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Old 23rd September 2014, 05:38 PM   #1
blue lander
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Default Manding sword

I just picked this one up, it seems to be pretty old. The artwork on the scabbard look burned or etched into the leather. I assume the ink they used was acidic and it eventually ate through the leather.

The blade itself is a little strange. It's about as thick as a machete with no distal taper. There's a wide fuller on each side but it's very shallow, you can barely make it out in pictures. The steel itself doesn't look that old.

I don't think it's a recycled military blade. The only clue as to its origins are some waves on the spine of the blade towards the tip. Perhaps these used to be teeth and it was made from an old saw?
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Old 24th September 2014, 03:35 PM   #2
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IT LOOKS LIKE A GOOD OLDER EXAMPLE WITH ALL ITS PARTS THERE. IT DOES SHOW USE AND WEAR SO IT WAS USED AND BELONGED TO SOMEONE AND WAS NOT JUST COLLECTED NEW. I SUSPECT JUST ABOUT ANY STEEL WAS USED IN THAT COUNTRY SO A SAW IS POSSIBLE IF THE BLADE IS THIN AND FLEXIBLE LIKE A SAW BLADE. THE DECORATION ON THE SCABBARD MAY GIVE SOME IDEA AS TO THE SPECIFIC REGION AND TRIBE BUT IF IT DOES I DON'T HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE TO SAY.
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Old 24th September 2014, 04:45 PM   #3
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Thanks. It is thin and flexible like a crosscut saw. The only unsaw-like thing about it is the fuller, but its so shallow it may have been added later.

It has no edge though. It's almost as thick at the edge as it is at the spine.
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Old 24th September 2014, 07:24 PM   #4
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WHEN FIREARMS REPLACED EDGED WEAPONS SOME SWORDS WERE STILL WORN. IN THE EARLY YEARS THEY WERE LIKELY STILL EDGED AND A GOOD BACK UP WEAPON BUT IN LATER YEARS PERHAPS BECAME A ITEM OF DRESS AND NOT A WEAPON. STILL A ETHNOGRAPHIC ITEM BUT NO LONGER A FUNCTIONING SWORD BUT JUST FOR SHOW, DANCE AND CEREMONY.
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Old 24th September 2014, 08:22 PM   #5
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& to sell to those who travel for pleasure...

Unsharpened isn't a good sign...

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Old 25th September 2014, 08:27 AM   #6
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Most of the time they use springs of old trucks to do the blades.
It is not an old sword.
I will post later an old example with a military French blade of the end of 18th.
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Old 25th September 2014, 11:38 AM   #7
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It is not mine but it will give you a good idea of an old one

http://www.ebay.com/itm/120663514173
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Old 25th September 2014, 04:49 PM   #8
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I agree it isn't very old but I doubt it was made for tourists. It seems well worn and appears to have been handled a lot over the years.

I think it may have recently spent some time in a damp basement or something. The blade had a lot of old deep black rust on it, but a lot of new red rust as well. And the leather scabbard feels brittle like it's been wet and dried out.
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Old 25th September 2014, 08:44 PM   #9
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North west African swords & leather get to look very old very quickly..

Do you think locals will buy a sword even for dancing that doesn't cut? Why? there poor so you might as well have a sword that cuts.....

Tourism was common there from the early 70s....

But you pays your money & takes your choice,

In my collecting Id rather have 1 museum worthy,high quality very early or unusual historical piece than 15 bits of the lowest quality echelon , but that's just me, many collectors prefer to buy cheap & pile high... I guess its all good.

And there collections are much larger than mine!

I like cheap old poor condition genuine pieces for study, but cant comprehend why people want modern virtually non functional pieces? To my mind a sword should cut!

But that's just me , fool as I am...


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Old 25th September 2014, 09:59 PM   #10
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Sometimes it is necessary to see an old and functional weapon side by side with a "tourist" weapon to understand the different, this is a learning process IMHO. Special when you never before have handled a particular weapon.

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Old 25th September 2014, 10:16 PM   #11
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Old 26th September 2014, 07:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Sometimes it is necessary to see an old and functional weapon side by side with a "tourist" weapon to understand the different, this is a learning process IMHO. Special when you never before have handled a particular weapon before.


Your quite right of course Sajen , I must admit Id forgotten those days.

Apologies BL.

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Old 26th September 2014, 08:27 AM   #13
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My two colleagues are so right.
Now, I don't know how these French blades arrived in the Sahel region.
Most of the old blades are from the end of 18th and beginning of 19th.
Are they trade blades, let's say old blades, sold to indigenous populations?
Or these blades have been captured during fights with the French army, later in the 19th century: even during the conquest of Algeria...
Mystery...
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Old 26th September 2014, 04:41 PM   #14
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North Africa has been a vast commercial entrepot well into ancient times, and the complex networks of caravan routes have been long established.
Colonization also adds to the complexity of trade, as may be expected, and the 19th century brought the French into large areas across the North African sphere.
The presence of French blades throughout these regions is of course also quite expected,as their military occupied vast areas through Morocco, Algeria and others in considerable degree.
It is always a much romanticized notion that native arms using military blades may have been 'captured' in combat, however in most cases weapons and their components were often sold or traded as they became surplus. There are always notions as well of exuberant Legionnaires trading off their weapons in enthusiastic times off duty, but these cases would be incidental.

As has been noted, this Manding sabre, appears yet again another example of industrious native innovation, and a 'blade' fashioned of old sheet steel or discarded scrap (as mentioned old vehicle springs, tools, various metal implements). This is a common phenomenon in native context in colonial regions, not just in Africa but in Asia and other spheres as well. Typically of course, there are sufficient supplies of extant old blades which have circulated for generations, if not even centuries, but availability is the key word.
In the Sudan, during the Condominium, there were considerable supplies of sheet steel entering the occupied regions. In Briggs (1965) there is even an illustration of the suppliers logo off center on a blade fashioned of this type steel . The metal fixtures on scabbards often still carried product logos off tins used for their metal.

In many native cultures, a sword is more a symbolic accoutrement of status, even effectively a rite of passage of sorts for young men, well into modern and even present times. It need not necessarily be a combative piece (though obviously preferred), but does require the traditional traits of the weapons used widely by the tribal groups.

As has been noted, typically there is considerable poverty among tribes, and innovation becomes rather an admirable solution as these people seek to preserve their tradition in any way possible, even using poor materials.

In my perspective, the term 'tourist' is far too cavalierly used, as these weapons are usually produced with ironically superior characteristics which duplicate authentic arms with intent to deceive. This example clearly does answer that criteria, but the leatherwork and hilt (which may be from an authentic older example) respond well to the purpose the sword was likely intended. ..a weapon to be worn by a tribesman following his traditions.
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Old 26th September 2014, 04:51 PM   #15
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Hello Jim,

I also don't like the word "tourist" in this context. So I add every time " "!
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Old 27th September 2014, 01:51 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Jim,

I also don't like the word "tourist" in this context. So I add every time " "!


Thank you Sajen, and I liked the perfectly placed suggestion you noted in the comparison of these kinds of examples, nicely said.
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Old 27th September 2014, 08:05 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you Sajen, and I liked the perfectly placed suggestion you noted in the comparison of these kinds of examples, nicely said.


Thank you Jim!
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Old 27th September 2014, 09:00 AM   #18
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Here the photos of my old one...
You can see the French stamps...
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Old 27th September 2014, 01:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Most of the time they use springs of old trucks to do the blades.
Kubur


Trucks of no use were not that plentiful but sure did exist.

I know of tourist swords from the 50s & 60's being made from tin cans that Europeans discarded. Swords could be made right there in front of you with these smelted tins.

I have read about rail way lines being torn up and turned to sharp pointy things in Ethiopia.

Steel rod used for spear heads.

Almost anything bought to Africa through EU contact was used in many regions.

What iron ore producers and native smiths there were, in native context made weapons suitable for war as the ore was very precious.

One of the type discussed that I sold a few years back and have not yet found another of this quality to replace it.

http://www.swordsantiqueweapons.com/s241_full.html
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Old 27th September 2014, 06:58 PM   #20
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Kubur, exquisite blade of late 18th into 19th c. with Cassignard (Nantes) style decorative motif. It is always outstanding to find these kinds of vintage blades in these Manding sabres, which indeed typically were examples of French origin.

Gav, thank you for adding these exemplars from the spectrum of sources often providing material for blades and various sword components in these colonial areas. In native and frontier contexts, recycling was absolutely necessary when not simply convenient. Countless numbers of these old blades circulated through these regions for more generations than we can imagine.
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Old 29th September 2014, 05:29 PM   #21
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These are all very nice swords that are obviously antiques, but I still don't think my sword is all that bad. It isn't very old, its in rough shape and the blade was never used in combat, but I still think its an authentic ethnographic example that some Manding fellow carried for ceremony or whatever rather than just a tourist bring back . Other than the modern blade, the hilt and scabbard seem to be made with "native" technology.

As for the lack of edge, I know when you buy a south American machete they usually come without an edge. You're expected to put an edge on it yourself.

Last edited by blue lander : 29th September 2014 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 29th September 2014, 05:52 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue lander
These are all very nice swords that are obviously antiques, but I still don't think my sword is all that bad. It isn't very old, its in rough shape and the blade was never used in combat, but I still think its an authentic ethnographic example that some Manding fellow carried for ceremony or whatever rather than just a tourist bring back . Other than the modern blade, the hilt and scabbard seem to be made with "native" technology.

As for the lack of edge, I know when you buy a south American machete they usually come without an edge. You're expected to put an edge on it yourself.



Exactly Please read my post #14.
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Old 29th September 2014, 07:35 PM   #23
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Blue lander you have a very nice ethnographic sword from the 20 c.
For sure it is not a tourist piece!
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Old 29th September 2014, 09:50 PM   #24
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For something to be defined as an arm does it not have to be an actual weapon?

For me it does but other well educated & serious collectors obviously disagree..

It would be interesting to hear views & opinions..




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Old 29th September 2014, 11:08 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
For something to be defined as an arm does it not have to be an actual weapon?

For me it does but other well educated & serious collectors obviously disagree..

It would be interesting to hear views & opinions..




spiral


Interesting question Spiral. I thing you are right, there is a good deal of latitude in the perspective of the study of arms, and of course much of it has to do with perception. There are many 'weapons' which are used ceremonially and ritually and technically do not fall into the scope of weapons which might be used in combat.
Many such weapons such as the 'temple' swords in Indian used by the Nayar's and the curious phurbu or 'ghost dagger' of Tibet, most certainly are not actual weapons, but serve ritually in ceremonies in what we might perceive as a metaphysical sense.

Obviously there are many court and dress swords in various circumstances which would fall severely short in a combat context, yet as we know there are equally as many which remain deadly despite their often ostentatious character.

In these kinds of circumstances in native tribal cultures, as discussed earlier, there are many instances where traditional arms have become more of a dress accoutrement, particularly where they have been long supplanted by firearms as weapons, or in metropolitan context where warfare is not necessarily imminent.

With all of these kinds of essentially non-combative and ritual or ceremonial arms, they are typically included in virtually most references on arms as they represent the traditions often held with similar forms actually used combatively.

I have seen many 'weapons' which border on almost ridiculous, yet they still represented the tradition of arms in many cultures where better examples were not readily present but these ersatz creations served the purpose as either regalia or ceremonial implements.

I suppose it is more about what they represent than what they are in fact capable of. The sword itself has been considered obsolete in most of the world (with obvious exceptions) yet maintains its place traditionally in military dress swords, fraternal swords, and others.

Best regards,
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Old 30th September 2014, 10:21 PM   #26
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I don't see the lack of edge as a big deal. Some elbow grease and a few minutes with a bastard file would be all it'd take to solve that problem. Who knows if it would keep an edge though. The blade had a nice spring temper and on the whole is quite sturdily built. It feels just as usable as a truck spring takouba or kaskara.

I think all we can infer from the blunt edge is that its original owner never intended to use it as a weapon. I think saying it was built to be a costume piece or a wall decoration for some foreigner , IE it wasn't made in the traditional manner or up to weapon grade quality, would be going too far. I think I read somewhere that the Mandinka were known for their leather work, and the blades were just whatever they could get their hands on.

Back to the sword itself, I noticed the "teeth" in the back of the blade are only on the curved part of the blade. Could these actually be impact marks from a hammer? Like perhaps they heated a straight sheet of metal up and pounded a curve into it?
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