Exquisite workmanship and lavish use of precious materials distinguish this sword as a princely weapon and exemplifies the opulence and refinement of Ottoman luxury arts. Almost identical to a yatagan (now in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul) made in 1526–27 by the court jeweler Ahmed Tekel, for the Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66), this sword was undoubtedly made in the same imperial workshop. The gold incrustation on the blade depicts a combat between a dragon and a phoenix against a background of foliate scrolls. These figures, like the gold-inlaid cloud bands and foliate scrolls on the ivory grips, are Chinese in inspiration, and were probably introduced into Ottoman art through contacts with Persia.
This sword is one of the earliest known yatagans, distinctly Turkish weapons characterized by a double-curved blade and a hilt without a guard. Yatagans were commonplace in Turkey and the Balkans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and served as sidearms for the elite troops known as janissaries.
#4415: Yataghan from the court of Suleyman the Magnificent, Part 1
#6634: Yataghan from the court of Suleyman the Magnificent, Part 2
#6635: Yataghan from the court of Suleyman the Magnificent, Part 3
Rex Ingram (1893–1950), Los Angeles; his estate sale, A. N. Abel Auction Company, Los Angeles, 1989Rifaat Sheikh El-Ard, London (until 1993; sold through Bashir Mohamed Ltd. to MMA).
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Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Morihiro Ogawa. Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 1991–2002. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. pp. 38, no. 34, fig. 14.
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Alexander, David, Stuart W. Pyhrr, and Will Kwiatkowski. Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. pp. 152–54, no. 57, ill.
Samgin, Sergey, and Ariel Barkan. "A New Hypothesis of the Genesis of the Ottoman Yataghan: the Crimean Connection." Waffen- und Kostümkunde: Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde 58, heft 1 (2016). p. 49, fig. 2.