Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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.
Lets leave the combat/non combat question at the door for a bit.
Its not really key to what I'm getting at.
I'm afraid I really fail to see this as much of a progression from the older Omani sword style. Flat, wider, shorter blades to longer, narrower fullered blades? Not much of a connection to my eyes...
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.
See above - the Omani battle sword doesn't have many similarities. The Yemeni long hilts - lots of trade blades to be found in those...
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.
If your point of view is that the straight sayf is directly related to the Omani battle sword - this makes no sense. The battle sword, at least all I've seen, don't have stamps. Why start on the dancing swords? It frankly makes no difference if the stamps are done locally or abroad - they are applied because they imply something. Quality usually, quality to be found in imported blades. Again, this is not a question of what is done now, it is a question of origins.
Your explanation provides no reasoning as to why stamps would start appearing on dance swords when they weren't on battle swords.
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.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
Unfortunately I have the exact same problems still as before. Moving from a flat, broad and unfullered blade to a long, more narrow fullered blade that happens to match up in profile with widely available European exports and have the application of blade stamps which weren't used on the older form (whether local or European in application makes no difference) plus the simultaneous uptake of European curved blades into the same hilt style... Quite a lot of coincidences to just discount I'd say...
What drove the uptake of European trade blades in most regions of the world can be broken down into a few basic areas.
They were widely available, they were of excellent quality steel and the cost was proportional to the first two attributes. Symbolism and status are a natural follow on from the first attributes.
For me, there are still some broad gaps in the theory you've presented and I'll try to distill them once more in bullet form, really I think there are two points to focus on.
- The "coincidence" of triple fuller dance swords appearing at just about the time European trade blades of the same pattern are widely available
- The use of stamps in Oman, even if locally copied. These ONLY can be attributed to an experience of European blades lending attributes to the marks - such as an indication of quality. Otherwise there is no reason for them to be copied and applied.
I'll just try to make myself absolutely clear, this has nothing to do with dancing, pageantry, combat or non combat. It's simply a question of where the blade form came from - no matter what the modern iterations are.