Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
While there are many similarities and suggestions of influence reflected in a number of sword forms between varying cultural spheres, it is difficult to determine exactly which direction the influence moved in many cases. What I meant to say it that it seemed unlikely that Islamic design preferences would influence European hilt forms such as in this case of drooping quillons.
It does seem however that European designs did influence many sword hilt forms in the Islamic sphere such as the Moroccan 'nimcha' from the Italian stortas and others; the 'Zanzibar' type s'boula from baselards of undetermined origin but certainly European; and the koummya, whose pommel closely resembles and has been suggested to have developed from the Italian cinqueda.
But on the contrary, it is an accepted fact that the jineta sword influenced in the first place the spanish swords, to the degree it was copied in Toledo by the christians (in that time Toledo was on spanish hands), and latter this type of hilt probably spread to other countries, but I donīt have any proof of this diffusion into the rest of Europe. I donīt have the impression that the zenetes had much contact with europeans. In fact, the jineta tactics to make war using the cavalry in a special form, for which even the stirrups of the saddle were modified, were latter copied by castillians to the point it was known by europeans as the "castillian way" to make war. Please see this reference:
As you know, the main weapon used by the zenetes was a lance which can be also throwed. Jineta, or Gineta, was a whole complex of tactics, weapons, horse harnesses, all interrelated as a whole, so you can find a treatise of this development in the "Tractado de la Cauallería de la Gineta" a military cavalty treatise written in antique castillian languaje by Hernan Chacon, a knight of the Order of Calatrava, now traslated to english:
On the other hand, I have seen many interpretations about the supposed influences from Europe to the rest of the world which do not have a base in actual evidences of a causal nexus, but only on similarities, more or less superficial, on the morphology of the weapon. This a very known practice of ethnocentrism which must be revised in order to have a more objetive vision of the history of the swords. The first example I recall, is the supposed influence of the macedonic machaira on the hindu sousson pata and the khukri, although there is older evidences of this kind of blades in the south of actual India, far from the area of contact with the greeks.
You must take on account that the islamic hilts (and blades) do influenced deeply the european swords, as in the case of the hussar swords from Poland and Hungary, form turkish influence, which latter went as far as Spain with their "sables a la turca" (sabers turkish style). This influence was also reinforced by the mamluke influences which came latter, in the beginning of the 19th Century, and which reached even England. I have seen many european blades on middle east and oriental swords, but always they were remounted in new hilts in the taste of the new owners, and the old hilts were discarded.
Speaking of resemblances, I donīt think the downward curved quillons is enough proof of any influence in either side. But the jineta sword, and specially the hilt, has a special morphology considered as a whole, from which I cannot find ancestry on european swords before the 13th Century. Apart from resembances, we need to establish the physical routes of influence, the commercial or warfare netwoks, the ancestor models and their evolution, and so on. From my sources (Ibn Jaldun history of the berbers), the zenetes were a relatively isolated tribe from Europe influences in that time, making war to other berber tribes and to the fatimides, and it was not until they had an ephimeral hegemony in North Africa, that they went to Spain, first as military contingent, and latter as conquerors of Al-Andalús. Between zenetes, in the west of North Africa, and the europeans, in the Middle East, there were the fatimids, and no commercial post on the coast linked them directly with Europe until latter, when the jineta swords already was an adopted weapon.
However, maybe I do not have enough information on this subject, but if you do, please help me to correct my mistake. I think I have many black spots in my knowlege of the berber and moorish history, and I would appreciate any solid reference you can give me on this point.
My best regards