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  Takouba blade etching - What Is It?

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Author Topic:   Takouba blade etching - What Is It?
Lee Jones
posted 05-05-2001 11:08     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The etchings above are from the opposite blade faces of a convincingly old takouba from the vicinity of Tchintoulous in the Ar Massif in northern Niger. The blade is more kaskara-like than usual for a takouba in that it tapers very little until close to the point, and it is exceptional in having a relatively deep fuller on a fairly thick and heavy blade. The moon-face profile on one of the faces is obvious and typical enough, but what is the cylindrical object below it that appears on both faces? A Tuareg friend suggested, without much conviction, that these may represent an cylindrical amulet

which is essentially a metal casing into which a paper containing scripture or prayers has been sealed; such amulets being worn in the teguelmoust or traditional men's combination turban and veil which is so practical in the region.

I guess the first question must be whether this originated as a European trade blade, as the cross-section and springiness suggest, and secondly, whether the markings are of local Saharan origin or came with a blade from elsewhere, as the Man in the Moon's profile suggests.

Any and all suggestions are welcomed.

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Jim McDougall
posted 05-05-2001 16:13     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim McDougall   Click Here to Email Jim McDougall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well I know what Erik von Daniken would say!!!!
But really, this is most interesting. It would seem that the idea about the amulet casing would be most plausible, but why would they illustrate the casing rather than the contents? Possibly due to lack of literacy on the part of the individual who marked the blade...perhaps to avoid the risk of misinterpreting or misrepresenting the components of the amulet he simply showed the complete talismanic case, thus conveying its properties to the blade.
The markings do appear locally applied rather than trade motif from elsewhere.
These are just initial observations, but as always more research is certain and may reveal more.Fascinating!!! Thank you for posting this!

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posted 05-05-2001 22:51     Click Here to See the Profile for jklopper   Click Here to Email jklopper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could the cylinder represent a cannon? I have a dagger from Chad that has a machine gun on the blade. From the image it looks like the cylinder is hollow with one end that has a raised area like the mouth of an old cannon. PS Jim I have been trying to contact you but I do not have your email.

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Jim McDougall
posted 05-13-2001 01:05     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim McDougall   Click Here to Email Jim McDougall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This unusual motif is certainly atypical of markings seen on takoubas.
The elements of the depiction on this takouba blade seem to have a resemblance to a device typically seen on the forte of the blades of flyssas. These distinct swords of the Kabyles are indiginous to regions of northern Algeria, which is far to the north of the Air region and within the vast Saharan expanse. Although there is considerable distance geographically, the nomadic Tuareg may have certainly seen this device as seen of the flyssa in some form, whether on an actual sword or other form of representation.
While the meaning of the symbol remains undefined in the resources I have researched, it is believed to in some way relate to the superstitions and beliefs of the Berber culture,elements of which could be included in Taureg culture.
The idea of this association is of course not substantiated, but suggests some interesting possibilities.

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