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Old 19th February 2013, 02:26 PM   #8
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

Interesting article, however I think it's important to point out the article is purely in reference to modern practices and use of the sword - it's not discussing the weapon in a historical context and in that sense the information it relays doesn't detail either for or against the sword being purely a dance article over the entire life of the form.

For me at least, there are three major areas that stand out with regards to the straight sayf:

1. Why do the blades follow the form of 18-19th century trade blades if they have never used trade blades with this hilt style.

2. Why the application of blade stamps if they have never used imported blades in these style mounts.

3. Given the above, why would the same hilt be applied to combat ready swords only in the context of curved blades with plenty of straight, quality European blades also floating around.

I simply can't see the reason behind going to the trouble of copying a functional blade form, from outside the culture no less, just for the sake of adapting it into a dancing item while happily using curved blades as is. This is absolutely nothing to do with what they are used for now - it's a question of why the form evolved to what it is now and from what. Why this pattern of blade, why the penchant for European style blade marks?

As I've said a few times before on these threads, I don't have any stake in these discussions. These weapons aren't my area and I don't own any. I'm an impartial reader.

Frankly this has nothing to do with the question of combat or non combat - but has everything to do with the notion that the straight swords never used heavier, imported blades.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain, Thank you for your post . It is my view (and apparently the same view is held by the Omani Museums which I will confirm in due course) that the Sayf has always been only a pageantry sword and never used in combat from its induction as a dancing sword probably at the beginning of the current ruling family dynasty in 1744... give or take a few years.

The item I reintroduced above was only back up to the situation and unfortunately the better of the two references contained in it ... The old Baluch sword maker wasn't questioned...We think that sword making in RAK goes back about 75 years but beyond that it is hard to establish. So I use it as a modest indicator but obviously one would expect them to have some historical knowledge of its prior history.

The straight Omani Sayf ... or what I call the pageantry sword or dancing sword is in my view based upon the only other straight sword in the Omani arsenal and I have compared it with that sword on Kattara for comments at #312. In essence this is not viewed by me as an outside sword moreover as a copied style mirroring the Omani Battle Sword. The Omani Battle Sword is not only similar but its Terrs Shield was also passed on to the Dancing Sayf as its accompanying shield in the honorific pageantry role.

Your questions are answered as under~

1. Why do the blades follow the form of 18-19th century trade blades if they have never used trade blades with this hilt style?

It could be that this sword evolved entirely from the Yemeni long hilt not from the trade blade..however again I point out the similarities in blade design to the Omani Battle Sword. In my view and having seen tons of these pageantry blades~ they are very flexible broad and spatulate tipped but not stamped with European blade stamps... at least not original ones. Many have absolutely local stamps...whilst many have none. They are deeply fullered to increase flex and lighten the swords...They appear as random local manufacture not least by Zutoot "Gypsy" wandering workshops pre 1970.. and likely to have been made in Nizwa and Muscat and lately in the last half century in RAK and in Salalah though I need more research on the latter.

2. Why the application of blade stamps if they have never used imported blades in these style mounts?

The regions sword makers have been copying blade stamps for hundreds of years. It is not necessarily a way of implying that the blade is by that maker but more a quality stamp perhaps in honour of great previous blade makers. Of course there is always the chance that it is simply a way to place a higher price on a blade. I shall be checking on the Museums collections for straight blades with original European stamps in a week or two. I see nothing sinister with running wolf copied squigles on swords here nor TAJ British India strikes. They were all done locally. I have met the sword joiners in Muscat who have since 1970 been uniting Omani longhilts on European blades still plentiful in the souk chain of supply mainly from Sanaa. These are tourist aimed.

3. Given the above, why would the same hilt be applied to combat ready swords only in the context of curved blades with plenty of straight, quality European blades also floating around?

I think by that you mean why was the same hilt applied to the Omani Curved Kattara and the Omani Sayf at the same time when one was a fighting blade and the other wasnt? Firstly, I don't think the curved was only a weapon... but more importantly a badge of office for a Ships Captain or VIP including occasionally Royalty and important slave traders like Tippu Tip. I don't view this curved sword as a battle sword though it would certainly work if struck by one ! On the other hand it was not seen with shield ..because it was only an identifier of rank though on occasions perhaps it was unleashed in anger as a punisher..It too failed to make it into the history books as a battle sword... in fact that was not its intention; "Badge of Office" was.

It is also worth remembering that the straight Sayf and curved Kattara swords appeared inside the parameters of the gunpowder timeframe and that swords were on their way out as fighting weapons vice long barrels and cannon. The demise of the spear also happened early on in the gunpowder revolution.

My theory stands based on the above and on the Funoon and the fact that the Omani Battle Sword and Terrs were the original battlefield duo and never changed in a thousand years. The sword even becoming Iconised and by the designer Sheherazad; a wife of Saiid Sultan 1804 to 1856. (Probably about 1850)

The timeframe I seek to prove the appearance of the Sayf (and probably the Kattara) is within that rulers scope or a little before perhaps at the beginning of the Dynasty in 1744..That is where I am looking.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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