Miloserdov D. (2016). Tipologija rukojatej sabli-shamshir [Typology of shamshir hilts]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 4, pp. 22 — 36.

Miloserdov D.

Abstract: The article deals with Persian sabers, the so called “shamshir”, dating back to the end of the 18th– the beginning of the 20th century. The author defines the territory of these sabers usage as quite vast including not only Persia, India, Afghanistan and Turkey but the countries of Northern Africa and the Arabian East as well. Such a wide circulation of shamshir is stressed to be a result of large export of Persian blades which were of higher quality than the local ones. Outside of Persia the blades often acquired hilts made in local traditions presuming both special constructive principles and the materials used which permit to trace the place of a shamshir usage.

In India for instance the “classical” shamshir blades were often mounted in traditional Indian hilt. In the same region hilts that were manufactured for the Persian blades often imitated the “classical” shamshir ones but made of copper, woots or steel and decorated in koftgari technique or with enamel sometimes representing the zoomorphic images. Not less popular were the shamshirs coming from India that were almost close to the Persian ones except only the décor and materials used for hilts and scabbards which differed. The plumping majority of such shamshirs had the hilt panels made not of walrus tusk but ivory. The crossguard and metal pieces of scabbard mount were sometimes decorated in koftgari technique or with enamel. The scabbards themselves were covered not with leather but cloth.

In Afghanistan wood and bone were the materials usually used for shamshir hilt panels while iron crossguard and pieces of scabbard were sometimes decorated with specific openwork chiseling which was rougher than on the Persian sabers. The blades from Persia were sometimes mounted with traditional afghan hilts or with hilts inspired by European weapons. The Turkish variant of shamshir is usually easily recognized and attributed on the grounds of its hilt shape.  The crossguard had got long quillons with tips that were often slightly cut and terminating with little balls or elongated pyramids. Materials being used for crossguards were mostly bronze or brass though white metal and iron also occurred. The Turkish hilt is more massive and “paunchy” than that of Persian shamshirs. The metal top cape which is so typical for Persian sabers is absent on the Turkish ones. Instead the hilts terminated with a round pommel of a “coma” shape bent to the edge side. The shamshirs which are traditionally attributed to Syria are of special interest. Their hilt configuration especially because of the angle of 75 degrees corresponded to the ones of the shamshirs coming from Arabia.  The crossguards were of either Persian or Turkish workmanship.

Keywords: saber, shamshir, blade, hilt, panels, scabbard.