VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Kilij or pala saber
MPE 102134
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The item is a very fine late example of the mameluk saber (pala). The shape is elegant and very well balanced, with little broadening toward the point (yelman). The blade is forged in high quality kara Korhassan steel, richly decorated in gold on both sides and on the back. Inlaid on the front side is Amal Mahmud (maybe the smith’s name, but it may also have the meaning of Holy Work) and the “Salomon seal”, which adds to this blade a powerful talismanic power. The silver alloy mounting is also finely chiselled and is complete with an original sword knot and harness.

History of the Object
The earliest curved mameluk blade (kilij) known was signed by the swordsmith al- Ustādh al-Halabi and is attributed to Husām al–Dīn Lājīn, Bahrī Mamlūk sultan (1297-99). It is presently stored in Topkapi Saray Museum. In the mid-18th century the kilij shape became shorter and much more curved. Some of these shorter sabers are referred to as “pala”. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French conquest of Egypt brought these swords to the attention of Europeans. Most beautiful “Mameluke” style sabers were produced in the Bourbon Reign of Naples and in other famous European manufactories. Since then they became a regulation pattern for British and U.S. officers.

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Type
Weaponry 
Materials
Blade: black damascus steel; gold; Hilt: ivory; Scabbard: wood covered in black leather, silver alloy mounting. 
Measurements
Overall length 86.5 cm; Blade length: cm 71; Hilt: cm 13Cross guard: cm 16.5 Weight of saber (except scabbard): 0883,9 Kg. 
Creator name
Amal Mahmud 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Turkey; Ottoman Empire 
Geography
Turkey 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century; 1736 - 1795 (late Qianlong period) 
Function
Weapon 
Acquisition
Unknown. Museum property since 1952 
Copyright
©Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Roma 
Acknowledgements
Text: Francesco de Feo, Loretta Paderni Foto: Giorgio Bronchi, Fabio Naccari ©Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Roma 
Owner
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico “Luigi Pigorini”, Roma State property, Italy 
Museum
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico  
Credit line
 

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