1809 yatagan overall
Overall length

Sheathed 72 cm

Sword 71.3 cm

Blade length

58 cm

Blade thickness

Base 5 mm

Middle 4.5 mm

5 cm from tip 3.2 mm

Blade width

Base 31 mm

Middle 32 mm

5 cm from tip 21 mm

Weight without scabbard

665 grams

Point of balance

12 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, steel, brass, silver, gold, copper, walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus), and Mediterranean coral.

Origin

Ottoman Empire

Dating

Made in 1809

Provenance

UK antique art market

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Description

A fine example. It has the characteristic recurved blade, with flat ground sides and a narrow groove just under the spine. Typical for some of the better Ottoman blades, the spine is chiseled with three ribs. In current condition, the steel structure is barely visible but there are traces of a fine laminated blade construction with no forging flaws.

Both sides of the blade are decorated with a fine overlay in gold over a crosshatched background. The decor is abstract on the right side and bearing a cartouche on the left side.

Inscription

The inscription consists of Ottoman Turkish poetry on one line in Arabic.1

 

Markings on 1809 yatagan

 

The first line on the right reads:

Bu bıçağın sahibine ....... ve baht-yâr ola

"To the owner of this blade ....... and baht-yâr"

The second line:

Bu bıçağın sahibine ....... ve baht-yâr ola

"The profit of the fallen immediately, and ....."

The third line:

Amel-i el-Hâc Nûh sahib ve malik Mehemmed Ağa fî sene 1224

"Made by Haji Noah, for Mehemmed Ağa Fî in the year 1224"

(el-Hâc refers to the fact the maker completed the Haji, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Islamic year 1224 lasted from August 13, 1809, to September 11, 1809, in the Gregorian calendar)

 

The first line on the left reads:

Ey Gönül bir can için bin cana minnet eyleme

"O heart, do not act gratitude to a thousand souls for a soul"

The second line:

Işretin bina için sultana minnet eyleme

"Do not thank the Sultan for the building"

The third line in Arabic:

يا خفيَّ الألطاف نَجِّنا مما نخاف
Ya khfy al'altaf najjina mimaa nakhaf

"O subtle one, save us from what we fear"

 

In the center of the cartouche is a six-pointed star with script around it. It represents the Seven Sleepers. (Arabic: اصحاب الکهف‎, romanized: aṣḥāb al kahf or "Companions of the Cave".) It is a story of a group of religious youth that hid in a cave to escape Roman prosecution around 250 A.D. and emerged from the cave some 300 years later. The story is referred to in the Quran at chapter 18 (verses 9-26), which states among others that only God knew how many there were and that one of them was a dog that sat at the entrance of the cave.

 

Hilt

On either side of the hilt are massive handle scales made of walrus tusk, in the characteristic eared shape. They are riveted to the hilt with four rivets on each side. The hilt is further plated with gilt brass plates, two of which project over the blade. The hilt decor consists of applied metal wire and application of silver or silvered pieces of metal that are cut in gem shapes. There are also eight ribbed corals set in bezels.

 

Scabbard

The scabbard is remarkably humble for the quality of the blade and is most likely a later, working life replacement made by a different shop. It is however a perfect fit to the blade and was undoubtedly custom-made for it. It has a wooden body, covered with black leather and fitted with two light-colored metal mounts, probably a low-grade silver that tarnished yellowishly. The fittings are decorated with floral engravings.

 

Condition

Sword itself in near-excellent condition, with only minor patina and tarnishing. Blade largely clean of rust and corrosion but with the usual signs of age. Overall in remarkable condition for age. Hilt intact, no significant losses or damage, some minor wear. Beautiful patination on the walrus tusk grip scales. Scabbard body is sound condition, with some damage to the leather and dents and damage to the mounts. Usually, these scabbards have a bud-shaped finial, not present or lost in this case.

 

Conclusion

A very nice example of an Ottoman yatağan of a relatively early date. It has a fine quality walrus scaled and coral studded hilt in near perfect condition, and a blade with very attractive gold overlay that gives us the name of the maker, owner, a date, and poetry in Ottoman Turkish and Arabic. The quality and condition of the golden overlays are outstanding.

 

Notes
1. Thanks to Ali Can Batmaz and Abdallatif Ali Alnakkas for helping with the transcriptions and translations.

 

Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809
Fine Ottoman yatagan dated 1809

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