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Old 29th May 2020, 03:54 AM   #15
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Originally Posted by Yvain
This as evolved into a very interesting conversation thanks to you all ! I thought that modern takouba where almost always of "modern" style, and had never seen before an attempt at emulating an older style.

It seems to me that modern (post-WW2) tuareg takouba are very distinct from the older ones, so is the imitation of an older style specifically an Hausa practice or is there also fairly recent tuareg takouba made in the older style ?

Also, I understand that the pommel and blade on the one I posted are older, but do you think that the new fittings and scabbard were created to be used in situ, or to sell it to visitors ?

Sorry for all the questions, but I really like this type of swords and would love to learn as much as possible about them !

Regarding the blade, it seems like the absence of dukari marks does happen from time to time on wide Hausa blades (for example :, if I had to hazard a guess, maybe it could be because those blades didn't "pretend" to be of european origin ? (I think I remember reading that the half moon mark was originally stamped on blades by European makers, and was later copied by local smiths to suggest the same quality for their production, but I'm not sure ...)

Finally, while I'm still somewhat sad I didn't get this sword (I still really love the general look of it), I'm glad I didn't overspent on it, thanks for making me feel better about it

Dont feel too bad, there are a good number of takouba available occasionally and for reasonable prices, as well as often being of varying age and quality.

As you have found, one of the very best resources on takouba, in my opinion, is the "Takouba Research Society" site, headed by Iain Norman.
I would add here what I know of takouba (as I recall from previous study).

The Hausa, while a tribal group, are most well known for thier fashioning of Saharan blades used in takouba and the mounts of takouba are not necessarily confined to a single tribal fashion. Typically thier blades are marked with the dual pairs of crescent moons, known as 'dukari'. It is unclear as far as I know exactly when the native use of these marks began, and while tempting to attribute thier application as in imitation of these double moons on European blades traded into the Saharan sphere, it is not certain that is the case. It may simply be a doubling of the single crescent moon more commonly seen in European blade cosmological motif.
While double moons are occasionally seen on some European blades, it does not seem to me that there were enough of them to present the influence suggested to cause the nearly invariable use of 'dukari' on Saharan blades.
Briggs (1965) suggested that no European blade he was aware of had these dual moons, and his study of European blades in Tuareg swords has stood as a valuable resource since.

As with most situations, it is of course possible some blades may not have 'dukari' and we know that many early examples were stamped, while others were engraved, often in notable deviation in quality.

The very wide blades referred to as far as I recall, were not Hausa, but usually from other groups further west such as Mossi and others in Mali and other regions where the blade size seems significant with regard to status or station. Some of these reach proportions that would preclude any combat potential. Actually the takouba itself is more a traditional item of dress than actual weapon in modern times of course.

While the presumption that markings on these blades are intended to represent quality, actually it is more related to the folk religion and superstitions/traditions of these tribes, and has to do more with 'magic' imbuement in the blade.
Although European blades were desirable, it was more that they were 'available' and certain markings more aligned with symbolism in place with these beliefs.
Markings seen as one thing in a makers mark, were seen as something altogether different by natives, for example, a cross and orb on German blade was seen as a drum and sticks (a signal of rank tribally).

Naturally these swords are remounted regularly through generations.
Even the more modern examples stand as examples of the ethnographic cultural icons of these tribes. So it is with the collecting and study of these kinds of arms.
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