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A churra sword of unusually large proportions

Number

M30.462

Origin

Afghanistan

Time

The second half of the 19th century

Technique

Forging, chasing, engraving

Material

Steel, brass, horn, wood, leather

Dimensions

Overall length (without scabbard) 1314 mm; blade length 1185 mm; scabbard length 1372 mm

The slightly recurved, single-edged blade is made of plain steel with a typical T-section spine. Both sides and the spine of the blade along entire length are engraved with various floral designs. In addition, one side of the blade bears the schematic Iranian lion symbol within a round cartouche. The hilt is formed by two ribbed light brown horn scales attached to the tang by two brass rivets. The pommel is shaped like a beak. The grip strap and faceted bolster are made of brass as well. The deep wooden scabbard is covered with black leather. The brass chape is chased with floral and geometric motifs.

COMMENT. Churra is the traditional sword of Pashtun tribes living near the Khyber Pass between present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other local variant spellings are charas, charay, and chhara. In Western literature, the sword is commonly referred to as Khyber knife or Afghan knife, and the term salawar yataghan is also sometimes used. Although the churra really looks like a huge knife, it is very effective as a chopping, slashing and thrusting weapon. The massive, slightly forward-curved, single-edged blade almost always has a T-shaped spine to increase its strength and rigidity. It is usually curved backwards at the very tip to increase its penetration ability. This blade form is often described as being "recurved". The broad base of the blade functions as a guard. The straight hilt is formed by two horn, bone or wooden scales riveted to the flat tang. The slightly flared, beaked pommel makes it possible to hold the sword firmly in the hand during chopping. The hilt is half hidden in a deep wooden scabbard, which are traditionally covered with leather. The presented example can be considered unique, since it is the longest recorded sword of this type. A similar but shorter churra was auctioned at Bonhams in San Francisco on November 9, 2015 (see Bonhams: Antique Arms & Armour and Modern Sporting Guns Featuring the Richard R. Wagner Jr. Collection and Property from the Estate of Joseph A. Murphy. Monday 9 November 2015, San Francisco: [Auction Catalogue]. – London, 2015. – Lot 4020). Certainly, such long swords could have a purely demonstrational or ceremonial purpose.

literature: Сиваченко Е. Сталь и Золото: Восточное оружие из собрания Feldman Family Museum = Steel and Gold: Eastern Weapons from the Feldman Family Museum Collection. – Киев, 2019. – С. 280-281, №102.