Abstract: The article is devoted to kabiani khmali, a weapon with long blade which is considerably little known outside Georgia. The authors define it as a type of a cavalry sword which emerged in the end of 17th – beginning of 18th century in Samgrelo and Imeretia in Western Georgia. The whole number of the weapon examples preserved both in museums and private collections is small and many of them are associated with Georgian famous ruling families, noblemen and politicians of the 18th-19th centuries. The authors mark out and analyze the distinctive features of kabiani khmali one of which inspired the weapon name – kabiani khmali literally means “sword in the skirt”. The name was given because of a variant of protective leather lap fastened around the sword scabbard like a skirt. The authors consider this element to have appeared just to protect the scabbard from horse sweat as the weapon was fixed lower the saddle between horse body and rider’s leg. On the basis of the Middle Eastern and Georgian miniature paintings the authors managed to trace the root of this tradition as early as to the 16th century. The authors mark out a hilt without a crossguard but with an evident sloping to the edge side of the blade as another distinctive feature of the weapon. The authors think these constructive features to be of functional importance and generally correspond with the traditions of Caucasus weapons with long blade as the hilt sloping emerged to their mind already in the 10th century. The authors also mark out the similarity of functional and constructive elements of kabiani khmali and Caucasus cavalry sword (shashka). The analytic investigation of Georgian written sources including manuscripts of the 17th-18th centuries can also verify this stated connection. At the end of the article the authors describe in details several examples of kabiani khmali preserved in the museums of Georgia, Russia and Europe.
Keywords: kabiani khmali, sword in the skirt, cavalry sword, Caucasus, Georgia, hilt without a crossguard.