Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Nimcha: opinions and translations? (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=4782)

Tatyana Dianova 19th June 2007 03:08 PM

Nimcha: opinions and translations?
 
6 Attachment(s)
I bought recently a nice nimcha. It is a big sword: a bit more than 1 meter overall. The handle seems to be from rhino horn, decorated with silver ring with enamel. The similar in style silver and enamel detail is on the top of the handle. The guard is of interesting form and it is decorated with gold koftgary.
The blade seems to be of Europenian origin. There are North Italian blade marks (dots, eyelashes and cross between them). But I wasn’t able to find similar blade in any of my books. It seems to be older, then 19th century. Can somebody tell me the age of the blade and have somebody seen anything similar? The age of the whole sword? Its origin?
There are also chiseled Arabic ornaments on the both sides of the blade. They consist of 4 different types of flowers and Arabic inscriptions. Maybe somebody can translate them (they are not very well preserved, especially on the side with blade marks). There is also an Arabic inscription on the back of the blade: the name of the master or owner?
Any help will be much appreciated.

Jens Nordlunde 19th June 2007 03:56 PM

Hi Tatyana,

It seems like an interesting nimcha you have added to your collection – congratulations:). I don’t know much about nimchas, and I cant help you with the translation, but I have a few comments. The quillons are strange, but I think the way they are made must protect the hand quite well. The blade seems to be old, and it could be European as well, although I am not convinced. It could be Yemen or East Africa, but lets hear the specialists on this area. ‘Eyelashes’ can be seen on blades from many places, one of these places is India, and there you often see each eyelash start and end with three dots. There seem to be ‘three dots’ on other places on the blade – without the lashes – are there, and if yes how many, and are they only on one side of the blade?

Jens

ariel 19th June 2007 05:39 PM

Very intriguing.
The "stumps" on the langets ( or, in this case, are they quillons? :D ) look like a transitional step between the classic North African and the Zanzibari forms.
The "eyleashes with dots" were, as Jens notices, as popular in the area then as words " Made in China" are now.
As a matter of fact, the contour of the blade is kind of shashka-ish. There were a lot of shashka blades from Daghestan, many with the gurda mark, in Southern Arabia toward the end of the 19th century. Etching one with more "local" decoratios was a piece of baklawa then as it is now.
The bottom line, until some compassionate soul translates the inscription, you are in the datk. But then...... All will be revealed!

Tim Simmons 19th June 2007 07:42 PM

What a tragedy this very nice sword has been parted from its scabbard. I wonder if this was originally a fairly basic trade blade beautified in N. Africa. Some say girls are better at fishing also :D . :cool:

Tatyana Dianova 19th June 2007 08:17 PM

Thank you all for your comments!
Jens, all the dots from the blade marks you may see on the picture above. There are none on the other side of the blade or in any other place.

Jens Nordlunde 19th June 2007 09:42 PM

This means that all the dot markings are on the 'left' side of the blade - am I right?

Jens

Battara 19th June 2007 10:12 PM

A fascinating nimcha. Only one I have seen with gold and enamel. I would guess that the scabbard was in velet and possibly solid gold with enamel mounts, possibly sold in later times for the gold content. The last part is conjecture. :shrug:

Tatyana Dianova 20th June 2007 09:12 AM

Ok, the scabbard is gone ... and it is gone forever...

Jens, I think you are right about the left side (the dot markings are on the opposite side of the blade if you look at the pictures 1 and 2).

Kirill Rivkin have sent me his opinion on the sword, which I find quite logical. Quote:
"I highly doubt that the blade is european in origin. The style of
eyelashes and the fact that the pattern is repeated many times suggest a
local copy. Arabic engravings on blade's sides look acid etched to me,
which likely indicates post 1860 origin. On the blade's back side there is
an engraving which seems to be year and signature, also I would not say
anything conclusive without better pictures. Acid etching on the blade
is most likely citations from Quran. Similar blades were produced by
almost everyone, the font does not seem to be Nastaliq, which means it is
likely to be non-persian. It does not seem like a classical caucasian
work either. I suspect it was made in late XIXth century in some part of
the Ottoman Empire, North Africa or other."
And also, in the next letter:
"I have looked at a few pieces and it seems that Zanzibar/North Africa was a little bit faster in adopting etching - 1820s or later, but the style still seems a little bit later than this to me."

I will try to make the better pictures of the inscription on the back side and post them later.

ALEX 20th June 2007 10:18 AM

This is VERY NICE SWORD Tatjana.
According to A.Tirri description, this is: "...Moroccan Nimcha, 19th Cent.... with 3 downturned guillions and one upturned guillion which serves as a hand guard. Rhino horn was used to augment the aura of virility of the sword bearer. Blades were mostly imported from Europe..."
The hilt does look like Rhino. And the guard is of interesting form. I have similarly formed guard on a Spanish sword (will post it next), but it has a bar connecting two ends together.
The writing is indeed in Arabic, but of an old Arabic form/alphabet. Not easy to read, but the etched sentence has word Allah, and is most likely the Quranic verse (as pointed by Kirill). The chiseled word (on the right side of the 4th picture) reads "Hussein" (which is also a name of the Prophet Mohammad grandson).

Tatyana Dianova 20th June 2007 06:12 PM

5 Attachment(s)
OK, here are the promised pictures of the chiseled inscriptions on the back of the blade. One of the sentences seems to contain a date (12??).
Also I would like to share a couple of professional pictures sent to me by seller of this nimcha. When I have seen them, I immediately fell in love with this sword :-)

Jim McDougall 20th June 2007 06:53 PM

This is indeed a classic example of the Moroccan sa'if commonly referred to as a 'nimcha'. The hilt form with its distinct quillon system is characteristic of these swords and has existed in regions of the Maghreb littoral since the 17th century. The hilt form itself apparantly evolved from early Italian influence carried via the well established trade routes into North Africa, and is thought to have influenced other hilts such as the Sinhalese kastane in the more eastern extensions of those trade routes. This was discussed by Anthony North of the Victoria & Albert I believe in about 1975.

The stamped semi circles and three dot arrangements do indeed reflect the early markings associated with Genoan and possibly other N.Italian blade makers. Through trade these distinct markings diffused to other blade centers including, as Ariel mentions, the Caucasian locations. In my opinion this blade form seems consistant with trade blades, possibly German or European which seem to occur on swords in Arabia and India c.end of 18th century to early 19th, with the so called 'eyelash' or 'sickle' marks often on them. The German blades on Scottish basket hilts of the 17th century have these markings, and the markings are of course well known in India, on the Afghan paluouar the marking is almost a constant, in the Caucusus these marks bring the quality term 'gurda' to so marked blades.

I agree with Kirill on his assessment of the acid etched inscriptions which were probably applied later in the 19th century. While the process was certainly known prior to this, it was then that it became more prevalent, especially in Ottoman regions among others. The Arabic script in motif on the face of the blade bears some resemblance to the thuluth applied in this manner in regions of the Sudan, though I am not implying this is thuluth, but one of the scripts used in this manner.

This is a beautiful example Tatyana!! :) Although the scabbard is absent, it does seem these are often found that way as the leather scabbards often do not survive. As with most weapons of North Africa, refurbishing was a constant process, and the integrity of the weapon itself is typically carried in the blade, which as we can see, reflects its history through its working life. Fascinating !!! :)

All best regards,
Jim

Valjhun 20th June 2007 06:57 PM

Yes, I agree. Trully a very nice piece you have. I vote for Morocco.

I would suggest that it is maybe a composite piece. I mean that the crossguard was not initially made for that precise sword. I can't immagine the original master would put toghether koftgari (or goldplating whatever) and enammel techique. Nevertheless very nice piece.

Is the pommel cap also enammeled? Can you post a photo?

I also think that the blade is not european.

The hilt does look like rhino to me. Try to do a close up shot with flash.

Tatyana Dianova 20th June 2007 08:11 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thanks everybody for interesting replies!

I have found similar nimcha example on this forum, belonging to RSWORD, and this sword also has gold koftgari AND enamel decorations!
Please take a look:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=128

I also have made a requested pictures:

Tim Simmons 20th June 2007 08:17 PM

The enamel work reminds me of work from the Kabilye . I will try and show what mean.

Battara 20th June 2007 08:23 PM

When RSword brought his piece over to my place, I tested the gold mounts and determined that they were over 10k and heavey!

Congratulations on your piece - I'm envious - not many around.

ErnestoJuan 23rd June 2007 01:10 PM

Now that is a beautiful piece of art. Stunning to say the least.
I solely collect koumiyas but I will gladly make an exception in case you would like to sell it.

( big sigh..............)


Ernst

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 4th September 2016 03:26 PM

Clearly Moroccan. The three big signals are the stud on top of the pommel and the squared off right angle bend in the knuckle guard, thirdly is the upright way the pommel sits as opposed to pointing down slightly ....as does the Zanzibari variant...Your Nimcha has the unusual addition of a two prong guard that I see only rarely. There is another two pronger at http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...39&page=2&pp=30

ariel 4th September 2016 06:40 PM

I think ( word of caution!) that there is a date on the spine:12( for sure) and then ....58 (???)

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 5th September 2016 09:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I think ( word of caution!) that there is a date on the spine:12( for sure) and then ....58 (???)


We are this year 1437 in al Hijri... :shrug:

Kubur 5th September 2016 10:55 AM

For me this blade is much much older than the 19th c.
It's a gorgeous example...

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 5th September 2016 11:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
For me this blade is much much older than the 19th c.
It's a gorgeous example...


I think you may be right...but if we are going by the so called date on the back of the blade ...we need to know what that is... because it is not clear.

Kubur 5th September 2016 11:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
I think you may be right...but if we are going by the so called date on the back of the blade ...we need to know what that is... because it is not clear.


yep
the date on the back is engraved, the inscription on the blade is chisled like the Seljuk or Mamluk blades in The arts of the Muslim knight. It's a Moroccan nimcha but an old one. The inscription on the back was probably added later.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 5th September 2016 11:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
yep
the date on the back is engraved, the inscription on the blade is chisled like the Seljuk or Mamluk blades in The arts of the Muslim knight. It's a Moroccan nimcha but an old one. The inscription on the back was probably added later.


It is always very tenuous to place a date on a sword because many blades were switched from one hilt to another. dates became added...They assumed the realms of make believe occasionally. Notwithstanding the inscribed date what are the clues to age ? How old can the blade be? How much age is visible in the hilt? Half way down the Knuckle Guard there is a signature or date in a small button sized roundel.....what is that?
I add in retrospect that this is an interesting item. An aristocrats sword thus the addition of Gold work a Rhino hilt and the enamel work known as Champleve...on the stud on top of the Pommel and at the base ring. There is light overall wear suggesting to my eye 18th C.

Such a pity there is no Scabbard but no doubt that would have been richly decorated in similar style. The pitons or projections on the guard are intriguing and original not added according to the decorative style...The bite marks on the blade offer the suggestion of the blade being of Genoa ..I leave all suggestions wide open for comments.. :shrug:

Evgeny_K 26th May 2019 11:10 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Gents,
What could you say about this sword? Looks like markings are same?
This sword was found on the Black Sea coast of Russia - a region that was under the influence of Genoa.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 26th May 2019 11:40 PM

I agree Genoa fits … as I noted earlier there is often a little button about two thirds the way down the knuckle guard with writing on it...this weapon has one... cant make out the letters but it could be a date or makers mark... great to see this thread still going.. :shrug:
Ibrahiim al Balooshi

Jim McDougall 27th May 2019 04:35 AM

It is indeed good to see this thread come up again, and most interesting sword which appears to be possibly what remains of a 'nimcha' of North Africa. The quillons of course do not seem exactly the same, but there were numbers of variant hilt systems.While the markings seem to have the triple dots and configuration of what is typically regarded as the 'sickle mark' of Genoa, this marking in variation was widely copied by other blade making centers.

It seems that blade making centers in Styria much favored these marks and applied them to their blades. It is known that Austrian blades had gained much favor in North Africa by the 19th c. and many filtered into entrepots there, so seeing them on nimchas was not unusual.

It is difficult however to imagine how a nimcha (if this indeed is one of these) with Styrian blade, ended up in the Russian Black Sea region. Genoa had diminished in its colonies and blade traffic by the 18th c. and while the reputation and of course influences lingered on, many of the blades were now typically produced elsewhere for trade.

We might surmise that Barbary Pirates and trade interaction in the Mediterranean might have networked this sword into the context in which it was found, but that would remain an assumption.

TVV 27th May 2019 08:24 AM

The Ottoman Empire had significant presence along the North-East Black Sea Coast so it is not improbable that a Maghreb blade from the far western reaches of the Empire in Africa would travel all the way to the Black Sea during Ottoman naval activities. Interesting find.

Evgeny_K 27th May 2019 04:52 PM

2 Attachment(s)
This form of the crossguard is specific to Moroccan sabers? Could it be a Genoese sword (not only the blade)?
Here are some additional pics of markings.

Kubur 27th May 2019 05:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evgeny_K
This form of the crossguard is specific to Moroccan sabers? Could it be a Genoese sword (not only the blade)?


You're right.
Moroccan swords have 3 quillons down.
The tang should be thinner, straight without peg holes.
The sword presented here had a grip made of two pieces of horn like Turkish swords or Caucasian kindjals.
Conclusion either you have an Italian sword or a local sword with an Italian blade.

Evgeny_K 27th May 2019 06:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
You're right.
Moroccan swords have 3 quillons down.
The tang should be thinner, straight without peg holes.
The sword presented here had a grip made of two pieces of horn like Turkish swords or Caucasian kindjals.
Conclusion either you have an Italian sword or a local sword with an Italian blade.


Thank you! "Genoese version" is confirmed by the fact that this sword was found at the alleged location of the Genoese trading post of the Copa.


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