Dvalishvili L.B. (2023). Analiz gruzinskoj tradicionnoj terminologii, oboznachajushhej bulat i damasskuju stal’ [Analysis of Traditional Georgian Terminology for Bulat and Damascus Steel]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 12, pp. 109 — 162.

Dvalishvili L. B.

Abstract: The article deals with historically established Georgian terminology for Bulat and Damascus steel[1]. Samples of Damascus steel products have been seen in Georgia since the early Iron Age. The most ancient Bulat steel product in Georgia is a sword which was found by archaeologists in the Daryal Gorge and dates back to 1000 A.D.

Analysis of existed terminology is performed using a comparative etymological analysis of specialized metallurgical terms, explanatory dictionaries and fragments of literary monuments. The author also relies on materials of field ethnographic research and takes into account historical cultural contacts of Georgia with neighbouring civilizations of the Near East.

The article notes that in the Georgian spoken and literary language it is typical to use generalized terms to describe different but same-type objects. This fact significantly complicates the analysis of terminology used in sources reviewed. For example, the term hmali could imply any kind of a long-bladed weapon [be it saber, sword, shashka or palash] in ancient literary monuments and ethnography.

The article reviews and analyzes such basic terms for types of steel and blade material as basri [ბასრი], pʼoladi [ფოლადი], ǰavardeni [ჯავარდენი] as well as special terms: nanači rkina [ნანაჭი რკინა], nalpʼara (also lamfara, nafura) [ნალფარა, ლამფარა, ნაფურა], načdi rkina [ნაჭდი რკინა], tobart’ini [ტობართინი], t’asmaguli [თასმაგული], etc. Examples of regional terminology are given.

Keywords: Georgian arms, the Georgian language, historical arms of the Caucasus, Georgian Bulat, Bulat steel, Wootz, Damascus steel, arms terminology.


[1] In order to avoid terminological confusion, the author considers it necessary to give brief definitions of Bulat and the so-called Damascus steel:

Bulat is a type of steel traditionally produced using crucible process. It is characterized by a special crystal structure which provides resistant properties and distinctive appearance of Bulat products. Bulat pattern is fine-grained, asymmetrical and messy.

Damascus steel is a composite iron-steel material traditionally obtained through a long and multi-stage forging process. Welding and subsequent gradual forging of iron and steel components along with necessary mechanical manipulations made it possible to create a preconceived pattern. Damascus steel patterns are characterized by easy-to-read symmetry.

Category: Articles

Received: November 28, 2022 Accepted: February 5, 2023 Published: March 31, 2023

License: Copyright © 2023 The Author, 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.