Abstract: The article is devoted to shashkas that used to be very popular on the territory of present-day Afghanistan. The article presents the analysis of the primary sources containing references by different observers to the ways of shsashka usage in the above mentioned region. Using indirect indicators the author substantiates shashkas to have been used in Afghanistan as early as from the beginning of the 19th century and refered to under the name of “shashka” already in the second half of the 19th century. Three main types of shashkas used in Afghaistan were pointed out in the article. The first one is the so called Central Asian shashka which is marked with wide and slightly curved blade. The handle of this shashka was usually made of two horn or bone panels fixed with five steel rivets. The junction of the panels was concealed with a steel or silver band while the handle end at the blade side was often covered with ornately shaped onlays made of iron or silver foil. The shashka’s handle was never put in the scabbard. The shashkas of the second type are recognized with single edged and slightly curved blades which were narrower than the first ones and provided with a false edge. Two wooden or bone panels were fixed on the wide tung with three steel rivets and silver or iron discs underneath. The pommel terminates with bifurcation in the shape of little flaps. The upper part of the handle being often made of iron or less frequently silver was soldered or welded to the tung. The shashka was put in the scabbard to its pommel on the model of the Caucasus shashkas. The third type of shashkas which generally imitated the Russian ones but with handles made of iron is relatively unknown and analyzed briefly. The author proves the economic reasons for shashka emergence in the region which explain both its wide usage in Afghanistan in the end of the 19th century and the assembling of its handle evidently on the model of “khayber” knives. The author for the first time ever provides the analysis of the “regulation” shashkas manufactured in the so called “Mashin-khana” armory in Kabul to be used by the afghan warriors in the late 19th– the beginning of the 20th centuries. The article is finished with the samples of stamps typical for the blades.
Keywords: Central Asia, Afghanistan, shashka, pseudoshashka, marks, stamps