ISLAMIC ‘PALA’ SWORD

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Origin: Ottoman Turkey

Date: 19th century

Materials: Wootz, gold, horn and silver

Length: 99cm without scabbard (89cm blade/11cm hilt). 102cm including scabbard.

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Description

Here we have an exceptional Ottoman Kilij (Kilij meaning ‘instrument of killing’) sword; this type, with the short and broad blade is known as a ‘Pala’. These swords are to be used with one handed. They have a single-edge with a slightly curved blade, and were particularly popular in the Timurid, Mamluk and Ottoman Empire – with our example belonging to the Ottoman Empire.

The hilt features two horn slabs, possibly rhino (?), with a fine polished finish, which leaves a great texture and grainy look. The hilt shows great colour with some darkening towards the quillon block. The quillon block, or guard, is mounted in silver with a geometrical etching running along the boarders. The quillons seem to be cast in the design of floral buds.

The fine handle is mounted with a broad and deeply curved wootz blade. The active rings, crystallisation and vivid wootz pattern provides a fine finish to this sword. The curved blade has an extensive raised false edge with a T-spine reinforcement. The forte of the wootz blade is decorated with a thick layer of gold. The gold is bright and thick to touch with a symmetrical design on the other side of the blade. Below this tendril gold decoration is a cartouche in Urdu. The inscription reads:

 

Ma Shaa Allah! Which means ‘What Allah Wills’.

 

There are numerous references to this concept of Allah and his will throughout the Quran. This inscription is talismanic and provided the user with reassurance. Such inscriptions were very popular in the 19th century and are visible on numerous Arms and Armour belonging to Islamic regions.

Overall, an exceptional sword in great condition with original silver mounts and gold work still intact.

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Financing is available on request via Art Money.


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