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Old 24th February 2009, 08:02 PM   #1
stephen wood
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Default strange sudanic (?) sword

...not a kaskara, not a takouba. The blade is 24", the hilt around 7" - as you can see quite long. And it does look quite old...

I don't get the impression that the blade has been cut down - I've seen rounded tips like that on takouba - and the scabbard has a plaited leather loop like those found on arm daggers...

As always, gentlemen, your ideas and suggestions are most welcome
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Old 24th February 2009, 08:10 PM   #2
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Nice sword and very interesting too ! I've seen those type of iron & brass rings, that don't quite close, on spears from Northern Nigeria (Nupe, Hausa etc), and the blade looks like from that way.

But the plaited leather cord and crocodile hide is more associated with Sudan, however I will still go for Northern Nigeria or that region of the Sahel.

Regards
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Old 24th February 2009, 08:14 PM   #3
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Nice handle. I was tempted by this one but the scabbard put me off. Some of the leather on the handle reminds me of North Nigeria/Northern Cameroon borders. Clearly a version of kaskara or Tabouka. I put my money on the northern areas of the Nigeria/Cameroon borders as already mentioned. Looks cool.
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Old 24th February 2009, 08:28 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Hi Stephen,
Always interesting things you post! Without researching and going just by impressions, I would be inclined to think this is another example of influences diffused via trade routes. Clearly there are influences that reflect kaskaras of Sudanese regions, rather than the Saharan takouba, though I agree, the takouba blades typically do have the rounded tip for slashing. The crudely fashioned crossguard is heavily shaped in kaskara style and most important, seems of brass....something unusual that does occur on some kaskaras, with reasons somewhat debated.
In this case, the raised medial ridge and blade overall to me resemble the Maasai seme' blades, south into Kenya.

The hilt style has basic resemblances to Central/West African hilt styles, though the cylindrical pommel is unusual. The braided leather work agreed does seem to parallel a number of regions, the scabbard definitely reflecting Nilotic characteristic, with the crocodile hide section.

My personal opinion on these crocodile hide applications have to do with discussions and research regarding both totemic and social symbolism in Sudanese regions to the south and west, and possible associations to slave commerce following routes into the south.

This may account for the unusual combinations of incongruent components here, as always reflecting fascinating subjects for ethnographic detective work and often, in my case, speculation.

Keep 'em comin' Stephen !!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 24th February 2009, 08:31 PM   #5
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Wow! Looks like we all cross posted, Colin and Tim!~!~!
Its great that we all seem pretty much on the same page.
Good note on Cameroon on the braiding, forgot about those.

All the best
Jim
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Old 24th February 2009, 08:35 PM   #6
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Chad borders all areas concerned. Being under French control, and this piece was sourced in the UK, perhaps it was from British controled areas? I like it.

Although Chad borders Sudan this piece does not seem to me to be South Sudan as in Dinka and others.
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Old 24th February 2009, 09:00 PM   #7
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Nice, I particularly like the blade ...with the hammer marks still clearly visible. The cylindrical pommel....looks 'industrial' made ...likely a 'stop end' for a pipe. Assuming it has not been re-hilted, suggests to me late 19th early 20th C ...but could be younger.
I'm wondering whether the plaited strap was originally longer ...to go over the shoulder.

Regards David
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Old 24th February 2009, 09:41 PM   #8
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...thank you all

Am I imagining it, or are there markings on the hilt?
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Old 24th February 2009, 09:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Chad borders all areas concerned. Being under French control, and this piece was sourced in the UK, perhaps it was from British controled areas? I like it.

Although Chad borders Sudan this piece does not seem to me to be South Sudan as in Dinka and others.


Good points Tim, and I agree, perhaps not southern Sudan per se', but the trade routes ran through Chad into Nigeria to the west, thus influences from the west, Cameroon, Nigeria would be carried along such routes.

Its always amazing how extensive these routes were, and that weapons traversed the continent quite often over centuries.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 25th February 2009, 07:13 AM   #10
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I saw this type of sword in Northern Cameroon (Provincie Extreme North; also with rounded tip and very heavy blade with central "rib", but the blade was absolutely smooth) and I bought one in Maroua town (and one in Mandara M., I will post a photos later). As I already indicated - very similar swords you can also find in northern part of Mandara mountains. All of them (which I saw) were probably older than that one on the picture and some local people were of the opinion this swords are there from the times of Fulani Jihad in 19 (?) century. Nevertheless I saw only the rests of the sheaths and it was never with crocodile skin.

Martin
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Old 25th February 2009, 09:04 AM   #11
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It is, of course, a kaskouba.
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Old 25th February 2009, 09:24 AM   #12
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A couple of other thoughts spring to mind - I recall reading in a book on the Mahdist period, that Muslim pilgrims from West Africa would pass through Sudan on their way to Mecca. So I guess its not impossible for this sword to have received a new scabbard in the Sudan (Darfur ?).

Also, is it my imagination, but does not the round iron pommel remind you of the pommels to be found on old Omani swords (which often ended up in Eastern Africa) ?

Regards
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Old 25th February 2009, 10:12 AM   #13
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The leather wrap on the hilt is Tebu the center bulb is also a Tebu trait. This could be a very old example that predates the skull crusher style pommel daggers.

Lew
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Old 25th February 2009, 01:49 PM   #14
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LOL!!! A 'kaskouba' Bill ?!!!! ...absolutely beautiful !!!! I love it!

Martin...thank you for the supporting detail on the Cameroon swords, with which this seems to share distinct influences. This does remind me of the Mandara arm swords we discussed some time ago, those with the 'skull crusher' pommels.
Nicely observed Lew, on the Tebu wrap and those pommels.

Colin, very much agree, the caravans with Pilgrims to Mecca did indeed provide transit for many weapons along with all manner of trade items, in most cases brought by individuals to sell or barter in financing thier journey. The observation on the pommel is outstanding, and exactly what I was trying to place....it is indeed much in the manner of those Omani kattaras, but without the peak. The Omani trade that traversed the African continent from its main base in its Sultanate at Zanzibar definitely accounted for many instances of weapons diffusion along those routes.
This is in my opinion, why the distinct flared scabbard that is so typical of the Sudanese kaskara is solidly a component of the Manding sabre scabbards in Mali......as well as how the Moroccan s'boula daggers became situated in Zanzibar where Burton (after Demmin) declared these 'Zanzibar swords'.

This sword might easily have been sold along these routes, and refurbished in Nilotic regions in Sudan, with influences from Omani kattaras that certainly may have entered these spheres as well.

These kinds of intriguing hybrids are what makes the study of ethnographic weapons the exciting adventure that it is!!! Its not always easy to get my armchair 'howdah' mounted on those camels, but as much as I can...there I am!!! bouncing along in the middle of those caravans!!


All the best,
Jim
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Old 25th February 2009, 03:50 PM   #15
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Stephen, are these possibly what you think may be marks? Do you have the sword? I really regret not having a go at it.
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Old 25th February 2009, 04:14 PM   #16
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...no, I thought I saw something on the crosspiece
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Old 26th February 2009, 11:30 AM   #17
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Post facto I am hereby sending several pictures. The lowest sword is from Kano (Nigeria), upper three items are from Provincie Extreme North (Cameroon; mace and longer sword from Mandara). The first sword down from top and the fourth (lowest) are very heavy, the blade being very thick. The length of the first one (always down from top; the shortest) is 70 cm. They say the mace has been used during ceremonial occasions, but it is forcible and wighty weapon. I am also a attaching tips and handles + two pictures of examples of current daggers from Mandara - Cameroon/Nigeria northern borderland. The second sword from the top should be (?) from Jihad movement lead by Fulani accross West Africa during the first half of 19 century (said Mandara villager).

Regards,

Martin
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Old 26th February 2009, 01:57 PM   #18
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Wow

...mine looks rather like the top sword
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Old 26th February 2009, 04:19 PM   #19
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Great post Martin!!! Love the mace, you have some nice things.
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Old 26th February 2009, 07:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Lubojacky
but it is forcible and wighty weapon. I am also a attaching tips and handles + two pictures of examples of current daggers from Mandara - Cameroon/Nigeria northern borderland. The second sword from the top should be (?) from Jihad movement lead by Fulani accross West Africa during the first half of 19 century (said Mandara villager).

Regards,

Martin



Martin

Your daggers are quite interesting and probably from the Kirdi tribe. Can we see what the blade looks like on the two please.

Lew
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Old 27th February 2009, 08:09 AM   #21
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Hello Lew,

Enclosed please find the photo. Smaller blade was sharp and relatively clean, bigger one "blunt" and before I cleaned it - very rusty. I acquired the smaller one in Rhumsiki (Roumsiki), the bigger one was bought from Adamawa man, but in Abuja.

Regards,

Martin
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Old 27th February 2009, 01:02 PM   #22
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Outstanding examples and beautifully posted Martin!!!
I very much like the way you have carefully grouped these as well as adding comments and observations. The swords and daggers of these regions are typically not well represented in much of the literature that I have seen, especially with the degree of diffusion that often seems confounding in identifying examples.
What you have added has really helped, and I very much appreciate being able to add such helpful information to my notes, thank you !

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 27th February 2009, 04:27 PM   #23
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Thank you Jim
Regards,
Martin
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Old 27th February 2009, 06:32 PM   #24
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Following Martin, I have this piece I got from Luc some years ago. Blade length 46cm. What I like about it most is the use of the top part of a {bovine} horn for the grip.
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Old 27th February 2009, 07:35 PM   #25
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Tim

Here is another version of your sword but no scabbard



Lew
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Old 27th February 2009, 09:53 PM   #26
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...they're from the Horn of Africa, aren't they?
Anyone going to the Park Lane Arms Fair on Sunday?
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Old 28th February 2009, 05:30 AM   #27
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Like it Stephen.

Is it just me? I keep thinking I'm looking at steel replicas of bronze swords.

Best,

F
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Old 28th February 2009, 09:31 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fearn
.

Is it just me? I keep thinking I'm looking at steel replicas of bronze swords.

Best,

F



Hi Fearn ,

no not just you ..... I have often wondered whether with the movement of Celts and the Vikings around North of Africa and , perhaps even further south, had any influence on early African sword design. Or perhaps its just 'convergent evolution'

Kind Regards David
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Old 1st March 2009, 03:55 AM   #29
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Hi David,

I like option C, which is trade. The Celts (and the norsemen) were great traders, and I wouldn't be surprised if their weapons (new or old) ended up in Africa, just as our out-dated tech ends up in Africa now. The interesting thing is that some of the oddest blade designs show up just a little further south.

Neat puzzle,

F
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Old 25th November 2013, 06:04 PM   #30
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Anyone ever spot another of these? I've kept my eyes open for years. Always like the form.
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