A Zulfaqar style atesh kilij sabre




Ottoman Empire


Third quarter of the 19th century


Forging, casting, chiseling, damascening


Steel, silver, gold, horn


Overall length 895 mm; blade length 740 mm

The strongly curved, undulated steel blade bifurcates at a distance of one-fifth of its length from the base. The forte of the blade is decorated in gold koftgari with three cartouches that located on both sides and on the spine. One of them is shaped like a hexagram. The cartouches contain Arabic inscriptions reading "There is no hero other than Ali, there is no sword other than Zulfaqar", "O the Victory Giver", "Ihsanoğlu Baghdasar, year 1289" (AH 1289 / AD 1872-73). Additionally, the obverse side of the blade is stamped with an oval-shaped maker's mark containing the inscription "The work of Baghdasar". The hilt is made in the traditional Turkish style. The grip is formed by two light brown horn scales attached to the tang by one steel rivet. The scalloped pommel features a wrist strap hole flanked by small silver plaques resembling a comma. The silver grip strap and cruciform guard are chiseled in relief with foliate motifs. No scabbard.

COMMENT. Atesh kilij is a kind of shamshir type sabres with blades undulated or serrated along one or both edges. The original Turkish term ateş kılıç literally means "fire sabre". Such sabres were used in the Ottoman Empire and Iran during the 18th and 19th centuries. The presented sabre relates to the so-called zulfaqars, which in fact are very conditional, symbolic "copies" of the eponymous legendary sword associated with the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali. It reflects two different interpretations of the shape of Zulfaqar, as a sword with a forked blade and as a sword with an undulated or serrated blade. The blade was made of two steel strips that are welded together at a considerable distance from the point. Similar Ottoman sabres can be seen in some notable museums and private collections including the Turkish Chamber in the Dresden Royal Palace (inv. no. 763/1, see Schuckelt, H. Die Türckische Cammer: Sammlung Orientalischer Kunst in der Kurfürstlich-Sächsischen Rüstkammer Dresden. – Dresden, 2010. – S. 335 und 359, no. 353), the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest (inv. no. H.M.1180/Fe; see Lugosi 1988, o. 140, no. 158), the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (inv. no. В.О.2626, see: Художественное оружие из собрания Государственного Эрмитажа: Каталог выставки / Под ред. М.Б. Пиотровского. – Санкт-Петербург. – C. 108, №201) and the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps in St. Petersburg (inv. no. 0116/892, see: Анисимова М.А. Оружие Востока XV – первой половины XX века: из собрания Военно-исторического музея инженерных войск и войск связи. – Санкт-Петербург, 2013. – C. 94-95, №27).

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. 116-117, №30.