The handle gathered on the metal shank is made of a very durable hornbeam wood and decorated with brass hilt, inserts, and finial.
The sheath has a unique structure: the wooden substrate with a slotted blade bed is covered with leather. The seam on the back of the sheath is used for the blade straightening after sharpening. The sheath is belted on the leather strap.
The knife does not apply to melee weapons.
The Kizlyar Karachevskiy is an authentic knife traditional for two closely-related Caucasian peoples – the Karachais and the Balkars.
The knife of the mountainous shepherd is called ‘bichak’ in their language.
It is a rather simple, but extremely reliable, convenient and versatile helper and friend. It successfully copes with a wide range of different tasks: to quickly kill and butcher a sheep to treat a guest, to dress down the carcass of a game animal, to correct something, to trim a piece of wood ot a horse hoove, etc. The mountain-dweller rates his workaholic knife highly and treats it with great respect. In a special container attached to the belt the knife-holder bears a mixture of fat and bone marrow to lubricate the blade, protecting it from rust. Each blade has its own soul, and if it hurts its host, it must be buried or thrown away, so that no one would find it.
According to the national custom, each Karachai or Balkar should build a house, give birth to a son and make at least one knife.
The size of the knife depends on its purpose. There are a razor knife, a knife for repairing harness, shoes, etc, a smaller knife for taking meal, and the smallest one is used by kids. There is a large knife for domestic use. This one is not worn on the belt. And, of course, ‘bichak’ – the main belt knife of a mountain-dweller.
In the old days the knives were often made from fragments of cold steel, and therefore, depending on the length of the workpiece, the handles were assembled differently. The most valuable design is the one whose shank passes through the entire handle.
The blade enters into the special groove sawed in the handle. The guard (or more precisely the ‘collar’) of non-ferrous metal is inserted into the groove, and its edges are turned by 45 degrees in the opposite direction. This reinforces the blade for lateral loads and protects the front of the handle from breaking. Nowadays this is the most common design of the knife’s handle.
The offered version of the knife provides the handle made of rather exotic hornbeam wood and the standard 6-inches long and 1-inch wide blade considered a benchmark.
The narrow blades are made for hunters: they are easier to handle while removing the skin, especially in difficult places such as on the feet in the area of the claws.
The sheath consists of two parts: a full-length wooden blade bed made of of soft, and a leather wrap. The Karachai sheath provides the bed fully covered with leather, while the Balkar – the bed opened on the tip, so that it would not collect garbage and water.
In the old days the reverse seam was treated with a special solution, and its surface was used to straighten the cutting edge.
The suspension system is designed as a running knot, so if the skin is stretched over time, the knife will not drop from its sheath and lost.
The handle must be immersed into the sheath at least 2/3 of its length.
Each knife is decorated individually, according to the aesthetic fovours and means of its host.
‘Bichak’ remains very popular for centuries. It is still a mandatory attribute of a mountaineer.
At least one well-made knife, such as the Kizlyar Karachaevskiy, should be at every house.