Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
In my opinion this is a pre Omdurman but post Mahdi item, and these kaskara were likely presented to tribal chieftains of conscripted groups from regions outside Sudan. This is suggested by the more elaborate thuluth and other motif etched on the blade. These were largely intended as symbols of rank and status and not intended as weapons.
Despite the claims that so much 'souvenier' stuff was produced after Omdurman for occupying forces, and often noting these crocodile covered scabbards etc. ...swords with this attention were not among them. We know that many thuluth etched weapons and crocodile hide elements were found on battlefields in these campaigns.
The smaller size it seems was for the convenience of wear as these were often worn in mounts over the shoulder and under the arm. Mounted chiefs often had larger kaskara attached to the saddle and under their leg, much as the traditional 'tuck' in earlier European times, and as British cavalry often had their swords in the latter 19th c.