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A jade-hilted churra sword

Number

3061

Origin

India (probably Rajasthan)

Time

18th century

Technique

Forging, piercing, damascening, gem-setting

Material

Steel, silver, gold, jade, rubies, emeralds, wood, velvet

Dimensions

Overall length (without scabbard) 661 mm; blade length 526 mm; scabbard length 557 mm.

The slightly recurved, single-edged blade is made of watered steel with a typical T-section spine. The hilt is formed by two pale celadon jade scales. They are decorated with floral motifs inlaid with gold and set with cabochon-cut gems in the kundan technique. Total 34 rubies and 20 emeralds. The grip strap and bolster are made of steel and decorated in gold koftgari with flowers and foliage. The wooden scabbard is covered with black velvet, which is partly faded. The silver scabbard mounts are pierced with stylized vegetal 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 long, broad, slightly forward-curved, single-edged blade 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 hand-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 churra was extensively used by infantry not only in Afghanistan, but also in those parts of the Indian subcontinent that were under Mughal rule.

LITERATURE: 1) Сіваченко Є. Холодна зброя Сходу з колекції Олександра Фельдмана: [фотоальбом]. – Харків, 2009. – С. 18; 2) Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion. – London, 2013. – P. 160, no. 388; 3) 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. 388-389, №149.