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6. Ottoman Officer Sabre, Mamluk blade by Ibrahim al-Malik, 15th c.

( ID: mc1255 )

Overall dimensions: 92.75 cm

Blade dimensions: 76.2 cm

Weight: 2.2 lbs

Price on request

Ottoman swords with original Mamluk period blades are rarities on the market. The example we are proud to offer is a 19th century Ottoman sabre with a blade made by one of the most well-known Mamluk period smiths, Ibrahim al-Malik. While the signature of the smith and some of the inscriptions have rubbed off from five centuries of use, this example has all of the physical and stylistic attributes of Mamluk era blades and those specifically attributed to Ibrahim al-Malik. Swords by him can be found in the Furusiyya Collection (see example illustrated in Furusiyya Art Foundation 2008) and four examples in the Topkapi Sarayi in Istanbul, where they are illustrated by Yücel (2000- plate nrs. 73, 74, 75, and 76), who notes that Al-Malik’s blades were re-hilted and mounted in the early to mid-19th century.

The fittings of this sword match a mid-19th century remounting and are of fine silver stamped with the silver hallmark tughra of Mehmed II, identical to that of the time period and attribution which are in the Topkapi Saray (Yücel 2000; plate nr. 73) and the Furusiyya Art Foundation (2008: Cat. Nr 22). The grip is carved horn and remains in very nice condition with only the loss of one of the silver lanyard bolsters.

The blade is in very fine condition displaying the distinct hallmarks of early Mamluk workmanship and the stylistic attributes of other known al-Malik blades. The form of the curvature of the blade and the chiseling of the fullers is indicative of early Mamluk period blades as seen in Rivkin and Isaacs (2017) where a number of al-Malik blades are shown in great detail and that match the workmanship of this example closely. Most important is the chiseled cartouche, now obscured on our example, near the forte of the blade. The fullers all have a typical form of a longer and shorter fuller ending at a terminus near the tip. The inscriptions on the remaining known Al-Maliki blades, which bear stylistically identical cartouches to that found on this blade, are translated as “Glory to our Lord, the Sultan, Al-Malik Al-Ashraf Qansuh Al-Ghuri. May he always triumph.” (Yücel 2000). The cartouche on our example has been effaced, and, as it was mounted in Ottoman silver fittings, effacement of a previous sultan or rulers marking was not uncommon. This is found on a number of early blades, either through exposure and rubbing or through outright effacement (see a number of such examples in Rivkin and Isaacs 2017).

Qansuh Al-Ghuri was the second to last Burji Dynasty Mamluk Sultan ruling from 1501-1516. In 1516, he fought his last battle against the Ottoman Turks and was defeated by Selim I at the Battle of Marj Dabiq, north of Aleppo, on August 24, 1516. This marked the end of Mamluk control of the Middle East . Qansuh Al-Gawhri considered the last true Mamluk sultan, was killed on the battlefield and his head was carried to Selim as proof of death (Alhamzah 2009).

Interestingly, the blade then features a further inscribed cartouche, which translates to “GLORY TO GOD” and is itself stylistically of the mid to late 17th century. It is similar to those cartouches found on late Mamluk period blades mounted in Battle of Vienna period swords. A number of these are illustrated in Rivkin and Isaacs (2017:fig,69,70) and in Schukelt (2010: Cat. No. 7, 32, 101). The blade structure is of sham wootz with very small short lines and with a visible hardened edge. This is also indicative of early Mamluk manufacture and can be seen represented in a variety of blades of the period in Rivkin and Isaacs (2017: figs. 57-60 showing examples from the Furusiyya Collection and the Livrustkammaren in Stockholm).

Furthermore, several of the al-Malik blades that are published show the Kayi stamp at the base of the blade, like our example (Furussiya Art Foundation 2008). The Kayi tribal mark, commonly called the St. Irene Armory stamp, was used to emphasize the Ottoman’s right to rule as descendants from the Kayi tribe, who were considered to be the most successful and noble of the Oghuz tribes (Elgood 1998). Beginning in the reign of Murad II (1421-51 A.D.), arms began to receive proof marks such as the Kayi stamp and those were often housed in the St. Irene Arsenal, though it is likely that arms placed later were stamped as well. However, it is generally recognized that those arms with the Kayi stamp in iron are at least as early as the 17th century and often, considerably earlier.

Provenance: Private Canadian collection, collected in the 1920s


Alhamzah, K.A. (2009). Late Mamluk Patronage: Qansuh al-Ghuri's Waqfs and His Foundations in Cairo. Universal Publishers.

Furusiyya Art Foundation. (2008). The arts of the Muslim Knight : The Furusiyya Art Foundation collection. Skira. New York.

Rivkin. K., and Isaacs, B. (2017). A Study of the Eastern Sword. Yamna Publishing.

Schukelt, H. (2010) Die Türckische Cammer. Sammlung orientalischer Kunst in der kurfürstlich-sächsischen Rüstkammer Dresden. Verlag: Dresden. Sandstein / Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Yücel, Ü. (2000). Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths. Istanbul: Ircica Publishing


Photo #1 of 6. Ottoman Officer Sabre, Mamluk blade by Ibrahim al-Malik, 15th c.
Photo #2 of 6. Ottoman Officer Sabre, Mamluk blade by Ibrahim al-Malik, 15th c.
Photo #3 of 6. Ottoman Officer Sabre, Mamluk blade by Ibrahim al-Malik, 15th c.
Photo #4 of 6. Ottoman Officer Sabre, Mamluk blade by Ibrahim al-Malik, 15th c.