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Old 7th May 2019, 11:30 AM   #1
Iain
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Default Interesting takouba with encircled cross mark

This is going to a good friend, but I managed to take a few pics today. While the hilt is a nice Hausa or Nupe brass one, with very complete scabbard and 19th century, the blade is the special part, European, quite old and marked with an encircled cross.

Thought the forum might enjoy it.
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Old 7th May 2019, 04:00 PM   #2
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Thank you Iain, always nice to see that more of these takoubas with old blades are out there. How would you date the blade - 15th-16th century?
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Old 7th May 2019, 04:29 PM   #3
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Thank you Iain, always nice to see that more of these takoubas with old blades are out there. How would you date the blade - 15th-16th century?


Hi Teodor,

Something in that range seems very likely, at least 16th id say. I'm not aware of the motif cropping up as a blade mark after.
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Old 7th May 2019, 08:35 PM   #4
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These encircled crosses seem to date from as early as 13th c. (per Boeheim, 'Waffenkunde' 1890, p.674) as late as 15th c., however other references show similar circled crosses are known with double circles as late as end of 16th.
Some are the so called Maltese cross with flared ends and others have the cross fourchee (forked)ends

Boeheim suggests Italian origin for the marks, but as these marks were rather universally 'European' they were of course used in Germany as well. I am not aware of any particular significance of the double circle, but the use of it seems to end by open of 17th c. Crosses were used in many configurations and as elements of inscriptions etc.

I am curious about the rudimentary character of this marking and that it is placed partially over the end of the fuller, and that this is a cross quartering a circle, in the manner of the cross and orb in full contact with the circle. In the other encircled crosses they are encircled but not in contact with the circle.

Obviously the blade is old and European, but the marking, could it be later application? The cross in Saharan parlance is of course having to do with four cardinal directions, not religious or talismanic, but more symbolic.
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Old 8th May 2019, 03:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
These encircled crosses seem to date from as early as 13th c. (per Boeheim, 'Waffenkunde' 1890, p.674) as late as 15th c., however other references show similar circled crosses are known with double circles as late as end of 16th.
Some are the so called Maltese cross with flared ends and others have the cross fourchee (forked)ends

Boeheim suggests Italian origin for the marks, but as these marks were rather universally 'European' they were of course used in Germany as well. I am not aware of any particular significance of the double circle, but the use of it seems to end by open of 17th c. Crosses were used in many configurations and as elements of inscriptions etc.

I am curious about the rudimentary character of this marking and that it is placed partially over the end of the fuller, and that this is a cross quartering a circle, in the manner of the cross and orb in full contact with the circle. In the other encircled crosses they are encircled but not in contact with the circle.

Obviously the blade is old and European, but the marking, could it be later application? The cross in Saharan parlance is of course having to do with four cardinal directions, not religious or talismanic, but more symbolic.


Hi Jim, based on my experience this definitely is not locally applied and is consistent with European engraving. Of course I could be wrong! But I would be very surprised!
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Old 8th May 2019, 09:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Jim, based on my experience this definitely is not locally applied and is consistent with European engraving. Of course I could be wrong! But I would be very surprised!


Iain, I agree, this does not look native, but perhaps the work of an entrepot worker ('artisan'?) . These blades entering the North African sphere may have had 'alterations' which enhanced value before being dispersed to merchants and caravans. While somewhat consistent with European marks, it seems odd in this quartered circle, but surely recalling the circled crosses which they were familiar with. That's just my thought, which is sort of somewhere in between European and native...…….the blade is of course European and quite old as suggested.
I still think of the beauty you got with the cross fourche in double circle.!!!
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Old 13th May 2019, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Iain, I agree, this does not look native, but perhaps the work of an entrepot worker ('artisan'?) . These blades entering the North African sphere may have had 'alterations' which enhanced value before being dispersed to merchants and caravans. While somewhat consistent with European marks, it seems odd in this quartered circle, but surely recalling the circled crosses which they were familiar with. That's just my thought, which is sort of somewhere in between European and native...…….the blade is of course European and quite old as suggested.
I still think of the beauty you got with the cross fourche in double circle.!!!


Hi Jim,

This mark is rather obscure to have been an attempt to raise value in my opinion. The volumes of blades marked in this manner I think would have been very low. Disregarding the 'cross & orb' mark, crosses and particularly encircled crosses, this only the second example I have encountered after my 14th century blade. Sometimes things are as they seem.

Regarding your earlier point about the crosses not touching the circle, this is not always the case (see W897 from Deutsches Historisches Museum), and I have seen a myriad of 'encircled' symbols of different forms.

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Old 13th May 2019, 02:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Jim,

This mark is rather obscure to have been an attempt to raise value in my opinion. The volumes of blades marked in this manner I think would have been very low. Disregarding the 'cross & orb' mark, crosses and particularly encircled crosses, this only the second example I have encountered after my 14th century blade. Sometimes things are as they seem.

Regarding your earlier point about the crosses not touching the circle, this is not always the case (see W897 from Deutsches Historisches Museum), and I have seen a myriad of 'encircled' symbols of different forms.



Points well taken Iain. As a well known zebra hunter myself(the Occam thing), sometimes indeed ARE what they seem, but I often insist on looking at things obliquely. As I think more on European markings having some sort of elevated quality, it is true in looking at examples such as the 'Passau wolf', which look pretty rough and inconsistent in actuality, they are hardly of any skilled application.
In thinking again, even the most base instance of 'quality enhancement' would probably not reach for the second circle in the native environment.

Thank you for patiently realigning the perspective on this, and actually I am even more impressed with this fantastic example in this light. Truth be told, no matter how old we get or how long we have done this, we never stop learning!
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Old 14th May 2019, 11:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Points well taken Iain. As a well known zebra hunter myself(the Occam thing), sometimes indeed ARE what they seem, but I often insist on looking at things obliquely. As I think more on European markings having some sort of elevated quality, it is true in looking at examples such as the 'Passau wolf', which look pretty rough and inconsistent in actuality, they are hardly of any skilled application.
In thinking again, even the most base instance of 'quality enhancement' would probably not reach for the second circle in the native environment.

Thank you for patiently realigning the perspective on this, and actually I am even more impressed with this fantastic example in this light. Truth be told, no matter how old we get or how long we have done this, we never stop learning!


Hi Jim, one of the struggles I find is that a small set of examples with certain features is always the most well known, usually the ones publically exhibited. This leads to a case of naturally being suspicious of anything that deviates. However, there are so many pieces in storage, published in less well-known research papers, etc. I am always amazed by the sheer amount of variation to be found such as this example. https://www.davidmus.dk/en/collecti...8?image_index=0

I agree, blades like this are quite exciting and it takes quite a bit to perk my interest these days!
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Old 14th May 2019, 04:18 PM   #10
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That is so true Iain, and I had not really thought of that perspective. As someone who has always been an obsessive researcher on history, and an expatriated collector (I was once very active years ago)…...it is true that especially in my case...the window of exposure is quite limited.

Actually that was the very reason I became involved in the forums over two decades ago, because there was a constant influx of arms which I could learn from, and thanks to you and the guys here, that has been profoundly realized.
The best thing is that most seem keyed on certain fields and forms, and that focused attention brings amazing attention to details not usually found in the broader scope of published material.

The things you have found interesting, and you took the time and effort to research as well as share here have brought dimension to the study of these Saharan, Sudanese and Sahelian weapons have brought their study into amazing dimension....pretty much where Briggs left off in '65.

For myself, and many others here, sincere thanks!
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