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Old 24th March 2012, 06:02 PM   #1
Mauro
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Default Takouba w XVII century European blade

I would like to have your impression on a Takouba that I recently bouth. The sword has seen better times but to my eyes still remain an interesting piece. It has a straight high quality steel blade that in my opinion is a European XVII century blade. In fact one side of the forte is engraved with the latin letters "V.Danv". Between the V and D there is some kind of sign that I would interpret as a dot, but I am not sure. I don't know if this is the name of the owner or the maker marks. In any case it is not one of the classic Italian names. The possible maker mark is close to the writing and is a variant of the "globe w cross" described by Lhote (1954). I would say it is a "globe with a tree" This author referring to a slightly different maker mark reports it is found in European blades from X to XVII century but the specific case reported in his paper was a later Tuareg engraving. This could also be the fact for this mark but I am not sure. I do not have enough experience to establish it.
In any case similar blades were made in XVI to XVIII century in Europe. The blade is fullered, single edged with a squared ricasso at the hilt, but it is well-sharpened to the back edge about halfway down the blade to make a double edged sword. If this sharpening is native or original I am not able to establish. The point was smoothed as almost all the Takoubas I have seen. The hilt has a crossguard of engraved brass with fabric underneath, and steel within. It is decorated in the central part with two stars that are open and by a flower on each side the central part of which is again opened to show a green dot. The edges of the guard are also decorated with a piramidal rivet. A peculiar feature of the hilt is a circular brass rain guard feature that protrudes to both sides of the forte. This part has a concentric engraved ring the central part of which is decorated with a tuareg cross. The grip is cilindric slightly larger in the middle part. It makes a progressive transition to a large pommel with the classic brass decorations on top.
The scabbard is in relict conditions and only the central part is left decorated with a double row of stamped lozenges. The seller attribute it to the Hausa but I wait for some of the experts in the forum to confirm this attribution

Last edited by Mauro : 24th March 2012 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 24th March 2012, 07:14 PM   #2
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I had to remove the photos. I shall post them again tomnorrow. Sorry for this problem.
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Last edited by Mauro : 24th March 2012 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 24th March 2012, 07:41 PM   #3
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Hi Mauro, I'm glad to see you posted this interesting sword finally! I think it's a good discussion piece. I will leave comments about the blade for later, I am interested in what some of our other members will think about it. It might also be a good idea to post it to the European forum?

I actually think the sword is in not bad condition and the hilt is really outstanding. The 'rain guard' like feature is the first one I have seen on a takouba, so something pretty unique I think. The condition of the hilt also gives a nice view of how these are constructed, with the cloth padding and colors.

This is a very well built sword it seems, I have a few which also give me this sense and have strong, heavy iron guards and pommels.

I will write more later when you can put the pictures back up.
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Old 24th March 2012, 09:39 PM   #4
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Hi Iain, you are right and I shall post it also on the European blade section. Now we see what the forum says
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Old 26th March 2012, 05:07 PM   #5
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauro
Hi Iain, you are right and I shall post it also on the European blade section. Now we see what the forum says


Salaams Mauro~ Great sword! I have compared it around the forum library to others mainly from Iain and having been over the blade marks registry of Professor Jim and up and down the web to search for V Dan but not much luck.

Would you say that the blade mark V DAN is original ? ( I think so) but that the other mark which looks like a stylised tree of life has been modified and may be either part original and part altered locally. It looks like a local attempt at the Greek Cross/Coptic Cross similar in basic structure to library examples but in almost 3 dimensions since it is out of vertical alignment.X..and without the surrounding circle. The pot from which the apparent tree eminates looks like an altered moon shape altered to a round shape; see drawing below with modifications.

On passing, and nothing to do with this sword, I discovered the old Hausa letter G is a cross with orb beneath it.

Anyway this looks like (always a dangerous situation) a European blade locally adorned / altered in the blade mark.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 26th March 2012, 10:43 PM   #6
Jim McDougall
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A really interesting example, and I am in accord with most of the great observations here. This to me seems a late 17th into 18th century backsword blade, European of course. The marking are remarkably faithful to characteristic European types, but curious.

The 'globus cruciger' or cross and orb was widely popular as a talismanic device used with names, inscriptions and phrases. These letters seem similar to these kinds of additions to blades, and when in grouping that does not form an apparant word or name are usually acrostics. As far as I can determine there is not another listed which might explain this one, and the letters seem to be incongruent in form and in case, with a miniscule 'a'. The marking or device among the letters is inconsistant with these acrostics as well.

I am inclined to think these marks are added by a merchant in one of the entry centers where imports were dispersed to caravans, and who was familiar with these kinds of marks on European blades. The backsword blade was atypical for Tuareg takoubas, but in looking at the decoration, the four petal floral device resembles motif seen more to West Africa (Ive seen it on Sierra Leone daggers, and of course others I cant recall offhand). The 'rainguard' extension is also as noted, reminiscent of European type elements, as well as the bolsters (adabal) on the forte in line with the guard on some takouba.

Just my thoughts here, and looking forward to further ideas.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 27th March 2012, 07:43 AM   #7
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So as Mauro already knows I would agree on 18th century backsword with the second edge locally sharpened.

The blade marks were applied at the same time in my opinion and I would defer to Jim's overall opinion on them.

Turning to the hilt, the four petal design is in fact found on most brass hilted takouba, both Tuareg and Hausa. See attached.

For me the features like the "rain guards" make this a truly unusual example of a takouba and I would be proud to own it myself. Congratulations again to Mauro!
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Old 27th March 2012, 10:04 AM   #8
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I also agree the blade is probably from 18th century backsword (French ??). As far as four petal design, it is true - from Sierra Leone through Bidda arm daggers to Berber brass bracelets (e.g. in Djebel Nafusa near Tripolis). I also saw them engraved on the sheaths of long and simple yatagans I found on the Djerba Island (Tunisia).
Very probably it is a fantasy - but couldn´t the mark on the blade locally develop from the so called imperial "pome" ?
Regards,
Martin
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Old 27th March 2012, 01:33 PM   #9
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I agree with Jim and Iain that the blade is XVII to XVIII century but may be somebody would be able to add some more information on this type of blade. Usually after the XVII century, with the introduction of more modern armies, the blades changed their style and became more standardized. This is, to my knowledge, an old style blade. Regarding the letters V.Danv I am not sure they are incongruent because the only capitol letter is the D and ,may be, the first V. V could indicate the name and D the first letter of the surname. Such surnames Danv…. are very rare in Italian names and I would say are more common in northern Europe from France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands etc. May be it is only a speculation !! I am not able to say if the “globus cruciger” was applied in Africa or it was originally made in Europe. I would favour this latter hypothesis because of the similarities of the engraving. I add some similar marks reported in Morel (1943) and in Lhote 1954 and attributed to different parts of Europe. The maker mark in the takouba is slightly different but I would say in the same “family”. Is anyone able to tell me the significance of the green color that in this takouba is found inside the petals ? It is also found in many scabbards of the Tuareg, Hausa and also Mandingo knives and swords.
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Old 27th March 2012, 01:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Lubojacky
I also agree the blade is probably from 18th century backsword (French ??). As far as four petal design, it is true - from Sierra Leone through Bidda arm daggers to Berber brass bracelets (e.g. in Djebel Nafusa near Tripolis). I also saw them engraved on the sheaths of long and simple yatagans I found on the Djerba Island (Tunisia).
Very probably it is a fantasy - but couldn´t the mark on the blade locally develop from the so called imperial "pome" ?
Regards,
Martin


Sorry my ignorance Martin but how it looks like an "imperial pome" ?
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Old 27th March 2012, 08:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauro
I agree with Jim and Iain that the blade is XVII to XVIII century but may be somebody would be able to add some more information on this type of blade. Usually after the XVII century, with the introduction of more modern armies, the blades changed their style and became more standardized. This is, to my knowledge, an old style blade. Regarding the letters V.Danv I am not sure they are incongruent because the only capitol letter is the D and ,may be, the first V. V could indicate the name and D the first letter of the surname. Such surnames Danv…. are very rare in Italian names and I would say are more common in northern Europe from France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands etc. May be it is only a speculation !! I am not able to say if the “globus cruciger” was applied in Africa or it was originally made in Europe. I would favour this latter hypothesis because of the similarities of the engraving. I add some similar marks reported in Morel (1943) and in Lhote 1954 and attributed to different parts of Europe. The maker mark in the takouba is slightly different but I would say in the same “family”. Is anyone able to tell me the significance of the green color that in this takouba is found inside the petals ? It is also found in many scabbards of the Tuareg, Hausa and also Mandingo knives and swords.


Hi Mauro, I see no reason why it could be 17th century, I simply don't know enough about backsword blades to say so I tend to be more cautious. I don't recall seeing anything with such a pronounced ricasso block on early backswords, but I have to admit I have not studied the sword type closely so probably there are such features on earlier blades as well.

I would say Danv is not a common name anywhere I'm aware of and some Googling makes it look almost nonexistent! The lettering is odd to me because of the mix of upper and lower case. By the 17th century upper and lower case letters were established and to have the 'a' in lower case and the then 'n' in upper case is quite odd. If this was a stamp applied for an owner in Europe, I would except someone with the money to own the sword, to have the ability to go to a shop with the right stet of stamps for the letters!

With the tree of life/globe motif, it is odd in that I have never seen it with the crossing line inside the globe curved... it is always straight. Again a strange feature if it was done in a workshop in Europe I think.

Green or azegzaw should have fairly standard symbolism in Tuareg culture I think. It can represent fertile land I think. For swords I'm not aware of a specific symbolism though.
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Old 27th March 2012, 09:00 PM   #12
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I did not explained myself properly. I suggested that D'Anv could be an abbreviation for D'Anville, D'Anverse, etc. but it simply a speculation. Thanks Iain for a good explanation of the use of the green colour in the sword of the people of the desert. Rehgarding the type of blade for sure Jim has much more experience than me. After to have posted the "globus cruciger" I searched in the forum and I found a long discussion on these maker marks. Sorry people if I did not check before
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Old 27th March 2012, 09:19 PM   #13
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Hi Mauro, as an abbreviation it could make more sense for sure. But I still find the lettering odd for the period and I would expect an engraving (not stamps) in the case of a sword owner.

If it's a maker's stamp then I have good hopes we can find some record as other swords with the stamp should exist. Maybe some of the more specialized European collectors can help. I will send you a PM.
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Old 28th March 2012, 06:20 AM   #14
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Hi Mauro,
if I am not mistaken, what I call "imperial pome" (English is not my native language) is what you called and posted as "similar marks" reported in Morel (1943) and Lhote (1954). It used to be used as a symbol of royal power through the centuries (used also as mark by swordmakers subsequently), tohether with "mace". To be complete, V. could also mean "fifth", but it does not give sence...
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Martin
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Old 28th March 2012, 11:56 AM   #15
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I think the orb and cross was originaly a Eastern Roman (Byzantine) symbol of Christs supremacy over earthly things, and then adopted elsewhere and reinterpreted as it spread.
I might be misremembering this but I think in the Sudan it is referred to as the "drum". There is quite a nice series of posts about these reinterpretations dotted about the kaskara and takouba threads.
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Old 28th March 2012, 01:41 PM   #16
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royal insignia - imperial pome is on the right, mace on the left
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