Kindjal / Qama

The Qama (Khama, Kama, Khanjali, Shalta)) is a short sword from Transcaucasia with a style thought to have originated with the Romans.  The Qama is decorated, often with hilts and scabbards covered with embossed silver. The Qama is the proud possession of a Georgian warrior, symbolizing heroism and dignity. It is the national weapon of Georgia. On the Russian side of the Caucasus mountains, they call it a Kindjal.  The plain form of the kindjal is nearly identical to the more richly decorated qama, of Georgia, which remains a point of contention to this day as the Georgians feel they are the rightful originators and bearers of this style of sword.

Although generally much plainer in decoration than the Qama, the Kindjal is nevertheless equally deadly.  The favorite weapon of the Caucasus region, almost universally carried, is the kindjal. A Djigit (a man, warrior) had to wear a kindjal and know how to use it.  It was adopted by Russian Cossacks and became a traditional and famous part of their arsenal.  The blades, made by metal-smiths in Amuzgi and Kharbuk, were sent to craftsmen of Kubachi for mounting and finishing.  Most surviving kindjals date from the first half of the 19th century, many being made for Russian clients. 


  • In Georgia and Daghestan it is called Khanjali ( with minor variations).
  • In Chechnya/Ingushetiya it is Shalta
  • In Chircassia and Ossetia it is Kama (Qama).

The kindjal has been called, “Decidedly dangerous in the hands of one who knows how to use it, more suitable for attack than for show, giving terrible, often mortal wounds, at once knife, hatchet, cork-screw, paper cutter, accessory of the dance...the kindjal is the offensive and defensive weapon par excellence of the Caucasus.”

One interesting and curious custom of the Khevsur regarding the Qama is its mostly symbolic use in pre-marital relationships, known as “sc’orproba." A young couple could lie together during the night with a sword placed between them. Sexual intercourse between the pair was strictly forbidden. Any man who breached this rule was condemned to death.