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drac2k 16th August 2019 06:52 PM

Mystery Mace and Sudanese Command Baton ?
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The mace is supposed to be African however the carving and the silver foil are throwing me off; Indian maybe?
In regards to the ax-spear hybrid; could this be a Sudanese Command baton /

Kubur 16th August 2019 08:40 PM

Waowww i love it because it's a really difficult one.
The carving is flyssa like, but might be Shona too...
The silver is Omani to me...
The mace head looks indo persian
Do you think that it was made up recently with old parts or if it's actually a real thing???

drac2k 16th August 2019 09:48 PM

Thanks. I'm pretty sure that it is original; now that being said, it may have been embellished a long time ago. The carved handle threw me off, but your theory about a possible Algerian connection makes great sense.

TVV 16th August 2019 10:42 PM

The axe/spear combination could be from the Sudan (in the historic sense of the term, not just limited to the boundaries of the modern state by that name) - the monitor (?) skin is certainly characteristic of the region, and the axe spear combination as well. The engravings on the axe look similar to what one finds on tebu knives and daggers.

The axe and the mace were weapons associated with dervishes. "Command baton" seems to be a description often thrown around when it comes to items from the Sudan that do not appear like practical arms, as we from our Western perspective try to find a practical use. Often, these items were carried for their presumed magical powers and for use in rituals.


drac2k 17th August 2019 12:00 AM

Thank you for your comments. The ax-spear combination although well made, I would not consider it a 'battle weapon," and it is probably as you state for a dervish or it might have been used to designate rank, etc..The mace, however, is a real weapon and I wonder if it might have been used by a fakir.

Jim McDougall 17th August 2019 05:20 PM

These are truly interesting pieces, and some excellent suggestions and observations being made. I have not really looked further into notes etc. yet but I do recall the 'mace' circumstance being discussed about a year ago regarding Sudanese use.
As Teodor has noted, the 'command baton' does seem to have been often misapplied to a good number of unusual 'weapons' in Sudanese contexts which seem sub par as such, but actually were used by religious figures in the field for ritual and ceremonial support. In Sudanese forces, these elements were profoundly key in the spiritual invocations as these forces advanced into battle.

It seems to me that the mace may well be one of such items, but cannot be sure. The ogival head seems known to have been used in Sudanese context.
While the spear/axe combination would seem likely to have been with thuluth decoration (as most arms of these kinds during the Mahdiyya were) it is possible that some remained in their 'native' state. There were numbers of diverse tribal groups among the forces of the Caliph in campaign, and they accounted for many of the weapons seemingly incongruent with those indigenous in Sudan.

The linear dotted decoration seems of other regional source on the axe, and reminds me of possibly something Tebu as Teodor has noted, and the 'rocker' type motif in mace carving does recall the fibula pattern on flyssa, which may easily have transmitted into Sudanese contexts. These are among many basic Saharan folk religion talismanic themes it would seem.

Time to hit the books :)

drac2k 17th August 2019 06:43 PM

Thanks for your insightful comments Jim which concurs with the others: I guess that no one else is going for an Indian origin, whether it be a fakirs weapon or a night watchman's staff...............sigh......... it's lonely on the bottom.

Jim McDougall 17th August 2019 07:57 PM

Glad to add what I can Drac. In looking further I used the following:
" A Late Military Use of the Sphero-Conical in the 19th c. Sudan"
Stephane Pradines, 2017, 'Journal of Islamic Archaeology'

This pertains to the unusual shape on the head of this mace, where similar use of old Mamluk spherical-conical vessels were used in these types of symbolic weapons in following the various Persian Sufi schools of the Faith.
These, as noted, were essentially for self defense in a perhaps spiritually oriented fashion. Here I think we may consider these in the same parlance of 'fakirs' or 'dervishes' as religious ascetics, in this case of the Sufi brotherhoods.

Much the same is probably the case with the axe, which was a symbol of rank in these kinds of Sufi contexts, and which I have seen similar (but with dual blades and spear head finial) in Mahdiyya groupings. As mentioned these were typically acid etched in the Qajar manner with various invocations etc. in the heavy calligraphy known as thuluth, but apparently not always.
With these they may have served in similar capacity as the 'alam' (standard) if so decorated, but in this case more likely a personal item and with perhaps markings as per the owners native tribal group.

See also: "Sufi in War: Persian Influence on African Weaponry in 19th c
Mahdist Sudan"
Stephane Pradines & Manoucher Khorasani
JAAS Vol. XXII , #5, 2018

With the conicals, these were often ancient vessels for valued ceremonial
ointments, fragrances etc. key in religious ritual and though some of the ceramic originals may have been used on these symbolic weapons, many seem duplicated in metal or stone.

With the axe and other personal examples, not all of these were likely to have been affected with the thuluth decoration, in fact it has seemed that the thuluth decorated examples often were produced copies of other indigenous native arms.

Regarding India as influence on arms in Sudan, the same influences of Persia and the Sufi were prevalent in much of India as Middle East, and there are examples of Indian weapons in the Sudan. The double bladed haladie is derived (via Mamluk Syria) as from early Rajput arms and the madu made of opposed buffalo horns, and is of course known as a weapon used by fakir ascetics.

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