EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
I'm puzzled by the reference to 1860 slave trader "Tipu Sultan' ? What post was that in? The sword appears to be a military sabre blade (carrying rings) and probably corresponding blade with the Omani type hilt. Where was this slave trader said to be operating, or where was the photo from.
Also, what is meant by the 'hawkshead' hilt ? Is there an illustration? In any case the curved sabre is by no means from Caucasian ancestry in Arabia though the trade blades from there did come in through various means.
The use of some of these Caucasian blades is mentioned by Elgood in "Arms and Armour of Arabia", and the preference for Persian blades is also noted. We have discussed many times the use of Persian trade blades on Arab sabres. Many of the straight blades are known to have arrived through Indian trade contacts.
The martial swordplay/'dancing' is also described by Sir Richard Burton in 1884, and as noted is also known in India, particularly in the case of use of the pata in which deep slashing moves are made. The Mahrattas distinctly favored slashing moves, despising the thrust. In Khevsuria, in the Caucasus, these dance type moves leaping from crouched position and using bucklers are key to the well known duels practiced well into the 20th century.
I am inclined to think that the guardless Omani hilt developed in the Arabian Peninsula, and not in Zanzibar, nor was it influenced by the swords from the African interior. While the importance of Zanzibar was considerable as a trade and center including slaving commerce, I feel that it was much more receptive as far as weaponry than it was innovative, and the weapons in use there were an amalgam of many forms used by the many traders frwquenting there. It is known that later in the 19th century many makers there did produce swords of established forms using trade blades and copying styles from numerous influences. The well known 'Zanzibar' type of 'nimcha' hilts is essentially the Moroccan sa'if type hilt with a perpandicular loop on the guard (as seen in Buttin, 1933).
All the very best,