Eastern-style sabers from the 16th-17th centuries
A saber with scabbard from Hungary, Dresden Museum
Length: 95.5 cm Blade: 84.9 cm Weight: 964 g
The description in German says it is a Hungarian saber but obviously, it had come into Hungarian possession only as booty of war in the 16th century. Turks and Hungarians often got hold of each others` weapons and sometimes they modified the decoration or changed the hilts and the scabbards. As for me, its handle seems like a Hungarian replacement. The German text says the next:
“The slightly curved back blade is decorated with three recessed and gilded circles, an engraved tendril decor, and remains of a spiral-shaped silver snare, in the circular depressions in each case in the middle of a small cavity, which used to be possibly gemstones.
The wooden, leather-covered handle is wound with silver wire. The entire surface of the silver-gilt knob cap is filled with the Arabic inscription “There is no hero but Ali, there is no sword except the Zülfikar”.
It is noticeable that the elongated lines of the “i” in Ali and the “f” in sword (Arabic saif) are double “i” in the form of the double-bladed sword of Muhammad. The master of the pommel cap did not simply copy an Arabic inscription, he also understood its content.
The iron-forged cross is straight. The wooden scabbard is covered with black shagreen leather. The bands are made of cast and gilded silver.
The decor, z.T. consisting of perennial flowering perennials, is cut. This Hungarian saber probably came as a piece of spoils in possession of a Janissary, who had attached to it the Janissaries’ inscription. It belonged to the equipment of a Turk in 1602, Emperor Rudolph II sent on 23 February as a gift to Elector Christian II of Saxony. In 1719 it was exhibited on the occasion of the wedding of the son of Augustus the Strong as a weapon of the “Bassa” (Pasha) on a wax figure.”
A saber from Turkey, 17th century (Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest)
Turquoises and other semi-precious stones in rosette-shaped settings stud the end of the hilt, the rest of which is covered with red velvet. A wooden core covered with silver-gilt forms the sheath, its front set with pieces of turquoise in gold mounts, its back covered with reticulated decoration. Spaced along the middle of the front are engraved floral motifs and more turquoise. One side of the blade is decorated with silver inlay and fragments of a now largely illegible Turkish text: … ela alet… ela Zulfikar … Zulfikar (there is no other weapon than Zulfikar [the Prophet’s sword]).
The saber or scimitar, probably developed in Central Asia, was the ideal weapon for the mounted soldier. Its curved blade made it particularly good for delivering slashing blows from a galloping horse. Europeans put the superiority of Turkish cavalry down to its sabers rather than to its horsemanship.
Dimensions: the blade’s length: 94 cm; total length: 103 cm; width: 3.7 cm
There are more sabers to come…
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