The Caucasian dagger is part of national symbolism. This is a sign that a man is ready to defend his personal honor, the honor of the family and the honor of his people. He never parted with him. For centuries, the dagger has been used as a means of attack, defense, and cutlery.
Traditionally, at the beginning of the last century, when a boy was born in a Caucasian family, he was given the first dagger. Upon reaching 14 years, he was replaced by a larger one. But at all times, the Caucasian dagger remains a work of jewelry and has brilliant combat characteristics. Once it was made of damask and Amuzgin steel. These recipes are now lost. The Mongol-Tatar invaders demanded tribute from the peoples of Azerbaijan in the form of daggers and arrows. These gunsmiths were famous all over the world.
Another historical center for the manufacture of weapons and chain mail is the Dagestan village of Kubachi. Not far from him in another place called Amuzgi forged dagger blades and sabers. In Kubachi, they purchased scabbard and hilt, which were inlaid with silver and gold, engraved. The weapon was one of the attributes of wealth. Amuzginskaya, Damask and damask steel were considered the best. From here, weapons were delivered to the Russian Empire, to the East, and to Europe.
How did they forge blades in the old days?
In Amuzgi you can still find people who remember how the ancient Caucasian daggers were made. Blacksmithing still lives there, but, unfortunately, has lost its uniqueness.
In those days, the blade had to be processed 13 times. At the first stage, wrought iron was forged. It consisted of three types of steel (antushka - strong steel for the blade, dougal - soft for the main part of the blade, alkhan - the strongest steel from which the substrate was made). All these parts were laid out in a stack of stripes, which the blacksmith brought with a pair of tongs into the forge, and then on the anvil. So it turned out welded iron, from which they made the shape of the future dagger, the sting itself and the rod. The blacksmith had a special cutter, which manually created bilateral grooves. The next stage is turning and cleaning until the blade becomes like a mirror. Then the blade was calcined and quenched in water.
Damascus Caucasian daggers even had their own logo. The finished blade had a bluish color and a special ornate pattern called "damask". But daggers made of damask steel were much more interesting. Surprisingly, this weapon possessed not only strength, but also flexibility. Such a checker easily bent into a circle. No matter what they cut with this blade, there was not a scratch on it.
Damascus steel was used in Russia, but India is its homeland. Somehow, the technology was recognized by the metallurgist Pavel Anosov, and the Zlatoust weapons factory began to produce weapons independently. Now the ancient methods of manufacturing this unique steel are lost, most likely, irrevocably. In Syria, in the 18th-19th centuries, they tried to produce something similar in terms of characteristics, but the fake could not be compared with the legendary damask.
Caucasian Dagger Combat Technique
She acquired a clear outline in the Middle Ages. The style of battle is based on the application of sharp chopping and piercing strikes with jumps and lunges. There is also a special technique in which two daggers are used at once. This was considered aerobatics, as the damaging power increased to a large extent.
Europeans could never compete with Caucasians in the technique of fighting on daggers, preferring firearms. For close combat, this style is the most dangerous for the enemy. In the century before last, a dagger called a quadar was used, which was incredibly powerful and heavy, and also had a tetrahedral bayonet.
The main types of Caucasian daggers
The main purpose of the dagger is to deliver stabbing blows to the enemy. Now there are two main types - with a straight or curved blade. The first is called Kama, the second is Bebut.
The straight dagger has a blade sharp on both sides, sharply tapering towards the end. The handle is short, usually made of bone or horn, with an expanded base and an elongated head. Overhead elements are made of metal. Some kama have enhanced combat properties due to the protruding middle part.
Bebut is a Caucasian combat dagger, which differs from kama only in that its end is bent. It is not as widespread as direct.
Blades and bebut, and kama in length from 40 cm. They have dales and ribs, which increase their strength.
The sheath for daggers is made of wood, covered with leather. The tip and mouth are usually metal. In order to make it more convenient to attach the scabbard to the belt, the upper ring has a special ring.
These are common types of daggers, but any Caucasian people have their own unique characteristics regarding the shape of the blade, hilt, etc. Of course, the differences can be seen in the ornament and decoration.
They were partially decorated with silver, and their device was simple. The Circassian dagger belongs to the Shapsug mountain type. What sets him apart from others is the design using three rivets, while traditionally there are two of them. The extra is called the eye, and it is clearly visible from behind.
Interestingly, this nation stood apart by the so-called bloodman - the dagger of a warrior who declared blood feud. As he got off cupronickel with a special application of red spots, the owner's intentions were obvious to everyone. Only after revenge was accomplished, the "blood" could be washed away.
They have their own distinctive specifics. Blades have a semi-oval head common to all, but they are short in shape and have the shape of a wedge. This is a Caucasian dagger, the sizes of which do not differ from traditional ones. One of the main features is the handle. On it you can find snags with hemispheres, whose edges are cut like petals. The aperture of the scabbard is large and with a clip, the tip has triangular protrusions. As a rule, they are interconnected by triple stripes, between which are leather stickers. The hilt and scabbard have a silver setting, additionally decorated with floral ornaments, which is made by gilded engraving. It has specific features and a blade. It is decorated with a welding plate in the middle, and at the base - curly slots with silver or gold notches.
Khevsurk daggers are very close to Georgian. They are made of brass and iron. The shape of the blade is the same, but the ornament is not so ornate, simpler and made of copper.
Here also the differences need to be sought in the details. The head of the handle is stretched up like an arch, on its sides there are cutouts called interceptions. The hats are conical, cylindrical or convex, round, but very low. Gaskets under them are also made in the form of rhombuses. The mouth of the sheath is connected to the holder and has triangular protrusions, like the tip. The edges of these ledges are also trimmed in the form of an oriental arch, and on the tops are scallops in the form of tulips.
This Caucasian dagger has a device made of steel. As in Georgia, you can see a floral ornament here, but it will be combined with stylized inscriptions in Armenian, touched with gold and silver. You can find the simultaneous use of these metals. Often, the details of the dagger are completely covered with taushing.
They are very similar to the Armenian ones, but not only the sheath and hilt are decorated with them, but also the blade itself. What distinguishes them is the ornament, which in addition to plant motifs also contains geometric and Muslim. The latter, as a rule, is made in the form of arches and wriggling branches with rare leaves. In Azerbaijan, there is a special art of slotted ornament, which will also be used to decorate daggers.
Dagestan daggers (Kubachi)
Still considered the best. The length of the blade is very harmoniously combined with the size of the handle and has its own specific features: the right deep dale is located higher than the left.
This Caucasian dagger has a pattern resembling a pattern of welding steel. The type of blade is called Lezgi. Steel between blades and dales is necessarily subjected to a burnishing procedure, as a result of which these spaces are filled with wide strips.
The handle head is elongated even more and tapers to a rounded top or has the same shape as a bebut. The hats of this dagger are conical and resemble pyramids. You can also find pyramids with concave ribs. What is noteworthy, the gaskets between the snags are not accepted here. The head itself, snags and the lower part of the handle are necessarily bound in metal, but sometimes bone inserts and ornamental decorations in the form of plants and flowers can be found. This decor element in Kubachi can be of several types: marcharay, tuta, the most commonly used, as well as Moscow nakish, sieves used less often. In online stores you can find such a Caucasian dagger. Photos tell about its merits better than any description.
The history of the use of Caucasian daggers in Russia
In the XIX - early XX century. this type of weapon was indispensable in Russia. Bebut was used in the troops from 1907 to 1917. Initially, it was introduced to the gendarmes of the lower ranks, excluding the Wahmists, combat units and serf gendarmerie. The dagger replaced them with checkers until 1910. Around the same time, and a little earlier, he was introduced into the arsenal of the lower ranks of reconnaissance infantry, machine gunners, and artillery. From 1904 to 1910, the Caucasian Kama daggers were used by Cossack troops.
Bebuts began to be used in the army in connection with campaigns in Central Asia, when this form of weapon became popular among our military in Iran. The dagger also replaced an artillery checker. It was widely used during the First World War in legions of death and battalions of honor. Now Russian weapons have their own types of knives.
Caucasian daggers now
Ancient weapons are antiques. A Caucasian dagger made at the beginning of the last century is extremely expensive and can only be seen in a museum or private collection. Nowadays, traditionally and honestly executed bebut or kama can not be found outside the Caucasus. Traditionally, the dagger is part of the national costume in the Caucasus. In Russia, this weapon has become an award.
You can also meet modern Caucasian daggers. Their manufacture is carried out in factories. But can they be compared with those works of art, the fame of which went around the world? True, the requirements of the armed forces for cold steel have now changed.
There are many training materials on how to make a supposedly Caucasian dagger with your own hands. It is clear that the original such a fake will resemble at best only a form.