The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Kilidj
  • Kilidj
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Possibly Lwów, Poland
  • 1701 - 1702 (Blade dated)
  • Gold, watered steel, onyx, rubies, wood and shagreen, engraved, gilt, niello
  • Length: 97.2 cm, Overall
    Length: 84.3 cm, Blade
  • Inscription: A series of cartouches containing inlaid Koranic inscriptions
    Inscription: A European crest of a bull’s head surmounted with a coronet, resembling that of a British Duke, and surrounded by trophies of Turkish arms and palm branches.
  • OA1750
  • Oriental Armoury
Commentary
History
Images & Media
  • Kilidj or sabre, in the Turkish style, comprised of a watered steel blade with a partial back edge and a hilt made up of a straight guard with small, rounded terminals and a carved agate grip. The scabbard is constructed of a wooden core covered in shagreen, with mounts matching the guard.

    The blade carries a series of cartouches containing inlaid Koranic inscriptions. Three cabochon rubies have been set into gold foil on each side of the blade, one of which, near the top of the blade, is missing. The blade also bears a European crest of a bull’s head surmounted with a coronet, resembling that of a British Duke, and surrounded by trophies of Turkish arms and palm branches, all false-damascened in gold. It is uncertain whether this crest is original to the making of the blade or a later addition.

    The guard and scabbard mounts are made of solid gold decorated with engraved and gilt and niello flowers and foliage. The visible edges of the tang have also been decorated in the same way, to match the other parts.

    The dark red agate grip scales, affixed by means of three floral-headed rivets, do not fit the lower part of the guard properly. The sword’s original grip was probably of jade. There is a crescent-shaped metal insert visible at the base of the blade, protruding from the hilt, which appears to have been intended to reinforce the tang and tighten the fit of hilt and blade, possibly when the agate scales were added. The present scales have been poorly cut to accommodate the guard, suggesting that they were not custom-made as replacements for this sword, but were themselves adapted for the purpose.

    The mouth of the scabbard locket has the unusual characteristic associated with swords of this type, a semi-circular cut-out on the outer side. The fact that the suspension rings are made of brass suggests that they are replacements. French import stamps for gold are present on the locket’s mouth. The absence of a tughra is noteable but not especially surprising, since the piece may have been a royal possession.

    The agate grips scales are too big and the wrong shape for the guard, and are therefore not original. The whole hilt is now loose as a result of the later alteration. The agate is typical of the products of Idar-Oberstein during the second half of the 19th century. The artificial colour was achieved by staining with iron dissolved in hydrochloric acid.

    The cartouche at the base of the blade is a characteristic of Lwów workmanship.