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Russian Arms

Sabres


A sabre is a cutting or cutting-and-thrusting edged weapon featuring a curved single-edged blade with fullers or without any. The combination factor of the blade's curvature with a considerable distance between the centre of gravity and the hilt increased the mounted attack power and the engaged space out lash. This peculiarity of the sabre was particularly efficient with blades of hard steels, featuring high elasticity and viscosity.

The sabre emerged in the East and won extensive application by Eastern Europe and Central Asia nomads in the XII-VIIIth, centuries. Since that period onwards the sabre has been a cutting-and-thrusting weapon. Since the XIVth century the sabre has acquired the characteristics of a cutting weapon mostly (a relatively low mass, high blade's curvature - up to 140 mm).

In the XVIIIth-XIXth centuries European armies the sabres had medium curvature blades (45-65 mm). Hilts in the XVIIIth century were plain with a cross-guard, cross-bar and knuckle bow, whereas in the XIXth century they featured cumbersome guards of several bows, as a rule. Scabbards were normally metal since the beginning of the XIXth century. (Fig. 28)

The sabre has been known in Russia since the IXth century and since the XIVth century it emerges as the predominant edged weapon. In the - XVIIthcenturies the Russian (estate) Landed gentry cavalry, streltsy, Cossacks were armed with most varied kinds of sabres.

In the 1700-1711 period sabres were dragoons' regulation weapon along with broadswords and swords. Then they were regulation only inthe irregular units and formations - the Don and minor Russian Cossacks as well as in certain hussar formations that were in existence all through the X-VIIIth century. In the last quarter of the XVIIIth century the dragoons carried broadsword type - hilted sabres, featuring only slightly curved blades. The Russian hussar (or light cavalry) XVIIIth and early XIXth century sabre was distinguished by a broad, medium-curved blade with "yelman" (i.e. widened out in the lowest third of the blade, (tapering to a point), a plain hilt with a knuckle bow, sweeping up perpendicularly into a cross--guard with a double langet.

All through the XIXth century a succession of cavalry and infantry sabres patterns were approved as regulation for the Russian army, each only slightly different from the next.

For instance, all the infantry officers' sabres laid down as regulation weapons since 1026 were in effect one or the others of the officers' edged weapons patterns with new scabbards approved as regulation.

Since 1909 the Department of the military warrant (order) No. 409 authorized Cossacks of all the Cossack units and formations to do service with "grandfathers' weapons" - i.e. the edged weapons inherited from the predecessors. That decision also affected the armaments of the Guard's Cossack regiments, wherein devised and adopted for carrying outside formations were specific officer sabres patterns, organic to them, called "clytch"es (Sham shir's or Mameluke's). Four patterns like that are known: the Life Guard's Cossack regiment clytch (Sham shir), the Life Guard's regiment clytch (sham shir), the Life Guard's South Don Cossack battery of the Guard's mounted artillery "clytch" (sham shir) and the Urals hundred of the Life Guard's Composite Cossack regiment clytch (sham shir). These clytches (sham shirs) replicated - in shape and scabbard ornamentation style - the light cavalry and Cossack sabres of the late XVIIIth - early XIXth centuries.


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