EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
This is a most interestingly remounted kaskara, and I agree with the idea that it appears to have been refurbished with this unusual hilt. Like the images shown of these other items using this inlay, I am thinking it may be mother of pearl, much as seen in northern India, Afghanistan in the guns produced there using these designs in the stocks.
It seems that the blade with five channels, and the familiar 'dukari' moons was a relatively unusually present example of the common three channel, dukari marked type blades. If not mistaken, I believe Ed Hunley in his work on Sudanese makers (archived here) noted these 5 channel blades termed 'Suleiman', and I gathered they seemed preferred by figures of status. These were native produced and termed collectively as 'masri' (I believe Rodd, 1928).
This would seem well placed as these types of inscriptions were key in swords given to tribal chiefs during the years of the Mahdiyya after the death of the Mahdi (1885-1898).
Though it is well established that there was a hugely subsidized market in these regions in the occupation after Omdurman (1898) for souveniers, the examples were I believe of simpler character, and not with this level of detail as inscriptions etc.
I am more inclined to think of this example as a heirloom blade (in much of Darfur and Sudan the kaskara is still held traditionally by families) which was remounted with this fancy hilt and using a later crossguard (these are of 'Ali Dinar' period up to and during WWI). According to Reed (1985) these with 'X' at center are Darfur oriented, but they also were made later in Kasalla.
The blade itself I think was indeed of Mahdiyya vintage, and for a tribal chief or individual of some stature in the Mahdist ranks. Nice piece!