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Old 24th July 2008, 03:36 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Jineta/nimcha/kattara

I posted this question some time ago as a "relply" in one of the discussions, but it was buried deep and nobody bothered to answer...
Perhaps, this question was just stupid.
But I hope it was a proverbial "sleeper" and would like to try one more time:

There are several examples of swords with " drooping quillons" : Spanish-Moresque Jineta, North African and Zanzibari Nimcha and Omani Kattara ( the older variant). They look like sharing this feature.

Do these swords carry a " birthmark" of the early , pra-Islamic model? Or, were the "droopers" peculiar to local Berber traditions and later just spread both East and West? Or...
You got my drift.
Jim? Ward? Any volunteers?
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Old 25th July 2008, 12:23 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Ariel, any question put forward by you would never be considered stupid! quite the contrary! I know very well how disappointing it is when a post goes unanswered, so without doing my usual marathon of research I will just place tentative comments pending further detail.
The style of quillons drooping downward have of course brought forth the pragmatic idea that these were intended to catch and stop the opponents blade in sword to sword combat, and that hilts with more developed quillon systems followed.
In the middle ages, the term 'quillon' did not exist, and the broadsword was mounted with simple horizontal bar known as the crossguard. During the crusades this was known as the 'cross', and of course the imagery of these times noted the sword as in the image of the Holy Cross.
It would be tempting to suggest that the Islamic swords had thier guards fashioned dropping downward to move away from that representation, however unlikely the idea, it seemed worthy of note. Having brought in that suggestion, it should be noted that the drooping quillon was also quite well known in Europe and the multiple downward quillons arrangement is seen on the 'crab claw' hilts as well as simple downward quillons seen on French and Italian medieval broadswords as well.

The Hispano-Moresque jineta was likely a product of influences with Italy and France, and it seems more probable that that influence was most probably induced to the jineta much in the way that the stortas and hilts of Italy influenced development of the 'nimcha' hilt in the Maghreb.

The downward projection on the earlier form of kattara in Oman would seem to have also reflected the effect of the hilts seen on the early swords of Islam of which I believe many were remounted with these form hilts.

The Zanzibari nimchas seem to have also borne the influence of Italian swords, particularly with the ring on the crossguard.

While many scholars will take the pragmatic approach, and suggest this characteristic of these hilts as a combat improvement, some will take the romanticized concept related to the cross into serious consideration. From an artists or historians view, perhaps the style of turning down the quillon was simply a variant design to be aesthetically pleasing.

Whatever the case may be for the reason of the downward quillon, its diffusion seems most likely like that of most weapons, following trade and warfare.

I hope this perspective offering my own opinions may bring forth others, and as always I welcome other views.
It was a good question, so lets hear em !

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 26th July 2008, 06:00 AM   #3
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Maybe I misinterpreted the question?
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Old 26th July 2008, 08:43 AM   #4
Gonzalo G
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Jim, what makes you think that the jineta and it´s derivations are originated in their style from Europe? Do you have time tables and examples? As far as I know, the jineta was introduced from Africa to muslim Spain (Al-Andalús) by the Zenetes, a word which became in the spansih word "jinetes". I understand this sword was already in use from the 13th Century. Are there some causal nexus based on some evidences? This is an interesting subject.
My best regards

Gonzalo
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Old 26th July 2008, 04:41 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Thank you Gonzalo, you are right that is the accepted theory. I meant to suggest that there was distinct similarity in the weapons of Islamic Spain and Europe just as there were apparant cross influences between North Africa and Europe, particularly Italy which predominated trade in many Meditteranean routes as well as others. As I noted, I have worked on focused research regarding these developments for some time.

I hope that my comments regarding the drooping quillons on medieval Islamic broadswords being intended to deviate from the cross representation on the European broadsword will not be perceived as 'theory'

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.

Ariel, you asked a question, do you have thoughts?
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Old 27th July 2008, 02:42 AM   #6
Gonzalo G
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Quote:
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 don´t have any proof of this diffusion into the rest of Europe. I don´t 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:

http://xenophongroup.com/EMW/article001.htm

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:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-77096829.html

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 don´t 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

Gonzalo

Last edited by Gonzalo G : 27th July 2008 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 1st August 2008, 01:59 PM   #7
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Here we have to ponder how much of the original Arab/Persian influence survived in the Nasrid society and art, and how much of the Bereber culture, which in turn was already quite influenced by the oriental traditions due to its own process of Islamization, was integrated into the Andalusian life. Although the presence of the Bereber culture can't be denied (together with others, like the Christian one), as far as a I know, the Art Historians seem to acknowledge a good survival of Oriental traits in the Nasrid art and culture, as can be seen in textiles, writings, iconography, etc. I won't deny that this is an area that needs a much deeper knowledge than the one I have of such details of the Al-Andalus history and culture to be able to put up a solid discussion, but fact is that there's some archaeological and iconographical evidence from 9th to 15th c. in the Andalusian context for swords that share typological characteristics with the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arab swords. Not as many as one would like, sure, but so far, I think, quite enough to have the Arab influence as a good working hypothesis which I, at least, feel quite comfortable with.

Now, regarding the Qattara, I would like to see if there’s any more or less continuous archaeological/iconographical record of that typology in southern Arabia from early Islamic times to the 17th-18th c., from when exemplars of the Qattara we’re familiar with have arrived to us. Then we would have our answer.

Finally, regarding GALDIUS, as I mentioned in my post one can find online just the issues from 1999 (number XIX) onwards. Number XVIII was never published, and the earlier issues are not online right now. In a fairly recent conversation with one of the Editors of the journal this subject came up, and although the wish to put them online at some point was there, there was some lack of resources to do it anytime soon.
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