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Old 9th January 2016, 10:54 AM   #1
Cerjak
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Default KASKARA, 19TH C ?

The blade engraved with a stylized city gate and the grip covered with reptile skin.
Any comment on it will be welcome.
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Old 9th January 2016, 11:43 AM   #2
Helleri
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Field herpetology has been a hobby of mine since childhood. I have handled litterally thousands of reptiles and amphibians from all over the globe. Including some Uromastyx, and even a few Sudan plated lizards (animals that would come from the region your looking at for sword origin). Dozens of monitors as well (which are found there but also plenty of other places)...If that is reptile skin. The only thing I can think of that the area of the world your looking at would have access to. And that there would in-fact be a market for. That also has such neatly ordered scales, of that size, and form (relative uniformity, bead-like or worn down, plate-like), would be some species of monitor lizard.
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Old 9th January 2016, 01:38 PM   #3
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Default Field herpetology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helleri
Field herpetology has been a hobby of mine since childhood. I have handled litterally thousands of reptiles and amphibians from all over the globe. Including some Uromastyx, and even a few Sudan plated lizards (animals that would come from the region your looking at for sword origin). Dozens of monitors as well (which are found there but also plenty of other places)...If that is reptile skin. The only thing I can think of that the area of the world your looking at would have access to. And that there would in-fact be a market for. That also has such neatly ordered scales, of that size, and form (relative uniformity, bead-like or worn down, plate-like), would be some species of monitor lizard.


There is some putative reptile skin on the scabbard of African knife I recently posted. I would be interested in Helleri's comments on that.
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Old 9th January 2016, 06:38 PM   #4
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I think the blade may be European. The fuller is far too precise for Sudanese job.
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Old 10th January 2016, 02:38 AM   #5
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This is an example of kaskara probably from around WWI or post and most likely from Darfur. According to Briggs (1965, late XX, B, C) this same curious marking (Briggs terms it 'enigmatic' which we have used for it in recent years) was found on the blades of swords of several Tuareg chiefs in the Kaocen Revolt (1916-17).

In this conflict of Tuaregs vs. the colonial French and in the Air Mountains of Niger, these adherents of the Sanussiya Sufi rose against the French. These marks were found on the takoubas of Adembar, Rabidine and Raidera.

It is interesting to note that Ali Dinar, the last sultan of Darfur was in these times also involved with intrigues against colonial occupation , and he as well was associated with the Sanusiyya Sufi. He was killed by British forces .

While we do not yet know what this 'enigmatic' mark represents, and there have been many suggestions, it does seem quite possible it may have symbolic meaning in the Sanusiyya context.

Regardless it is compelling that this mark occurring on takouba far to the west in the Sahara, also has been found on numerous kaskara as seen here, in the same location on the blade. It is believed the mark has been around since 1870s, but provenanced blades with the mark that early are not known as far as I have known.

The grip covering is indeed monitor lizard of these Sudanese regions (Varanus Niloticus) and is found on many of these Nilotic arms.

The blade does seem quite likely to be a Solingen 'blank' which has been engraved with this curious yet distinct marking, which suggests it is of the 1916-17 period in probably Darfur regions, and quite possibly involved in these very historic events.
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Old 10th January 2016, 03:05 AM   #6
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Jim,
Very impressive!

Google McDougall at his finest.....
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Old 10th January 2016, 10:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is an example of kaskara probably from around WWI or post and most likely from Darfur. According to Briggs (1965, late XX, B, C) this same curious marking (Briggs terms it 'enigmatic' which we have used for it in recent years) was found on the blades of swords of several Tuareg chiefs in the Kaocen Revolt (1916-17).

In this conflict of Tuaregs vs. the colonial French and in the Air Mountains of Niger, these adherents of the Sanussiya Sufi rose against the French. These marks were found on the takoubas of Adembar, Rabidine and Raidera.

It is interesting to note that Ali Dinar, the last sultan of Darfur was in these times also involved with intrigues against colonial occupation , and he as well was associated with the Sanusiyya Sufi. He was killed by British forces .

While we do not yet know what this 'enigmatic' mark represents, and there have been many suggestions, it does seem quite possible it may have symbolic meaning in the Sanusiyya context.

Regardless it is compelling that this mark occurring on takouba far to the west in the Sahara, also has been found on numerous kaskara as seen here, in the same location on the blade. It is believed the mark has been around since 1870s, but provenanced blades with the mark that early are not known as far as I have known.

The grip covering is indeed monitor lizard of these Sudanese regions (Varanus Niloticus) and is found on many of these Nilotic arms.

The blade does seem quite likely to be a Solingen 'blank' which has been engraved with this curious yet distinct marking, which suggests it is of the 1916-17 period in probably Darfur regions, and quite possibly involved in these very historic events.



As always Jim as summed things up very nicely.

The blade is almost 100% a Solingen product likely from the mid to late 19th century. Is there any mark under langet?

I would perhaps give a different view on the regional attribution based on the guard. As I recall the flat tips of the guard are more of a Sennar feature while the flared guard tips are more popular in Darfur.

The mark itself seems to not occur in an Mahdist context or Omdurman with any regularity and as Jim rightly notes the fact that it crops up far to the west gives a good indication of the general region where it was popular.

I realize this is at odds with the idea that the guard is from Sennar!

In terms of dating it is always hard to be precise without a collection note, but I would agree with Jim that the first quarter of the 20th century is likely with the blade probably older.
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Old 10th January 2016, 03:13 PM   #8
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Ariel, thank you so much for the kind words !!
Iain, Im glad you came in on this, here is our 'enigmatic' mark once again.
As you well note it is hard to formulate necessarily accurate dates and regional provenance when these swords were so often reassembled and refurbished in their long working lives.
What is most fascinating is that the swords, composite or homogenous, bearing this distinct type of marking seem to reflect a much more complex system of Sanusiyya organization and insurgence in this period than otherwise realized.
This is the very reason that these weapons are so key in studying history as they have become rather icons of it with their imbued clues.

It still leaves us with trying to decipher what the marking is intended to represent, but we at least know it seems to have to do most likely with this faction of the Sufi Faith.
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Old 10th January 2016, 03:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is an example of kaskara probably from around WWI or post and most likely from Darfur. According to Briggs (1965, late XX, B, C) this same curious marking (Briggs terms it 'enigmatic' which we have used for it in recent years) was found on the blades of swords of several Tuareg chiefs in the Kaocen Revolt (1916-17).

In this conflict of Tuaregs vs. the colonial French and in the Air Mountains of Niger, these adherents of the Sanussiya Sufi rose against the French. These marks were found on the takoubas of Adembar, Rabidine and Raidera.

It is interesting to note that Ali Dinar, the last sultan of Darfur was in these times also involved with intrigues against colonial occupation , and he as well was associated with the Sanusiyya Sufi. He was killed by British forces .

While we do not yet know what this 'enigmatic' mark represents, and there have been many suggestions, it does seem quite possible it may have symbolic meaning in the Sanusiyya context.

Regardless it is compelling that this mark occurring on takouba far to the west in the Sahara, also has been found on numerous kaskara as seen here, in the same location on the blade. It is believed the mark has been around since 1870s, but provenanced blades with the mark that early are not known as far as I have known.

The grip covering is indeed monitor lizard of these Sudanese regions (Varanus Niloticus) and is found on many of these Nilotic arms.

The blade does seem quite likely to be a Solingen 'blank' which has been engraved with this curious yet distinct marking, which suggests it is of the 1916-17 period in probably Darfur regions, and quite possibly involved in these very historic events.


Wow Jim,

very well done! Great response.
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Old 10th January 2016, 04:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Wow Jim,

very well done! Great response.


Thank you Sajen!
It was fun being able to add this information which once again shows us how these weapons can indeed tell us stories about their past.
I am grateful to Cerjak for again sharing yet another intriguing sword we can learn from!
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Old 10th January 2016, 06:51 PM   #11
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Jim and Ian
Many thanks forthis so well documented comments.
There is nothing more to discover ,everything had been say about this sword !
It is great !
Best


Jean-Luc
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Old 10th January 2016, 09:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerjak
Jim and Ian
Many thanks forthis so well documented comments.
There is nothing more to discover ,everything had been say about this sword !
It is great !
Best


Jean-Luc


I would actually say there is quite a lot! While at face value this may seem a typical sword with a mark we have seen before, every example can hold clues to unravel a few of the mysteries that still block our understanding of kaskara and in particular this mark. For me it perhaps resembles a key of the style used by the Tuareg and I would guess other North African groups.

By the way did you have a chance to look at the area of the blade under the guard? I am really curious if there's a stamp or other mark there. Often there is!
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Old 10th January 2016, 11:46 PM   #13
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Iain is right, with these weapons the stories never stop unfolding. I have swords I've had for nearly 40 years or more and still learning on them!
Enjoy Jean Luc!!!
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Old 11th January 2016, 09:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
I would actually say there is quite a lot! While at face value this may seem a typical sword with a mark we have seen before, every example can hold clues to unravel a few of the mysteries that still block our understanding of kaskara and in particular this mark. For me it perhaps resembles a key of the style used by the Tuareg and I would guess other North African groups.

By the way did you have a chance to look at the area of the blade under the guard? I am really curious if there's a stamp or other mark there. Often there is!

Hi IAN
Unfortunately I don't see any mark under the guard ,may be under the rust ?
Also this mark, first of all I thought it was a city gate looking in the old post I found a similar drawing.

best
Cerjak
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Old 2nd September 2016, 02:54 PM   #15
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I believe the mark to be an abstract representation of an Ottoman tugra. It is oriented laterally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerjak
Hi IAN
Unfortunately I don't see any mark under the guard ,may be under the rust ?
Also this mark, first of all I thought it was a city gate looking in the old post I found a similar drawing.

best
Cerjak
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Old 3rd September 2016, 06:50 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
I believe the mark to be an abstract representation of an Ottoman tugra. It is oriented laterally.

Oliver: I have the same kind of blade without a handle or long fuller but with the exact same mark. I seem to recall years ago seeing that mark in a reference book, and it was described as being British. Can't remember which book. I'll try to dig it up if i can............Dave.
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Old 4th September 2016, 05:37 AM   #17
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See the tughra below note the 3 parallel lines .
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Old 12th July 2018, 10:11 PM   #18
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I must have missed this thread. Anyway, here is another sword with the fabled "enigmatic" mark. Its hard to see in the photo taken in 1984 but is just under the langet. Trust me.

The sword is undated, but gifted to Judge al Shengeti c.1956 at Sudan's independence and in his collection Collection in the Univ. of Khartoum.

Best,
Ed
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Old 12th July 2018, 10:27 PM   #19
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Ed,

Thanks for bringing this thread up again. I think it is one of the better examples on this Forum of how broad our members' collective knowledge of ethnographic arms can be. Wonderful information from Jim, Iain, and Ibrahiim.

A mini-classic!

Ian.
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Old 14th July 2018, 03:34 PM   #20
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Oh I'm impressed!
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