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Old 20th October 2011, 09:00 PM   #1
Iain's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Morava - Olomoucký kraj - Czech Republic
Posts: 1,572
Default Some period photos of African 'knights'

EDIT: The system managed to mess up the order of my image attachments. Should be fine now.

I've had these archived on my computer for a while. Following Vandoo's call to arms... I may as well post them and hope some folks find them interesting even if you've seen a few before.

The first photo is of Bornu body guards for the Shehu (or ruler) of the Dikwa Bornu Emirate in Nigeria. The Shehu at the time would be Sanda Kyarimi, and the photo should then be from around 1917 to 1920s. This role was extremely important socially.

Riders all wear Yan Lifida (quilted armour although this is the Hausa term, not sure what it is in Kanuri as I only have a note for their term for maille).

Riders all have kwalkwali (helms, again a Hausa term the Kanuri term might be a variation of jaba) with what are likely brass headpieces. The decorative tops should be ostrich feathers.

The rider on the left carries a wide bladed takouba - the hilt appears leather covered. Much like this example from my own collection:

The rider in the center with a visible sword, carries a brass hilted takouba, it is difficult to make out the blade profile.

These men are bodyguards to the Shehu, the cream of the crop in terms of the cavalry, I would expect them to carry weapons with heritage and quality. In particular the carriage of a wide blade takouba, helps support my belief these swords were valued in Hausa and it appears also Bornu society. There seem to be less of them and they are usually well made.

Second photo is of a Hausa man from 1899 or 1900 carrying a wideblade as well, so we know the style is more than pre 1900.

Third photo is a potrait of a Dikwa (one of the remnant states of the Bornu empire) sheshu taken under German colonialism - Shehu Sanda Mandara (note the last name and geographical location of Dikwa for those with regional interests...). The photo should date somewhere between 1902-1917. Closer inspection of his takouba reveals a flatter pommel which seems similar to this sword of mine (although there is possibly a leather covered guard in the photo) He's missing the chap on his scabbard which is a bit surprising for a ruler!

The fourth photo is of cavalry from Mali, not sure where exactly as it wasn't in my notes but quite possibly Hausa cavalry. Notice how similar the look is to the Bornu cavalry. The yan lifida armour and the kwalkwali, the takoubas visible are wide bladed and can be termed fatefate takobi.

The fifth photo is of riders from Cameroon. Again not sure exactly where. There is some level of heavy cloth, although the construction is different from the Hausa or Bornu style of padded armour. A variation of the helms with ostrich feathers is also visible. Large typical lance but no swords in visible.

The sixth photo is from somewhere in what was termed the 'French Sudan'. Unfortunately a small picture we can however see the cavalry in armour, a large lance on the right hand side and a man in a Fulani style hat on the left.

That's all the attachments I can get into one post. Hopefully of interest to some. I can add some photos of other things from the general region like fortifications, cities etc if there's any interest.
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Last edited by Iain : 20th October 2011 at 09:17 PM.
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