Discover Georgia
How did Georgians make daggers?
12 July, 2018
Georgia is a country which traditionally has been surrounded by a circle of potential adversaries, for example the Ottomans Empire, Iran and Russia. In the past, they attempted to divide Georgia so as to get a geostrategic advantage in the South Caucasus region. So conflicts, fighting and War was a part of everyday life for ordinary Georgians. That is why an inseparable part of the national costume Chokha is a dagger.

Today we explore how Georgian daggers were made and why
they became so popular in Russian military circles.
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Some daggers were decorated with gold

A dagger was not only a weapon for war. It was used in everyday life as well, mostly, for self-defence. Originally they were made from horn and decorated with gold or silver.
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Some of the scabbards were fully decorated either with silver or gold

The oldest daggers found in Georgia date back to ancient times. Local Georgian tribes were masters of blacksmithing and the country was always a hub for weaponry. It maintained this status throughout the18th and 19th centuries. Along with India, Georgia used to be a prominent producer of the highest quality steel.
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People used to decorate their daggers according to their taste

In the 19th century, a family called Elizarashvili lived in Tbilisi. Giorgi Elizarashvili inherited the family secrets of blacksmithing from his ancestors and passed on his knowledge and skills to his sons – Efrem and Karaman. The family maintained strictly the secrets of processing steel, but in 1828 Karaman shared the secret with the Russians.
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Dagger made in Imereti, the western part of Georgia

Subsequently, two masters and some workers from the Zlatoust factory were sent to Tbilisi to find out how to improve steel production. “It is considered that the Zlatoust factory produced the best swords between 1832-1833 and 1834. The years coincide with the first period of cooperation between Karaman and his Russian apprentices” – Russian General Poto admitted.
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Dagger made in Samegrelo, the western part of Georgia

It is worth mentioning that apart from the Elizarashvili family, there were other masters who used to make high quality weapons and their masterpieces are still impressive to this day.
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Dagger made in the Adjara region

The masters of weaponry and blacksmithing lived in other cities as well, such as Kutaisi, Batumi, Gori, Ozurgeti, Sighnaghi, and Telavi. Because of this, different types of daggers were created, characteristic to each region.
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In Tbilisi masters used to make daggers like this

Daggers made in the mountain region of Khevsureti in Georgia, were completely different in shape to other daggers and they occupy a special place in the range of Georgian daggers. Locals used to call it a Dashna or Rapier.
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Dashna or rapier made in Khevsureti

Apart from Georgia, weapons made in the North Caucasus region were also popular in Georgia. The most reliable were those made in Dagestan and Cherkessia. From the second half of 19th century weapons made in Vladikavkaz became popular as well.
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Kakhetian dagger

Georgians had close ties with the Dagestani people. In the 1860s more than 100 masters worked in Tbilisi alone. So North Caucasian weaponry and goldsmithing harmoniously merged with Georgian traditions and taste.

First photo shows the dagger made by Elizarashvilis

Source and photo courtesy: mod.gov.ge

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