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Old 5th December 2019, 06:49 PM   #1
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Default teh-tula vs koftgari on kindjals and other weaponary of the caucasus

Does anyone have knowledge of the use of teh-tula vs koftgari as a means of identifying place and period of manufacture of Caucasian style weapons particularly kindjals?
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Old 6th December 2019, 08:01 PM   #2
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What on earth is teh -tula? Never heard of it.
Any chance it is Tula Weapon manufacture?
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Old 7th December 2019, 01:17 PM   #3
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I think Tula refers to Niello technique here. Niello is called Tula in many European countries as most Niello work in Europe was produced in Russia (in Moscow and Tula) from 18 to 19 Centuries. Therefore, the question posted is about identifying origin of Caucasian arms based on Niello and Coftgari decorations.
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Old 7th December 2019, 05:31 PM   #4
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Pictures please...

Do you mean like this Caucasian shashqa? :
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Old 7th December 2019, 07:21 PM   #5
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I cannot see niello there. What I do see, is a cheap false filigree on a souvenir shashka made in contemporary Georgia.
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Old 7th December 2019, 07:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I cannot see niello there. What I do see, is a cheap false filigree on a souvenir shashka made in contemporary Georgia.

Yup, exactly....Why we need pictures...
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Old 8th December 2019, 07:24 PM   #7
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Default clarification and full disclousure pictures included this time

Sorry for the previous lack of pictures. I was pressed for time. Now for some background to my question. Since I was a kid and saw pictures of kindjals in my grandfather's book collection I have been fascinated by offset fullers. This past spring I decided to learn more about kindjal construction and combed the internet for an appropriate piece that I could practice restoration on without guilt. I found a piece that had had previous restoration badly done. The seller claimed it to be from the 19th century Caucasus. It appears to me to be possibly a frankin-kindjal of unknown age and origin. On the back horn slab there is damage where the old rivets were ground off (far right picture). The blade had corroded and been cleaned on some kind of wheel then buffed. This process had left the blade scarred from uneven grinding with a very coarse abrasive. I decided to polish it out and change the aggressive channel grind to a flat grind that ideally tapered to the edge using all hand tools. I studied hundreds if not thousands of photo on the internet and Rivkin's book to create a mental picture of the outcome. As I began polishing it I noticed some periodic discoloration that I couldn't explain. Under 10x magnification what I discovered was traces of gold left in pits I believed to be where the cross hatching from koftgari had began or ended, thus being slightly higher than the rest of the cut which I reasoned had been ground off. Once I removed more damage and corrosion I saw that instead of cross hatching these were stimples. The left photo shows this under 10X magnification, the scale is in mm. I have not found any reference to teh-tula (the process of attaching gold or silver alloys to iron or steel via stimples) being used on qamas or kindjals. My question once again is what does this mean for period and place of manufacture? Does this make it Indo-Persian? The steel is very soft on this piece, changing my original idea of a flat grind all the way to the edge for better cutting properties on soft materials to adding a steeper bevel at the edges for more strength. Rivkin said in his book that the RC was often around 35 for wootz blades. Is a 35 Rockwell hardness common for the temper on plain steel kindjal blades as well?
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Old 9th December 2019, 09:42 PM   #8
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Well, I still do not know where the term “ teh-Tula” came from, but obviously it is not meant to signify niello. Likely, the author means some kind of inlay.

Overall, it looks like a very simple standard Caucasian kindjal, mass produced , end of 19 up to mid 20 ( or later) century. Chechen? Daghestani?


The issue of hardness ( “soft iron”) puzzles me. The first photograph shows an area with deep crosshatching. Is looks suspiciously as if the blade was made out of an old file, and those are hard.
Also, Caucasian often used a technique of differential tempering, deliberately hardening edges and leaving the body soft. Kind of like nihonto. This can be seen after a good polish, and definitely after acid etching.

Sorry for not being more helpful: far too many contradictions.
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Old 10th December 2019, 12:06 AM   #9
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Ariel thanks for the feedback. I joined this group to hear what other people had to say.
I thought I was buying a plain Dagestani blade. I hoped to find a differential temper as well. Maybe it will show up in the final polish.
Tel-tula to my understanding is attaching a soft metal to a ferric one similar to koftgari but instead of cross hatch using dots (stimples) to roughen the surface. If you blow up the picture and look below the fuller you will see a pattern of dots. I found traces of them period surrounding the fuller. there is still some gold attached to the tang.
Teh-tula seems to be an Indian technique from what I've read. I guess part of my question was to find out if anyone had heard of it in Transcaucasia or Caucasia? This also could be a fairly modern reproduction. Looking around the internet has been making me wonder if people aren't corroding new objects to make them seem old. I'm just learning about blades from this part of the world so I hope the group forgives me if I a little on the remedial side of things.
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Old 10th December 2019, 07:52 PM   #10
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If the dots have the correct triangular shape, then this is an old Persian jewelry technique, which was also owned by some craftsmen in Dagestan.
In my opinion, the mild steel of the blade suggests that the solid blades were destroyed with a grinder.
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Old 11th December 2019, 01:41 AM   #11
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Can you give a reference to this technique/name?
All this is totally new to me.
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Old 11th December 2019, 06:13 AM   #12
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Thanks Ren Ren. I can't tell if they were triangular, but knowing that technique was in Dagestan is enlightening. Were the triangles simply indentions or was the back of the triangle slightly raised like a riffing file and smoothed down later? I'm guessing the Dagestani craftsmen used it in the 1880s-1920s?

Ariel what kind of acid do you use to highlight differential tempers?
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Old 11th December 2019, 07:17 AM   #13
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One of the really best books dealing with Caucasian arms with lots of fotos and very good description of the background and origin of kinjals, shashkas, guns, rifles, pistols etc on 353 pages is the yearbook 2000 of the Danish Arms Collecting Society, the Vabenhistorisk Selskab.
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Old 11th December 2019, 08:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party
Does anyone have knowledge of the use of teh-tula vs koftgari as a means of identifying place and period of manufacture of Caucasian style weapons particularly kindjals?


As far as I know tah-tala is a synonym for the deep inlay technique more commonly known as tah-nishan. It’s two Persian words, tah meaning “base” and tala (spelt tula or even tila sometimes in India) meaning “gold”. See at the link below under “Tehnishan”:

http://210.212.169.38/xmlui/bitstre...e=1&isAllowed=y
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Old 11th December 2019, 12:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Can you give a reference to this technique/name?
All this is totally new to me.

I saw objects with this inlay technique in the collection of Kamil Khaidakov (you know him). Examples are also given in his book Камил Хайдаков "Персидские сабли. Некоторые вопросы атрибуции" ("Persian sabers. Some attribution issues") on pages 25, 111, 125.
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Old 11th December 2019, 01:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party
Thanks Ren Ren. I can't tell if they were triangular, but knowing that technique was in Dagestan is enlightening. Were the triangles simply indentions or was the back of the triangle slightly raised like a riffing file and smoothed down later? I'm guessing the Dagestani craftsmen used it in the 1880s-1920s?

In this case, the triangular dots (or better to say the pits) are completely different from the surface of the file. The surface after filling the pits with gold is completely flat (perhaps this is the result of numerous cleanings). I assume that in the years 1880-1920 no one used this technique for about 100 years, either in Dagestan or in Iran. Those items that I saw personally date back to the 18th century or at the very beginning of the 19th century.
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Old 11th December 2019, 04:58 PM   #17
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Bidri technique is characterized by perfectly flat surface. What is described in the Indian paper cited by Kwiatek is an inlay technique with gold/silver/brass wire hammered into incised channels and polished flat with the surface. This was used in the Caucasus and locally known as Zarnishan. Zarbuland is when the same wire protruded above the surface.
What the author describes as Zarnishan sounds suspiciously like Koftgari.

I can see Indian bidri-workers mixing their classical techniques with inlay for additional beauty effects. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody in the Caucasus did bidri work. A very, very different Caucasian technique somewhat resembling bidri ( black/white contrasts) was indeed niello, but again only very superficially.
My guess ( and we all are guessing here) is that we are talking local (linguistic?) variability of terminology. Perhaps ( another wild guess) in India Teh-nishan ( teh-tula?) was a local name of bidri+ inlay of some variety.
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Old 13th December 2019, 07:11 AM   #18
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I don’t think the terms teh-nishan or teh-tila/tula are in India restricted to Bidri ware. I cited that paper because it was one of the few places in English where they give an explanation for teh-tila. I suspect what has happened is that in the secondary literature terms are used across borders to refer to the same or similar techniques even where they were not originally part of the local parlance.

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Old 13th December 2019, 08:11 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwiatek
I suspect what has happened is that in the secondary literature terms are used across borders to refer to the same or similar techniques even where they were not originally part of the local parlance.


Agree. That’s what I meant.
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Old 14th December 2019, 06:18 PM   #20
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Default To muddy the waters more.

I can't remember where I first saw the term teh-tula, but after combing the internet I found these jewels.

First we have David J. Atkinson who says,"There are three koftgiri techniques:
Te-hen-shah or "Deep inlay": a pattern is carved into a blade and the silver wire is hammered into the undercut grooves (a process called "zabr kardan"). You can't feel the pattern on the blade. This is more typically simply called "inlay".
Traditional koftgari: a crosshatching pattern drawn on the blade with a sharp implement ("Silai", a hard steel needle) followed by heating and pressing with a polish hakik stone. You can feel the pattern. Also called "cross-hatch wire koftgari". In Persian it is called "talakub".
Teh-tula: a gold or silver foil is hammered onto a crosshatch or punched surface. This is more of an overlay art. You can feel the gold/silver on the objects. The pattern just looks embossed.
Another technique called "Mulamma" is thought of as imitation koftgari. It is a way of gold plating (gilding) on steel. Like koftgiri, the surface to be gilded is crosshatched. The pattern is drawn with the silai and then very thin gold leave is applied and rubbed with an agate stone, bone, or an ivory burnisher. Repeated heating and rubbing assures the soft gold is spread evenly and fixed firmly to the surface. A variation is to apply a paste of gold and mercury instead of gold leaf. Subsequent heating vaporizes the mercury leaving only the gold fixed to the surface pattern. These techniques are not to be confused with a modern technique to fake koftgari by painting gold or silver paint with a brush over the criss-cross pattern. Real koftgari work takes considerable time and skill to execute.
"

Next is a blurb from the Federation Of Rajasthan Handicraft Exporters. "In ancient times in India, the types of damascening art done were......
Te-hen-shah work - It is an inlay art in which gold/silver is hammered on the deep chiseled design. It is so smooth that one can’t feel the gold/silver on the iron base.
Teh-tula work -it is a kind of overlay art in which we can feel gold/silver work on the objects, they seem like embossed on iron base. It’s really hard to find this work as it was done in past. The variation of punching is adopted by artist to give a similar look.
Koftgari work - it is an overlay art which is done by pressing gold/silver wire by special tool on crosshatching and then its heated and pressed by a polish hakik stone (no normal stone is used). This is an art of damascening that is currently practiced and found in India.
"

There was an interesting thread on Sword Forum in 2008. Sandeep Singh a contemporary koftgari artist explains, "Te-hen-shah work- its an inlaid art in which gold/silver is hammered on the deep chisseled design, you cant feel the gold/silver on the iron as we can see in teh-tula work

Koftgari work - its an overlay art which is done by pressing gold/silver wire by special tool on crosshatching and then its heated and pressed by a polish hakik stone ( not normal stone is use). In this also you can feel gold/silver

Teh-tula work - its also a kind of overlay art in which we can feel gold/silver work on the objects, they just seems embosed work, its really hard to find this work.

In India Koftgari art still exists but no idea about the other two art it may be lost
[.]" Later in the thread Mr. Singh changes his spelling to teh-thula. He also has some nice examples on the thread.

Finally the article provided by Kwiatek (thank you for that I really enjoyed it) summarizes, "According to the process used for the inlay, the work is know as Tarkashi (if only wire is inlaid). Tehnishan (if the inlay looks flush with the surface of the object). Mahtabi or Aftabi (if the design looks black against the overlaid metal sheet); Zarnishan (if the inlaid pieces are in low relief), Zarbuland (if the inlaid pieces are in high relief) and koftgari (it is done by first drawing out the pattern in the steel surface surface with a hard steel needle or silai). "

I've included my notes of trying to assimilate and synthesize all these different sources. Provided you are able to read my handwriting this may be a helpful summary of my reading to date. I have been held back in my study by only being fluent in English and reading only a couple more none of which seem to have much source material for this region and art form. Therefore I have been dependent on translations. I have been looking at Russian and Danish books hoping to find a translation. That said I have found at least a years worth of quality material to digest.

Ariel an interesting note on terms meanings drifting across regions seems to be that in Indian parlance there are 3 gradations of inlay relief. While in Caucasus region zarnishan my be flush?

From what I've understood so far is the punches on this blade would most likely be would be of fairly modern origin as they are round and there do not seem to be large kindjals with providence to the 18th century. So probably a modern copy of a redecoration of a later 19th century piece.

A second addendum to this post would be the question of temper in these items. Koftgari is said to need to heat the steel to blue to bond the wire to the steel. Wiki lists the various blue temper colors and their uses as;
"Dark blue – 310 °C (590 °F) – screwdrivers, wrenches
Light blue – 337 °C (639 °F) – springs, wood-cutting saws
Grey-blue – 371 °C (700 °F) and higher – structural steel
"
This once again makes me wonder about the original RC of these items. Afterall bending is better than breaking.
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Old 14th December 2019, 09:36 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwiatek
As far as I know tah-tala is a synonym for the deep inlay technique more commonly known as tah-nishan. It’s two Persian words, tah meaning “base” and tala (spelt tula or even tila sometimes in India) meaning “gold”. See at the link below under “Tehnishan”:

http://210.212.169.38/xmlui/bitstre...e=1&isAllowed=y


In Persian tah ته means bottom or base, gold طلا pronounced either Ttila or Ttala, (double tt is used to emphasize the difference sounds between ت and ط) has nothing to do with bottom. The links seems to have interesting info, saved for when time is available to read.
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Old 15th December 2019, 10:10 AM   #22
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Again, apologies for a boring and pedantic post of limited interest to most users.

The most common way to transliterate ط as in طلا is with a ṭ (a t with a dot below). If you used a double t you would not be able to distinguish it from تّ as in اتحاد

See attached the link to the IJMES system, the most commonly used in publications. Of course you can use any system you like as long as it is consistent. For general purposes, especially on forums like this, I don't see the point of being overly pedantic. As long as it is basically correct and we know what we are talking about, then that's enough as far as I'm concerned. Even museum publications now are stopping to distinguish between t and ṭ etc unless they are giving a full transcription of a longer text.

https://www.tandf.co.uk//journals/a...rationChart.pdf
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