Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
That is an absolutely fantastic sabre!!! I agree that the hollow ground blade is most likely from a French cavalry sabre of probably mid 19th c. If I am not mistaken the cross section is known as 'Montmorency' form, popular on military sabres in the early 19th c. and named for the French officer who developed it. It also seems most of these were Klingenthal blades and usually marked on the back toward the blade root, it seems the hilt is covering that part of the blade on yours.
The Mandinga are a tribal group that are from regions of the Upper Niger that inhabit the western Sudan. The Fulani call them generally 'Malinke' which is actually one of the larger distinguishable groups and typically are found in the upper valleys of the Niger. I recall talking with a Fulani who was from Guinea and showing him a photo of one of these sabres. He immediately recognized it and indicated the term they called these by was 'kota' (probably loosely meaning sword of course) and noted the scabbard was called 'holga' (meaning loosely 'house').