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"Amethistine" dagger, obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, diffusion welded copper, nickel silver fittings, sterling silver gallery wire wrap and accents, Amethyst crystal gemstone pommel, hand-carved leather sheath inlaid with black rayskin

Duhovni Ratnik

"Duhovni Ratnik" Croatian Spiritual Warrior case, top side view in Black Walnut, Paduk, Bloodwood, and brass
"Duhovni Ratnik" Fine Custom Croatian Cultural Heritage Knife

In Croatian, the phrase "Duhovni Ratnik" means Spiritual Warrior. In this fine custom handmade work of knife art, I was honored to have a patron who wished to embrace his heritage to create the Croatian Spiritual Warrior. The special display, storage, and presentation case for the piece was meticulously created to house and protect this cultural legacy. the case top is Black Walnut, banded with Padauk hardwood and brass corners. The knobs are Bloodwood. What lies inside is a formidable work of cultural art.

"Duhovni Ratnik" case corner detail. Double-double box joints in Black Walnut, Arririba, and Bloodwood. Feet are Bloodwood
"Duhovni Ratnik" case side view. Elegant case is finished in penetrating oils, tung oil, and varnish

This very special work required an elegant, rich, and commensurate case, one with dark, rich tones and accents, so I made this one with double-double box joints in Black Walnut, Arririba, and Bloodwood, carefully chosen for contrast and strength. The corners are protected with lacquered brass box corners, and the feet and knobs are hand-turned and French-polished Bloodwood, chosen for its rich red color and extreme hardness and durability. The smooth feet are inlaid with neoprene for the protection of any surface the case may rest upon.

"Duhovni Ratnik" case back view. Case has brass stopped hinges, lid banding of Paduk hardwood and black walnut throughout
"Duhovni Ratnik" case top in black walnut bordered with Paduk hardwood and brass corners. Knobs are hand-turned Bloodwood

The case alone is a substantial work of art, with complicated joinery, solid lines, and substantial woods chosen for longevity and beauty, yet it yields to the treasure within.

"Duhovni Ratnik" in case view. Case interior is Cherry hardwood and Ebonized Poplar, varnished and sealed, with Engraved brass and lacquered aluminum nameplate.
Engraved Black, red, white lacquered brass and aluminum nameplate on Cherry hardwood, Duhovni Ratnik interior with Croatian Coat of arms

The striking colors and pattern reflect the honor of the Croatian people and their coat of arms. On the dedication plate, my patron is identified beside the ancient coat of arms of Croatia. The medieval checkerboard is the oldest standard.

"Duhovni Ratnik" in case. Case socket is ebonized Poplar, shield button is Red River Jasper and White Agate gemstone.
"Duhovni Ratnik" case details. Shield button is hand-carved Red Jasper and White Agate, 20 pieces of gemstone mosaic.

The Shield button accent is composed of twenty pieces of "checkerboard" mosaic in two gemstones: Red River Jasper and White Geodic Agate. These very hard stones comprise the accent mounted to the ebonized poplar case interior, and the inlays in the gemstone knife handle.

"Duhovni Ratnik" obverse side view. Knife in hand-engraved 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, handle of Black Nephrite Jade gemstone inlaid with a mosaic of Red River Jasper and White Geodic Quartz. Sheath is hand-carved, hand-dyed leather shoulder

The knife represents a powerful Croatian Spiritual Warrior, and is a substantial weapon, tool, and work of edged art. The blade is meticulously hand-engraved 440C high chromium stainless steel, and it took many days to hand-engrave the mirror polished blade with the deep characters and embellishments. The phrase means "For the love of the Fatherland" and the twisted scrollwork is a very ancient traditional art form from the country. The trefoils represent the military bearing, and the one thousand year old design of the cross honors the Christian heritage. One of the most striking features is the mosaic of the twenty-three piece "checkerboard" inlayed completely in the black Nephrite Jade handle. The fittings are hand-engraved 304 high nickel, high chromium stainless steel with substantial size and strength. The handle shape is deep, large, and comfortable, with finger grooves pulling the hand to a solid fit with the knife. The blade has an original, striking geometry with a double-angled point that is both ancient and devastating. The profile features a top spine depression and top swage to create an aggressive point in the thick and deeply hollow ground blade. A profound choil accents the full filework around the entire tapered tang. In the reverse side view below, you can see the deeply engraved ancient Croatian Script Glagoljica in the hollow grind. The reverse of the sheath is also hand-carved with the ancient twisted spiral design.

"Duhovni Ratnik" reverse side view. Ancient Croatian Script Glagoljica hand-engraved in hollow grind.
"Duhovni Ratnik" spine edgework, filework detail. Note Cross and Shield filework all along tapered tang, dovetailed bolsters, thick and robust handle.

Even the filework had to be very special on this piece, so I created a robust and distinctive "Cross and Shield" pattern that extends down the fully tapered tang. In this view (above) you can also see the thick, substantial, and stout jade dovetailed into the high chromium, high nickel bolsters. The inside of the handle is deeply curved, and in the thick tang is a punchy vine filework extending to the carved and detailed choil.

"Duhovni Ratnik" inside handle tang view. Filework is deep vine in curvaceous handle.
"Duhovni Ratnik" obverse side handle detail. Hand-engraved bolsters are high strength stainless steel

The striking handle of the Duhovni Ratnik is made of scales of thick Black Nephrite Jade gemstone from Australia, with through-body inlays of a mosaic shield of 23 pieces. This was a challenging bit of work, but it suited my client's desire to honor this traditional symbol of his country with grace. I used Red River Jasper from Africa and Geodic White Agate from my own state (New Mexico), and in careful planning and accurate hand-slabbing and lapping, created the mosaic that would become a hand-carved shield. I then pierced and carved the Black Jade to fit the shield, and finished the surfaces together for a smooth and even polish and glassy feel. The small engraved forms on the bolsters were also a significant challenge, as the bolster steel is high nickel and high chromium stainless, the same steel used in the toughest stainless steel nuts, bolts, and fasteners. The phrase literally translated means "God and Croatians."

"Duhovni Ratnik" reverse side view. Meticulous engraving of stainess steel blade and bolsters abounds.
"Duhovni Ratnik" sheathed view. Sheath is hand-carved, hand-dyed leather shoulder, stitched with nylon

The sheath had to be very special for this beautiful heritage piece, so I constructed in in heavy leather shoulder. The leather was hand-carved with the design matching the knife, and the phrase "God and Croatians" on the face. The leather was carefully hand-dyed with overlaying and interactive dye layers to achieve the density, color, and rich style the knife deserved, and finished front and back. I knew that the sheath alone must be a work of dedicated art and I'm very happy with the result.

"Duhovni Ratnik" sheath reverse detail. Hand carving and hand-dying on sheath back and belt loop matching knife artistic design and patterns
"Duhovni Ratnik" point view. Knife is a formidible weapon and honored work of cultural art.
"Duhovni Ratnik" Croatian Heritage Knife Specifications, Materials
  • Size
    • Case: 18.75" (47.7 cm) long x 11.0" (27.9 cm) deep x 4.1" (10.4 cm) high
    • Knife: Length Overall: 15.3" (38.9 cm), Blade Length: 9.2" (23.4 cm), Thickness: .264" (6.7 mm)
  • Weight
    • Case: 8 lbs., 6 oz. (3.8 kg.)
    • Knife: 1 lb., 11 oz. (765 grams)
    • Sheath: 12 oz. (340 grams)
  • Blade: 440C high chromium martensitic stainless tool steel, hardened and tempered to 58HRC
  • Blade Finish: Hand-engraved, mirror polished
  • Bolsters, Fittings: Hand-engraved 304 austenitic high nickel, high chromium stainless steel
  • Handle: Polished Black Nephrite Jade gemstone inlaid with mosaic of Red River Jasper and White Geodic Agate gemstone
  • Sheath: Hand-carved, hand-dyed leather shoulder, nylon stitching
  • Case: American Black Walnut, African Padauk, South American Bloodwood, American Cherry, American Poplar, Arririba (Canary wood), Brass, Neoprene feet, suede leather
  • It has been a great privilege for me to craft this work of edged art to offer tribute the heritage of my patron, and my deepest thanks to him for his patience, input, and patronage of my work. It is my hope it will be a cherished piece that will honor his cultural heritage for many generations to come.

Thanks, D. M.!

FedEx just dropped off the package Jay. My God! You do take awesome photos Jay but pictures don't do this justice! The case, sheath...geez..
The knife is HUGE and feels great in my hand. The gemstone handle and the knife as a whole surpassed all expectations Jay!! Seeing the coat of arms inlaid into the black jade is stunning. The engraving and file work blows my mind. BTW, the jade handle almost feels like glass instead of stone.
I can't say thank you enough for taking this project and realizing my vision Jay. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. This will be a cherished piece that hopefully gets passed down the generations.


From another client:

The Duhovni Ratnik has to be the best you have created in that style.
What amazes me is how you can come up so many different themes. Most knife makers stick to one or two styles and call themselves artists, they would do themselves a service if they looked at your web site and actually tried to learn something from it. I am sure their egos are to big.

--P. K.

Please click on additional thumbnail knife photos below
"Duhovni Ratnik" case corner, back detail. Beautiful finishing of hardwoods compliments knife display and storage. "Duhovni Ratnik" case underside detail. Bottom is cherry hardwood, padauk accents, with hand-turned bloodwood feet with neoprene bottoms "Duhovni Ratnik" inside case detail. Ebonized poplar with black suede and gemstone accent "Duhovni Ratnik" obverse side front bolster engraving detail. "God and Croatians" with ancient cross hand-engraved in stainless steel "Duhovni Ratnik" obverse side rear bolster engraving detail. Hand-engraving of 1000 year old cross design in stainless steel "Duhovni Ratnik" obverse side handle detail. Gemstone mosaic inlaid in Australian black jade knife handle "Duhovni Ratnik" obverse side blade engraving detail. "Duhovni Ratnik" reverse side engraving detail in ancient Croatian script "Duhovni Ratnik" sheath back hand-carving, hand-dying detail in belt loop "Duhovni Ratnik" sheath back detail, all hand-carved, hand-dyed leather "Duhovni Ratnik" sheath face carving detail "Duhovni Ratnik" sheath mouth detail. Substantial knife and sheath are legacy pair "Duhovni Ratnik" sheath mouth detail. Full Filework around tang is Cross and Shield Case interior shown with alternate engraved brass dedication plate with modern Croation coat of arms and regional "crown" "Duhovni Ratnik" alternate dedication plate in engraved brass with modern coat of arms.

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