Yatagan Sword Tugra Inscribed in Gold & with Walrus Ivory Handle
This yatagan (or yataghan) sword with a steel blade richly overlaid with gold and with a large walrus ivory handle embellished with silver-gilt filigree and applique mounts and decoration is dated 1226 (which approximates to 1811). The gold overlay to both sides of the blade is extensive and complete. It includes a tughra for Sultan Mahmud II as well as Koranic verses. (This sultan’s tughra reads ‘Mahmud Han bin Abdulhamid mazaffer daima’ – ‘Mahmud Khan, son of Abdulhamid is forever victorious’.)
It is of typical form in the that blade is curved, long and relatively thin. There is no guard for the hilt and the pommel spreads out in large wings. Yatagans originated in Ottoman Turkey and spread to northern Africa.
yatagan is unusual for the size of the handle and the embellishments about it. The presence of a tughra among the gold overlay inscriptions, whilst sometimes encountered on other yatagans, marks this example out as a particularly good one.
This example originally would have come with a scabbard, probably in repoussed silver.
The walrus ivory in this example is complete and in perfect condition; with no cracks, chips or repairs, and with a beautiful honeyed patina.
A dating of 1811 is not surprising. The Ottomans were busy militarily at this time. In addition to the ongoing first Serbian Uprising (1804 – 1813), they also had to deal with a Russo Turkish war, which had been on-going since 1806 and was only to end in 1812 in defeat – the same year in which the Ottomans recaptured the holy cities of Arabia, via their Egyptian proxies.
A similar-style yatagan, although with a less prominent handle, was offered by Spink in its ‘Treasures of the Courts’ exhibition and catalogue (1994). Other examples are shown in Elgood, R., The Arms of Greece: And her Balkan Neighbours in the Ottoman Period, Thames & Hudson, 2009.
Acquired at Bukowski’s Auctions, Stockholm in 1994.
Inventory no.: 938