Category: kilij

Fabulous Ottoman kilij, 19th century.

Fabulous Ottoman kilij, 19th century.

from Olympia Auctions

Curved swords and how to cut with them – kil…

Curved swords and how to cut with them – kilij, shamshir, tulwar, sabre

A Pipeback sword that works: Wootz Kilij / Pala circa…

A Pipeback sword that works: Wootz Kilij / Pala circa 1790

This is a kilij, (Turkic word for “sword”) also known as a Pala (specific to this style of short sabre with a “T” shaped spine).

It is made of wootz, a type of crucible steel that has distinct patterns. This particular style of wootz is known as dendritic wootz, as it has dendrites, or branches of bright lines (cementite) on a dark background (sorbite). (Although it is possible this is pattern welded and I am just blind)

In the top right image you can see a distinct band of pale steel. This indicates a “scarf weld”, where two bars of wootz were forge welded together by heating them to a orange color, then hammering them together. The reason for this is likely because the top / end section of wootz billets is often dirty and crumbly, so it gets cut off and a clean bit is used for the tang.

This style of sabre has a very, thin, fine edge, making it an exceptionally good slicing or slashing sword. The heavy curve further emphasises this. The thick (10mm) spine prevents you from chopping deeply with a typical cutting motion, requiring you to “draw cut”, pulling the blade along your opponents flesh and rending it apart.

This style first appeared around 1750-1770, and this example is from around 1780-1790. It is likely Turkish / Ottoman, and feels amazing to handle. Whilst the point of balance is something like 18cm away from the guard, it just floats when you hold it. You can barely tell you’re holding a sword.

Length: 84cm

Blade Length: 70cm

Weight: 670 grams

Point of Balance: 18cm