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Regional variations in the hilts have been noted: Balkan yatagans tend to have larger ears and are often of bone or ivory, whilst Anatolian yatagans characteristically have smaller ears which are more often made of horn or silver.Sophisticated artwork on both the hilt and the blade can be seen on many yatagans displayed today, indicating considerable symbolic value.Having no guard, the yatagan fitted closely into the top of the scabbard; this was customarily worn thrust into a waist sash, retained by hook.

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The more ornate examples were often worn as a status symbol by civilians, as well as military men, much in the way smallswords were worn in 18th century Western Europe.

Occasionally blades were cut down from broadswords or cavalry swords, but in general the forward-curving single-edged blade was used.

Verses in gold or silver are often laid along the blade.

Silver hilts mounted with filigree and coral, for example, are associated with Turkish Yataghans; many of these are dated around 1800, although it wasn't uncommon for the blades to be dated much earlier.

) is a type of Ottoman knife or short sabre used from the mid-16th to late 19th centuries.

The yatagan was extensively used in Ottoman Turkey and in areas under immediate Ottoman influence, such as the Balkans and the Caucasus.

Yatagans consist of a single-edged blade with a marked forward curve and a hilt formed of two grip plaques attached through the tang, the end of the hilt being shaped like large ears.

The gap between the grips is covered by a metal strap, which is often decorated.

The blade varies from 60 to 80 cm in length and is curved forward (like the Iberian falcata, or Greek kopis), sometimes reclining backwards again towards the very end.

This blade form is often referred to as being 'recurved.' While the back of the blade is made of softer steel, the sharp edge is made of hard, tempered steel for durability.

The hilt has no guard; 'bolsters' of metal connect the grips to the shoulder of the blade.