Originally Posted by Iain
The short thuluth inscribed blades commonly seen with brass guards belong in the tourist category I believe. They are exceptionally uniform. So, I don't think the items are always that simple, but usually not that well made.
I have no doubt the blade seen here is of some quality, five fuller blades are unusual and I find it an attractive piece.
Regarding the crossguard plenty of of this type with the central 'X' are in clearly dated bring back collections like Blair Castle, they don't belong exclusively to the 20th century Ali Dinar groupings.
I agree with Colin, as always your entries are remarkably observed and well detailed with references, very much appreciated! These are most valuable in learning more on these weapons.
It is really hard to determine more on the thuluth covered arms, as it is tempting to classify them as souveniers. However, it seems that there is compelling consideration toward these weapons being produced during the time of the Caliph just after the Mahdi's death in 1885. In arming his growing forces, many comprising slave elements and others he used this profound device in carrying forth the religious fervor of the Mahdi even though he had passed. It seems that the workshops in Omdurman were essential in assemblage of weaponry, though I have seen references suggesting weapons (the trowel type) were made in Khartoum (where the armory and some shops remained intact).
While we know these thuluth covered arms were produced for the continuation of the Mahdiyya, it is hard to say how many might have been produced during the post Omdurman Condominium as I am not aware of any documented evidence addressing that.
It seems reasonable that the 'X' on the cross center on hilts probably were produced during the Mahddiyya, but seem certainly more unusual in examples I have seen. It is in Reed (1985) where these predominate on the swords he describes from Darfur, and as the forms which apparently became popularized during Ali Dinar's time in early years pre WWI. These had these X guards and often embossed harlequin/lozenge decorated silver hilts.