Yataghan (Ottoman)


Code:  EA3

This is an antique (early 19th c.) silver mounted Ottoman yataghan, a type of saber  having a recurved single edged blade 24 inches in length. The blade has some pitting, typical for its age, and otherwise shows normal wear. An armorer’s mark (see picture below) is struck into the blade. The characteristic horn-eared grip plates, black horn, are set with silver flowers, foliate embossed and with a silver grip strap. The forte mounts with silver strips have been repaired, probably early 19th century. The overall length is 29 inches. The previous owner obtained it from a collection in St. Annes, England, UK.

This yataghan does not have a scabbard. Frequently, the scabbard would be thrown away upon going into a fight.  The owner considered that if he won, there would be ample time to pick it up later. If he lost, well then he would not have much use for a scabbard. Many yataghans in collections today do not have scabbards.

The yataghan is found over a wide area but seldom varies much in form and fittings. An Ottoman Turkish weapon, it was carried in its classic form across their empire. The Greeks refer to a black-hilted yataghan or dagger as mauromanika, meaning 'a black sleeve', and attribute it with mystical powers.

Burton (Book of the Sword) says of it, 

The yatagan, whose beautiful curved line of blade coincides accurately with the action of the wrist in cutting...(it has) the forward weight, so valuable in cutting the hand.

In Ottoman period, yatagans were made in all the major cities of the Ottoman Empire, particularly Istanbul, Bursa and Filibe. The town of Yatağan in southwest Turkey (now in Denizli province) was famous for its yataghan smithing and is considered in folklore to the birthplace of yataghans. According to legend, the town was conquered by a Seljuk commander and blacksmith named Osman Bey, whose cognomen was Yatağan Baba (Father Yataghan). Yatağan Baba later settled there and invented the yataghan type blades, and gave his name not only to the town, but to the swords he invented and produced there. Nevertheless, scholoars have identified similar style recurved blades and hilts with "ears" that were used by Turks earlier than the 12th century and can be traced back to Central Asia where bronze-age knives of this type have been found.  One origin suggested for the term "yataghan" is that it is derived from the name of an Uzbek tribe called "Kataghan".

Category: Sword