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Old 18th March 2018, 05:56 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Is this a common Arab Saif ?

I have travelled a couple hundred Kilometers to convince a guy to sell me a basket hilt sword from his collection and came back with this item, instead; not even my collecting area. I know it doesn't make sense but ... i found it appealing .
So far as i have read this is a South Arabian Saif, hoping it has some age, like mid 19th century ?. Handle and scabbard in silver, fully decorated. The one fullered slightly curved blade is rather strong, with its 39 mm. width, 6 mm. thickness and 69 cm. length.
The langets are a bit twisted (more one than the other) but i will have the local silver smith to straight them up.
Would you Gentlemen care to add your comments on this sword ?

.
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Old 18th March 2018, 07:02 PM   #2
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Hello Fernando,

is the blade chromed? Not the area of my collecting but a very nice sword. It would be a mess when the blade is indeed chromed!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 18th March 2018, 11:32 PM   #3
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Very nice saif from Southern Yemen. Elgood shows a few swords like this on pages 13 & 14 of his book on Arab arms, and Hales shows some on p.245, including a picture of the Sultan of Lahej and his retinue with such swords. Both authors express a belief that these swords were actually manufactured in Hyderabad for the Yemen market.

What intrigues me about these saifs is the hilt, which has a grip that resembles the Omani/Zanzibari nimcha, but with an Ottoman influenced crossguard instead of multiple branching quillons.
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Old 19th March 2018, 07:30 PM   #4
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Very nice sword Fernando. I always wanted one of these when I was collecting Omani stuff.
Stu

Last edited by kahnjar1 : 20th March 2018 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 19th March 2018, 07:49 PM   #5
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Fernando you're a lucky man, this sword is superb.
Teodor is right and provided the good references.
But I don't think that these swords are from India but from Yemen.
They might have been used in India but not produced in India...
Fernando are you sure that you didn't buy the one from the Royal armouries?
Its almost the same and dated from 1771-1799...
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Old 19th March 2018, 11:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Very nice sword Teodor. I always wanted one of these when I was collecting Omani stuff.
Stu



Stu, congratulations should go to Fernando, not me. I have one of these, but it is significantly inferior and does not belong in this thread with Fernando's excellent example.
Teodor
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Old 20th March 2018, 12:22 AM   #7
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Anything belongs here!

There was a wide range of the “ luxuriousness” and this one indeed belongs to the upper 10%.

But IMHO we should all be enriched by seeing the whole gamut.

I have one from the same family, but it is too late to photograph it. Later, OK?
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Old 20th March 2018, 01:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Stu, congratulations should go to Fernando, not me. I have one of these, but it is significantly inferior and does not belong in this thread with Fernando's excellent example.
Teodor

Sorry Teodor. You are of course correct. Just old age creeping up and the brain goes sideways as a result. I have corrected my previous post.
So you have one of these also?......................
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Old 20th March 2018, 04:29 AM   #9
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OK then, here is my rather mundane example.
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Old 20th March 2018, 01:36 PM   #10
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Thank you all Gentlemen for your input,

And, by entry order ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
... is the blade chromed? Not the area of my collecting but a very nice sword. It would be a mess when the blade is indeed chromed! ...

Not chromed Detlef, only polished ... possibly with a power tool.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
... Very nice saif from Southern Yemen. Elgood shows a few swords like this on pages 13 & 14 of his book on Arab arms, and Hales shows some on p.245, including a picture of the Sultan of Lahej and his retinue with such swords. Both authors express a belief that these swords were actually manufactured in Hyderabad for the Yemen market.
What intrigues me about these saifs is the hilt, which has a grip that resembles the Omani/Zanzibari nimcha, but with an Ottoman influenced crossguard instead of multiple branching quillons....

Thank you Teodor; i am learning. I don't have those books; my only Elgood is on firearms. When i kew this was called a saif, i went on my Tirri and saw something of the kind in page 99. Oh, but i wish i had the pictures you mention from Elgood and Hales, specilly the one with the Sultan of Lahej.
Ah, the hilt top resembling the nimcha, Omani Zanzibar and, don't forget, Moroccan; the riddle of the egg and the hen, right ? Bu the way Teodor, can you quote futher paragraphs from those authors on the Hyderabad origin subject ?.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Fernando you're a lucky man, this sword is superb.
Teodor is right and provided the good references.
But I don't think that these swords are from India but from Yemen.
They might have been used in India but not produced in India...
Fernando are you sure that you didn't buy the one from the Royal armouries?
Its almost the same and dated from 1771-1799....

Well, i was not expecting my example was as old as that in the Royal Armouries, but i will be most pleased that it dates as from the 19th century...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
... There was a wide range of the “ luxuriousness” and this one indeed belongs to the upper 10%.
But IMHO we should all be enriched by seeing the whole gamut.
I have one from the same family, but it is too late to photograph it. Later, OK?...

Thanks much for the grading Ariel. I can't wait to see your family branch .

Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Sorry Teodor. You are of course correct. Just old age creeping up and the brain goes sideways as a result...

Ah, the usual excuse, Stu; getting old and all that jazz; just don't let them brains fall down .

Last edited by fernando : 20th March 2018 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 21st March 2018, 03:46 AM   #11
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Fernando, here is a short summary of what Elgood writes on these, He starts by stating that a lot of Arab swords loosely described as "nimsha" and "saif" get attributed to Yemen as so little is actually known about swords from the area, that most authors feel safe with that attribution on the basis that it is unlikely to be challenged. There are almost no sources before the 19th century describing Yemeni swords. When it comes to the type of sword like yours, it was initially attributed to Yemen by Charles Buttin. In the early 20th century the attribution was confirmed by Moser and Egerton based on what they were told by locals. Elgood then goes on to reference a photograph of a certain warrior from the Aden protectorate with such a sword, and then states that many warriors from Southern Yemen served as mercenaries in Hyderabad and "the swords are certainly made there and locally", there meaning Hyderabad. According to Elgood the motifs on the scabbard are Indian in style, not Yemeni. He also posts a picture of a fine sword that was a gift to George V in 1911 from the Sultan of Shihr and Mukalla. The sword is attributed to the 18th century, though Elgood has strong doubts it was actually made for the occasion.

Hales, given the nature of his book, is not nearly as expansive in his text as Elgood. He shows the afore mentioned photo of the Sultan of Lahej and his retinue and three similar swords in their scabbards. Hales simply notes that the design and workmanship resembles jewelry from Hyderabad and points to strong historic links between Yemen and India.

Regards,
Teodor
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Old 21st March 2018, 02:58 PM   #12
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Great input, Teodor: thanks a lot .
It is always interesting (and challenging) to check on the difference between assuming the provenance of things as being an inequivocal fact, versus their transcontinental influence carried by those who travelled among nations for whatever reasons.
It is fascinating to realize that, this type of Saif would be Arab by culture, Yemenite by nationality, Moroccan (Zanzibarian) in its grip shape, its scabbard decoration styled (and even originated) in India, as could also so be the blade style ... and even forging.
Interestingly the historic Yemenite Jews (Temani), famous silver smiths, that we know used to make weapons scabbards, are not called by authors to this saga.

Let those with more knowledge, and willing, correct the (my) assumptions misplaced above .
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Old 21st March 2018, 06:01 PM   #13
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Based on existing photographic evidence, I think it is fairly safe to attribute these swords to Southern Yemen. As for where the scabbards were manufactured, I will defer this to other form members - we have experts in Indian arms and their decorative art. As you point out, there were certainly enough highly skilled silversmiths in Yemen during the 19th century, who produced beautiful jambiya scabbards and various jewelry, and who certainly had the ability to produced sword scabbards as well.

Interestingly enough, Elgood does not mention much about the blades and their origin. They are invariably slightly curved, with a single fuller and relatively short. Unlike Maghrebi or Zanzibari/Omani nimcha hilted swords, which have a wide variety of blade shapes and lengths, these seem to follow a pattern.
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Old 21st March 2018, 06:38 PM   #14
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Thank you for the excelent points, Teodor .
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Old 21st March 2018, 07:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Based on existing photographic evidence, I think it is fairly safe to attribute these swords to Southern Yemen. As for where the scabbards were manufactured, I will defer this to other form members - we have experts in Indian arms and their decorative art. As you point out, there were certainly enough highly skilled silversmiths in Yemen during the 19th century, who produced beautiful jambiya scabbards and various jewelry, and who certainly had the ability to produced sword scabbards as well.


Pffff I feel better now

Fernando scabbard has some similarities with other Yemeni scabbards.
And if you look closer you'll see a consistency between hilts and scabbards...
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Old 21st March 2018, 07:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Interestingly enough, Elgood does not mention much about the blades and their origin. They are invariably slightly curved, with a single fuller and relatively short. Unlike Maghrebi or Zanzibari/Omani nimcha hilted swords, which have a wide variety of blade shapes and lengths, these seem to follow a pattern.


Should I comment this blade?

A last point I think that Fernando blade is chromed not polished, but i don't see any problem with that.
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Old 21st March 2018, 07:42 PM   #17
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We probably should, starting with the question - do you think the blade is original to the mounts? We know there were a lot of Ethiopian swords imported in Yemen for the rhino horn hilts, with the blades then mounted with a variety of hilts and re-sold.
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Old 21st March 2018, 07:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
We probably should, starting with the question - do you think the blade is original to the mounts? We know there were a lot of Ethiopian swords imported in Yemen for the rhino horn hilts, with the blades then mounted with a variety of hilts and re-sold.


That's the whole point Theodor, an Ethiopian blade on a Yemeni Sword...
I'm very happy with that...
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Old 22nd March 2018, 08:39 AM   #19
Martin Lubojacky
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I think you have bought extra-piece of its kind Fernando. Congratulations.
I hope I may add picture of the similar sword I bought years ago from Artzi, to your thread. I think my blade was made in Arab country - there is some mark like "V" on it. Unfortunately I have only old photos on flash disc with me (on the top of it in a group with another sabres, - I can make another pictures/closeups - but in July earliest).
I think your blade is not chromed. Could possibly be nickeled. (But maybe also only highly polished.)
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Old 22nd March 2018, 05:13 PM   #20
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I am extremely pleased i was not counting with such contribution from all of you Gentlemen.
May i add that:
I understand when Kubur says that there is a consistency between (the decoration of) hilts and scabbards.
And may i say that, definitely the blade is not chromed or nickled, but highly polished. I take it that my jeweler friend and the silver smith we went to straighten up the hilt langet would have noticed that. The first confirmed this morning that the blade is polished and the second has discussed with me the methods to "unpolish" it ...not to "unchrome" it.


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Old 22nd March 2018, 05:16 PM   #21
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Thank you for your kind words, Martin. What a nice set of swords you got there .
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Old 22nd March 2018, 08:16 PM   #22
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Fernando, I would also be interested in some good "unpolishing methods". Maybe fine pemza powder mixed with oil or water ?
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Old 23rd March 2018, 08:51 AM   #23
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Fernando: it is not a common Arabian Saif, but one of the best Saifs I have ever seen! A great sword, congratulations!
I would like to add my humble example to the thread since this thread shows many reference examples. What makes it specially interesting is a blade with yelman.
You may try for "unpolishing" a very fine sandpaper with 2000 grit or a 0000 steel wool.
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Old 23rd March 2018, 12:22 PM   #24
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Thank you for your kind words and the pictures of your excelent example, Tatiana.
Thank you also for the unpolishing suggestions.
Martin's idea for wet/oiled pumice powder would be a different method.
Eventually my local silver smith also suggests steel wool or, as alternative, a (dishwashing) green scourer pad.
In any case, i am not yet ready for such adventure and for the meantime, will leave it as it is.


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Old 23rd March 2018, 01:15 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatyana Dianova
I would like to add my humble example to the thread since this thread shows many reference examples. What makes it specially interesting is a blade with yelman.


Your sword is very interesting, a combinaison of Yemeni and Zanzibari swords...
With an imported Indian / Afghan blade (these blades have a yelman).
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Old 23rd March 2018, 01:16 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
In any case, i am not yet ready for such adventure and for the meantime, will leave it as it is.
.


Yes i think you should let it as it is.
IMHO!!!
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Old 23rd March 2018, 01:44 PM   #27
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From the photo above it is also obvious that the Royal Armouries wisely chose to leave the high polish on their example alone.
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Old 23rd March 2018, 02:23 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatyana Dianova
Fernando: it is not a common Arabian Saif, but one of the best Saifs I have ever seen! A great sword, congratulations!
I would like to add my humble example to the thread since this thread shows many reference examples. What makes it specially interesting is a blade with yelman.
You may try for "unpolishing" a very fine sandpaper with 2000 grit or a 0000 steel wool.


Hi Tatyana,
Dissadvantage of the fine sandpaper (e.g. 2000) is, that when/if its surface is choked - you are starting to polish (instead of unpolish). On the other side - if the paper is new, you risk scratches (even in the case of 2000 grit) visible from certain angles. That´s why the fine pumice stone powder on the wet/oily and soft mussy textile should be (only my opinion) more regardful and should give steadier result... I think
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Old 23rd March 2018, 04:51 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
From the photo above it is also obvious that the Royal Armouries wisely chose to leave the high polish on their example alone.

Wise words Lee ... and a perfect solution .
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Old 23rd March 2018, 08:02 PM   #30
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I have seen a few of these. A polished or burnished blade is not uncommon, and for that matter common to many Arab swords. I think it is most probably how the original owners would have wanted it, so beyond cleaning, I would leave it as it is.
Best wishes
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