Most Popular Posts Last 30 Days

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Damascus Steel and Georgian Bulat Swords (part 1)

(by Yuri G. Gurevich - Book "Damask Pattern Puzzle" - Part 2: "Damascus steel and Georgian Bulat", 1985) Georgian welded Damascus steel or ‘bulat’ is widely known. According to P. P. Anosov, this Georgian ‘bulat’ is close to the Indian and original Damascus steel. Pavel Petrovich felt that the best welded Damascus steel was made in India, Turkey, Syria and Persia (Iran). It may be started by masters, familiar with the Damascus steel casting methods. Traditions of making Damascus steel in Georgia were directly related to the production of weapons in India and Middle East countries.

As already noted, edged weapons were made mostly in the mountainous part of Georgia but welded Damascus steel was casted just in few cities. Tiflis (old name for Tbilisi) weapons production was well known far beyond the Caucasus region. There is evidence that in the XVIII century swords and daggers were delivered from Tbilisi to Iran and Northern Caucasus tribes. In the XIX century, Tbilisi is still the center of manufacturing weapons of welded Damascus steel. It is well known to Alexander S. Pushkin, who wrote that Tiflis dearly weapons are highly prized in the Middle East.

Family of Eliazaroshvili was famous for its bulat swords for decades. Researcher of history of steel production in Georgia K. Cholokashvili found "that the family secret of making Damascus steel was inherited from their ancestors." But Master George Eliazaroshvili was the most famous and was even mentioned by Mikhail Lermontov in one version of his poem "The Poet":

In the silver sheath shines my dagger,
George’s old product.
Bulat it holds mysterious temper,
Long time ago lost potion.

Karamon Eliazaroshvili, son of George Eliazaroshvili continued his father's work.
He knew that in past times past Georgian masters produced damask swords from Indian iron - wootz. Karamon explains: "Wootz - ingot steel in the form of large cakes”.Some believed that it was a mixture of iron and steel, other - pure iron and graphite, and others - that this was a “special” steel.

But wootz is not available and Karamon Eliazaroshvili makes damask weapons from the Georgian horseshoes, sawdust from the Turkish steel, cast iron and wrought iron bands. “The weapons from the Georgian bulat were such a high quality that they can cut off a bull’s or a cow’s head with one blow.” However, as correctly pointed P.P. Anosov, for such things, the quality of the blade still required the strength of its owner.

The famous historian of the Caucasian campaigns Russian General Vladimir Patti wrote in his notes in XIX century: “Undoubtedly, the Russian cavalry at the expense of his courage and heroic forces successfully resist the Eastern horsemen, but the strength and sharpness yataghans and swords made from Damascus steel are far more superior than the strength of our soldiers sables. In order to successfully hold this damask blade does not require special physical strength. It is terrible even in a child’s hands”

By Yuri G. Gurevich "Damask Pattern Puzzle" (Part 2: "Damascus steel and Georgian Bulat") - Moscow: "Knowledge" 1985 - 192 pages
Translation based on material published at