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Old 21st September 2019, 04:26 PM   #1
Pieje
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Default Mahdist sword calligraphy

I recently bought this Mahdist blade, cheap and rather out of interest.

Blade measures 70cm, forged but is rather weak.
But than again, these were not used to fight but serve a talismanic purpose.

No other marking on the blade besides the elaborate calligraphy on both sides, that seems all identical to me (and not very well written).

Any comments, eventual translation, age, tourist item or not?
Thx!
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Old 21st September 2019, 04:56 PM   #2
David R
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I had a similar blade years ago, but a functional one. It was a Solingen trade blade (stamped tang) that was covered in acid etched script.

One of my language teachers at the time had a look and said it read literally as "the word of God" repeated til it covered the blade.
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Old 21st September 2019, 11:01 PM   #3
Jim McDougall
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These 'thuluth' (heavy Islamic script often used in architectural decoration) etched blades are in my opinion from the latter Mahdist period under the Khalifa and believed to have been decorated at the workshops of Omdurman. There were many tribal factions from other African regions brought in for the Khalifas forces, and in order to facilitate the talismanic and magical properties that recalled 'the Sword of the Mahdi', the use of this dramatic theme was applied. This was also well known in use by Mamluks who were previously well established in these regions.

The characters are indeed verses from the Quran, applied in repetition in most cases, but often along with other phrases and invocations. It has often been disputed whether these weapons were actually to be used, or whether they served as standards or rallying point weapons. It seems that many of the indigenous weapons of the many tribes mentioned became part of the armory of weapons of these forces, and this accounts for the wide variety of arms not typically regarded as Sudanese. Many examples of these are found also thuluth covered, and it is thought these may have been awarded to the chiefs or leaders of these factions.

However, I believe that these weapons were typically intended for use, as I know one I have is with reasonably sharp blade, and it is with the brass guard which is typically seen as an element on these. There have been debates as to these thuluth covered weapons being 'tourist souvenirs', however I have seen numbers of accounts of the Battle of Kerrari (Omdurman, 1898) where these were seen among the debris after the battle.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall : 21st September 2019 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 21st September 2019, 11:35 PM   #4
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Funnily enough, mine had a brass guard as well. Alas, it was sold during a period of poverty.....
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Old 23rd September 2019, 01:04 PM   #5
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Very interesting script in that David is spot on with the repeated word for God throughout the main blade although the cartouche or section near the tang says on one side a date 214 (I think) and after that the word Kartoum… I cant read the other side...
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Old 23rd September 2019, 01:37 PM   #6
Kubur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Very interesting script in that David is spot on with the repeated word for God throughout the main blade although the cartouche or section near the tang says on one side a date 214 (I think) and after that the word Kartoum… I cant read the other side...


habibi Ibrahim i think it's 1214 / 1799, it's not the date of the sword, maybe the beginning of something, an anniversary?
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Old 23rd September 2019, 04:08 PM   #7
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Thank you guys for the analysis of these calligraphic inscriptions. As mentioned earlier, these inscriptions, in the style of decorative motif, were intended to literally cover the blade, thus the perceived talismanic imbuement.
The phrases are often from Quranic verses, and perhaps dates in a commemorative sense. It seems there have been other interpretations analyzing these scripts which include dates not consistent with the period of the Mahdiyya, in which these weapons originate.
As Khartoum was originally the center of the Mahdist movement after its capture in 1885, it is likely it may be included in these wordings.
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Old 24th September 2019, 12:09 AM   #8
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Great info, thx!

Here a larger picture of both sides, maybe easier to read.
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