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Old 27th July 2017, 11:29 PM   #39
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
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Salaams Gonzalo ! What a brilliant sequence of posts. It may take me some time to fully arrange in my mind the references but some I know and the others I will find. I find all what you write most compelling. There is surely a mirroring of Umayyid (or at least early Islamic battle sword themes) reflected in these weapons although the date span is somewhat later since the 13th C was when they appeared with the Berber tribes and the conquest of the Iberian peninsular.

Looping the index finger is interesting as it gives more control and pushes up the power in the favoured down strike of this cutting weapon and must also have added to power in thrusting.

I have little to add at this point~ though checking back I note one of the write ups I placed would look better in full thus I set out below the complete description from
somewhat tidied up, viz;


Jineta (or Gineta) swords are the most direct, fair and rich inheritance of the hispano-arab panoply. The name origin comes from the Cronicles of Alphonso X which tells us about a berber tribe of the Benimerines also known as Zenetes who moved into the Iberic penninsula during the XIII century to fight at the service of Mohammed I of Granada, and brought with them this type of weapon, with a shorter and lighter blade but still as wide and with as great a quality of steel as swords used by Christian forces of the time.

Due to their quality and scarcity (nowadays hardly a dozen of these swords survive) the Jinetas are universally considered and admired. Besides a few now within private collections and worldwide museums, in Spain only three museums are fortunate enough to treasure some examples; the San Telmo Municipal Museum (Picture 9) in San Sebastian, Basque Country, The Army Museum (Museo del Ejercito)(Picture 10); and the National Archeological Museum (Museo Arqueologico Nacional)(Picture11) in Madrid.

Jineta swords are characteristic weapons of the Nazari period in Granada with no known north-African or middle eastern precendents which confers the a somewhat unclear origin. The are characterized by a double edge straight, light-weight and not so wide and medium length blade. Their most significant feature and what makes them stand upon their individuality are their hilts; in general magnificently decorated which has brought the arguable statement that most of the presently preserved Jinetas could have been designed as parade, dress or ceremonial swords.

In general the Jineta hilt consists of a extremely curved guard, in the horse shoe shape with the quillons pointed towards the blade, embracing the ricasso and decorated in the shape of animal heads or with filigree. the handle takes in general fusiform and the pommel is usually spherical or discoidal with a long, prominent and pointy top button. The scabbards are made of wood covered in leather with metallic fittings and usually showing two hanging rings to clip to a baldric or belt hangers. Pictorial depictions in paintings from Alhambra show the sword carried on baldrics over the shoulder in most cases. Both the scabbard neck fittings and the hilts usually match their decorations and motifs which, with the sword sheathed exhibit a design continuation and in some way masks the union between both pieces.

The materials used in decorating hilts and scabbards are plentiful in golden bronze, silver, gold filigrees, incrustations, gem stones, enamels, etc, which make these pieces astonishing and lavish sets of design and decoration. Many have gold, silver and enameled engravings, inlays and incrustations with verses of the Quran and praises to Allah and Mohammed.

Those who possessed these highly decorated Jinetas belonged to a high social status and was considered a symbol only achievable by high ranking officials, sultans and Arab Emirs. Christians were only allowed to carry Jinetas if received as a gift of some Emir or Muslim king or another very important person. But then in the XV century, while Granada was still in under Muslim rule, Jinetas began to appear among Christian soldiers either obtained as military trophies or acquired in Toledo where smiths began to copy the Muslim model of these swords after the battle of Elvira in 1431.

It is probable that the ones used for battle were not as decorated as the ones we are still able to appreciate in museums and private collections, however it is uncertain as none of the undecorated examples have survived up to our times.

As stated, quite few examples of Jineta swords have survived the scourge of time. One is kept in the National Library in Paris, obtained by french Napoleonic forces in Granada at the beginning of XIX century. One more is held at the Municipal Museum of the city of Kassel in Germany. One other is exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum. The majority of the surviving Jinetas are however kept in Spain and constitute some of their most priced treasures."Unquote.

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