Join Date: Dec 2004
Thanks, Marc, for the additional images and info.
I was recently in Israel, examining some interesting things in private collections and noted some outstanding examples of Moroccan sabers (nimcha) and Zanzibar sabers (sayf) with hilt elements bearing remarkable similarity to the multiple, forward-curving quillons on the Spanish swords you illustrated.
Both Morocco and Zanzibar hilts have primary and secondary stems on the guards which bend forward. In the case of these sabers, the guards are of course asymmetrical because a knucklebow is on one side. Another modification is that the twin stems on the dorsal side both curve alike, without the "inner" one circling back to the blade as with the Iberian form (French writers on the subject maintain that they were designed this way as "blade catchers"). You might want to refer to Alain Jacob's LES ARMES-BLANCHES DU MONDE ISLAMIQUE, Paris, J. Grancher 1985) for a number of illustrated examples.
The Zanzibar hilts are even more interesting: there is a pas d'ane joining the quillons on one side of the hilt.
Considering Morocco's proximity to the Iberian Peninsula (and its site of the famous battle of Al Qasr el-Kebir between Moors and Portuguese in 1584), and the early Portuguese presence on the coast of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, there seems no doubt as to the origin of the guard designs on both the nimchas and Zanzibar sayfs.