make an opinion of the blade in question, but it certainly looks to be a period blade and of the period or earlier than the scabbard. Would certainly agree that the gold koftgrari is most llikely a later addition, also am of the opinion it makes little difference to the swords value.

Its surprising how crude the workmanship is on these 18/19th blades are and yet they are in high demand. It makes me wonder what it is we do not know.

Have heard that these swords may have been worn by high ranking officers (generals) for parade or court but have no published text to corroborate this.

Would also keep an open mind in that the Polish swords after the 16th C. may have had influence on the Ottoman swords.


rand

Hi Rand,
Thank you so much for responding, very much appreciated !
Very interesting example you posted from Yucels book, especially that the scabbard and mounts were later additions.
I think this may suggest that older blades might have been remounted, especially if they were important blades as obviously seen with this one.
Do you think that trophy blades might have been remounted in the same manner for presentation and awarded to generals?
I know I have mentioned this before, actually, yesterday, and have still considered it might have some bearing.

All the best and thanks again !
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th January 2008, 05:33 PM   #14
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 531
Default Remounted Older Blades

Hey Jim,

Would certainly agree with you that older blades have been remounted, there are ample examples of this. This auction is one good illustration of a remounted blade. http://www.artfact.com/catalog/viewLot.cfm?sample=3162

Have no direct evidence to speculate on swords for generals, an article on Islamic presentation swords/arms would be illuminating and interesting.

rand
Attached Images
 
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th January 2008, 08:11 PM   #15
Battara
EAAF Staff
 
Battara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 6,728
Default

Sorry I'm late folks -

Hi Ariel and all:

The koftgari I agree is a later addition as Rand said. I took a look at the pictures and the quality is more in keeping with that commonly coming out of India now. I think it may be that it is a restoration based on the remnents of what was originally there (I would hope anyway ) and if so I would call it a restoration. As restorers they may have had to re-cross hatch the area to have sharper grooves to "catch" the koftgari. This would of course not be true inlay but koftgari on the surface.
Battara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2008, 01:54 PM   #16
eftihis
Member
 
eftihis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Chania Crete Greece
Posts: 430
Default

Hallo, the photos below are from the book "portrait types of the midway plaisance" printed in St. Louis in 1894. The book is a "collection of photographs of individual types of various nations from all parts of the world who represented, in the department of ethnology, the manners, customs, dress, religions, music and other distinctive traits and peculiarities of their race", and the photos have been taken at the 6 months of the Worlds Columbian exposition. There many nice photos, with great costumes but some confusing things between the dress and who wears it: Turkish dress by Jews, Greek dress by an Albanian, A Bashibuzuk by a greek, a Janissary by an Armenian! It seems that some of the "models" for the dresses were mostly professional actor-like characters from an area where many ethnic groups lived, and felt free to wear whatever costume from their area...
Anyway, on the page of the 2 photos below the title is: NICHAN (Armenian) and the description states: ..."Mr. Nichan, the JAnizary, is an Armenian, born at Savaz, Armenia, about 500 miles from Constantinople. He was one of the life guards of the late Sultan Abdul Aziz (he died 1876)................The great carved sword he wears, sheathed in a beautiful scabbard set with jewels and richly ornamented, was presented to him by the Sultan for meritorious services"
Therefore we have a proof that these swords were made untill recently, ie at least untill arround 1870s. And here is an example for what they were used for, ie as presentation swords.
Attached Images
  
eftihis is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2008, 02:29 PM   #17
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 531
Default Pala

Great Post Eftihis!!!

Being made as a gift for a guard offers some possible explanations for the techniques used in the manufacture of these scabbards. Have handled four of these swords and three had earlier blades while one sword with a short dramatically curving blade was newly made when the scabbard was made.

Believe the earliest blade of the four was dated 1714 and the most recent was in the 1840's. The sword dated in the 1840's was a sharply curved short shamshir style blade, the other three blades were all earlier kilij blades. They all had copper scabbards / hilts, that had a silver wash with gold wash over the silver. All had hundreds pf coral and turquoise held in low quality made bezels. All four scabbards were about the same quality of craftsmanship which begs the question of was that craftsmanship of a very similar quality maintained over a 120 plus year span of time? Or were all these swords assembled in a shorter period of time from both older and new at the time blades.

Whats your opinion?

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2008, 02:44 PM   #18
eftihis
Member
 
eftihis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Chania Crete Greece
Posts: 430
Default

Sorry Rand, i cannot tell. I havent handled any, and i personally dislike this overdecorated style. I know that the Sultans used to give swords and furs as presents, and i know that this happened in Crete in 1645, when the Sultan gave to his general 2 "valuable" swords as a reword for the first victories. (The war was to continue another 24 years...)
eftihis is online now   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 07:45 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.