A flanged mace




Ottoman Empire


17th century


Forging, inlaying, intarsia, gem-setting


Steel, silver, brass, garnets, turquoise, wood


Length 510 mm; head diameter 80 mm

The steel head is divided into sixteen radial flanges each inlaid with silver dots. The haft consists of three sections of different lengths. The shortest upper section is a round steel tube decorated with a silver-inlaid Arabic inscription. The middle section is a faceted steel tube girded with a silver ring set with garnet and turquoise cabochons in bezel mounts. The long octagonal lower section is made of wood and decorated in the khatam technique with a geometric design. It consists of a many of six-pointed stars each formed with tiny brass triangles and enclosed in a circle. The haft has a dome-shaped end knob and a through channel for a wrist strap. 

COMMENT. This mace type was used by Turkish Janissaries and Sipahis in the 16th and 17th centuries as both a weapon and a symbol of rank. The presented example was possibly served at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 and was among the numerous spoils gathered by the Christian coalition forces after the defeat of the Ottoman army. The above-mentioned khatam technique is typical of Iran, but it was used in Turkey as well. 

Khatam is a special kind of marquetry. The term is borrowed from the Arabic language where it has multiple meanings including "seal" and "sealing". The technique consists in creating intricate geometric designs by gluing to the surface of wooden or metal articles the thin plates assembled from tiny pieces of wood, bone or metal. The base form of the pattern is an equilateral triangle, but there are other geometric motifs like a square, rhombus and hexagon. Making of inlaid articles is a labour-intensive multistage process carried out by skilled craftsmen called khatamkars. They use gold, silver, copper, bronze, brass, aluminium, different types of bone and wood, as well as some other materials in various combinations. Numerous thin rods are assembled and glued together in a strict order to obtain a geometric pattern, which can be seen when a beam is cut crosswise. The finished beam is cut into transverse plates that are glued in stages to the surface of the article to form a design. The thinner the rods and the more their number, the more exquisite and more valuable is the incrustation. There are sometimes more than 400 pieces per square inch in a work of average quality. In Iran, the art of marquetry (khatamkari) was reached its peak in the Safavid period (1501-1722), but it is still practiced in such traditional centres as Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran. 

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. 230-231, №77.