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Old 30th March 2019, 04:42 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default The Manding sword, the Tuareg aljuinar and Omani curved kattara: Are they connected?

For many years I wondered about the distinctive curved sabre of the Manding of Mali and contiguous Saharan regions, and if they could possibly have been somehow influenced by the open (without guard) cylindrical type hilts of the Omani saif (kattara).

It seemed there was little interest in the idea, and years later (2016)there was a thread begun seeking the origins and age of the Manding sabre, but again no real progress. It seems the idea of Omani influence was dismissed as there was no evidence of Omani trade extending as far as the Sahara, though in some degree in East Africa with slaving and ivory.


Still if we consider that influences in material culture, religion, and weaponry can be transmitted via networks and interaction in trade centers via the relay factor, then possibilities of diffusion even in absence of persons of other regions with whom they are associated become feasible.


While the 'open' and somewhat cylindrical hilt of the Manding sabre is of course more locally represented, and with a sphere as a pommel it remains in my view mindful of the Omani curved kattara.


Also of interest is that among Tuareg tribes according to findings by Lee Jones in his field research in the Sahara, there were instances of curved blade takouba referred to as 'aljuinar'.
Is it possible these suggest transmission of curved blades, presumably European, from points eastward via trade routes, and perhaps having Omani curved kattara among them?


Also, the distinctive flared scabbard tip, which is characteristic in many if not most kaskara from Darfur and other Sudanese regions, seems to appear characteristically on these Manding swords. While the possibility of any connection is typically summarily dismissed, why are these so consistant on Manding swords, but not seen elsewhere but Sudan?
Is such a pecularity likely to be convergently developed?



It does not seem that the Manding sabre is of particularly early period and seems more likely a product of mid 19th c. They seem most often to be mounted with French cavalry sabre blades, or in some cases with Solingen sabre blades, whose availability in 19th c. colonial and trade activity would support. The Manding were of course among the Mande peoples in the Mali general regions who were primaries in the trade activities there.


It is interesting that the Manding seem to have worn these sabres as a kind of badge of office or prestigious stature much in the manner the curved Omani kattara was worn. It does seem possible that such a convention might have carried through the interaction of traders via the conduit of these networks just as with goods and other matters.


Any ideas on if there might be connections in these loosely similar cases with these sword types?

The bottom photo is of a Manding with what appears an early 19th c. German blade.
The figure wearing the Manding sabre is wearing it much in the manner many Sudanese wear the kaskara….just noting.
The map is focused on West Africa but illustrates the geographic scope tribally of these people.
Mostly the Manding sabres are associated with Timbuktu and Mali (in upper right) and environs in those Saharan regions.
There are 'open' and somewhat cylindrical hilts known in Sierra Leone and others, with some of these swords having three central fuller straight blades like kaskara….again reflecting some sort of influence from the 'east' and Sudan.
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Old 30th March 2019, 09:57 PM   #2
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There is quite literally a geographical crescent encompassing the Manding to Oman. Islam and trade tie the entire region together. Remember Mansa Musa traveled all the way from Timbuktu to Mecca for his haj with an entourage of thousands in the 14th century. I think it is absolutely logical to see a geographical and cultural precedent for a connection between the blades of these cultures. I believe the influence, in this case, would have flowed primarily from east to west.
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Old 31st March 2019, 01:04 AM   #3
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Thank you so much Charles! I had not thought of that key instance and while obviously much earlier than the time period of these sabres, it surely sets the precedent. Now to more research
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Old 31st March 2019, 04:31 AM   #4
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Interesting thread Jim. There is no doubt that the hilt style of Manding swords closely resembles those of Oman. Trade in the "early days" no doubt would have had some bearing on similarity of styles.
I have attached a pic of a Manding sword which I have. While the blade is quite short, and straight, the hilt is guardless and resembles very closely those of Oman.
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Old 31st March 2019, 11:07 AM   #5
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Jim,

Here is a map to help corroborate your thesis/inquiry. Unfortunately, it does not extend as far as Oman, but the route to Arabia is clearly shown.
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Old 31st March 2019, 11:27 AM   #6
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This map is more extensive and shows the trade routes as known/established during the time of the Abbasids.
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Old 31st March 2019, 11:52 AM   #7
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Here is a map of the Omani Empire ca. 1856. The Omani style "nimcha" and the kattara were seen among Arab influenced Muslim populations all along the east coast of Africa including Madagascar and Zanzibar.
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Old 31st March 2019, 12:01 PM   #8
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This thread is a most welcome research document and shows very clear proof by the maps and the sword geometry of the two styles. My question has always been which way around was the influence? It is interesting that the pilgrim routes made famous by Mendinka caravans to Mecca attracted much attention from Arab Muslims and that a lot of a trade was linked and grew to a pinnacle in the 18th and 19thC in the critical period of Saaid Sultan of Zanzibar and Sultan Bargash etc after him> . Where I think the important junction is focusses on The Falls region thus I draw attention to TipuTib:Below... Half Swahili Half Omani Governor of that massive central African region > The trade I speak of is Slavery....and peripheral to it the Ivory and Rhino situation centred on the Zanzibar Hub.
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Old 31st March 2019, 01:08 PM   #9
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With Omani Long Hilts in mind it may be worth observing who was using what types of sword in and around the Zanzibar Hub. since we are talking about the Omanis or Africans here is a sketch of Africans at Zanzibar in a frenzied dance with weapons. thus curved weapons were available in the post Saiid bin Sultan era at Zanzibar ...none of these irregulars appear as Omani or with the commonly carried sword of the Omani contingent ...but the weapon was there having arrived with such slavers as Mendinka or traded down the line ...thus they must have rubbed shoulders with Omani traders and slavers so that technical transfer of these weapons must have been possible and thus the movement of the Omani longhilt on to Mendinka weapons.
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Old 31st March 2019, 03:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Interesting thread Jim. There is no doubt that the hilt style of Manding swords closely resembles those of Oman. Trade in the "early days" no doubt would have had some bearing on similarity of styles.
I have attached a pic of a Manding sword which I have. While the blade is quite short, and straight, the hilt is guardless and resembles very closely those of Oman.
Stu


Thank you Stu!
This curious similarity has perplexed me for many years, and I could never really get a good 'read' on the idea of sort of 'connecting the dots'. Now with this being a very well seasoned venue of weapons investigation thanks to all the years we have all worked together on these mysteries....we are much better at getting to the bottom of them.

This straight version of these West African swords which has of course similarities to the Manding, but has the kaskara like blade (central three fullers). These I have thought associated with straight blade swords of Sierra Leone (often termed 'slavers swords' from the 'slave coast'). The leather work of Manding character seems to often broaden the geographic scope of these similar but slightly varied types.
I added a picture of one of these with the three fuller blade from 2008...…...in the thread I got a good chuckle from our late friend Vandoo…..when he quipped it looked like the sword of Karis from "The Mummy" because of the mummified wrap.

Charles thank you again for these most helpful maps and photos, which really get us in line with much of the Omani sector which Ibrahiim has noted as well. This is all as I mentioned, key in connecting the dots literally across Africa in looking into the relationships of these varying swords.
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Old 31st March 2019, 04:10 PM   #11
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Ibrahim,

The photo of Tibu Tib is awesome, but I not a fan of your second posted pic. That one imho is too stylized and doesn't represent hardly a pretense of accuracy in the weapons depicted, and probably not much better with the people. In fact, the sword in the hand of the fellow to the lower left could practically be a samurai sword! Even the super rare Madagascar round-ish shield(which is what I am assuming he is attempting to render here) is poorly done.

Like you, am thrilled to see this topic pop up as well!
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Old 31st March 2019, 04:17 PM   #12
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Jim,

In the pic attached you can see one guard with a straight kattara, and another guard to the far right with his hand over what must surely be an Omani style nimcha or the style that collectors like to call the Zanzibar/Madagascar sword or "nimcha".
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Old 31st March 2019, 09:23 PM   #13
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Interesting rendering by W. Churchill posted by Ibrahiim, and this man was apparently the brother of the British Council in office in Zanzibar 1867-70.
While it is of course quite likely there is a degree of artistic license in the drawing of this rather wild assembly of characters, it does seem that there was some effort toward accuracy in that the hilt of what looks like that of a 'nimcha' is see held aloft by one central figure.

The curved swords shown of course seem pretty generic, as typically the case in these kinds of drawings which simply are for effect, but the point carried is that there were curved sabres present, not just the familiar straight Omani swords.
Charles this is displayed in the photo you show in the previous post, that there were clearly numerous styles of swords at hand in this bustling entrepot in these times.

The shield noted as of a Madagascar type seems interesting, and though I really don't know shields well, it may be equally 'licensed' as are the swords. I am sure that in the busy enterprise in Zanzibar with trade from many sources brought weaponry and goods of wide array into materials handled.

I think one of the most interesting elements of the Churchill drawing is the possibility that this may be a loose interpretation of the Razha sword dance typically performed with the straight blade Omani sword, but using curved swords. This emphasizes the potential for curved bladed swords of Omani form being carried into the trade routes going into the interior, and from there into the networks toward the Sahara, and Manding regions.
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Old 1st April 2019, 12:25 AM   #14
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I just noticed, to add to the diversity of the drawing by Churchill, the figure with the drum with zig zag motif......that same type of drum is depicted in the motif of a blade of a flyssa I had. Again, it would seem that items from far and wide ended up in Zanzibar! We cannot underestimate the dynamics of trade networking.
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Old 1st April 2019, 01:39 AM   #15
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Jim,

I think the "zig-zags" you are referring to is Churchill's rendering of the cords that bind the top and bottom "heads" of what is often called the "talking drum" and is seen through large swaths of Africa. Of course, I may be wrong.

This is, again, the problem with artists' renderings. Much is left up to perceptions and even the imagination, especially in a drawing as generalized as that one.
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Old 1st April 2019, 02:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Jim,

I think the "zig-zags" you are referring to is Churchill's rendering of the cords that bind the top and bottom "heads" of what is often called the "talking drum" and is seen through large swaths of Africa. Of course, I may be wrong.

This is, again, the problem with artists' renderings. Much is left up to perceptions and even the imagination, especially in a drawing as generalized as that one.


Ahah! so there they are. I had thought the 'talking drums' were from West Africa, and there was an article someplace I had on them. It seemed like so much of the cliche' in Tarzan movies but turned out to be truly fascinating cultural reality.
I need to find that flyssa again.
The thing is, like you say, these or ones like them surely must have appeared in a wide scope in Africa if they were known in Kabyle regions in Algeria.

edit: I just found the reference and it was West Africa, with the concept moving into Saharan regions, Mali, Burkino-Faso etc. and on into Hausa land. From here it is not hard to see how these drums made it well into Algeria, or far to the east.....to Zanzibar. This well concurs with the maps and support for the paths which connected West to East in our study.

The zig-zags are indeed a good example of artistic license, and stylized form. While the zig zags should be cords, the hourglass shape is correct, and the curved sabres' shape mindful of the Samurai style sword may well represent the long hilt of the Omani curved kattara,.

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Old 1st April 2019, 08:59 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Jim,

I think the "zig-zags" you are referring to is Churchill's rendering of the cords that bind the top and bottom "heads" of what is often called the "talking drum" and is seen through large swaths of Africa. Of course, I may be wrong.

This is, again, the problem with artists' renderings. Much is left up to perceptions and even the imagination, especially in a drawing as generalized as that one.




I agree the sketch is only a sketch...Pity Churchill didn't take a photograph of this scene. What I am trying to convey is the blades. these are curved and carried by African not Omani dancers said to be irregulars in the Zanzibar military contingent. I only show this to suggest that the curved blades were there in Zanzibar ...It may thus be logical that the weapons were arrived from interaction through trade with Manding...and the date( known from churchills time there) adds weight to the trade in slavery being at an all time high in the latter part of the 19thC and that Manding would have been there in large numbers trading ...when the artist was there.

My further hypothesis being that since the Manding were oral ...only passing down information not writing it down ...and since the Omani System The Funun was also similar ( here is where the problem exists...no written evidence), it is almost impossible to ascertain the copied direction or exactly when it was that these hilts moved from one tribal system to another wholly or in part. What I think is obvious is that they were copied and I would go with the East West concept or rather that the hilt moved in two directions concurrently encompassing Omani and Manding at the same time... What did this look like on the ground as a series of events?

I suggest that the Manding either copied the hilt form of the Omani Long Hilt on the dancing sword and put it to use on their curved Manding sabres and the Omani contingent absorbed the Manding curved blades and furnished them with the Omani Longhilt form copied from their dancing swords.
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Old 1st April 2019, 01:45 PM   #18
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Gentlemen,

I'm not convinced. I see confirmation bias, and we all know that "correlation does not imply causality".

Mainly, why would the Manding, the inheritors of the high cultures of the Mali Empire, appropriate the culture of the Omanis, or the other way around? Basically, why wouldn't form follow function independently for both groups?

Also, opportunities for trade related interaction would be limited. The Manding were a land power that traded north and south. Anything to the East would have been to Darfur and then to Cairo via the 40 Day Road. The route East from Darfur across Kordofon to the Nile is water starved; ask Hicks in 1885. Pilgrims from the East would also follow the 40 Day route, but hit the Nile at about the 2nd-3rd cataract and cut across the desert to Suakin or other Red Sea ports then to Mecca.

The Omanis were a sea trading power with interests on the East African coast into the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and with India. Omani, or other Arab trade with East Africa or Cairo used the same Red Sea ports and cross the Eastern Desert to the Nile and down to Cairo. Also, the Omani's Zanzibar trade (slaves and ivory) was into Africa to the Lakes region. They made their money from taxes and fees and likely didn't make the treks themselves. Why would either Manding traders penetrate into Central Africa when their traded commodities (slaves, ivory & gold) were readily available hundreds on miles closer?

Also, neither the Omanis or Manding hilt styles influenced any of their neighbors.

Pallme (1837-39) travelling in Darfur noted that the people used swords with no guards, but the sheiks' swords have massive hilts of silver. A weak reed for any conclusion. I'm not aware that El Tounsy (1851) and other 19th Cent. travelers in West/Central Africa comment on Manding sword grips.

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Old 1st April 2019, 02:06 PM   #19
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ED it is always a possibility that parallel development happened purely accidentally in unrelated tribal regions...however in this case I suspect the opposite reaction...and it is equally possible that the two groups mixed technology from and onto both their weapons. In my view the drift was East West. The Omanis were in big numbers in the Great Lakes and one of the most famous was governor of the Falls entire massive area >>Tippu Tib who not only gathered and transported slaves to Zanzibar but also owned huge spice farms there and owned 10,000 slaves in The Falls region as well>

If I can quote your querries and add to them here;

Mainly, why would the Manding, the inheritors of the high cultures of the Mali Empire, appropriate the culture of the Omanis, or the other way around? Basically, why wouldn't form follow function independently for both groups?

I don't think they did>>>what appears likely is they commandeered sabre trade blades and seeing the Omani Long Hilt placed their own hilt design in similar style making the pointed stiff curved fighting Manding sabre...with a Manding Hilt...and scabbard...with what I believe was a snake head end..The leather artesans were early converts to islam and would have avoided using decorated snake heads since it was forbidden in Islamic art
To this was added the Manding shield...

The Omanis seeing the Manding curved were so impressed they adopted this curved weapon but dressed with a built on Omani Long Hilt and Omani Scabbard....and to this was added the Omani Terrs Shield .

The Omanis were a sea trading power with interests on the East African coast into the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and with India.

Indeed and in moving their capital to Zanzibar the Omanis in about 1830 boosted trade into this HUB a thousand fold! The Falls was a giant magnet propelled by Tippu Tip who dealt in slavery and the Manding did the same thing ~ actually Manding were rounded up and exported en Masse themselves by Manding accounting for the bulk of slaves entering the Americas...I show the curved blades in the drawing to illustrate that curved blades with sharp points were in Zanzibar at the time Churchill was there after Saiid bin Sultan...and as the trade boomed for the Manding. Not only trade in slaves but Rhino skins for shields and horn for hilts...the falls area was full of Rhino at this time...In terms of Indian trade the Zanzibar rulers allowed the Indian merchants a very free hand in their trade options allowing great flexibility for them without much interference...

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Old 1st April 2019, 03:04 PM   #20
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Ibrahiim,

Tippu Tip was active from c. 1884 onward. Did the material culture exchange occur during that period? Seems pretty late.

Also, the Manding & Omani spheres were thousands of miles apart and in opposite directions with few opportunities for long-term associations or reasons to engage in trade.

Shall we agree to just disagree?

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Old 1st April 2019, 04:20 PM   #21
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Ed, thank you so much for joining us here! Your observations are always key and wonderfully phrased and clarifying, especially toward the situations and development of the kaskara and its place in Darfur and other regions. Your comprehensive command of the history outside these regions is also impressive and extremely valuable in helping us look into this rather large conundrum.

I think there is a disconnect here in establishing either a direct connection between Manding and Omani in the development of the Manding sabre or whether it was convergently evolved.
In the phenomenon of trade networks as a conduit in the diffusion of influences of all kinds, there does not have to be direct contact between Point A and Point B (so to speak). These items, ideas etc. are often, if not typically, exchanged between factors in trade at various connecting points and entrepots, and do not necessarily follow a direct line of development. These matters can evolve over indefinite time and contacts throughout the established networks.

In my suggestion of possible connection between the similarity between the Manding sabre and the curved Omani curved kattara was meant to observe the possibility of influence along these trade channels in this manner.

It seems clear to me that Manding traders themselves would not leave their Saharan sphere of operation to travel to points to the east, nor would they need to. Whatever they needed or wanted literally came to them in their trade hub(s) and the moneys in fees, taxes, or whatever toward the operation of barter and travel through their caravan network routes and was of course local enterprise was their sustenance.

Meanwhile, in the enterprises of the Omani Sultanate in Zanzibar, which not only traded with many countries via maritime networks, but were supplied with goods such as ivory etc. and slaves, and from the interior. It is known that these things were obtained from as far inland as the Great Lakes regions and these activities were observed by Richard Burton c. 1856.

In this period, as he observed, there seem to have been merchants (whom he referred to as Arab gentlemen) who carried the long hilt kattara he so disdained as it was not at all worthy as a fighting weapon. He also noted that others (presumably slave bosses) had sabres which were fitted with cavalry blades which were typically German.

With this, we know (with Burton's key affinity for edged weapons) that this is a remarkably accurate report on the types of swords in the trade and slave activity in these Great Lakes regions, and the Arab's he referred to (from Zanzibar) were of course Omani.

So here we can establish both the Omani long hilt kattara as well as presumably the long hilt curved kattara in the African interior as far as the Great Lakes. From here, trade interaction with caravans from the north came from and returned to the regions of Sudan and Darfur. The Omani's did not go with them, but surely their influences did.
The traders from the Darfur and Sudan regions equally did not include Manding tribal traders, but again, influences from them surely were present in the same way.

Here we look to the curious element of the flared scabbard tip. This is not present on Omani swords, but it IS on Darfur and Sudan kaskara. Is it possible that traders carried the Oman swords, especially the curved long hilt kattara out of the Great Lakes, then into Darfur regions. As the caravans left to travel westward through Chad and Bornu into the West African Sahara, could they have brought both kaskara (with flared tip scabbard) and sabres with long hilt"?

In the Saharan regions, perhaps the Tuareg traded with the caravans, and possibly curved blades intrigued them. Here then was the initiation of the 'aljuinar', the curved takouba in effect. The flared scabbard kaskara did not interest them, they would not have seen the purpose of such a scabbard feature and they already had a broadsword....the takouba.

Now to Mali and the Manding, the flared scabbard may well have caught the attention of these West African people. In West Africa, the python is keenly revered in the folk religions which include Vodun. Perhaps the shape recalled the head of the python, very much as in Sudan, it may have signified the python OR the crocodile.

While the curved blades of the kattara sabres as noted carried German blades as found in Zanzibar (from British sources as well as German) ..in Saharan regions there was an abundance of French blades. In swords, as long established, it is very much about availability. Here I would note that Manding swords are typically with French curved blades.

In Manding swords, as well as the number of Tuareg aljuinar, there are even cases of British blades, notably as I have seen by MOLE.

So this is primarily my take on these matters, and the dynamics of how I think these three types of swords may be connected. It is my impression these things took place in basically the mid 19th c. as we know Burton observed the Great Lakes situation c. 1856, and as always, we may presume the circumstances noted had been in place for some time prior.

I do not think the Manding sword has its beginnings much before the 1820s or 30s, any more than likely the curved Omani kattara, naturally the aljuinar is likely somewhere between as it is basically an anomaly which probably resulted through exposure to these sabres in trade caravans.

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Old 1st April 2019, 06:16 PM   #22
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Jim,

Quote:
"So here we can establish both the Omani long hilt kattara as well as presumably the long hilt curved kattara in the African interior as far as the Great Lakes. From here, trade interaction with caravans from the north came from and returned to the regions of Sudan and Darfur. The Omani's did not go with them, but surely their influences did.
The traders from the Darfur and Sudan regions equally did not include Manding tribal traders, but again, influences from them surely were present in the same way. "

While your hypothetical is well presented and sounds reasonable, I still can't imagine that either Manding (via Darfur) agents and or Omani (via Swahili) agents had any profit to be had by inter-trade across the river basins of Central Africa including the Bahr el Ghazel. They both had ample slaves and ivory in their home territories and other goods could be had via their other traditional supply lines. Speke and Grant made the Zanzibar-Lake Victoria-Gondokoro, South Sudan on the Nile in the Oct. 1860-Jan. 1863 period. But other than to find the source of the Nile, what would be the point.

Best,
Ed
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Old 1st April 2019, 10:29 PM   #23
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Ed,
I think that I may not have properly emphasized, it was not that any sort of profit oriented trade or materials were being 'brokered' via these trade routes and networks, it is simply that these networks were a conduit for 'influences'.

If I travel to Europe, and am wearing a pair of boots from Texas, is it possible that someone or even a number of people might find them interesting, and wish to also have this kind of boots. While my purpose there might have nothing to do with selling boots, still they have attracted interest, and perhaps initiate some degree of influence.

It was not about transiting goods into these other regions, but the fact that caravans did traverse through many regions and connect with other caravans from other regions. Is it not possible that just normal human interaction, not commerce, might have exposed and transmitted influences across these great distances?

We see this constantly in fads, fashions and popular culture. The interest in something 'exotic', unusual to ones locale, and which would be thought to enhance ones status or mystique.

The Swahili factors in the Great Lakes who were operating along with Omani merchants of course had no interest in Darfur or the Manding, if they had even ever heard of them. However, 'things' which came from those regions were certainly of interest in some degree, even if only a curiosity.

Burton (and Demmin, 1877) both saw the so called Zanzibar swords (with an H type hilt), but had no idea these intriguing dirk like swords had originated in Morocco, also on the other side of the continent.....and were actually the local daggers termed s'boula.
How had they arrived in Zanzibar? Was it Moroccan agents setting up shop in Zanzibar? Of course not, but somehow, these had arrived in Zanzibar and in sufficient number to have been thought from there by these observers. It was not until Buttin (1933) set the record straight.

The diffusion of such things as styles, ideas, fashion, religion and others does not require a structured system of transmission, nor profit oriented agency in certain contact points to move in fact. almost randomly. This is primarily what I was trying to say.
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Old 2nd April 2019, 08:39 AM   #24
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Ibrahiim,

Tippu Tip was active from c. 1884 onward. Did the material culture exchange occur during that period? Seems pretty late.

Also, the Manding & Omani spheres were thousands of miles apart and in opposite directions with few opportunities for long-term associations or reasons to engage in trade.

Shall we agree to just disagree?

Best,
Ed


Agree completely Ed, completely different spheres here with really no interaction. As per the last time this came up, I really cannot see why it is so hard to conceive that two different cultures managed to wrap a tang with a leather grip and add a pommel...

Regarding the aljuinar, this is quite literally nothing more than the term for a curved blade when mounted in takouba hilts. No great mystery here, good blades were good blades and mounted up when available.

Unlike for example the Hausa/Fulani who formed communities within the Sudan, there is no record of Manding doing the same thing.

Sorry guys, but its simply a massive stretch. Even connections between Darfur and the Manding regions, well that would have passed through Hausa communities and Bornu.

There are plenty of cases where we see foreign sword styles introduced into the region, for example the state sword of Argungu in Nigeria, know as the sword of Kanta. This is a likely Persian hilt with lion headed pommel and typical saber quillions. But these are one offs, curiosities incorporated state regalia and likely the result of the common practice of gift giving swords as part of diplomatic relations between the Mamluks, Ottomans and in Africa, we have references for this within Africa as well as per al-Bakri and gifts given to the ruler of Gao on his conversion. These do not necessarily lead to the adoption of these styles as a wide spread model.
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Old 2nd April 2019, 11:55 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Ibrahiim,

Tippu Tip was active from c. 1884 onward. Did the material culture exchange occur during that period? Seems pretty late.

Also, the Manding & Omani spheres were thousands of miles apart and in opposite directions with few opportunities for long-term associations or reasons to engage in trade.

Shall we agree to just disagree?

Best,
Ed


Tippu Tip was active relatively late and in the reign of several Sultans of Zanzibar but what is also important is that his father and grandfather were seasoned hands in the same business and very active before him... and from whom he learned the business. it fact tippu tip was active earlier as below...

In 1855, Livingstone discovered a spectacular waterfall which he named Victoria Falls. Livingstone spent his final years in Africa from 1866 to 1873 searching for the source of the Nile, a journey that led him into the slave and ivory trading stronghold of Tippu Tip.
Livingstone was ill and destitute; Tippu Tip helped Livingstone with supplies and directions. Livingstone wrote this passage in his journal: 29th July, 1867.-Went 2˝ hours west to village of Ponda, where a head Arab, called by the natives Tipo Tipo, lives; his name is Hamid bin Mahamed bin Juma Borajib.

Yes Ed I can always agree with you on this except I know there are many factors and details to consider in concluding this conundrum...but with excellent input like yours Im certain a clearer picture can be built up.

What we were left with when Zanzibar essentially imploded was a clouded impossible to fathom 100 year dark ages where not only facts were twisted but forgotten details sank into a void. Oman only resurfaced in 1970 and so much history was erased, forgotten and lost. I remind readers that the empire built to the south was not a physical owned territory but a vibrant trading interlinked region.. based on a city state HUB (Zanzibar) which collapsed shortly after Saaid the Great died . The picture is by no means clear and much has yet to be revealed. And it is early days yet to form a conclusion >>You aint seen Nuthin' yet would be my advice.

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Old 2nd April 2019, 12:17 PM   #26
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I think it has been pretty clear beginning with Jim's initial post that "proof" here would be next to impossible. What this has given us the opportunity to do is look carefully at a "yes" to connections between the two swords, and a "no" to the same. In both cases, insightful opinions were made, and I can say I am more learned from both! In our hobby, there are a lot of conceivable "what ifs". It's proof that is the hard part, but that doesn't make the wonder of possibilities any less fun.
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Old 2nd April 2019, 03:27 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by CharlesS
I think it has been pretty clear beginning with Jim's initial post that "proof" here would be next to impossible. What this has given us the opportunity to do is look carefully at a "yes" to connections between the two swords, and a "no" to the same. In both cases, insightful opinions were made, and I can say I am more learned from both! In our hobby, there are a lot of conceivable "what ifs". It's proof that is the hard part, but that doesn't make the wonder of possibilities any less fun.



Very well put Charles, and thank you. You have really hit on the theme of this entire exercise, in which my posing of the question of possible connections between these three sword 'forms' was admittedly somewhat specious.
What followed was exactly what I hoped for...literally the 'top guns' offering their valuable insight and rebuttals in a perfectly useful and constructive discourse.


Along with you, I must say that I am more learned from this as well, and while we have not come up with any conclusive resolution, we now have better perspective of what is and what isn't and why.

Thank you so much guys!
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Old 3rd April 2019, 09:25 AM   #28
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To give an idea of scale and time/distance ...but moreover the strategic position as a pivot / springboard between West and East Africa view this map ...Further clues to west east Mandinka movement are noted at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandinka_people
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Old 3rd April 2019, 12:55 PM   #29
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So it would seem that the motivation for Manding movement, though on a more individual scale and incidental rather than a systemic trade movement would perhaps be religiously driven. That is since they are primarily Muslim, the Hadj, and on these caravan trips, I believe persons brought wares and items they would sell to finance their passage.
This is a more feasible idea than massive groups of certain people moving in an almost diaspora like movement for trade or other purposes.

The trade interactions within Saharan regions seem to have also been facilitated by other nomadic groups and territorial tribal movements within certain regional boundaries and their interactions. The Manding people are actually numerous tribes or groups situated in numerous West African countries.
Further East, in Saharan regions, there are tribes such as the Hausa, who are well known blacksmiths and metal workers and account for many of the swords and weapons produced and traded through many tribal groups as well as the caravans.

These are my understandings at least, so I will be grateful for any elucidation required of course.

I had forgotten about the pilgrimage element, which I believe was more an incidental factor in the occurrence of disparite weaponry across the continent of Africa, and which may have triggered certain influences in those of varied other regions. This seems to have been the case with the s'boula of Morocco, which appeared in Abyssinia in number enough to have been presumed an Abyssinian weapon and so classified in some references.
Its travel even continued into Zanzibar, where first Demmin (1877) then Burton (1884) thought it to be a Zanzibar weapon.
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Old 4th April 2019, 11:23 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
So it would seem that the motivation for Manding movement, though on a more individual scale and incidental rather than a systemic trade movement would perhaps be religiously driven. That is since they are primarily Muslim, the Hadj, and on these caravan trips, I believe persons brought wares and items they would sell to finance their passage.
This is a more feasible idea than massive groups of certain people moving in an almost diaspora like movement for trade or other purposes.


The routes operated a little differently, hajj caravans were organized from key cities such as Kano. This is more of a late 18th and early 19th century phenomenon. Prior to this typically a hajj was organized by a ruler who would take an entourage but was far less common for the average person.

It was typical for a notable figure such as a merchant or religious scholar to lead the caravan and typically this included stops in the main cities of the lands they passed through to acquire letters for safe conduct and to solicit alms.

This is not to say that some commerce didn't occur but there was some degree of reliance on charity as mentioned.

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