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Old 18th December 2008, 01:21 AM   #1
Michael Blalock
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Default Yemeni sword

I came across this on Sotheby's website this evening. It is the only other example of this type of Yemeni sword I have seen except for the two I have.

http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lo...sp?lot_id=45W55
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Old 18th December 2008, 02:31 AM   #2
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..............interesting!!! Elgoods book on Arabian blades doesn't show this either!! It bears a faint resemblance to the Omani Kattara in hilt shape. Is the blade straight, and do you have scabbards for either of yours? It would be nice to see some pics of the whole blade.
I wait with baited breath to see what comes of this thread!
Regards Stuart
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Old 18th December 2008, 01:43 PM   #3
Michael Blalock
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They were discussed in earlier threads.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=708
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Old 18th December 2008, 10:16 PM   #4
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Michael, you have really keyed toward the subject of these fascinating, apparantly early Arabian hilt forms the last few years, and it is intriguing to revisit the discussions we have had on them. The example you post here from a recent Sotheby's auction is described as Yemeni and of 19th c.
You have also shown the two great examples of hilts on your swords from Yemen.
In my opinion, the hilt style in the Sothebys example, with its conical pommel seems more like an Omani kattara with its repousse silver clad covering intact.In Elgood, the examples of these early kattara are shown (2.13, 2.15) sans the covering, with the hilts bare structure alone remaining, including the uncovered yet distinctly shaped pommel. These pommels are yet another example of architectural elements represented in those of hilts, with these resembling the conical domes of some minarets on Mosques in my opinion.

Elgood notes that the actual origins of these hilts remain a mystery, but that they are of considerable antiquity seems agreed by scholars, with potential for 17th century,possibly earlier.These may also reflect what may be considered neoclassic or 'revival' Islamic style in reflecting the style of the downward and shouldered guard of Hispano-Moresque jineta of 14th-15th c. and the more stylized versions of these hilts of Mamluk origin c.15th c.

It has been suggested that these swords may be of Central Asian origin as well, and it is worthy of noting the previous mention of the established contact between Yemen and the Emirate of Bukhara. The Yemeni swords of this type often have the diagonally gadrooned silver wire on the scabbards, similar to that seen on Bukharen sword scabbards as one example.

It would seem to me that this example posted with conical pommel is of Omani form, of the early silver clad hilt style which was apparantly superceded by the fully conical guardless style of late 18th into 19th c. (Elgood 2.14).
The spherical pommel hilts as Michael has shown are again neoclassic in recalling the earlier Mamluk style hilts of 15th c.and shown in Yucel, with repousse metal covered hilt, and Yemeni. By the early 20th century these spherical bulb type hilts, still using kattara style broadsword blades, were with Persian style crossguards and short vestigial quillons. They are believed hilted in Yemen in probably San'a or Hadhramaut, and seem to have gone as far as Dubai to the north, emphasizing the established trade diffusion of these weapons.

These are just my own observations from notes, previous discussions and reviewing Elgood. The diffusion of these swords with the complexity of trade throughout the Dar al Islam is difficult to establish with any certainty, but I hope somewhat near correct, and I look forward to other thoughts.

All best regards,
Jim

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 19th December 2008 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 19th December 2008, 02:06 AM   #5
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Thanks Michael for the link---interesting stuff. Thanks also Jim for your comments. Us collectors of Arabian weaponry have a lot of fun trying to identify some items, as there is very little written about them, and also the cross-pollination due to trade routes over the centuries tends to cloud matters some what.
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Old 6th December 2014, 03:42 PM   #6
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Here is another one of these straight Yemeni Swords that just sold at Czerny's. It would look great in my collection. Maybe my wife got it for me and I will find it under the tree.

http://www.czernys.com/auctions_lot...48&submit=+view

I have a new one coming that should be here by the end of the year. I will post photos when I get that.
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Old 7th December 2014, 04:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Blalock
I came across this on Sotheby's website this evening. It is the only other example of this type of Yemeni sword I have seen except for the two I have.

http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lo...sp?lot_id=45W55



Salaams Michael Blalock, Thank you for opening the discussion again upon this subject...I noted some time ago that the Wallace had a good example of this weapon. It occurred to me that the work if it is Yemeni could come from one of the Jewish houses?...Such is the delicate nature of the decorative work.
I refer you to one important post from Ham at your reference which I Quote "Gentlemen,

These are very rare swords indeed but they are not Omani, nor for that matter are they from anywhere in Arabia. They are from the Emirate of Bukhara in Central Asia, as a brief comparison of the repeating engraved motifs on any of the examples of bronze and silverwork from that region pictured in A SONG IN METAL, Abdullayev et al, will show. The few examples I have seen were datable to the early 19th century. There is a fine sword of this type in the Moser Collection, now part of the Berne Historical Museum in Switzerland but it (and all the rest) were taken off display a couple of years ago for some reason. There is another in the V & A pictured in Coe's SWORD AND HILT WEAPONS p. 141; it is included with a group of other swords and unhelpfully described, "Turkish and Persian weapons of the 16th-19th century" or something similar. Jarnuszkiewicz's excellent work SZABLA WSCHODNIA I JEJ TYPU NARODOWE shows the origin of this form on plate 11, a 9th century Samanid king from a fresco at Nisapur carries one extremely similar. Perhaps Pan Michal de Wolviex can post this?
Given the conservative nature of Central Asian groups-- both nomadic and sedentary-- it is not unusual that the form survived so long. One doubts nonetheless that they were ever very common; swords in Central Asia in general, except for that unpleasant late 19th century variety of Afghan saber that so clumsily sought to duplicate the fine lines of the Caucasian shashka, were relatively rare and then usually limited to Persian shamshirs, or the equally rare Bukharan sidearm which looks like an attenuated peshqabz, see Elgood ed., ISLAMIC ARMS AND ARMOUR, FLINDT, for examples.
These swords are quite rare. Congratulations on such fine acquisitions."Unquote.




Jim McDougall ~ Thank you for your excellent referenced reply and I agree these look like fine weapons... though there may be some influence from the Omani general style in similarity with the Old Omani Battle Sword I am not sure what other bridges there may be and in fact looking at the hilt though it is with a cuff...and has a tubular hilt and ends with a pommel (which I agree is a religious architectural design) there is something strange about its comparison ...which I cannot put my finger on !! The blade is broad sharpened on both sides..and with a single fuller and I wonder to its flexibility...It has an apparent pointed tip...and it looks pretty rigid? The decoration is distinctly not Omani but I cannot rule out some sort of influence .No sword like this exists in any of the National Museums in Oman nor any of the publications...but I agree it does rather jump off the page when comparing the Omani style. I do, however, tend to agree about the provenance above and would be pleased to hear what others have to say particularly about the two identical stamps..?? I think I recall the Wallace example was suspected of having been done as a special commission for a well off person...and that may have been for someone in Cairo perhaps... and provenanced to the Bukhara region...as already stated.

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 7th December 2014, 06:47 PM   #8
Oliver Pinchot
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Salaam ya Ibrahim!
I corresponded with Ibrahim about the sword pictured by Michael Blalock awhile back; we reached the same conclusion. It was offered by Auctions Imperial in the 2013 sale, here is a link to the description:
http://www.auctionflex.com/showlot....genum=5&lang=En

The blade is broad and well-tempered. While it showed some flexibility due to its relative flatness, it isn't particularly so.

Other than a very basic form from the same early Arab swords which influenced the Omani kattara, i.e. a simple, symmetrical, cylindrical grip with expanded pommel and straight, double-edged blade, I see no evidence for these swords being Arab at all. There was an example on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum when I visited there in the mid-90s, which was also of this form. It was mounted in silver, and the scabbard was done in black and red leather. It was labeled rather generically as an Islamic sword, I believe. Unfortunately, it isn't pictured in Anthony North's book.
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Old 7th December 2014, 11:31 PM   #9
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A good catch that this is the same sword that was at Auctions Imperial. I have seen eleven of these swords with these distinctive hilts. I got my first in Yemen in 1963, I have seen photographs of two others, both located in Yemen. I own two others that as well that were obtained in the Arabian peninsula. Oriental-Arms had one as well that was identified as Yemeni, I believe it was at Christie's later. It seems implausible not to make a Yemeni attribution when I consider that out of eleven swords of this type I have seen over twenty years of searching, three would be found in Yemen, sporting the types of blades one finds on neighboring Omani swords.
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Old 7th December 2014, 11:56 PM   #10
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I think it was Elgood who mentioned Bukharan jewellers working in Southern Aravia.
Could it be that the decorative motives might be Central Asian, but the shape is that of the old Omani katara?
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Old 8th December 2014, 10:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Salaam ya Ibrahim!
I corresponded with Ibrahim about the sword pictured by Michael Blalock awhile back; we reached the same conclusion. It was offered by Auctions Imperial in the 2013 sale, here is a link to the description:
http://www.auctionflex.com/showlot....genum=5&lang=En

The blade is broad and well-tempered. While it showed some flexibility due to its relative flatness, it isn't particularly so.

Other than a very basic form from the same early Arab swords which influenced the Omani kattara, i.e. a simple, symmetrical, cylindrical grip with expanded pommel and straight, double-edged blade, I see no evidence for these swords being Arab at all. There was an example on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum when I visited there in the mid-90s, which was also of this form. It was mounted in silver, and the scabbard was done in black and red leather. It was labeled rather generically as an Islamic sword, I believe. Unfortunately, it isn't pictured in Anthony North's book.



Salaams Oh Yaa Ustadh Oliver Pinchot !! Oh yes of course ...I had not forgotten but my notes are somewhat scattered about ... Your reference is absolutely superb and nails the entire sword in all its glory and with the stamp also translated ... Seldom have I seen a more accurate reference... Thank you for that ..and it is great to see you on Forum. There is also a brilliant example at the Wallace in London ...and on Forum ..

Ariel... Its not Omani but I can only agree that it certainly gets a second look as parallels / similarities initially jump off the page. I think that since it is a late design the maker has used several devices which whilst they may look slightly like the Omani old Battle Sword...it is as stated at the reference and probably not Arabian ...It certainly is not Omani. The blade in this case is pointed not round tipped...and the pattern/decoration is not Arabian ...etc.

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Old 8th December 2014, 02:21 PM   #12
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When we got this sword in Taiz in 1963 we were told it was Turkish. That is what I thought until I discussed it with Oriental-Arms back in 2002. Artzi told me he had seen others of these swords come from Yemen.
The Ottoman Turks held Yemen from the 1870's till 1918 when the last Pasha left. The repousse work on the hilts looks similar to Turkish work so it is not a big stretch to speculate that there were Turkish sword smiths that came to Yemen with the army and may have trained local artisans to copy their techniques. These swords could have been produced in Yemen for the Turks as a souvenir or made for local use by Yemeni's at weddings or even for sale in Aden. There is a tradition of renting swords for Yemeni weddings.
I know the Turkish styles had a big impact on the Jewish jewelers who developed styles to sell to the Turks and visitors to Aden.

In 1963 there were still Yemenis who had grown up under Ottoman rule, so, the original attribution that the sword is Turkish is very plausible. Some Turks stayed in the Imams administration until 1962. Taiz and its nearby port of Mocha was one of the more stable areas for the Turks and close to trade with Aden, the Omani coast and East Africa. I think it is credible that these swords were made in Yemen with Turkish influence that was incorporated onto the readily available blades found throughout Southern Arabia and East Africa at the time.
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Old 9th December 2014, 09:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Blalock
When we got this sword in Taiz in 1963 we were told it was Turkish. That is what I thought until I discussed it with Oriental-Arms back in 2002. Artzi told me he had seen others of these swords come from Yemen.
The Ottoman turks held Yemen from the 1870's till 1918 when the last Pasha left. The repousse work on the hilts looks similar to Turkish work so it is not a big stretch to speculate that there were Turkish swordsmiths that came to Yemen with the army and may have trained local artisans to copy their techniques. These sword could have been produced in Yemen for the Turks as a souvenir or made for local use by Yemeni's at weddings or even for sale in Aden. There is a tradition of renting swords for Yemeni weddings.
I know the Turkish styles had a big impact on the Jewish jewelers who developed styles to sell to the Turks and visitors to Aden.

In 1963 there were still Yemenis who had grown up under Ottoman rule, so the original attribution that the sword is Turkish is very plausible. Some Turks stayed in the Imams administration until 1962. Taiz and it's nearby port of Mocha was one of the more stable areas for the Turks and close to trade with Aden, the Omani coast and East Africa. I think it is credible that these swords were made in Yemen with Turkish influence that was incorporated onto the readily available blades found throughout Southern Arabia and East Africa at the time.


Salaams Michael Blalock ~I see nothing wrong with your assumption and indeed I thought there could be Jewish influence on the style. I do however tend toward the already laid down description of the Central Asian type (though personally I suspect the blade form may even be Algerian). At least it is not of the Omani flexible straight dancer format of The Omani Sayf.

Here I reprint the excellent reference description from Oliver Pinchot

Quote"A RARE CENTRAL ASIAN BROADSWORD
A quite similar example depicted in the ninth-century fresco of a mounted Samanid ruler at Nishapur allows attribution of the form. The distinctive guardless hilt silvered or gilt, with an expanded ferrule and cylindrical grip, embossed and engraved overall with vinework, the bud-form pommel spirally fluted. The exceptionally long, straight, double-edged blade with evidence of wootz forging, a short central fuller to either side and a polygonal maker’s mark inscribed, WORK OF HASSAN [?] struck twice on either side. In its wooden scabbard with velvet covering, the locket and chape embossed and engraved en suite with the hilt, the suspension bands with openwork decoration. Beginning of the 19th century. Light wear, small area of pitting to blade. Very rarely encountered, probably a coronation sword.Overall length 101.3 cm. Condition I, Unquote"

It may well be such that this weapon although apparently a late comer to the sword world may have no brief and deliberate label moreover the design and style could be a mixed hybrid taking variations on a theme from various quarters and even as you say with the craftsmanship of the Jewish artisan and reflections of red sea blades in the ensuing mixture...It certainly makes for a very interesting conundrum...and a great thread !! Which is what the world of Ethnographic research is all about...no?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 9th December 2014, 10:21 AM   #14
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Ibrahiim, I agree that these don't look exactly like any other hilt in Arabia, though one could argue that they are not too far from the Omani "battle sword" when it is fully dressed and the scabbards have very similar hardware. The photos I have posted above include every one of these swords I have seen. The one from Oriental-Arms may be the same as the one from Sotheby's. If not, out of seven swords, three that I know were definitely found in Yemen and the Oriental-Arms sword is described as Yemeni. That's four out of seven. As we say in the US. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
Is there any record of this style of hilt to be found anywhere else in the world besides a sword collection? If anyone has any other photos I would love to see them.
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Old 9th December 2014, 01:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Blalock
Ibrahiim, I agree that these don't look exactly like any other hilt in Arabia, though one could argue that they are not too far from the Omani "battle sword" when it is fully dressed and the scabbards have very similar hardware. The photos I have posted above include every one of these swords I have seen. The one from Oriental-Arms may be the same as the one from Sotheby's. If not, out of seven swords, three that I know were definitely found in Yemen and the Oriental-Arms sword is described as Yemeni. That's four out of seven. As we say in the US. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
Is there any record of this style of hilt to be found anywhere else in the world besides a sword collection? If anyone has any other photos I would love to see them.


Salaams Michael, Again I would not disagree with the suggestion of linkage..and in fact I point in support of that to your own detail posted on Yemeni/Omani Swords at Forum where you note the potential link

Quote" "Mir-i-Arab Madrasa (1535) The Mir-i-Arab madrassah with the mosque Bukhara's main kosh ensemble. Under the left dome are buried Ubaydullah Khan (one of the first Bukharan royal not to have his own mausoleum) and Sheikh Mir-i-Arab after whom the madrasa is named. He is variously described as an architect, a Yemeni merchant, and "spiritual mentor of the early Sheibanids".Unquote.

I agree also that the two styles look similar in basic make up but that on the one hand the Bukhara appears as much later whereas the Omani Battle Sword is ancient. I recall at a Forum a picture I cant find...I think you posted a photo from Sanaa museum with Mamluke variants of not too distant style to the Bukhara...and not to confuse the issue it should be noted that the Mamluke link goes back through time and holds hands with the Abbasiid with whom I connect the design to the original Omani Battle Sword a very long time ago...but that is another story...

In conclusion I think this is a very interesting thread with a variety of outcomes though I stand somewhat with one foot in the Bukhara camp and the other in the Yemeni ... This is, however, no ordinary Duck.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 11:34 AM   #16
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Here is another, attributed to Yemen, to add to the list.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 04:40 PM   #17
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This is not a learned comment, just an observation. If the pommel shape is indeed an architectural reference, which I tend to agree with, then it is more likely a reference to the monumental Timorid architecture of places like Samarkand, Tashkent and Buchara than to Yemeni mosques.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 05:23 PM   #18
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Very good observation made by Motan, and we have discussed many times through the years the significance of architectural form and elements in the styling of the hilts of edged weapons. I recall Ibrahiim several years ago in studying the Omani sayf and kitara hilts observing the similarity in the pommels to minarets.

In considering the apparent preponderance of these distinctly 'cuffed' hilt sayfs in Yemen, and well supported as such by Michael Blalock in many years of research, collecting and observation, I would note the case for Yemeni Mosques with regard to the pommels of these swords.

In "Minaret Building and Apprenticeship in Yemen" (Trevor Marchand, 2013, p.189) ....two prevalent types of domes to cap traditional San'aa minarets, a smooth surfaced dome which may be SPHERICAL, or slightly bulbous like those of the city's Great Mosque (built 9th c AD, restored 13th c) or fluted like that of Masjid al Abhar (1374-75AD) or al Madrasah Mosque (built first half 16th c).

It seems that years ago we were reviewing silver clad swords with these kinds of pommels, mounted in San'aa with clearly Ethiopian blades, which apparently had come in through ports from Red Sea trade. It was held that the rhino horn from these swords was highly sought for khanjhars' hilts.

I would note that in those researches studying Arab swords from Hadhramaut, it was notable seeing the gadrooned decoration on the scabbards of silver repousse hilts and mounts. This style curiously is also seen on a number of swords from Bukhara 19th c. It would seem this same
affectation extended from Hadhramaut to Yemen of course, and perhaps the diplomatic and trade contacts between the Emirate of Bukhara and Yemen might account for this cross influence.

Returning to the hilt features, it seems the minaret domes described have somewhat compelling similarity to the pommels on these distinctive swords.
The ribbed (or fluted) style does not seem exclusively Bukharen, but it is of course noted that contact between Yemen and Bukhara may reflect the degree of influence considered, and apparently quite present in Yemen independently.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 07:04 PM   #19
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Low and behold, here is another one from the same source. It just popped up in my email. From Yemen as well.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 08:20 PM   #20
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The most famous minarets in Yemen resemble the hilt as much as any. At least to my eye
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Old 2nd April 2017, 08:44 PM   #21
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OK. I said it was just an observation. I don't know much about swords, but in the Ottoman Empire there was a lot of movement, so basically, anything is possible. I can only say that the decoration definately does not look like anything I know of Yemeni style, while the blades definately don't look like Central Asian blades, which are mostly sabre type. The only swords I have seen which have this round pommel and no crossguard are very old Mamluke swords, but I don't see how such influence could bridge several centuries. Nevertheless, if the majority of these swords really come from Yemen, then they are Yemeni swords, whoever made them.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 11:43 PM   #22
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Naturally in the Ottoman 'sphere' styles and types were widely diffused, and as once told by Torben Flindt (Bukharen arms) in communication, 'weapons and their forms have no geographic boundaries'. This could be carried much further in they equally transcend cultural boundaries.

As far as old forms transcending considerable range of time, often without any linear chronology of development, this is usually attributed to the 'revival' phenomenon. Traditional weapons of much earlier times are often produced mostly in recognition of certain heritage and this often compounds the study of arms as far as historically.

As noted, architectural features are often key in the style, design and elements of sword hilts much as in material culture overall, and it would be most difficult to confine these to specific areas, particularly with regard to religiously oriented instances.

The round or spherical pommel is known in other instances, for example in Sudan, where these unusual pommels are hollow and hold seeds or other items to cause rattling in ceremonial circumstances. The straight double edged blade is known of course in certain cases in Persia (the qama and the quaddara), but as noted, primarily it is to North Africa and the Red Sea trade (kaskaras, Omani sayf, and apparently these Yemeni swords).

So these particular examples with this style of cuffed hilt with varying sphere type pommels seem by preponderance to be hilted in Yemen, using blades from various sources.
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Old 3rd April 2017, 05:47 PM   #23
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So this issue has been resolved and even though I was proved wrong on most accounts, I am glad that my comments spurred more discussion.These swords are rare and beautiful and owners should be proud of them
Michael, I see the resemblance to Yemeni minarets.
Jim, thank you for your thorough and learned response.
The Mamluke revival is indeed known from Syria and Egypt around the turn of the 19th century, but these item look different to the Yemeni swords here.
The type of blades is common in many North African countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Morocco and by the Saharan Tuareg and these do look African.
The only things still unclear are:
-why is this style of decoration so unlike the silver filigree work known from Yemeni Janbiyas, jewelry and other items?
-how come that swords from Yemen in general and these swords specifically are so rare that they have escaped the attentions of several serious works dealing with weapons of Arabia?
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Old 3rd April 2017, 08:14 PM   #24
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Motan, your observations and comments are well placed, and indeed have spurred the course of discussion here in valuable directions. That is exactly the point and purpose here, unlike debate, it is not about who is right or wrong. What is important is together determining the most viable and plausible solutions to questions concerning the items we examine.

I thank you for your kind words, but I must note that whatever knowledge I have gained on these topics have been through these same kinds if discussions , mostly on these very pages. The research I do personally is to add what I can to these discussions along with the amazing experience and knowledge of others here far better versed in these field than myself. The end result is the advancement of the corpus of data on many fields of study on arms to the benefit of all of us.

With that I note that your questions in your last entry are very well placed accordingly, and I would say that the swords of Arabia, just as many ethnographically oriented arms fields, are tremendously under researched.

Just as Robert Elgood wrote in his most important reference on Arabian arms and armour (1994), many of the arms of Arabia are indeed somewhat swathed in mystery. As Ibrahiim (who is situated in Oman) tells us, much of the general history and such details as weaponry etc. is based primarily on oral history rather than written accounts and records. Regions such as Oman were virtually restricted to the west until around 1970. Arabia has always been restricted to outsiders other than trade circumstances mostly with Muscat. Aden and regions in the west somewhat opened with the fall of Ottoman control.
With the paucity of information and references on Arabian arms in general, it is not surprising so little is soundly known on them. That is what we have been doing here (and these have been discussed here for at least 18 years I can account for) and why we are trying to find every remote reference and bit of field information we can find to bring to our discussions.

Regarding the Mamluks, it must be remembered that they were a kind of entity unto themselves, and their styles and material culture typically distinct from most other Islamic forms in decoration and motif. Also, they were notoriously conservative in their weaponry, maintaining virtually ancient forms far longer than in other spheres. It was Mamluk influence that was a key force with the kaskara broadswords, particularly those which were heavily etched in thuluth script, a notable Mamluk style.
Although many Islamic forms of arms and armour are considered 'revival' types, especially many in the scope of Persian influence, the Mamluk arms and armor are actually in their continuum.

With the variation of decoration on arms, there are numerous factors which may be at hand, such as of course regional circumstances, as well as changes in regime or other geopolitical situations. Often trade situations effect styles and fashion as influence from one area or cultural import is ceased or overtaken by another. There are also many ethnic factors such as increased influx of populous from other areas and so on.

These are some of the reasons it is so important to consider the history of periods of time in regions which the weapon in question may be from, as these factors may explain variation in the character of the weapon itself from others of similar form.

Actually we seldom reach conclusive resolution on these topics here, but continue discussion on them over years, always advancing our collective knowledge on them. We really never stop learning, most importantly here, we do it together.

A little axiom we have long had here, ' always more research to be done!'.

All very best regards
Jim
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Old 19th June 2017, 01:39 PM   #25
Michael Blalock
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Here is another one to add to the list.
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Old 22nd June 2017, 11:16 AM   #26
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Yet another one. Unfortunately I did not see this until it was sold.
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Old 22nd June 2017, 12:23 PM   #27
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PLEASE see http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000370.html for an interesting debate on these weapons.

At post 25 above I considered the blade stamp marks as Algerian and I still do ~ with the name of Ali bin alwafi bin Hassan on the cuff region . At the same time I consider these to be Bukharan weapons but cannot rule out that Jewish Smiths in Yemen may have made some of these as Micheal Blalock has indicated. However, I see no relation between these and Omani Swords.

See also post 7.

Below. It could be that the Algerian sword and gun marks are the same as the three dense black stamps on the sword.
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Old 23rd June 2017, 11:29 PM   #28
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I am really glad to see this topic brought back, as in such a fascinating and unresolved field of study as Arabian swords, too often a certain complacency seems to prevail.

Perhaps Elgood as he wrote in 1994, well described some conditions which seem to have been prevalent until those times. Fortunately those who have entered the field since have been diligent in trying to find answers and resolve some of these 'mysteries'.

Elgood wrote on page 15 ("Arms and Armour of Arabia"...., "...there are a number of Arab sword types that are loosely referred to as nimcha or saif, which are usually attributed to the Yemen by collectors and cataloguers on the basis that the weapons of the area are not well known and they are unlikely to be challenged on the attribution. There is no reliable published guide to the various types of Arab sword and some of the North African hilts are said to be Arabian".

He goes on to talk about the 'Hadramaut' type of sabres (2.8; 2.10) which he says were often produced in Hyderabad, India as there was a constant interaction with mercenary forces from there who went to and from India.
I have seen these, with repousse silverwork hilt of karabela style and distinctly Arab mounts remarkably like these with the (reluctantly described)"barber pole" spiral wrap on the scabbard. They had the hollow ground, European cavalry type blades, highly polished.

Hadhramaut is of course, collectively a region of 'the Yemen' in degree, and again, here we see the broad sweep of attributions which we see now being reconsidered. With what are most compelling observations concerning Bukhara and these swords with their influences in Yemen. As I consider the apparently Bukharen and Caucasian use of this 'spiral wrap ' affectation, it seems more likely that these swords were mounted in southern Arabia, and in the Yemeni sphere.
However, certain patterns, such as the 'wheel' design in the motif on some of the examples I saw may reflect India influence, but could well have simply been another nuanced device mixed into the overall motif in Yemen.

Although these 'Yemeni/Bukharen' swords do have the open and cuffed type hilt resembling the Omani sayfs (often formerly termed 'kattara'), they do seem to be an independent form which evolved in some limited religious and diplomatic channels between these regions. It is of course tempting to think that perhaps certain contact between Oman and Yemen might have brought certain affectations together concerning sword forms, but much more evidence is needed. Naturally the contact between Yemen and Zanzibar is well noted, so this well could have provided such conduit .

Regarding the markings on the example shown in #25, it is most interesting to consider the blade possibly having Algerian connections. Again, the contact between North Africa and Arabia is well established, so such possibility is of course quite plausible. The markings themselves seem to be exaggerated examples of such triple stamps from Italian context (often termed 'twig' marks) and often copied by native artisans. These seem much heavier of course, but may be elaboration in interpretation.
In conversations regarding North African swords over the years, it has been emphatically suggested to me that the sabres of Morocco (often termed 'nimcha' some years ago, were actually Arabian.

These same type hilts (with the distinct nock under pommel) are also found on these 'nimcha' termed 'Zanzibar' versions. I recall years back when many of these 'nimcha' (with ring or loop on guard, pictured below) were found in Yemen, and were said to be from Zanzibar.
As we recall, the Omani open hilt sayf was well represented in Zanzibar.
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Old 20th August 2019, 01:22 PM   #29
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Period photo
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Old 22nd August 2019, 06:17 PM   #30
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Thanks to Michael Blalock for the inclusion of more pictures showing the sword with a Yemeni tribal chief. It may not however detract from the general view that this is a Bukharan style . Yemeni Bukaran links are considerable in the religious field including architecture and religious linkages. The Yemen is perhaps the root birthplace of the Omani Battle Sword often called Sayf Yemaani...possibly made in Hadramaut… but a more direct link is more difficult to assume or prove.

I noted earlier the potential here for an Algerian blade and would add to that the likelihood of Yemeni Jewish involvement in the well crafted silver and the typical big architectural style in the hilt somewhat reflected in other weapon parts like the monumental, architectural crown at the end of the scabbard of Yemeni Daggers.

Trying to identify Mosque domes as linked to these weapons is impossible in my view... For example with say Iranian Mosque domes... but the Sayf Yemaani must pre date Islam in Iran if it did come to Oman in 700 to 752 AD as the Ibaathi battle Sword. The link between the Omani and Yemeni/ Bukharen sword shown here is in my opinion insufficiently explored...More research needed I suggest.
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