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Old 18th November 2020, 05:44 PM   #1
Richard R.
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Default Question marks on a supposedly Russian Yataghan with Shashka grip and “bulat” blade?

Hi,

I bought this supposedly Russian Yataghan with a bulat (wootz) blade some years ago and would like to ask your opinion about dating an origin of this weapon.

The” Damascus Pattern” on the blade changes depending the light and angle looking on it.

Kind regards

Richard R.
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Old 18th November 2020, 08:16 PM   #2
David R
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Bulat is hard to fake and the metal mounts look righteous, so personally I think the important bits are right.....As for the rest I await comments. I would like a better pic of the whole piece.
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Old 18th November 2020, 09:41 PM   #3
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Here some additional pictures.
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Last edited by Richard R. : 18th November 2020 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 18th November 2020, 11:00 PM   #4
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Very Indian to me
But to be safe I would say at 99.9% in a triangle between India, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
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Old 19th November 2020, 05:53 AM   #5
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Agree with Kubur: the blade is not Russian, but +/- Central Asia / India.

Anosov, alleged re-discoverer of Bulat, had some blades made. All of them were rather pitiful renditions of Shams, even though he claimed to reproduce tabans and khorasans. He got the instruction how to make Bulat ingots, but the mastery of forging them was well beyond him. Russian metallurgists and historians darkly comment to this day that there are still unseen examples in Russian museums, but that they are so secret that cannot be shown. At the very least Anosov is credited with a discovery that Bulat is an alloy of iron and carbon, nothing else. But even that is not true: Faraday knew it years earlier and tried to simplify the process by adding various other element .

After Anosov’s death, his former Zlatoust colleagues got hold of his written recipes and tried to create Bulat ingots. Nothing came out of it.

The story of Russian Bulat is fascinating and I think from time to time to publish it: it is a detective story, with industrial espionage, carefully choreographed publications, passion to be the “ first”, attempts of obtaining confirmation of the “ first- ness” from the foreigners, and a final hiding of the methodology so that nobody steals it. Science at its most human and worst:-)))
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Old 19th November 2020, 07:40 AM   #6
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What about this Yataghan wit Damascus-Pattern, also Russian or +/- Central Asia or Indian?
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Old 20th November 2020, 02:28 PM   #7
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Why Russian? Markings? Inscriptions?
I am unaware of any old Russian Bulat ( wootz) blades with a pattern more sophisticated than shams , and even those are rarer than hen’s teeth.
Contemporary Russian smiths can produce only short knives( except for Zaqro Nonikashvili, but he is from Georgia).
I have seen some old composites with Oriental blades and Russian decorative additions.
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Old 21st November 2020, 06:28 PM   #8
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This first shown Yataghan has been described by the auctions houses Bonham London and Auctions Imperial as follows:

“A RUSSIAN YATAGHAN, 19TH CENTURY:
With watered recurved single-edged blade, and characteristic 'eared' ebony grip secured by two transverse brass pins, in original wooden scabbard covered in red velvet (worn) with iron locket and chape each etched with designs of symmetrical foliage on the outside. Overall length is 33.5 inches - Blade length is 26.5 inches.”

“AN IMPERIAL RUSSIAN SABER SHASHKA:
A very rare example, typical of Zlatoust Arms Factory special order work for officers during the Caucasian Wars. The hilt carved of a single section of black horn, the gently recurved, single-edged blade forged of fine Russian bulat wootz steel as developed by Pavel Anosov at Zlatoust in 1838. The wooden scabbard covered in red velvet with gilt braid, the steel mounts etched in motifs characteristic of Zlatoust. Mid-19th century. Some wear to mounts. Overall length 84.8 cm, blade 67.5 cm. Officers serving in the Caucasus often acquired or had local weapons copied. This example combines the hilt of a shashka with a blade of yataghan form, a type encountered in Georgia; however with refinements which improve upon the original by allowing it to be used, not only for cutting, but for the thrust so popular among Russian soldiers.”

What about the scabbard? For me it doesn’t look Indian.
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Old 21st November 2020, 06:45 PM   #9
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The first one has a North Indian scabbard or with Afghan fittings.
I can't say nothing about the second one as you showed us only the blade...

About Russian,Russian collectors have money, a lot.
Everything labeled Russian will sell high.
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Last edited by Kubur : 22nd November 2020 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 22nd November 2020, 08:09 AM   #10
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Hello,
While it is very difficult to judge from the photos, the blade of the first example appears to be pattern welded and not wootz. And even if it is wootz, it definitely does not have the fine watering of antique wootz but looks more like modern sham.

PS: I know of a Russian blacksmith who can make some pattern welded blades with watering extremely similar to wootz. I have seen one of his steels in a sword of Gotscha Lagidse and I was quite convinced it was wootz.

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Old 22nd November 2020, 08:52 PM   #11
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I have pics of 3 Anosov’s blades: all Shams, from barely existent to real, to so coarse that it could have been a refined steel.
I also have a recording of a very fresh Russian conference in the Kremlin Museum dedicated to the history of weapons. There was a presentation of chemical analysis of 15 allegedly “ Bulat” blades of 19 century, including one allegedly Anosov’s blade , but it was not actually shown.

To this day they do not differentiate between wootz and mechanical Damascus and all blades are HYPOeutectoid ( carbon<< 0.8% i.e. not wootz). Not a single “wootz” blade seems to have a wootz pattern.

Something strange goes on there.....

Last edited by ariel : 23rd November 2020 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 10:34 AM   #12
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Regarding the sword in the original photo, I see no indication pointing towards Russian origin.

Why "yataghan" and why not "sousun pattah"... and...

... why Russian and not Indian?!

The scabbard looks very Indian to me.
Also the blade looks very Indian as I have seen almost identical sousun pattah blades with the classic tulwar hilt (see Kubur's example).
So I suspect the blade was re-hilted... just to confuse us.


Regarding Anosov's claims that he re-discovered the technology of antique wootz, I find them to be at least partially unfounded.
I believe that while he did some research, he only re-discovered some of the basics of the process of crucible steel production. The rest were false claims as he was seeking fame and glory.
But this is only MY PERSONAL OPPINION, and I would like to be contradicted with substantial evidence.

However, to some degree, pretty much the same applies to Verhoeven and Pendray. While they documented well and beyond any doubt the process of producing wootz, they failed to reproduce the watering patterns of the antique wootz. Much closer came some modern wootz makers like Zaqro Nonikashvili and Ivan Kirpichev. However, none of them have consistent results.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 11:03 AM   #13
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Default About the Term “Wootz”

The term wootz is in fact problematic.

The term "Wootz" in relation to the history of the European perception, naming, imitation and research of the “true oriental pattern crucible steel blades" is relatively new. In was first mentioned from Dr. Scott from Bombay in a letter (1794) to the president of the Royal Society in London. At the beginning this term was not used in connection with “pattern crucible Steel” or Indian “Damascus blades”. It was not a synonym for any crucible steel showing “Damascus pattern”.

Here some remarks of Anne Feuerbach concerning the Term “Wootz”:

2006:The term wootz first appears in print in 1795 in Pearson’s Lecture to the Royal Academy on Indian steel.4 This was a time when Indian crucible steel was being sent to England for laboratory analyses with the purpose of understanding what made it apparently tougher than steel made in Europe. It is worth noting that early studies make no association between wootz and any pattern. The first reference to an apparent relationship between wootz and the Damascus pattern appears in Stodart and Faraday’s 1820 paper on alloys. It is important to realize that Faraday’s connection between wootz and a Damascus pattern was based on his alloying replication experiments, not the examination of imported wootz ingots.”

2008:The prevalence of the use of the term wootz in professional and popular literature has lead to a number of problems. The first problem is that it is used interchangeably with the term “Damascus steel,” thus implying that the wootz process produces a pattern. Secondly, the term “wootz” implies an Indian or Sri Lankan origin for the steel, and as discussed above this is not necessarily so, thus leading to further misconceptions of the object’s provenance.”

2009:…Therefore, the evidence from all archaeological, ethnographic, and replication experiments, indicates that crucible steel from South India/Sri Lanka, i.e. the areas associated with the terms wootz, produced crucible steel blades with either no pattern or a faint pattern only.“

The earliest source mentioning wootz in connection with damascus-Steel that I could find during my research is from Jean Henri Hassenfratz (1755-1822), a French chemist, physics professor and mine inspector. But there is no mention of any pattern in his notice.

1812:Quant au wootz, il paraît, d'après les expériences de MM. More et Pearson, qu'il ne peut être forgé qu'au rouge-pâle; ce qui le rapproche de l'acier de Damas.“

Free Translation: “As for the wootz, it appears from the experiments of More and Pearson, that it can only be forged in pale red; which brings it closer to Damascus steel.”

Regards
Richard R.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 02:21 PM   #14
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Regarding wootz, I believe Dr. Ann Feuerbach is one of the best sources of information (if not THE best). She has published several very well written and quite easily readable articles on this topic. Her articles are available for download for free at her web-page on Academia.

https://ncc.academia.edu/AnnFeuerbach

However, independent on the name-game, now/here on this forum, when we say "wootz" we know what we mean... or at least I hope so.

Anyhow, when I say "wootz," I mean a crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands that are formed by microscopic carbides within a tempered martensite or pearlite matrix in higher carbon steel, or by ferrite and pearlite banding in lower carbon steels.

And the patterning in the sword of the original posting does not appear to come from the micro-cristalline structure of the steel (like in the case of wootz) as the bands appear to be too big and too uniform/directional.

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 23rd November 2020 at 02:38 PM.
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