The combat technique and the effectiveness of the Caucasian dagger (based on materials from the beginning of the 19th century).


Having begun to conquer the Caucasus, the Russian army met not only with Caucasian checkers, but also with Caucasian daggers. Moreover, judging by some sources, daggers in battle were more common than drafts, and their effectiveness was very high. As V. Potto wrote about the highlanders, “according to the conditions of the terrain, they fight mainly on foot, and the saber is extremely rare in their armament, but their long Lezgin daggers, which they possess perfectly, inflict terrible blows, and everything the blade touches them, bisected in half. ”

Description of the weapon.

In the memoirs, “Lezgin daggers” are most often mentioned: “they are straight and are characterized by the density of the temper, the length, the width and the double-edged blade” (N. Pirogov). Today, such daggers are quite well represented in museum and private collections. As a rule, this weapon could reach a length of 60 cm, with a blade length of about 50 cm, a width of up to 5 cm and a weight of more than 500 g (however, daggers are known whose length reached 80 cm). Such characteristics are well tolerated as chopping and stabbing.

Circassian dagger, dated XVIII – XIX centuries from the collection of the Metropolitan museum.

The chopping blow was delivered “in the same way as with swords in a big way” (N. Pirogov). A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky speaks of the same blow. It can be assumed that it was applied in a cutting manner characteristic of the Caucasus and the East in general – maintaining an almost right angle between the held arms and forearm and using the muscles of the back and shoulder. The relatively short handle of the dagger contributed to the fixation of the brush – similar to the Indian handle. Despite the prohibitions on piercing strikes, which were noted by many researchers, the memoirs give reason to believe that this prohibition was observed only “among one’s own”: in the texts of the beginning of the 19th century, dagger pricks are almost more common than strokes. Moreover, most often they are very powerful, also involving action on a grand scale: there are frequent descriptions of the fact that daggers pass through,

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The dagger of the early twentieth century from the collection of SEM. Total length 61 cm, blade length 39.7 cm, blade width 3.8 cm
The nature and strength of the blows does not give reason to assume any special grabs, except for the traditional one: with all five fingers in the girth. A relatively short blade could require restricting the enemy’s mobility before the strike: in 1835, the old Circassian, in order to prove to himself that he was still able to fight, attacked the commandant of the Voskresensky fortification with a dagger, “grabbing his hand and adjusting to hit him directly in the chest” (Ф . Thornau). They taught to cut from childhood on watermelons and melons. Later, men chopped watermelons and melons for entertainment, and lamb and cow heads to demonstrate skill (A. Ziserman). At least one case of parrying a hit of a checker with a dagger blade was noted. Almost the entire arsenal of possible actions is described by K. Borozdin: “Here Prince Konstantin, furious with refusal, no longer remembering himself, in stupid despair, with eyes, with blood, he drew a dagger and thrust it into Prince Gagarin’s stomach … Dadishkiliani, seeing that his victim was still on his feet, wanted to inflict a second blow. At that moment, Ilyin, standing behind, grabbed his shoulders. Feeling that he was being held, the distraught killer rushed and with one sweep of the dagger removed his opponent’s part of the skull … Tarkhan Ardishvili heard the prince scream from the hall with a saber in his hand at Dadeshkiliani, but he parried the blow delivered to him and the dagger aimed at the heart ended with Ardishvili ”

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Lezgins with daggers (photo of the late 19th century).

The effectiveness of chopping strikes can be estimated from the descriptions of military surgeon N. Pirogov, compiled by him in 1847. Thus, describing the wounds that were inflicted by checkers, and concluding that “the wounds from these blows are terrible” and “amaze with their length and depth,” he writes further: “Lezgi daggers penetrate even deeper.” To demonstrate the nature of the chopped wounds inflicted by a dagger, N. Pirogov described one case: “One recruit, Zozulya, having gone on a forage to pinch peas, was wounded with a dagger in five places. Two wounds were on the head and penetrated through the parietal bone without damage, however , dura mater One huge wound with 12 transverse fingers long, wide into the palm penetrated through all the muscles of the back to the peritoneum and through the gap between the 11th and 12th ribs. Another wound, 3 transverse fingers above this, 3 inches long (approx. 7.5 cm) between the 7th and 8th rib, passed under the arm, the ribs were notched. On top of this there was another wound on the back. “A well-placed blow could cut the skull from top to bottom: A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky described the blow in a big way, after which” the dagger stopped in the teeth of the lower jaw. “The effectiveness of piercing strikes is even more widely known. F. Tornau describes such an incident from Chechnya in 1832: “Our mounted Georgians and Tatars, sent ahead of the detachment, chopped off a dozen or two young men on foot who did not have time to leave the clearing in the forest. In this case, one of them, seeing that he was not saved, grabbed the belt of a Tatar that had jumped at him and hit him with a dagger in the side with the force that drove a wide blade through the body. “In this example, one should pay attention not only to the force of the blow, but and the fact that before applying it, the attacker “grabbed the opponent’s belt”. Unlike chopping punches, piercing punches were most often fatal. So, on July 15, 1825, two Russian generals were killed with piercing blows into the corps, and in 1803 the Georgian Tsarina Maria stabbed the Russian General Lazarev with a blow to the side.

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