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RSWORD 31st December 2004 11:42 PM

Nimcha for discussion
4 Attachment(s)
Since I am not out whooping it up tonight, I have some spare time to take a picture and ask a question about one of the pieces in my collection. It is a Moroccan Nimcha with enameled mounts. I have not seen this before. I understand this type of enameling is called Champleve. Has anyone seen this type of decoration on Nimcha mounts before? Is this indeed referred to as Champleve? Is enameling in this region a Moorish inspiration? Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.

Philip 1st January 2005 05:30 AM

champleve vs cloisonne
Both techniques involve the creation of a design via the use of multi-colored vitreous enamels which are contained in sunken areas or "wells" bordered by metal. Your saber's fittings appear to be done in the champleve technique, in which the voids which contain the enamel are hollowed from somewhat thick metal by means of chisels or other tools. The enamels, generally mixed into a paste, are applied into the hollows, and the piece is baked until the enamels become hard and glassy, and can be then polished down.

The other technique is cloisonne. The design is created with thin pieces of flat wire brazed to the surface. The spaces between wires (cloisons) are then filled with the desired colors, and the piece is baked to vitrify the enamels.

Both techniques were known in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages. Vitreous enamels were known in Egypt and other classical civilizations, and the Arabs probably learned it from the Byzantine Greeks. Enamel work of this type was introduced into China during the Mongol dynasty, and of the two techniques, cloisonne became far more popular. It then spread to Japan, where in the 19th cent. the traditional technique was influenced by more advanced enamel formulas from France to create effects unknown in China or the Muslim world.

Philip 1st January 2005 05:35 AM

motifs on nimcha mounts
Yes, these are Moorish. The designs are mirrored in architecture, and in the design of decorative tilework. The color schemes are also reminiscent of the ornament on other ceramic products, which in turn influenced the pottery traditions of Mediterranean Europe during the Middle Ages and later..

While we're on the subject of Moors...

As a humorous aside, I'm throwing in this tidbit from a grade-school pupil's answer to an exam question:

"The Mooers were called that because they worshipped sacred cows."

Yannis 1st January 2005 10:06 AM

Very interesting piece. I see 2 different colors on blade and some letters on. What is it? Can we have a more close photo of the blade?

RSWORD 1st January 2005 02:58 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thank you for the detail on how the workmanship was completed. I especially like the grade school humor. Little did I know I was misspelling all these years. It is supposed to be Moo'ers. :)

Here are a couple of close up shots of the blade. What you noticed is that the first third of the blade has been koftgari'ed. Rather than lettering you see a sort of twisted rope motif, perhaps a Mediterranean influence. There is also a deep stamp mark. I am wondering if this is a Moroccan Tamgha mark of sorts. Any info on the stamped mark would be appreciated.

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