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An iron-mounted shamshir sabre

Number

3275

Origin

Crimea (blade); Turkey (hilt and scabbard)

Time

The second half of the 17th century (blade); first half of the 18th century (hilt and scabbard)

Technique

Forging, inlaing, damascening, gilding, gem-setting

Material

Steel, iron, gold, garnets, horn, wood, leather

Dimensions

Overall length (without scabbard) 936 mm; blade length 779 mm; scabbard length 816 mm

The steel blade is inlaid with gold stylized floral motifs and dots, and also set with small garnets in gold mounts on both sides. In addition, the obverse side of the blade is inlaid with the gold single-line Arabic inscription "In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful". The grip is formed by two brown horn scales attached to the tang by two brass rivets. The large pommel features a through channel flanked by convex gilt steel collars on both sides. The iron grip strap and cross-guard are decorated in gold koftgari with stylized floral borders. The wooden scabbard is covered with black leather. The iron scabbard mounts are ornamented with gold koftgari scrolls and foliage. Each of the two scabbard bands is fitted with one suspension ring, and the chape has a shoe. 

COMMENT. Shamshir is the most common type of Iranian sabre with a strongly but smoothly curved, single-edged blade. In addition, the blade is narrow but rather thick and is perfectly smooth, although there are rare exceptions. The shamshir was probably fully formed and has achieved recognition in Iran by the end of the 16th century, when the country was already united under the rule of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722). It turned out to be an effective slashing weapon, whereas the use of the point for stabbing was difficult owing to the excessive curvature of the blade and required special skills. The blade itself was most often made of watered steel but was rarely decorated. However, many shamshirs exhibit impressive craftsmanship in both blade quality and overall decoration. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the shamshir has become widespread in the Islamic world. Iranian watered-steel blades were highly valued not only in the East, but also in the West. In other countries, both imported Iranian-made blades and locally produced Iranian-type blades were generally mounted in accordance with traditional national styles. Local versions differ from the classical Iranian shamshir not only in decoration but often in the hilt design. The blade and mounts of the sabre were manufactured by Turkish craftsmen probably at different times and places. The blade was most likely made in the second half of the 17th century in Crimea since it reflects the strong influence of richly ornamented blades from Lviv belonging to the same period of time. 

LITERATURE: 1) Косарєв Р.В., Нефедов В.В., Рівкін К. Зброя доби козацтва: Каталог історичних артефактів XV-XVIII ст. в 650 світлинах. – Київ, 2017. – С. 232; 2) 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. 112-113, №28.