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Old 1st May 2011, 05:11 PM   #20
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default Omani Swords. Origins.

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This question posed by Ariel has evolved into some great discourse on a topic that remains quite unclear in so many instances, the chronological and typological development of various sword types. In this case the focus is on the connection between the Nasrid espada jineta and the more recent Omani kattara of 17th and 18th century form. As seems to be agreed, the nimcha of Moroccan form as well as the Zanzibari form are separate developments but also with unclear developmental explanation.

It is great to have both Marc and Gonzalo in this discussion, and I am enjoying having the complexity of this field of study concerning the history of
Hispano-Moresque Iberia and North African Maghreb, being brought into perspective. I think everyone is bringing up excellent points, and it is most interesting seeing the balance of plausibity and probability in motion as the discussion continues.

What I think is most interesting is that the atavistic interpretation of various ancient and classical weapons presents a profound challenge in trying to establish the direct lineage of many relatively modern forms. As is noted, there are distinct gaps in the chronology that defeat such attempts, as well as the absence of archaeological or reliably provenanced examples.

It seems that the elaborate espada jineta was a form in itself of limited production, and as noted in my earlier post, made exclusively for important figures or for in some cases presentation, probably not made in large numbers. These seem to have been sumptuously decorated and the dramatically downturned guard seems to be more aesthetic than practical.

As I mentioned, it seems that in many cases, classic weapon styles are fashioned in later times recalling those early weapon forms. Obviously it would seem these are intended to instill nationalistic fervor in being produced in such forms, and certainly profound reverence is intended in the case of the Qajar 'Revival' arms and armour. In this sense, the Omani kattara appears to have been intended to represent the distinctly elaborate espada jineta, though extant examples of these have been relieved of whatever valuable application covered them.

I am inclined to think that the jineta and kattara are distinctly related elaborately fashioned swords that are not chronologically connected, rather the kattara more likely an atavistic reflection of that earlier grandeur.What would be most interesting would be to discover more on the early Granadan swords used by the rank and file, and just how much they might have influenced the general form of the Nasrid jineta hilt.

The gently downturned quillons on many crossguards on medieval broadswords seem to be a matter of deviation in style not particularly exclusive to either Muslim nor Christian swords. It is clearly present on the Ferdinand sword, which is very much like the crab claw hilts seen in Italy and Germany. The developing quillon arrangements in these crossguards of course do seem to have led to the hilt forms that later influenced the nimcha style hilt.

These are simply my own interpretation of what I understand from what has been discussed, and I look forward for more in the discussion.

Thank you guys!

All the best,

I have puzzled over the entire question of Omani Short Battle Sword versus the long Omani Kattara, their origins and influence. Then I stumbled upon your observations and the joint exploratory detective work of forum members which leaves me very impressed and staggered by the amount of research . So far as I can see the answer has not yet been proven despite the huge detective work already carried out. My question is several fold.. though I have to admit that I prefer the arguement from the influence of the Nasrid side because I dont swallow the Persian angle though it cannot be as yet ruled out.. Persian influence in Oman was pre Islamic(they built the great fort at Bahla before the 7th Century) and there are weapons today that are directly traceable to Persian weapons such as the Mussandam(N Oman) Shihuh axe linked to the Persian Luristani axe.
The Nasrid dynasty (1242 ~ 1492) fits neatly into a time frame for its influence on the Omani Short Battle Sword. There were trader-explorers moving through the entire Islamic block at about that time such as Ibn Battuta Of Morocco who had visitted Oman in about 1330 and Spain in about 1350. I add this only to show potential interlinking between those two places though he journeyed to almost everywhere in the Islamic world and beyond.
What is interesting is who or what influenced the Nasrid sword style?... Is it not possible that the Omani sword was the first in its style and that sword influenced the Nasrid? It is a big question since if that were the case it would put the Omani Short Battle Sword as earlier than thought to perhaps (and logically) just after Oman accepted Islam. Oman did this during the lifetime of the prophet in the 7th Century therefor could we be in fact looking at a staggeringly ancient weapon? Pushing the envelope back to 7th or 8th century seems unimaginable ... but perhaps it is that old. It could have frozen simply because Oman became completely Ibathi Islamic by the 8th century and therefor other Islamic countries would not copy the sword(logically).
Almost as an afterthought could it not be that the Omani Short Battle Sword is completely on its own... not copied ...frozen in time.. not influencial and totally a one off design?
This brings me to my third question ~ What relationship does the Short Omani Battle Sword have with the long Omani Kattara? In my opinion this is critical, though, like the entire question of its so called predecessor completely shrouded in mystery.
I would describe the Omani Short Battle Sword as a two edged short close action stiff hacking blade like a Roman Gladius. The pointed blade capable of stabbing and probably employed behind a sizeable shield. The hilt with a spiked Islamic Arch Pommel constructed simply of two main parts and put together over a wooden core and with 2 rivets and a third hole for a wrist strap. The pointed pommel possibly a useful weapon against head/face targets. The handle probably covered in leather and a scabbard in the normal simple fashion.
My description of the Omani Long Kattara ~ Long flexible blade with rounded point worked in unison with a small buckler shield at considerable speed and at great distance from the adversary. The handle; long connical with an integral tang and pommel as one piece made with the blade. Pommel often with a hole for a wrist strap. Handle and scabbard leather covered etc.
These two weapons could be off separate planets! There appears to be no evidence of a transition from one to the other.
I put it to the forum that they are unconnected and that the development of the Long Omani Kattara occured because of African influence via Zanzibar in about 1652 when Oman seized it.
Further I submit that the Omani Short Battle Sword is unconnected to any other sword and that it developed much earlier in about the 8th Century soon after Oman converted to Islam.
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