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A Hungarian-Polish sabre

Number

6184

Origin

Poland

Time

Second half of the 17th century

Technique

Forging, casting, chasing, engraving, gilding

Material

Steel, bronze, copper, wood, leather

Dimensions

Overall length 1040 mm; blade length 920 mm

The curved single-edged blade is made of plain steel with a yelman and one wide fuller for its entire length. The hilt consists of a grip and a guard. The straight wooden grip is covered with black leather, entwined with copper-gilt wire and attached to the tang with one bronze rivet with rosette-shaped head and washer. The wire on the grip is partially lost. The bronze-gilt guard is formed by a simple cross-guard and a protective chain that connecting the front quillon and the pommel. The quillons and langets are straight, long, narrow. The right langet is more than half broken. The bronze-gilt pommel is formed as a realistic dog's head with a hole for attaching a chain. The wooden scabbard is covered with black leather. The bronze-gilt scabbard mounts consists of a locket, two bands and a chape that are adorned with decorative overlays and engraved floral ornaments. There are motionless small rings on the mouth and upper band.

COMMENT. The presented item is an unusual Hungarian-Polish sabre, which was made (mounted) in one of the countries of Central or Eastern Europe, most likely in Poland. The sabre stands out thanks to its zoomorphic pommel, which is formed as a realistic dog's head. For all other features, it corresponds to the II type of Hungarian-Polish sabres according to Włodzimierz Kwaśniewicz (see Квасневич В. Польские сабли. – Санкт-Петербург, 2006. – С. 24-28). The dog's symbolism in European culture is generally positive. In Christianity, it not only personified loyalty, vigilance and protection, but also was the clergy emblem. Dogs were considered an attribute of many Catholic saints, namely Roch, Christopher, Bernard, Margaret of Croton and especially Dominic. The name of the most influential Catholic monastic order "Dominicans", founded by Saint Dominic, is translated from Latin as the Lord's dogs (Domini canes) and directly symbolizes the mission of protecting Christian dogmas. Nevertheless, despite the rather high symbolic status of the dog in catholic countries, its image was very rarely used as a pommel for the Hungarian-Polish sabres. As another example, we can only cite a series of 12 jeweled sabres in the Hungarian style produced by Polish armourers in the early 17th century for the Saxon court in Dresden. All of them have dog head pommels. One of these sabres is now in the State Art Collections of Dresden (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) (see Haenel, E. Kostbare Waffen aus der Dresdner Rüstkammer. – Leipzig, 1923. – Tafel 62c). Another one sabre can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (see Grancsay, S.V., von Kienbusch, C.O. The Bashford Dean Collection of Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. – Portland, 1933. – P. 217-218, no. 168, pl. LIII). Thus, the presented sabre is of great historical and cultural value as a quite rare and well-preserved example of the European long-bladed edged weapons, which was made in the second half of the 17th century probably to individual order.