An eagle sabre




Poland – Ukraine


Late 17th or early 18th century


Forging, casting, chasing, engraving, etching, gilding


Steel, silver, wood, leather


Overall length 1040 mm; blade length 910 mm

The long curved single-edged blade is made of plain steel with a poorly expressed yelman. On the left side of the blade, there is one wide fuller in which flowers and a maker's mark are etched. The mark is a pair of crossed swords. The hilt consists of a grip and a guard. The straight wooden grip is covered with black leather and is entwined with silver wire. The silver-gilt guard is formed by a cross-guard and a protective chain connecting the front quillon and the pommel. The quillons are curved in opposite directions and twisted at the ends, due to which the cross-guard has an S-shape. In the middle part of the cross-guard, there are short triangular projections from the side of the blade. The cross-guard is chased and engraved with a geometric ornament. The silver-gilt pommel is shaped as a realistic eagle head with a button at the top and a hole in the beak to attach a chain. No scabbard.

COMMENT. The presented item is so-called "eagle sabre", which corresponds to the IV type of Hungarian-Polish sabres according to Włodzimierz Kwaśniewicz (see Квасневич В. Польские сабли. – Санкт-Петербург, 2006. – С. 28). At the moment, there are three such sabres that were made (mounted) in one of the countries of Central or Eastern Europe, most likely in Poland. They have almost identical hilts in design, but blades of different types. Currently, all three examples are in Ukraine. Two of them are kept in the Pereyaslav State Historical Museum (Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky city, Ukraine), where they were transferred from the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps (St. Petersburg city, Russian Federation) (see Тоїчкін Д.В. Козацькі шаблі в колекції Переяславського Державного історичного музею // Історико-географічні дослідження в Україні: Збірник наукових праць. – 2005. – Число 8. – С. 87-88; Тоїчкін Д.В. Козацька шабля XVII-XVIII ст.: історико-зброєзнавче дослідження. – Київ, 2007. – С. 204-206; Савчук Ю.К. Гетьманські клейноди та особисті речі Богдана Хмельницького у колекціях музеїв Європи (пошук, знахідки, атрибуція). – Київ, 2006. – С. 62-63). Both examples have rather short and wide fullered blades, close to the Turkish pala or gaddare type, and both have preserved scabbards similar in design and decoration. Experts' assessments regarding their dating differ, remaining within the 17th – 18th centuries. In the museum documentation, they appear as sabres of the personal guard of hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky (see Тоїчкін Д.В. Клинкова зброя козацької старшини XVI – першої половини XIX ст.: проблеми атрибуції та класифікації. – Київ, 2013. – С. 362). There is an opinion that they were allegedly made by Russian armourers specifically to replace the combat sabres of the hetman guard, which was supposed to accompany Bohdan Khmelnitsky to an audience with the Moscow Tsar, but there are not enough arguments in favor of this version (see Тоїчкін Д.В. Клинкова зброя козацької старшини... – С. 362, 389). Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to find out more precisely the time and place of manufacture of all three sabres due to the limited factual material. The only thing that is certain is that they were mounted in one workshop. There is no particular doubt that the sabres were really intended for the personal guard of a noble person to use in solemn occasions (Тоїчкін Д.В. Клинкова зброя козацької старшини... – С. 362). The presented sabre is of great historical and cultural value as a fairly well-preserved example from a separate unique series of the European long-bladed edged weapons dated late 17th and early 18th century.

LITERATURE: 1) Тоїчкін Д.В. Клинкова зброя козацької старшини XVI – першої половини XIX ст.: проблеми атрибуції та класифікації. – Київ, 2013. – С. 360; 2) Косарєв Р.В., Нефедов В.В., Рівкін К. Зброя доби козацтва: Каталог історичних артефактів XV-XVIII ст. в 650 світлинах. – Київ, 2017. – С 228.