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Thread: Turkish / Indian ?? Kilij Sword

  1. #1
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    Turkish / Indian ?? Kilij Sword

    The sword below raised our interest in three aspects:



    1) Blade and forging: The blade is 27 inches long, very curved with a 10 inches raised back edge. It is of superb quality, pattern welded steel forged in the pattern known as Turkish Ribbon, where several rows of twisted steel bars are forge welded together to produce the pattern.



    This pattern was very common in Turkish swords and daggers from the 17 C. and on. It is very Characteristic and it is almost like screaming: I am Turkish. This blade has 7 or 8 layers which is quite unusual, as most of the blade will have 4-6 layers.

    There is a gold inlaid cartouche in Arabic letters:



    The inscription read: La fata ella Ali La Seif ella Dhulfaghar saneye 1037 (There is no brave man but Ali there is no sword but Dhulfaghar the year 1037). 1037 corresponds to 1627 in the Gregorian calendar. Quite an early date for this shape of blades which are believed to appear only in the 18 C.

    2) Origin: Turkish style blade and definitely Indian style handle and scabbard:



    Also the handle is of top quality and workmanship with heavy gold inlay (true inlay). The mounting of the handle is definitely old and uses the thick black resin as can be found in many old Tulwars and other Indian blades. So was it a Turkish blade that passes hands and finally arrived to India and received its Indian mounts?? Was it a custom made blade ordered in Turkey for an Indian buyer?? Any other suggestions?? Comments are most welcome.

    3) Provenance: This sword came with an old label shown below:

    . It reads:

    "...From the collection of king George 5. Armourer Sir Laking sold up at Christies a year or 2 after the 1914 war, one of a set of 3, I believe, ?????, similar, each one larger than the other. Doubtless the Cimitar of one king or prince. The other two already passed on. Owen T.R. Prawskay (?). This label written 2.8.1960...

    I am still looking for Christies catalogs from the period (1920 ??) to confirm the provenance and find the description of this sword.

  2. #2
    Blade itself looks Turkish except for that it is a little thick especially for a 17th century "kılıç". İt is quite possible that is was a custom made blade, or a balde forged in Turkey and traded to İndia; it is even possible that it was made by a Turkish swordsmith who worked in İndia. There was a strong trade connection between İndia and Ottoman Empire; and many Turkish carftsmen and artist from Anatolia travelled to İran, Central Asia and india to work for nobles or rich patrons. and many craftsmen and artist from those countries was working in İstanbul palace under patronship of Ottoman emperor.
    Last edited by Sancar Ozer; 07-06-2007 at 06:08 PM.
    "The relationship between West(Occident) and East(Orient) is indeed an example of a relationship of power and domination. Orientalism is thus a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between the Orient and the Occident. It is a Western style of dominating, restructuring and building hegemony over the Orient.İt is an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness, into the general culture."
    From "Orientalism" by Edward Said

  3. #3
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    just a thought... it looks pieced together..... inlay on the ricasso area doesn't seem to match the hilt... maybe fit better on a turkish hilt...??

    maybe just the camera angle in the photo....?

    G

    i don't think its uncommon for hilts to be switch around on other blades....

  4. #4
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    Excellent observation. I agree that the blade and the handle where not born together, but both are quite old and this handle was mounted on this blade long time ago.

  5. #5
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    The inscription with it's reference to Ali, suggests a Shia origin. Most of the Ottoman Empire was Sunni (except the Christian parts). Perhaps the blade was produced by a bladesmith trained in a "metropolitan" Ottoman tradition but working in, say, southern Iraq for largely Shi-ite buyers.

    There was an intensive seasonal (because of the prevailing wind directions)trade between the Persian Gulf area and Scind and Gujerat in India (and places further south), the blade (or fully mounted sword) could have been imported into India by this route. Indians had a great tendency to re-mount swords with locally fashionable hilts.
    Sweord ora ond sweordes ecg.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Read View Post
    The inscription with it's reference to Ali, suggests a Shia origin. Most of the Ottoman Empire was Sunni (except the Christian parts). Perhaps the blade was produced by a bladesmith trained in a "metropolitan" Ottoman tradition but working in, say, southern Iraq for largely Shi-ite buyers.

    There was an intensive seasonal (because of the prevailing wind directions)trade between the Persian Gulf area and Scind and Gujerat in India (and places further south), the blade (or fully mounted sword) could have been imported into India by this route. Indians had a great tendency to re-mount swords with locally fashionable hilts.
    Actually, the saying "La fata illa Ali La Seyf illa Zulfikar (There is no brave man but Ali there is no sword but Zulfikar) " was the most common inscription in Ottoman swords because Hz.Ali is respected both by Sunni and Shia muslims.
    "The relationship between West(Occident) and East(Orient) is indeed an example of a relationship of power and domination. Orientalism is thus a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between the Orient and the Occident. It is a Western style of dominating, restructuring and building hegemony over the Orient.İt is an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness, into the general culture."
    From "Orientalism" by Edward Said

  7. #7
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    its a very nice sword... and i believe it was made for an individual with very selective tastes... .. and connections to both countries... (obviously )

    i like it

    Greg

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    duplicate post
    Last edited by MumtazB; 07-14-2007 at 05:05 AM.
    "If metal can be polished to a mirror-like finish,
    What polishing might the Mirror of the Heart require"

    Rumi

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancar Ozer View Post
    Actually, the saying "La fata illa Ali La Seyf illa Zulfikar (There is no brave man but Ali there is no sword but Zulfikar) " was the most common inscription in Ottoman swords because Hz.Ali is respected both by Sunni and Shia muslims.
    Thanksyou very much for bringing that up Sancar .

    It does kind of irritate me when anything that refers to Sayyidina Ali is automatically (and often mistakenly) attributed to being of Shia origin.

    Not that I have anything against Shia ....my uncle is Shia as well as my best friend .


    A fine piece here Artzi , thankyou for sharing !
    Last edited by MumtazB; 07-14-2007 at 05:06 AM.
    "If metal can be polished to a mirror-like finish,
    What polishing might the Mirror of the Heart require"

    Rumi

  10. #10
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    "There is no god but Alláh, Muhammad is the Messenger of Alláh, Alí is the Friend of Alláh. The Successor of the Messenger of Alláh And his first Caliph."

    The Sunni version makes no reference to Ali, it would be hard to argue that Ali holds as central a role in Sunni theology as in Shia.

    The reference I made to an established trade route between part of the Ottoman Empire and the western coast of India is still relevant to the piece in question. It was primarily important in the movement of spices.
    Last edited by Martin Read; 07-15-2007 at 06:06 AM.
    Sweord ora ond sweordes ecg.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artzi Yarom View Post
    ...OMISSIS...

    The inscription read: La fata ella Ali La Seif ella Dhulfaghar saneye 1037 (There is no brave man but Ali there is no sword but Dhulfaghar the year 1037). 1037 corresponds to 1627 in the Gregorian calendar. Quite an early date for this shape of blades which are believed to appear only in the 18 C.
    I've already heard this about a blade that can be no more mentioned on
    SFI...

    IMHO the way we fix middle east blades' shape appearance date
    must be radically reviewed.
    Please forgive my english.

  12. #12
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    Another early Kilij for discussion

    The early date of the sword posted above raised some questions regarding its age. It was thought that this type of Kilij blades (or Pala), are rather late. Mid to late 18 C. and onward. The sword above was dated to 1037 (1627). I am bringing up for comments another blade, of even more important provenance, and of an even earlier date:




    A close up of the inscription on the obverse side near the Yelmen:



    Which reads: Al Mughazi Sinan Pasha Saneye 1000 (The invader Sinan Pasha the year 1591)

    And:

    Bisrasm Saheb al Dawlah (Ordered by the country's ruler)


    And follows with: Bismella al Rahman al Rahim [/i](In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most merciful)[/i] and than on both sides of the blade all the attributes of God:

    He is Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Protector, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Greatest, the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper, the Great Forgiver, the Dominant, the Bestower, the Sustainer, the Opener, the Knower, the Withholder, the Expander, the Abaser, the Exalter, the Bestower of Honor, the Humiliator….. and so all the 99 attributes:






    Sinan Pasha is a well known figure in the Ottoman history. For most of his mature years was a high ranking commander in the Ottoman army under Murad III and Mehmet III, and five time appointed as the Grand Vasir until his death in 1591.

    Was this his sword?? Why not. The blade is definitely old. The inscription is of top quality both in inlay technique and calligraphy and fits the period style. The blade might be even earlier: On the reverse side there are traces of an earlier cartouche.

    So what do we have here: A late 16 C blade that was supposed to appear in the late 18 C. may be we should reconsider our knowledge on Pala swords??

  13. #13
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    Is this a different Sinan from the famous architect (Suleimaniye Mosque etc)? I was aware that he was an army officer and military engineer in his early life.

    I think the difficulty with an early date for this form of blade is the lack of contemporary depiction in illustrations. Admittedly the amount of illustration isn't all that great but what is shown are generally longer and less wide bladed swords of a lesser curvature.
    Sweord ora ond sweordes ecg.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Read View Post
    "There is no god but Alláh, Muhammad is the Messenger of Alláh, Alí is the Friend of Alláh. The Successor of the Messenger of Alláh And his first Caliph."

    The Sunni version makes no reference to Ali, it would be hard to argue that Ali holds as central a role in Sunni theology as in Shia..

    I agree with you to some extent Martin.

    The more orthodox testament of faith has no reference to Ali, but that does not mean that Sunnis do not regard Ali as Waliullah (Friend of Allah) .

    However , the above testament of faith which you quoted does not appear on this sword . If it did then I would wholeheartedly agree with you, the sword would be of Shia origin.

    Also, my point was any references to Ali do not automatically make a sword to be of Shia origin. So the words;

    "La illah Fatah Ali, La illah Saif al Zulfiqar"

    are not a "Shia" statement .

    That's all I'm trying to convey.

    Also, if you look at most Islamic Sufi orders, many of which have both Sunni and Shia adherents, most of them trace their lineage through Ali.

    Only one of the Sufi orders - the Naqshbandi sufi order, traces it's lineage to the Prophet (peace be upon him) through both Ali and Abu Bakr.

    So the role of Ali , and Abu Bakr is very central to their beliefs, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) is always held in higher regard than both of them
    Last edited by MumtazB; 07-16-2007 at 09:00 AM.
    "If metal can be polished to a mirror-like finish,
    What polishing might the Mirror of the Heart require"

    Rumi

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Read View Post
    Is this a different Sinan from the famous architect (Suleimaniye Mosque etc)? I was aware that he was an army officer and military engineer in his early life.
    Actually there are several "Sinan Paşa"s in Ottoman history. One of the most famous is "Kara Sinan Paşa" (Sinan the Black) who was kaptan-ı derya (grand admiral) of Ottoman navy.

    On the other hand "Mimarbaşı Koca Sinan" (The Head Architect Sinan the Great) did not hold the title of "paşa" which can be roughly translated as army general. He was a military officer;he joined some great wars and even saw action but really doubt that this is his sword.
    "The relationship between West(Occident) and East(Orient) is indeed an example of a relationship of power and domination. Orientalism is thus a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between the Orient and the Occident. It is a Western style of dominating, restructuring and building hegemony over the Orient.İt is an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness, into the general culture."
    From "Orientalism" by Edward Said

  16. #16
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    Hi Artzi
    i think you are right... the dates should be pushed back on these ! as well as other swords.....
    why do so many people think everything is so modern.. ? maybe they believe a more modern blade would be cheaper to purchase ? i don't think dating these blades to a much older date will do much to the value... as they are already come with a good price...

    good post... i've learned alot


  17. #17

    Tone and style of caligraphy

    Hello Artzi,

    Has been quite a while since I have been on this site. Both your kilijs are beautiful and I would enjoy having either one in my collection. The blade with the inscription of the Grand Vizer, the tone and style of works suggests an 18th century date for the inscription to me, would be nice to handle it in person and observe it under a low power microscope. Notably the decorative arabeque does not appear to be a 16th century style. the gold application appears to be koftgari, would first ask why does the Vazir 's sword not have inlay as he could afford the finest work. A more detailed analysys could be done by someone who specializes in calligraphy of that period, that may be where your answers lie. Either way its a great example of Islamic workmanship.

    That brings a question to mind. If the craftsman who applied the gold calligraphy was Armenian, is his work considered Islamic? I guess the same could be asked of a Persian sword maker crafting a sabre for a Hindu Client.

    The other kilij, with the pattern welded blade, what a marvelous piece. Great cradftsmanship on the blade, the gold cartouche looks to be high quality inlay too.

    I would take the tag with a grain of salt, many collectors from the 50's & 60's put a tag like that the pieces in their collection. It may be a possible clue and worth researching too, but those roads are often never ending.

    All the best,

    rand

  18. #18

    Regarding Dates

    Hello again Artzi,

    Regarding dating of swords, am in agreement with you that the current dating attributed by most authors (not all) will probably change in the future. Its my opinion that many of the swords are dated wrongly, sometimes by as much as two centuries.

    Some of the dates of sword were determined by when they were recieved as gifts, notably the ones given to Royalty, they kept meticullous logs of all monies and inventories, these recorded dates of aquisition cannot make a firm date of manufacture of a blade. We know a high quality blade could be rehilted many times over the span of its usable life, a historic blade especially would be venerated and saved.

    And we have not even scratched the surface, it would take more than one volume to show examples of authors duplication of mistakes in books. The area of Islamic arms has just in the last ten years having more and more books available to curious collectors. Even now there are not that many books on the subject especially when you compare it with European arms. That tells me the value is just going to keep going up and good items harder to find, and we know its never been easy....

    One thing I have seen and learned, you may agree with this, is that if you pay for your swords from your own pocket book, you learn to be much keener on perceiving the quality of an item.

    Where have all the collectors gone that used to post here?

    Dry Roads,

    rand

  19. #19
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    What is the age of this blade??

    Thanks all for referring to this blade.

    Of course I will be most happy if this sword belonged to Sinan Pasha. This will add great value to the blade, but the major issue here is how old is this blade??.

    We used always to think that this type of Pala blades with the deep curvature and wide raised Yelmen appeared only in the second half of the 18 C. The earlier Kilij blades where slimmer and longer. Whenever an earlier date, 16 or 17 C. appears on such a blade we explain it as later inscription added to commemorate an early event or added to upgrade the value of the sword. But may be we are mistaken?? May be these blades appeared earlier than we think??

    Four points in favour of an early date for this blade:

    1) The patina: The patina on the blade is very dark, even and quite deep. It is not rusted or pitted steel. I cleaned a small area of the blade near the tip and find out that the surface of the steel below the patina is very smooth and clean. Such patina can be developed over very long time in a relatively dry area. A good storage for example. An 18 C. blade stored in good condition would not develop such a deep patina. An earlier blade may be.

    2) Length: The length of this blade is 33 inches. Compared to inches average 27 on later Pala swords. Is it possible that the shorter 18 / 19 C. Pala blades are evolved form earlier, longer "Pala" shaped blades like this one??

    3) The Gold inscription, language and grammer: I am not an expert on early Turkish language and grammer. I actually do not read Turkish or early Arabic. I trust the gentleman who translated the inscription for me and he thinks it is an early work.

    4) The gold inscription, inlay technique: It is indeed a koftgari work and not true inlay. I agree that it was added after the blade has seen some age and the earlier worn cartouch is the best proof for it. But I modestly admit that I have examined many gold koftgari works and never seen one of this quality. In koftgari work, a gold wire or gold foil is hammered into a criss cross of scratches cut into the steel. In a good koftgari work, the criss cross cuts are seen only very little outside of the gold pattern. In later works they are grossly (and quite ugly) extend out of the pattern. I examined every millimeter of this blade with a strong magnifier and could not find even a fraction of a mm where the cuts appears outside of the inlaid pattern. I could not find any spot where the scratches cut into the patina, they all looks below the heavy patina. This in my opinion date the inscription not very much after the balde was made, surely before the patina developed. ( I will try to take a close up photo of the inscription and post it here)

    I admit that I myself a bit puzzled with the older cartouch. If I was a faker adding a later inscription I would take all measures to erase the older decoration. If I was an artist commissioned to do it by the sword owner I would do the same. Why it is left there, and why it is not interlaced into the later work?? I am afraid I do not know.

  20. #20
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    just some thoughts...

    i think the idea of fakes has gotten out of control... greatly helped and nurtured by ebay ofcourse..... lots of people think something is a fake and need to be proven real...... assumed guilty before proving innocent...


    if the original owner wanted the prayer put on the blade... .. that would answer why it is done in such a manner.... .. maybe put on the blade before a large battle.... obviously this blade was used in a conflict... and the user would be comforted with the prayer...... looking at the script, it was done by a master calligrapher/ nastalique ? ... i really doubt a master would put his effort into faking a blade... whats the point... ..... also... people back then take seriously these kinds of tricks... people have lost their head for much much less....
    - thats another point... the master would obviously want his script to flow with the original cartouche..( they are great artists)... but since it does not... it was almost like he was told to put this script in such a fashion by someone with authority

    is there writing on the first cartouche...?

    Greg

  21. #21

    Koftgari on Pasha Kilij

    Artzi,

    Was wondering if there is possibly two different levels of quality on the koftgari work, namely the possiblility of the cartouche and and floral decorative work. Also, is all the gold the same color?

    The tang is another area where age can be indicated if it has not been cleaned. Is quite a bit of this study on Japanese blades and there is no reason why it can't be applied here.

    I agree about length being an indication of earlier work. The long kilij and shamshirs are very few and far between. Seems the normal length of a shamhir blade is about 31 1/2", longest shashir I have has a 34" blade with an inscription refering to Shah Abas. This inscription is done with the Turkish inlay technique so I do not give it the same weight of being from the actual time as if it were Persian work. It also has silver applied where delaminations are in the spine of the blade, an indication of a premium blade.

    Have had kilj blades 33", 35" and 36", everyone a very high quality of work, two 17th-18th century and the other 15th century.

    Have not seen too much reference to the width of the blades, Zaki talked about the earlier shamshir blades being a heavier cross section and shallower curved. Can't think of that being suggested in a study of kilij blades by an author yet.

    I might suggest a photo study of the koftgari work with a low level magnification microscope. This is an area that could advance the level of understanding. Don't know about you, but the Armor books I prefer have close-up photo's and pictures of all sides.

    Thanks again Artzi for making this posting.

    Dry Roads,

    rand

  22. #22
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    Quality of inlay work

    Just to demonstrate the quality of the gold inlay, see below side by side two works: On the left is a close up of the Pala blade in discussion. On the right is a section from a mid 19 C. Turkish Jambiya blade:



    On the right image one can see the traces of the criss cross scratches on the steel. Also, the sharpness of the letters and the accuracy of the lines in the left image are quite evidence.

    As a side note, I wish to add that I consider the inlay on this Jambiya dagger as a good one (every thing is of course relative).

  23. #23

    Koftgari

    Thanks for the close-ups Artzi,

    Want to first again mention how much I like this sword, did not want the discussion in any way infer that this is not a great item.

    Is the an area where the gold application is worn away and the cross hatched grooves incised in the blade to adhere the gold are evident?

    Are there two colors of gold on the blade or is it a difference in lioght refraction on the image you posted?

    There are four basic areas I look to for determining koftgari age in the area of craftsmanship:

    1) How near the koftgari lines are to the actual gold application. In general the earlier the work the better, but this is not necessarily so.

    2) The color or alloy of the gold used, in general earlier work leans towards a higher gold content and the color is a softer, darker yellow.

    3) The quality if the writing, in general the earlier the better.

    4)The quality of the application of the gold, again, the earlier the the better in general.

    As you notice everything is in general, its a matter of adding a lot of small things to helpdetermine a larger question.

    After that I look to study the types of tools marks made under a low power microscope, these are valuable clues.

    After that a look at the type of caligraphy, that is not my strong suit as its a whole field in itself.

    Styles of ornamentaion is another indication of date. These often follow the rulers tastes and periods of history can be estimated by style. For example, the use of knowing the dating of Chinese textile designs to help indicate the time period of a 17th century Tibetan pierced iron saddle. Or a Mughal Rajas favorite flower ornaments a dagger to base a period on his time of "Rule".

    From your close up photo the oxidation on the kilij does not look too deep, are you thinking about removing it? Is this blade wootz?

    Is there a hole punched in the tang? Could you post a close up of the tang?

    Can you post a close up of the cartouche also? Would be interesting to compare it.

    Enjoying this sword.....

    rand

  24. #24
    What if the gold writing on the kilij is a type of inlay? It seems there is wear on the cartouch and floral works at places. If it is a type if inlay the type of work would help in accessing a time period.

    The gold does seem to be above the surface level of the blade, Persian gold inlay work would be a channel cut and embedded firmly into the blade the the wear over time usually leaves the remaining gold at the same lelel as the blade. Pieces in etremely good condition can have gold work above the level of the work with designs also into the gold.

    The pattern welded kilj seems to have had a form of this type inlay. If that holds true, the inlay adhereing the gold in the kilij may be a shallow type of cut and probably not channel cut. This type of work would wear faster as its more exposed and not as deeply embedded. Is the goldwork rounded on the edges or flat? Is it level with the blade or raised above?

    Sounds as if you have not determined beyond a doubt what the type of gold application is for the calligraphy, am I right?

    rand
    Last edited by rand milam; 07-24-2007 at 01:56 PM.

  25. #25
    Like everything about this pattern welded kilij blade. The shape of thislines in the calligraphy are elongated and widen towards to top of some letters, the lines are very precise, my guess is the style of work is early, the knowledge of core twist blades go furhter back that the 17th century. The hilt could be from that time period also, florals designs almost in a parasol shape and looks to be a type of shallow inlay. The patina on the iron (?)handle also looks intact, am asuming its not wootz. Lets not discount the possibility of Mughal work for the blade, they did amazing work that is more evident in some of the gun barrels produced there.

    Its too bad the words raja, sultan or shah were not used on the tag, that could have been another clue.

    rand

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