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Old 30th September 2016, 11:48 AM   #19
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
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Originally Posted by ariel
Ibrahiim is asking an interesting question. Indeed, neither the Mediterranean version, nor its Omani twin can be legitimately called " half sword", "little swords" or anything like that: they are full size sabers. And to the best of my knowledge both of them are locally called just Saif.

However, in both localities there existed short boarding weapons that could have legitimately been defined as such. Could it be that the Europeans mistakenly used the specific word Nimcha as a name for the vague and general "Saif" ?

Salaams Ariel... You are correct in several of your pointers to the peculiar name Nimcha apparently applied to the sword of Morocco and its sister from Zanzibar. The name used by locals in both regions is Sayf/Saif/Seyf. There are many questions or possibilities as to how the term Nimcha entered the equation not least that an enterprising sword collector "expert" gave the name and it stuck! because it "looked" the same.
Please see where it can be seen that apart from a similar hand grip the entire sword arrangement in both cases is chalk and cheese!
Regarding the Name Nimcha it is worth listing the possible reasons all of which hold water...for the Name; Nimcha;

1. Nim means half in Persian and Baluch. The conotation attached to the sword could mean half sword as applied also to half convert...meaning those half converts to Islam working amongst the Baluch on the Zanj in other words "the sword of the half converts".

2. The word Nimcha may mean blink of an eye to Moroccan people. ( This may be regional/ colloquial since they say blink of your eye in Morocco like this ghamad ainak. ) See note * below.

3a. We know that military dress in the sub continent remained almost ancient until recently thus tie ups between apparel and weapons is common(and must be of antiquity) as per Oliver Pinchots revelation about Salawar and the pantaloon style of dress known in those regions and the dagger/sword. The sword being also wide at the throat and narrow at the the pants!

3b. In this case in referring to Nimcha, it is the waistcoat of Persian, Baluch and central Asian form for men... Uzbekistan has the word Nimcha meaning waistcoat...Half Jacket. The waistcoat worn by Baluchi Mercenaries may be a reference to those worn on the Zanj ~ Mercenaries of the Omani Sultans of Saaid bin Sultan before and after his death in 1856. In this case Nimcha being the sword worn by the Half Jackets...Nimcha.

4. The great explorers technically at least, may have transmitted the word from Zanzibar/Zanj to Central Africa since they accompanied Tipu Tib the great slave captain and explorers Burton and Speke thus linking into trans Saharan trade routes (Ivory/ Slaves/ Rhino) was likely.

5. Last but not least the whats in a word phenomemna is entirely plausible though I admire the potential in the clothing link after all; naming parts or weapons after clothes also occurred with the hilt of the great Moroccan dagger One of the Khoumiya which took its name from A French Policemans Hat!! and there are many more.

*Note the arabic verb for blink is Ghamz غمز
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