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Old 10th November 2022, 03:05 AM   #1
Peter Hudson
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Default Zanzibar, Saiid The Great and his influence on Omani swords and weapons.

Said Sultan jointly ruled Oman from 1804 to 1806 but took control and killed the other contestant and ruled onwards for more than 5 decades and became famous for the far reaching move making Zanzibar the new Omani capital in about 1830/40.

With the support of Indian Traders who held the shipping answer to development of the Trade Hub he virtually converted Zanzibar to the Spice Islands and as a gigantic hub for Slavery, Rhino Horn, Rhino Hide, Ivory, Giraffe Horn, Salt,Textiles and a host of other goods. Trade between America and Zanzibar included thousands of Elephant tusks destined to be piano keys and Ivory pool and snooker balls.

Spices became so important that the industry of spice farming required a gigantic workforce on Zanzibar of slaves although in its own right slavery provided many slave markets in Stonetown through which thousands of African slaves were transported all over the Indian Ocean up the Red Sea around Arabia up the gulf to Persia and Northern Arabia and onward to India and beyond.

Meanwhile the ruler came up with a plan to enhance his own popularity creating the idea of developing a new design for a Royal Hilt to a Muscat Khanjar ..and closely followed by a Royal Hilt to the Sayf Yemaani often termed the old Omani battle sword which originally came about sometime between the 6th and 12th Century. It was a stroke of good luck that one of his wives was very keen to support both the new hilt designs and the new Royal head dress and the new Royal Cumerbund. ...

The driving force behind these designs was..The Persian Princess Sheherazade...She eventually fell out of favour and ran away with her lover and joined the Persian Army . The ruler had many wives and something like 40 children in total.

In a bid to increase his immage he invented a dancing sword called simply the Omani Sayf. It was to be a flexible dancing implement not a weapon but had some design features taken from the old Omani Battle Sword as well as a scabbard similar to it. It was designed with a long hilt and had a flat spatulate tip and razor sharp edges. To give it a warlike feel it was awarded the same shield The Terrs ... as the Old omani Battle Sword and it was entered into the Traditional Funun in the Mock swords battle which was a show only and a winner was awarded by touching the opponents thumb with his swords flat tip on the oponents non sword hand... one touch ended the contest. The last thing the ruler wanted was people being killed while dancing with this item thus the very flexible blade and it had to be able to have the blade bent back as far as the hilt. In fact the blade was made to buzz and vibrate in the air being held by thumb and forfinger whilst the palm of the same hand slapped the long hilt creating the effect. Unlike the Sayf Yemaani which could run an opponent through and chop through head armour.

It was decreed that this accoutrement was to be hoisted on march past of the Monarch and at gatherings of VIPs as well as at weddings and both Eids. Being included in the famous Funun meant that the item was a part of Omani History forever. Soldiers carried the Sayf as they were required to greet the Sultan in a sort of tribal salute shimmering the blades as they leapt in the air ...For killing people Spears, Khanjars and Battle Swords were used as well as Abu Futtilla .. and Canon. Being included in the famous Funun meant that the item was a part of Omani History forever.

To this day it has the same place in Omani Tradition and I have witnessed thousands of Firqat ...local Militia shimmering past the Royal Dias some throwing and catching their Sayfs by the hilts and many others buzzing their swords in the air...but while they looked very warlike this was only designed to greet their leader in the old way designed by the early Sultan.

My plan is to provide members with several short paragraphs outlining other developments during the Omani Zanzibar situation. Please feel free to ask as many questions as you like.

Kind Regards,
Peter Hudson.

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Old 10th November 2022, 04:00 AM   #2
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This is an excellent synopsis of the Oman/Zanzibar situation in the early years of the 19th century, and toward the weapons used in these areas, in particular the conical hilted long sword simply termed the Omani sayf.

The long swords with long cylindrical hilt used in these dance ceremonies became recognized as dynastic symbols, and seems led to the favor of swords of this design to be worn publicly as a sword of office and status by officials and merchants.

There has been a great deal of consternation on the confusing of the dance oriented versions of these long swords with examples made for public wear with substantial European blades which would be fully viable for defensive or combat use.

The sayf yemani (battle sword) has remained outside this confusion and as you have noted, provided certain influences factored into the conical hilt forms which became dynastic forms leaving the traditional design that had been in place many centuries.

Images are of the sayf yemani/battle sword of long traditional history in Oman, primarily with Ibathi in Nizwa interior.

The Omani long sword, sayf as worn by Omani gentlemen as sword of office, status and dynastic symbol of Said.

The Omani/Zanzibari 'kittareh' with curved blade most commonly worn by officials, merchants and slave factors in their expeditions into the interior, however clearly the long swords were present as well.

These are the primary swords in this context, and I look forward the more on the khanjhars and their hilt designs.

Hopefully there will be images of the dance versions of these sayfs which will illustrate the character of the thin blades used in the Funun.

While these have been discussed on a recent thread and of course in threads some time ago, it will be great to have these weapons discussed further here to clarify their character.
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Old 10th November 2022, 08:58 PM   #3
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Here us a brief look at another aspect of the design on Omani Sayf in this case a look at the Royal Signature and the silver design often seen on Sayf Hilts and silver stitched decoration on Omani Khanjar belts.
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Old 10th November 2022, 09:56 PM   #4
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The Kitara . Said the Great had an agreement to send in traders in the Great Lakes region and it is here that the hunter traders came upon the large curved blades of German Cavalry swords which originally had guards and a short hilt on a tang far shorter than the tang on their Sayfs. The blades were huge and curved with a substantial point but stiff not flexible. and with a heavy backblade. What they needed to do was to incorporate this blade, convert it to a style similar to the Sayf and to Omanise the item...thus The Kitara was born.

Bunyoro-Kitara The Kingdom of - The Sword

This was a difficult weapon to trace since the country of Bunyoro-Kitara decided about 10 years ago to cleanse its web sites of any reference to Omani traders slavery or anything related to swords etc...Luckily I got in among their old system before it was wiped clean. Kitara is or was not an arabic word and unless spelled exactly as Kitara it simply didnt compute when searching on the web for a country...however it was dredged up searching through Burton by Jim Mcdougall thus we cracked the problem by chance; The Country was Bunyoro- Kitara sitting in the centre of The African Great Lakes thus Kitara is an African word. tHE blade an adopted and adapted weapon given a long Omani Hilt and an extended tang and pomel and an Omani Scabbard plus The Omani Terrs.

Finally theses swords were very distinctively Omani... The long hilts unmistakeable on either a curved blade or straight and usually the Hunting Patrol accompanied by spear and gunpowder support plus Baluch mercenaries. They were given Carte Blanche to hunt and transport goods to and from Bunyoro-Kitara in a pact lasting probably about 4 decades...and as seen by the map below this shows the importance of the trade route to and from Zanzibar....The Trading Hub of Said The Great..
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Old 10th November 2022, 11:15 PM   #5
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To assist readers here are a few threads to check out;
1. The African Great Lakes and The Omani Empire.
2. The Omani Khanjar.
Indeed the easiest way to do this is to type into search the word OMANI and any Tittle that has the word Omani in it... just whip through it and soak up the detail...Peter Hudson

Just to note that Jim McDougall effectively nailed the provenance of Kitara belonging to Bunyoro-Kitara at #5 thread on The African Great Lakes and the Omani Empire. a couple of years ago where he wrote I Quote"Here we note that the broadswords of Oman and Zanzibar we have known as 'kattara' were clearly well known by the 1850s in the interior of Africa, and with that to the Omani Sultanate in Zanzibar, but they were not known by that term, only as usual, as sayf.
As also shown, these were worn as symbols of prestige and power, but not intended as weapons.

In the regions of the interior, and as clearly adopted from the traditions there, in the then Kingdom of Kitara, the sword was the key element of stature and power, and called KITARA.

From "The Warrior Tradition on Modern Africa", ed. Ali Amin Mazrui (p.24)
"...in Bunyoro too, the word 'KITARA' , means a sword but has historically come to signify an empire, worn by individuals possessed of significant virtue".
from "Bunyoro Kitara in the North Interlacustrine Region",
by G. N. Uzoigwe, "East African Kingdoms".Unquote.

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Old 12th November 2022, 04:02 AM   #6
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Thank you very much for noting that research of some years ago where in the voluminous text characteristic of Burton, I happened upon this remarkable comparison. I found other corroboration for the 'kitara' sword and the term which seemed compellingly to fit with the Omani term 'kattara' for their swords.

As can be seen on concurrent threads, there is often a great deal of concern and debate on the proper terms used to describe certain ethnographic sword forms, currently those of India.

In the case of the Sudanese 'kaskara' I began trying to find the origin and application of that term for their familiar broadswords. Over years, I had no success and virtually nobody I reached out to had any idea where the term came from. Further, it seems there is virtually no awareness of the term with the people of the Sudan, their term for these simply, sa'if.

I had however found that the earliest use of the term was by Burton (1884) in his "Book of the Sword", but he made so specific mention of the origin of the term, but just used it to describe the sword.

It was not until Iain Norman, years later in his research on North African tribes found that this was a Baghirmi term, and the Burton use of it seems to have somehow influenced writers to apply it accordingly.

This seems to be a familiar circumstance at how certain terms for certain ethnographic forms which become commonly used in 'collectors parlance' .
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Old 12th November 2022, 07:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
1. The African Great Lakes and The Omani Empire.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=27256


Quote:
2. The Omani Khanjar.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14878
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Old 12th November 2022, 09:48 PM   #8
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I found this buried at the end of one of the above khanjar references:


It shows an Omani armed with his weapons issued from the common store in case of impending attack. The sword I thus assume is fit for battle. the sturdy grip seems to differ from the 'dancing'/Ceremonial type, and the blade looks like a wicked slashing weapon.
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Old 13th November 2022, 05:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
I found this buried at the end of one of the above khanjar references:


It shows an Omani armed with his weapons issued from the common store in case of impending attack. The sword I thus assume is fit for battle. the sturdy grip seems to differ from the 'dancing'/Ceremonial type, and the blade looks like a wicked slashing weapon.
Dear kronckew, The rifle looks like a Martini Henry .. The 4 Ringer Khanjar looks to be on an Ivory hilt. The sword is a dancer . The key to its description is a flat flexible double edged blade on a Long Omani Hilt. Its The Sayf. Pageants only.

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Old 13th November 2022, 07:04 PM   #10
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I think one of the most confounding problems for arms historians beyond the semantics in describing weapons verbally is the introduction of the CDV (=carte de visite) which was a French convention , sort of forerunner of the post card. Photography was a way to dramatize visually the figures in places, events, and often of course ethnographic persona.

One of the most colorful anecdotes on this I recall was a film maker (the later movie making version of this) during the time of Pancho Villa. He wanted to film, in real time, an actual attack of his men against the Federale forces.
He did so, but declared the film useless because the 'action' was too boring.

These images of soldiers, warriors, etc. are almost typically staged by photographers of the time who often carried weapons in their 'kit' to be used as props, or assembled weapons at hand which would add impetus to the image.

In the case of this Omani warrior, he looks intimidating, but while the Martini-Henry was of course quite likely in the hands of every warrior, as this was their primary weapon of the time. It would be unusual for the rank and file warrior to have an ivory hilt khanjhar, and this sword of course was handy for a photo op.

It is clear that visits by travelers, writers, or diplomats were presented with performances staged with these swords, and these were described by those early visitors like Fraser and Wellstead in the years nearing mid 19th c.
The fact that there were 'long swords' such as the well mounted examples of these swords present in degree among the Omani's of course would cloud the form itself between the performance types and those swords of office with trade blades.
Just as with the CDV, diplomatic performances, and travelers narratives, it is about effect, and as seen, often compelling.
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Old 13th November 2022, 08:23 PM   #11
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Dear JIM,

I admit I may have been confused as I havent recognised the picture of the guard from any of the references by kronckew even though they refer to my much earlier threads ...The problem is I think this is a late picture and may show not an Ivory hilt on the Khanjar but a white plastic hilt....thus the confusion to some degree... However the age of the picture can be ignored as the sword type is Sayf and although it looks warlike and has two sharp edges it is a pageantry item only. The date is irrelevant since dancing swords are part of the time honoured Funun which is everlasting as the traditions are passed down from father to son in Oman. Palace and Fort guards were issued dancing swords with which they could herald the ruler should he visit...as well as enacting the Razha dance and mimic sword fight contest. It should be remembered that the Terrs was inherrited to accompany the Sayf and added to
the curved Kitara.
It is remarkable how many parts of the swords were designed into these three items down the centuries as well as the use of a redesigned Royal Khanjar hilt adorning the Royal Khanjar and a very similar hilt fashioned for the ancient Sayf Yemaani.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.
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Old 13th November 2022, 09:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Peter Hudson View Post
Dear JIM,

I admit I may have been confused as I havent recognised the picture of the guard from any of the references by kronckew even though they refer to my much earlier threads ......

Regards,
Peter Hudson.

Found the reference, had a contorted search path to it. From an actual Omani website:


https://khanjar.om/Past.html
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Old 14th November 2022, 04:32 PM   #13
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It is s lightly obscure reference...The Falaj was a water course or qanaat (Channel) often seen running for miles from a mountain source and often underground¬ narrow and lined with stone and with access towers so diggers could repair the system if required.
The spear is also important and was called a Rumi and that name was given to the rifle as well / Certainly the Khanjar was used in close quarters to finish an opponent.but I suspect this one is not Ivory but from a relatively new foto and actually plastic .For readers wishing to review it I offer the in depth study at Omani Khanjars....

Perhaps key to the architecture and layout of Omani Forts is detailed on Omani Forts and Cannon...for example I quote" Important forts such as al-Hazm or Jabrin also had their own falaj, or water-supply channel, running through the lower level. If this was blocked by attackers, several wells provided an alternative in time of siege. To mitigate the scorching climate, windows of forts such as Nizwa and Rustaq invariably face north to let in cooling breezes. Sitting rooms are thick-walled and served by natural air conditioning: Cool air blows in through large lower windows, and rising hot air escapes through small upper windows." Unquote.

Thank you for contributing.

Peter Hudson.

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Old 18th November 2022, 11:18 AM   #14
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Qanat <-wiki link with Photos. They are 1st used 3,000 years or so ago.
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Old 24th November 2022, 11:41 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Peter Hudson View Post
Dear JIM,

I admit I may have been confused as I havent recognised the picture of the guard from any of the references by kronckew even though they refer to my much earlier threads ...The problem is I think this is a late picture and may show not an Ivory hilt on the Khanjar but a white plastic hilt....thus the confusion to some degree... However the age of the picture can be ignored as the sword type is Sayf and although it looks warlike and has two sharp edges it is a pageantry item only. The date is irrelevant since dancing swords are part of the time honoured Funun which is everlasting as the traditions are passed down from father to son in Oman. Palace and Fort guards were issued dancing swords with which they could herald the ruler should he visit...as well as enacting the Razha dance and mimic sword fight contest. It should be remembered that the Terrs was inherrited to accompany the Sayf and added to
the curved Kitara.
It is remarkable how many parts of the swords were designed into these three items down the centuries as well as the use of a redesigned Royal Khanjar hilt adorning the Royal Khanjar and a very similar hilt fashioned for the ancient Sayf Yemaani.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.
I have one such dancing sword. First it is marked with Passau Wolf, (likely forged, but anyway it was forged to mark the combat excellence of the weapon). Second, it is the arm of gunpowder era, so auxilliary and symbolic at least. Third mine iz razor sharp what wouldnt be needed for dancing. Fourth - the main enemy it was used for was the naked man from Equatorial Africa. I wouldn not be pleased to be treated with it on my bare back...Anyway - when I see it I dont think of fancy dancing but of proud any European feel bearing smallsword, which in 19th century was not for battle or even duel but not for dancing also.
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Old 24th November 2022, 01:09 PM   #16
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I have one such dancing sword. First it is marked with Passau Wolf, (likely forged, but anyway it was forged to mark the combat excellence of the weapon). Second, it is the arm of gunpowder era, so auxilliary and symbolic at least. Third mine iz razor sharp what wouldnt be needed for dancing. Fourth - the main enemy it was used for was the naked man from Equatorial Africa. I wouldn not be pleased to be treated with it on my bare back...Anyway - when I see it I dont think of fancy dancing but of proud any European feel bearing smallsword, which in 19th century was not for battle or even duel but not for dancing also.
Grendolino, The classic mistake made by many people is to think that this was a weapon. The very warlike appearance of the warriors carrying it and the razor sharp edges as well as it being accompanied by the Terrs shield suggest that it was a weapon BUT it was not. Pageant only and as outlined in the Razha described in the Funun traditional dances and pantomime events, mimic sword fights and agressive march pasts and salutations to the Ruler...and at Eids and weddings. The weapons that did the damage were the Abu Futtilla and the Spear and occasionally the Khanjars.( and Cannons) Please include a foto of the blade mark as a lot were copied marks .
Regards, Peter Hudson.
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Old 24th November 2022, 02:09 PM   #17
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As Peter has said, it is a common perception that these were fighting swords as the hilt form was shared by the lighter dance (Razha) forms LOOKED the same as the many examples which DID have heavy,(and of course forged) blades.

The hilt form had been created in the early 19th century by the sultan Said the Great who did so for the purpose of dynastic symbolism in the ceremonies as well as other key alterations in the khanjhar daggers and other regalia items. The elements of these items did reflect traditionally those of the arms of the past, as noted by Peter.

The point is that these unique open cylindrical hilts were keenly recognizable as Omani, and became popularly worn with notably substantial European blades (a status symbol in themselves) as swords of office, status and prestigious accoutrements. These were often highly embellished in that accord and worn officials, merchants and of course slave factors, and of course were often present on the expeditions into Africa from the Omani Sultanate in Zanzibar.

This is why the famed British explorer noted these swords as 'worn by Arab gentlemen' in his "Book of the Sword" (1884) and both he and his contemporary August Demmin (1877) commented on failing to understand how these might be wielded effectively (with European swordsmanship in mind of course).

Still, it remains that while the TWO types of these open hilt Omani sayf appeared the same visually, the examples worn by 'gentlemen' in status oriented aplomb COULD have been used defensively in some degree if no alternative.

This is much in the same analogy noted by Grendolino with Europeans wearing fancy court swords, which were for 'show' in the same way. While most had 'similar' appearances to the swords with similar hilts which were actually epee's indeed used in dueling and defensive swordplay, the 'court' swords would not serve well in combat circumstances.
Again, the small sword itself was indeed worn by officers, and used as required.
Their effectiveness is well shown in the case of Lt. Maynard in his foray to capture Blackbeard the pirate in 1718. In the heat of combat, the blade of Lt. Maynards smallsword was broken as he tried to fight with it.

As Peter has well noted, the key weapons used against foe in Africa were firearms, the khanjhar (obviously close quarters) and in some cases in more fixed combat, cannon when at hand.
African tribes (with few exceptions) did not use swords as weapons, with their key weapons spears and axes mostly, some arrows in cases.
Much in the same way as these Omani weapons are described, the sword was most often held symbolically in African tribal situations.

As another analogy, the American Indian tribes are often shown with swords, obviously acquired through various means and of various forms. In most cases these were symbolic of power, and typically held by chiefs or important warriors only. There were several exceptions where swords were notably present and used by warriors, but these are rare exceptions. The notion that Indians used swords because there are images of them holding swords are much in the same presumption of certain sword types used because they are pictured held by tribal figures.
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Old 27th November 2022, 05:21 PM   #18
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Jim,
Thanks for your important reply. It may be noted that of the thousands of these sayf I never saw one that could have been classed as a fighting weapon. I saw many curved Kitara but I never saw any that I could say were a fighting sword ...Thus I have to say none of these were meant for battle.

The Omani Battle Sword known as the Sayf Yemaani was their only battle Sword and covers many hundreds of years in that role and probably predates the 12thC. My thoughts have always been to place it at the beginning of Omani Islam thus pushing the date much further and as the name implies its likely origin could have been Hadramaut Yemen and closely linked to Sword of the Prophet examples.

Although this post is not focussed on Sayf Yemaani it is vital to see how that sword was integrated into the design of the Straight Sayf Dancing Sword and how the Straight Sayf influenced the Curved Kitara....particularly in the Hilt and the award of the Terrs Shield.

While the key document is technically an unwritten Funun Tradition there are compelling museum exhibits and reference books proving the influence of Said the Great and other doctrines from The African Great Lakes. What is clear is how the ruler Said The Great was instrumental in steering the design of the Royal Omani Khanjar hilt and the parallel form of hilt onto the Omani Battle Sword. He convinced and managed the politically superb idea to unite his people with the clever invention of a pageantry sword ...The Straight Sayf ...and even ensured that the hilt form was transmitted onto the next variant which was a curved heavy backbladed item The Kitara. Sketches at library from the Zanzibar Slavery markets at that time circa 1850 depict Omani Slavers with that item and accompanied by Terrs shields.

At library are sketches and photographs of Sultan Bargash and in the 1970s Sultan Qaboos with this weapon. Moreover it was Said The Great who devised and executed the plan to use Zanzibar as his new capitol and encompass the hinterland of Africa placing treaties with local rulers and gaining exclusive trading, hunting and slavery rights throughout the region via the Zanzibar hub particularly from Bunyoro-Kitara;
The Kingdom of The Sword.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.

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Old 27th November 2022, 07:42 PM   #19
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It has been some time since we covered the particulars on these swords, and I recall it does seem the Omani sayf, with open cylindrical hilt as discussed, evolved as a derivative of the 'sayf Yemani'.

These sayf Yemani were with a crossguard with downturned quillons which were a style from the earliest Islamic hilt forms and were considered sacrosanct in the Ibathi Faith which remained situated in Nizwa in Oman, and through the centuries in a number of other regions, notably Basra in Iraq.

These swords were indeed 'battle swords' and undoubtedly were used as such through the centuries. If I recall, when Sayyid Said bin Sultan al Busaidi took rule in 1804, he had wished to move toward a more 'modern' approach to the dynamics of his regime. As noted, the creative revamping of the styling of traditional weaponry and the enhancement of the sword dance in the dynastic elements of the regime were among ways he sought to accomplish this.

I realize there are a lot of complex details in all of this, which explain much, but this is basically what I have understood.

By this time in early 19th c., the advent of firearms had largely overtaken the use of the sword in battle, despite the sword still held as the key weapon in more of a symbolic sense in the fundamental Islamic tradition.

Even as the more 'modern' open hilt sayf gained popularity to the point it became 'symbolic' in the Sultanate , and worn as a sword of office and status, there were examples of the traditional sayf Yemani which were embellished notably and seem to have been intended in a commemorative sense.

With the curved 'kittareh', these seem to have evolved from the number of German saber blades circulating in trade networks in the 19th c. (as noted in Burton) and as readily available, simply mounted in the 'dynastic' hilt form of the Sultanate. As these seem to have been early associated with these expeditions from Zanzibar into Bunyoro (Kitara) it would seem that these curved examples would have been worn with a certain 'swagger' by influential merchants (including slave factors) who had been 'in the field'.
This would be best described as in the manner of the 'Bowie' knife so characteristically worn in the American frontiers.

These weapons worn in this manner, are intended to be used if necessary, however when firearms are the primary arm, their actual use was mostly incidental and as required.
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Old 27th November 2022, 10:41 PM   #20
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Hello Jim ...That is a reasonable way of putting it... Regards Peter Hudson.
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Old 2nd December 2022, 07:14 PM   #21
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Looking again at my #1 the importance of Said The Great and the incredible idea of taking Zanzibar is vital to our understanding of this great leader.

The concentration on mercantile activity was symbolised by the change of capital from interior Rustaq to coastal Muscat in 1784, and by a new overseas expansionism. Between the 1750s and the 1850s, Oman re-established its authority over the islands of the Strait of Hormuz, leasing them from the Persians, secured more than 100 miles of the Makran coast of Baluchistan, reasserted its claims to Dhofar and to the ports of East Africa, and even attempted to take Bahrain. The Mazrui rulers of Mombasa were repeatedly attacked and finally submitted in 1837. The Omani fleet once again became the most powerful local force in the Indian Ocean, if not throughout the East.

The architect of this remarkable Omani expansion in the early Nineteenth Century was the Sultan Seyyid Said, who reigned from 1804 to 1856. He ordered vessels from Indian shipyards, including, for example, the 74-gun Liverpool, launched in 1826, which from 1836 became the Royal Navy Imaum. He possessed in all fifteen western-style warships, as well as a vast fleet of Arab vessels, which could be used for both commercial and military purposes. He could probably embark as many as 20,000 troops. When the Sultan arrived at Zanzibar in East Africa in 1828, his fleet consisted of one 64-gun ship, three frigates of 36 guns, two brigs of 14 guns, and 100 armed transport dhows with about 6,000 soldiers.

Seyyid Said also diversified Oman's economy, and hit upon the idea that the East African coast could become a much surer source of wealth than the problematical trade of the Gulf. As far back as 1696, the Omanis had sacked the island of Zanzibar, then a loyal ally of the Portuguese; Said visited it several times in the early part of his reign to inspect its potential. By the time the Sultan moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1840 he had established a highly successful economic system there: an Omani emigrant plantocracy was cultivating cloves, successfully introduced into Zanzibar in 1828, and Indian agents and capitalists, for centuries familiar in Oman and on the East African coast, were capitalising the ivory and slaving caravans which tapped the animal and human resources of the far interior of East Africa.

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Old 3rd December 2022, 04:54 PM   #22
Jim McDougall
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I think what is important here,from our perspective as students of arms and armor is this insight into the fascinating history of Oman and Zanzibar and how these weapons, in particular the Omani sayf, became notably a distinct dynastic leitmotif for Sultan Seyyid Said.

This innovative ruler effectively brought Oman closer into the modern world, and he used visible and often almost theatrical elements to bring Omanis into his 'fold' and the dynastic changes he was creating.

The Omani sayf and khanjhar remain seen in Omani flags and symbolism, which well illustrates their importance, and as an example how weaponry is often so important in history.

While in most cases subtle, there are many where certain cultures and ethnicities are known for or even represented by the weapons they are known for.

Some examples I think of would be the Saxons, who were known for their weapon, the seax, a sword or heavy knife of varying size.

In India, the people known as Kattee, have as their symbol, the Indian katar dagger, and these are symbolically seen as the representation of a man's honor, and oaths and agreements are sealed with being sworn on this weapon. I have seen swords with the katar as a stamped symbol on the blade.

The point is that weapons are often iconic in history, and for me, personally, the study of history is most dynamic in knowing more on the weaponry of all forms that was present and used in events and times. It becomes even more dynamic as these reflect various influences and diffusion in the confluence of cultures, groups, and many other factors.
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Old 3rd December 2022, 05:46 PM   #23
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Thanks Jim, Your support has been superb all the way through Omani Swords.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.
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