Obraztsov Vs.N., Pyatnitsky Yu.A. (2020). Sablja s izobrazheniem Sv. Georgija iz sobranija Gosudarstvennogo Еrmitazha [A saber with an Image of St. George from the Collection of the State Hermitage Museum]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 9, pp. 64 — 81.

Obraztsov Vs. N., Pyatnitsky Yu. A.

Abstract: The article continues the authors’ study series of a group of long-edged weapons from the collection of the State Hermitage museum, which decorative schemes include Christian images.

The article deals with a saber ornamented with an image of St. George. The saber entered the Imperial Hermitage museum in 1885-1886 as a part of the Arsenal of Tsarskoye Selo collection. The saber used to belong to the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovitch, who bought it in the city of Brailov (the nowaday Brail city in Romania) during the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-1829.

The saber blade was made of high quality crucible steel and represents the type of Osman kilij, dating back to the middle of the 18th century. This dating is supported by the ornamentation of the blade. The further analysis of the saber brought the authors to the conclusion that some of its elements, inscriptions and figures were made in different periods of time and, probably, in different regions.

On the one side of the blade an Arabic inscription “There is no hero like Ali. There is no sword like Zhu-l-Fakar” was inlayed. The technique the inscription was worked in differs from the decorations of the opposite side of the blade that testifies these decorative schemes to have been made in various time spans.

The manner the image of “St George the dragonslayer” was executed in and the latinized variant of the inscription also point that these elements were added later on demand of a new owner of the saber. The scene of St. George’s slaying the dragon, most probably, was inspired not only by the Christian church tradition of this Saint veneration, but the folk ballads, legends and fairy tales about George the hero, which were very popular on the Balkans, especially in Romania.

All these data and the provenance of the saber from the Romania fortress of Brailov suggest this very region to be the place where the image of St. George was made in.

Keywords:  St. George, Christian images, kilij, Osman weapons.

Category: Articles

Received: September 11, 2020 Accepted: October 21, 2020 Published: December 15, 2020

License: Copyright © 2020 Authors, The Center of Support and Development of Actual Research in the Field of Historical Weaponry (АНО «Центр поддержки и развития актуальных исследований в области Исторического оружиеведения»). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.