Toichkin D.

Abstract: The saber occupies a prominent position in the history of the Ukrainian Cossacks. This weapon having come to stay firmly and decisively on the territory of The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, already in the 16th century was used not only as a true arm but also as a sign of a definite social standing. The saber was an essential element of a uniform and a full dress, a symbol of family- and self-respect, a marker of high material status, and, finally, a luxury good and remunerable investment. It was the saber having been praised in folk songs and poetry that for centuries preserved a position of a favored “chivalry” weapon of those who defended the motherland and the orthodox faith. The author analyzes two 18th century sabers of the Balkan origin which on the basis of a number of features could be attributed as Cossack leaders’ ones. The lack of reliable criteria permitting to mark out the Cossack leader saber makes such attributions difficult and complex. To the contrary to other objects of applied art, the Ukrainian saber shows neither distinctive national artistic trends, nor local jewelry or blacksmith technologies. The Ukrainian edged weapons of the early modern period having been permanently under both the European and Oriental influences, could be considered as a well veiled Eastern European “medium guy” with a great deal of oriental flair. Consequently, to mark out the Cossack weapons made by Ukrainian masters, it is necessary to bear in mind the broad range of features. It is these various features that were taken into account in the context of attribution of these two sabers belonged to Pavel F. Nezhenets, the head of the Gjadetsk regiment, and Pavel Rudenko, the mayor of Poltava, as the Balkan weapons of the mid 18th century. The author describes the sabers’ elements in detail, stressing the ones which permit him to ascribe the weapons to the mentioned region. These features are the ornamental scheme and morphology of the pommels. Nezhenets’s saber was a honorary weapon presented to him by Empress Elisabeth in 1748. Rudenko’s saber was ascribed to him because it was depicted on the mayor’s portrait.

Keywords: saber, karabela, blade, Ukraine, Cossack leader, script on a blade, artwork.