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Old 4th September 2017, 01:44 PM   #1
CNK1
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Default A nice kaskara

Hello everyone,

I've recently acquired some addition to my collection and the first piece I'll present is a nice kaskara sword from Sudan.

It would date from the mahdist war or maybe a little bit before.

I hope you will like this little new addition just for waiting the rest of the presentation

Friendly,
Clement
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Last edited by CNK1 : 5th September 2017 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 5th September 2017, 04:59 AM   #2
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The blade appears to have 5 fullers, which is an interesting and uncommon feature. I also like the thick silver inlay. Per previous discussion in this forum, the crossguard is of a style attributed to Darfur. I wonder however about the hilt and whether it is a more modern replacement.

Regards,
Teodor
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Old 5th September 2017, 07:00 AM   #3
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It is difficult to judge from the photos, butvthis appears to be a locally made blade.
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Old 5th September 2017, 07:28 AM   #4
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Better photos would help, but the blade could be European with the later addition of the half moon marks in Sudan (notice how the one mark overlaps the fuller). However, it could also be local. Always hard to tell without better photos or the blade in hand.

The crossguard is of high quality and the blade decoration is an interesting departure for the more commonly observed thuluth acid etching, again better photos would help in this case.

Unfortunately I also suspect the hilt is a more modern addition.

An interesting piece, but I have some doubts the entire piece is homogeneous to the Mahdist period.
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Old 5th September 2017, 08:36 AM   #5
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Hello,

thank's for your comm !

I will promptly post new pictures of this kaskara, don't have the time and good conditions to take nice pictures....

For the hilt, it look like really homogeneous with the rest of the blade so it could be a later addition but I think really old ?

Best regards,
Clement
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Old 5th September 2017, 03:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain

Unfortunately I also suspect the hilt is a more modern addition.

An interesting piece, but I have some doubts the entire piece is homogeneous to the Mahdist period.



You have some Egyptian woodworks in Suakin exactly like the hilt.
To me it's all good, Sudanese hilt and European blade.
Very original and unique piece!!

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Old 5th September 2017, 03:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
You have some Egyptian woodworks in Suakin exactly like the hilt.
To me it's all good, Sudanese hilt and European blade.
Very original and unique piece!!



Have any images? I'm always happy to be wrong and certainly unusual ≠ 'fake' necessarily. But I'm a natural skeptic. certainly the hilt is not 'new' but i think the blade and cross guard pre date it.

I quite like the blade and it looks to display well. Certainly worth more research. Bits on the hilt look to be shell?
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Old 5th September 2017, 06:17 PM   #8
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Here is something similar from the internet...
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Old 5th September 2017, 06:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Here is something similar from the internet...


Perfect, I knew I'd seen that style of work before but wasn't coming up with anything in my notes.

I'd be curious if there are any firmly dated examples or bring backs exhibiting this type of work that can be used to establish a baseline.

A check on the British Museum and Pitts River Museum collections didn't turn up anything.
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Old 5th September 2017, 08:13 PM   #10
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Can anyone translate the Arabic script on the inlays? I can make out a couple of letters, but am not literate.

Regards,
Ed
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Old 5th September 2017, 08:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Can anyone translate the Arabic script on the inlays? I can make out a couple of letters, but am not literate.

Regards,
Ed


Friend of mine had a look and said it was a typical Koranic verse, "Victory from God"
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Old 6th September 2017, 04:57 PM   #12
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Thank's for your picts Collin ! Kubur was right

Thank's Iain for the translation !

Best regards,
Clement
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Old 7th September 2017, 08:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
I'd be curious if there are any firmly dated examples or bring backs exhibiting this type of work that can be used to establish a baseline.


Iain touches on an important point here. There are many examples of ornate, non-practical Sudanese weapons around, usually described as "Mahdist". Typically these items could be made of sheet metal, with copious inlay/decoration, crocodile skin etc., giving an exotic look. I've often had a suspicion that many at least were made/assembled after the Mahdist period for sale to Europeans... However, I have never seen solid evidence either way.

It should be borne in mind that after the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest of the Sudan in 1898/99 enormous numbers of captured weapons existed, either from the various battles, disarmament or seizure of armouries in Omdurman.

I suppose the Blair Castle, Perthshire collection would be a good indicator, as the material was brought back at the time by Lord Tullibardine who fought in the Battle of Omdurman. Photography was not permitted when I visited some years ago, but I now see a few images have appeared on the internet...

Can anyone add to this subject ?
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Old 7th September 2017, 09:28 AM   #14
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Just a section of an interesting painting showing a kaskara in use against the 11. Hussars
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Old 7th September 2017, 09:32 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Iain touches on an important point here. There are many examples of ornate, non-practical Sudanese weapons around, usually described as "Mahdist". Typically these items could be made of sheet metal, with copious inlay/decoration, crocodile skin etc., giving an exotic look. I've often had a suspicion that many at least were made/assembled after the Mahdist period for sale to Europeans... However, I have never seen solid evidence either way.

It should be borne in mind that after the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest of the Sudan in 1898/99 enormous numbers of captured weapons existed, either from the various battles, disarmament or seizure of armouries in Omdurman.

I suppose the Blair Castle, Perthshire collection would be a good indicator, as the material was brought back at the time by Lord Tullibardine who fought in the Battle of Omdurman. Photography was not permitted when I visited some years ago, but I now see a few images have appeared on the internet...

Can anyone add to this subject ?


Hi Colin, yes that's exactly what I'm getting at. Accounts like the following from 1932 in Khartum (The Mahdi of Allah: A Drama of the Sudan) make it seem like weapons done up to appeal to tourists were common.

Finally, as I do not understand any language at all, the Parsee winks at me mysteriously and produces a bundle - one that can speak for itself! In this bundle there are weapons - spears, barbaric clubs and shields, daggers that instead of sheaths are stuck into small dead crocodiles, so that the hilt protrudes from the jaws; and, above all, swords of an unmistakable form. The leather sheaths end in curious rhomboid-shaped points; the hilts in the form of a cross are studded with silver; the blade, when you draw it, is straight and broad, not a Saracen scimitar, but more like a Crusader's sword.

These weapons, too, might be faked. And, indeed, they are. Weapons like these are being offered to tourists in the mysteriously beautiful bazaar lanes of Assuan as Dervish trophies from the Sudanese battlefields.

The Indian curio dealer is standing in front of me on the lawn with a great naked sword in his hand; the gold embroidery on his little cap is sparkling in the sun and he is shouting at me words which - no matter in what strange language of the Sahibs I may happen to think - here in the Sudan I am bound to understand:
"Dervish, Sahib! El Mahdi, Sahib!"
"The sword, la espada, Sahi, Mynheer, of the Mahdi!"

Blair Castle has a great collection, but it is all quite workmanlike and there are no croc or fancy weapons on display.

Most of the Thuluth and croc pieces I've seen in museum collections like Pitts river have ascension dates from the 1920s or later. Although some thuluth peices are of course certainly Mahdist period and reached museum collections at the end of the 19th and very early 20th century like the piece linked below.

http://objects.prm.ox.ac.uk/pages/PRMUID47776.html
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Old 7th September 2017, 10:31 AM   #16
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Reminds me of Elgood's story in his book about Jaipur collection. At the end of 19th century British tourists started looking for Indian "souvenirs" and it stimulated production of "old" Indian weapons. The law of supply and demand raised its ugly head again:-)

In that book he fired several shots across the bow and promised a full cannonade in the Jodhpur one.

My antennae are twitching madly:-)
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Old 8th September 2017, 08:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Colin, yes that's exactly what I'm getting at. Accounts like the following from 1932 in Khartum (The Mahdi of Allah: A Drama of the Sudan) make it seem like weapons done up to appeal to tourists were common.

Finally, as I do not understand any language at all, the Parsee winks at me mysteriously and produces a bundle - one that can speak for itself! In this bundle there are weapons - spears, barbaric clubs and shields, daggers that instead of sheaths are stuck into small dead crocodiles, so that the hilt protrudes from the jaws; and, above all, swords of an unmistakable form. The leather sheaths end in curious rhomboid-shaped points; the hilts in the form of a cross are studded with silver; the blade, when you draw it, is straight and broad, not a Saracen scimitar, but more like a Crusader's sword.

These weapons, too, might be faked. And, indeed, they are. Weapons like these are being offered to tourists in the mysteriously beautiful bazaar lanes of Assuan as Dervish trophies from the Sudanese battlefields.

The Indian curio dealer is standing in front of me on the lawn with a great naked sword in his hand; the gold embroidery on his little cap is sparkling in the sun and he is shouting at me words which - no matter in what strange language of the Sahibs I may happen to think - here in the Sudan I am bound to understand:
"Dervish, Sahib! El Mahdi, Sahib!"
"The sword, la espada, Sahi, Mynheer, of the Mahdi!"

Blair Castle has a great collection, but it is all quite workmanlike and there are no croc or fancy weapons on display.

Most of the Thuluth and croc pieces I've seen in museum collections like Pitts river have ascension dates from the 1920s or later. Although some thuluth peices are of course certainly Mahdist period and reached museum collections at the end of the 19th and very early 20th century like the piece linked below.

http://objects.prm.ox.ac.uk/pages/PRMUID47776.html


A good and informative post by Iain, which advances the subject quite a bit. Nice to see firm references.

Also illustrates the importance of provenance with regard to artworks/antiquities.
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