Thread: Yemeni sword
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Old 3rd April 2017, 08:14 PM   #24
Jim McDougall
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Motan, your observations and comments are well placed, and indeed have spurred the course of discussion here in valuable directions. That is exactly the point and purpose here, unlike debate, it is not about who is right or wrong. What is important is together determining the most viable and plausible solutions to questions concerning the items we examine.

I thank you for your kind words, but I must note that whatever knowledge I have gained on these topics have been through these same kinds if discussions , mostly on these very pages. The research I do personally is to add what I can to these discussions along with the amazing experience and knowledge of others here far better versed in these field than myself. The end result is the advancement of the corpus of data on many fields of study on arms to the benefit of all of us.

With that I note that your questions in your last entry are very well placed accordingly, and I would say that the swords of Arabia, just as many ethnographically oriented arms fields, are tremendously under researched.

Just as Robert Elgood wrote in his most important reference on Arabian arms and armour (1994), many of the arms of Arabia are indeed somewhat swathed in mystery. As Ibrahiim (who is situated in Oman) tells us, much of the general history and such details as weaponry etc. is based primarily on oral history rather than written accounts and records. Regions such as Oman were virtually restricted to the west until around 1970. Arabia has always been restricted to outsiders other than trade circumstances mostly with Muscat. Aden and regions in the west somewhat opened with the fall of Ottoman control.
With the paucity of information and references on Arabian arms in general, it is not surprising so little is soundly known on them. That is what we have been doing here (and these have been discussed here for at least 18 years I can account for) and why we are trying to find every remote reference and bit of field information we can find to bring to our discussions.

Regarding the Mamluks, it must be remembered that they were a kind of entity unto themselves, and their styles and material culture typically distinct from most other Islamic forms in decoration and motif. Also, they were notoriously conservative in their weaponry, maintaining virtually ancient forms far longer than in other spheres. It was Mamluk influence that was a key force with the kaskara broadswords, particularly those which were heavily etched in thuluth script, a notable Mamluk style.
Although many Islamic forms of arms and armour are considered 'revival' types, especially many in the scope of Persian influence, the Mamluk arms and armor are actually in their continuum.

With the variation of decoration on arms, there are numerous factors which may be at hand, such as of course regional circumstances, as well as changes in regime or other geopolitical situations. Often trade situations effect styles and fashion as influence from one area or cultural import is ceased or overtaken by another. There are also many ethnic factors such as increased influx of populous from other areas and so on.

These are some of the reasons it is so important to consider the history of periods of time in regions which the weapon in question may be from, as these factors may explain variation in the character of the weapon itself from others of similar form.

Actually we seldom reach conclusive resolution on these topics here, but continue discussion on them over years, always advancing our collective knowledge on them. We really never stop learning, most importantly here, we do it together.

A little axiom we have long had here, ' always more research to be done!'.

All very best regards
Jim
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