Origin: Ottoman Empire

Date: 18th century

Materials: Watered steel blade, rhino horn, leather and silver

Length: Total length 84cm


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This type of sword is referred to as a Pala, or in some cases, Kilij. The term ‘Kilij’ is formed of two Turkish words ‘kir’ and ‘–inc’ which translated to ‘instrument of killing’. This type of sword became popular and a symbol of power, sovereignty and kingship; to the extent that Seljuk (an Oghuz Turkic Sunni Muslim dynasty) rulers would carry the name ‘Kilij Arslan’, which meant ‘lion of the sword’ or ‘sword-lion’. Traditionally this sword was for one-handed use, single-edged, with a drastic curve; the curve being its key characteristic.

The ‘pistol’ grip hilt is constructed of two blocks of rhino horn, which are polished with a smooth finish. Both rhino horns have aged well and show good signs of age with no cracks or damages. Two small bolsters hold the rhino horns in place, with a larger bolster at the pommel head made out of silver (used to hold a tassel) to match the silver tang and quillon block. The quillon block is finely etched around the boarder, which leads to the flower bud ends. The etching matches the two large silver mounts on the sheath. The top mount of the sheath seems to be stamped twice with a Tughra – a calligraphic monogram/seal/signature of a Sultan (ruler). For a similar type of etching on the quillon block and sheath, see The Met Museum, Accession number 36.25.1343a, b.

The blade is of pattern-welded steel and shows signs of having Turkish origins. The pattern in the blade shows signs of it being a type of pattern welding called ‘Turkish Ribbon’ pattern welding for the entire length; this is when the steel is composed of eight layers of twisted steel rods. This type of pattern welding was in fact popular amongst Arms originating from Turkey in the 17th century. The last quarter of the blade is slightly wider than the rest of the blade to allow for a thick false-edge and cutting edge. This distinctive false edge is often referred to as a ‘Yelman’, which adds to the cutting power. The forte of the blade has an etched cartouche in nastaliq script that seems to read ‘In Allah we trust/is all faith’.

For comparable examples, see:

Bonhams: Antique Arms and Armour – 18th April 2012, London, Lot 40

Bonhams: Antique Guns, Armour and Modern sporting guns including the Henk L.Visser Library, Part III, 29th July 2009, Lot 356.

This is a fine and rare sword in very good condition with its original scabbard, making it sought after by collectors.

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