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Old 17th March 2019, 06:02 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Moroccan " pseudo-shashka"

Some time ago we had a discussion about the definition of “shashka”. My point was that shashka is a uniquely Caucasian weapons and that this name should not be applied to any other object.
Some of my opponents opposed the term “ pseudo-shashka” reluctantly introduced by Lebedinski and asserted that shashka is a saber without a hand guard and that its name should follow the custom applied by Russian historians: having conquered Caucasus they were in a unique position to know what they were talking about.

My attempts to draw their attention to other guardless saber-like swords, such as “ Bedouin sabers”, Sardinian Leppas, votive sabers of Kairuan, Central-Asian sabers etc. did not convince them.

So, just for the fun of it, here is yet another example of “pseudo-shashka”. Its Moroccan attribution is based on close similarity with unquestionably Moroccan Nimcha, especially their brass-clad scabbards. Most importantly, the blades are marked identically: “Nueva Granada 1845 ( or..6). As you know Nueva Granada was a Spain controlled territory in South and Central America, including at different times parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana etc, but mainly consisting of what is now Venezuela, Colombia and Panama.

How blades from that part of the world ended up in North Africa is unknown, likely some surplus of military or agricultural tools.

But in any case, here it is : a Moroccan “pseudo-shashka”.
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Old 17th March 2019, 07:04 PM   #2
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Ariel you are full of ressources and energy!
And a bit provocative too with your shashka
I agree with you we cannot call shasha all the swords without a guard.
I prefer "Berber sword" and very close to the Bedouin swords seen in the Sinai...
I like your example that supports well - at least to me - the discussion on the
http://vikingsword.com/vb/showthrea...t=south+morocco
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Old 17th March 2019, 07:41 PM   #3
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Just to add a little to your opening post, Morocco, or at least part of it was a Spanish Protectorate, so the presence of Spanish blades in that region would not be unusual IMHO.
Stu
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Old 17th March 2019, 08:00 PM   #4
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Nueva Granada, after independence, would rather buy items from England than from Spain. Actually, there exist customs list of what ships were carrying to the new country and bundles of machetes and machetes blades seem a common occurrence. From Great Britain usually.

I also have a Nueva Granada 1846 nimcha. I guess the machetes were ordered from the maker but never paid (Nueva Granada had continuous civil wars at the time) and the maker found an alternative market in North Africa.
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Old 17th March 2019, 08:33 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=midelburgo]Nueva Granada, after independence, would rather buy items from England than from Spain. Actually, there exist customs list of what ships were carrying to the new country and bundles of machetes and machetes blades seem a common occurrence. From Great Britain usually.

I also have a Nueva Granada 1846 nimcha. I guess the machetes were ordered from the maker but never paid (Nueva Granada had continuous civil wars at the time) and the maker found an alternative market in North Africa QUOTE]



I am dubious about British origin. Brits usually manufactured blades of much higher quality and I would not expect them not to mark them with their own mark.

My guess it was a local Central American manufacture.
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Old 18th March 2019, 06:19 AM   #6
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What I find interesting on the sword you are showing Ariel, is the hilt construction - two horn scales riveted to the tang instead of a solid horn piece with the tang peened on the pommel. And then there is also an unusual metal band over the gap in the scales, at least in the back and over the pommel.

The crude look suggests that either whoever made this was not very experienced, or was under some time pressure to deliver a usable sidearm, or both.
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Old 18th March 2019, 09:10 AM   #7
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You can give a look to
https://books.google.es/books?id=CN...ortados&f=false

If these pieces were so common as to find them traveling back to North Africa, there shall be a large amount of them still in Colombia.

I can expect the British Industry making all degrees of quality for export. Even that is good reason for not marking them with a valuable trade mark.
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File Type: pdf Foreign_Machetes_and_Cheap_Cotton_Cloth.pdf (440.9 KB, 84 views)
File Type: pdf otero.pdf (144.8 KB, 93 views)
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Old 18th March 2019, 11:28 AM   #8
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Teodor,

Professional Russian weapon historians and dilettante collectors alike put forward one explanation after another of the unusual construction of a Caucasian shashka. Among them is one exactly like yours: shashka is a a simplified version of a saber, kind of an ersatz weapon capable of being serviceable but without a time,- and money - requiring guard. You are also in a very good company of a splendid Latvian author of a book about history of knife fights, Denis Cherevichnik. He also thinks that Sardinian Leppa ( another guardless saber) was a weapon of poor men caring more about cost and simplicity than defensive functionality of guards.

Personally, I cannot exclude that shashka is a homage to the Ottoman Yataghan.

Kirill Rivkin recently published a video blog reviewing new books about Caucasian weapons. In it he mentions a monumental book by a Georgian researcher Mamuka Tsurtsumia that showed a very detailed and fully realistic picture of Georgian warriors wielding guardless sabers and reliably dated to 17 century. Regretfully, the book is in Georgian.
One of our Forumites, Mercenary, managed to unearth a Persian miniature dated to mid-18th century showing a battle of Persian and Afghani armies. Soldiers are shown armed with either “guarded” shamshirs or with guardless sabers ( shashkas?), both versions carefully drawn as such. These iconographic sources prove the existence of a shashka-like weapon 200-300 years earlier than the oldest examples known to us.

Last edited by ariel : 18th March 2019 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 18th March 2019, 12:36 PM   #9
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Midelburgo,

Thanks for the reference. Regretfully, I can’t read it and do not understand what you are referring to. Can you specify?

Interestingly, all 3 examples are marked with the same year and likely with the same die: see number “5”. Was the entire batch of blades shipped to Morocco?

I liked your theory about the Brits marking lousy blades with somebody else’s stamps. Ah, that perfidious Albion:-))))
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Old 18th March 2019, 01:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
I prefer "Berber sword" and very close to the Bedouin swords seen in the Sinai...


Kubur,

I suspect that the owners of both “Berber” and “Bedouin” varieties could not care less about proper ethnological nomenclature and just called them “saif”:-)

The very name “shashka” is a Russified modification of a local name “ sesh hua”, i.e. “ big knife”. Most of the oriental swords are locally called “ sword” and knives - “knife”.
Bloody savages! No respect for our venerable “ name game”!:-))))
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Old 18th March 2019, 01:20 PM   #11
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Ariel, the page I linked is the Oficial Gazette of Nueva Granada, where a search for machete imports have been made. You can see on the left that 144 machetes entered in that week of 1846 as imports.

The pdfs just show that there was no industrial capability to make machetes at that time.
Or previously, as at the time of the colony they were imported from Cataluña or Basqueland. The typical Collins machete is still known in South America as a "vizcaino". It seems they just copied what had been used previously. There are documents on the sale of machetes in America since 1541 at least.

That all three machetes are dated 1845 and ended in North Africa, possibly sustains that the batch never reached Colombia. I cannot imagine it was worthy to re-export them from Colombia where probably there was a chronic shortage of machetes.
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Old 18th March 2019, 01:50 PM   #12
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Thanks. It is useful.
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Old 18th March 2019, 08:27 PM   #13
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As far as I have known, these triple fuller blades were Solingen products and used for machetes but found naval use of course as well (why they are shown in Gilkerson, "Boarders Away". Solingen, was pretty much inflated with producers after mid 19th c. and there was heavy competition supplying many foreign markets. These were probably blanks stamped by importers as received.

The British did supply some blades to various African markets such as tool makers to Masai in Kenya, and later Wilkinson was supplying blades to Abyssinia. Most of the blades which seem to have turned up in Central America and South America as well as some Caribbean regions from English sources were surplus, not made for export, and these were mostly M1796 cavalry blade types.
These were the blades which seem inevitably to occur on the so called 'Berber sabres', which are actually from Cuba and Dominican Republic.
In the early 1920s during the 'Rif War' there were many forces conscripted from these regions to Morocco to fight the Berber insurgents. While these swords (machete type sabres) were not indiginous to Morocco, they did indeed end up in notable volume there and became 'presumed' to be
'Berber sabres'.
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Old 19th March 2019, 12:25 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
[QUOTE=midelburgo]Nueva Granada, after independence, would rather buy items from England than from Spain. Actually, there exist customs list of what ships were carrying to the new country and bundles of machetes and machetes blades seem a common occurrence. From Great Britain usually.

I also have a Nueva Granada 1846 nimcha. I guess the machetes were ordered from the maker but never paid (Nueva Granada had continuous civil wars at the time) and the maker found an alternative market in North Africa QUOTE]



I am dubious about British origin. Brits usually manufactured blades of much higher quality and I would not expect them not to mark them with their own mark.

My guess it was a local Central American manufacture.




Actually British blades were not of especially high repute overall until Wilkinson advanced the quality just after mid 19th c. Even then there was always the ever present 'duel' with Solingen, and true, the British never used spurious marks in the Solingen manner, at least not in notable references.
The exceptions were Thomas Gill, Samuel Harvey, James Woolley of Birmingham whose blades were sound as they competed with Solingen in the last quarter of the 18th c.


Spain had no worthwhile production of sword blades after end of the 17th c. and even in latter 18th they depended on Solingen for sword blades. There was a Toledo works by 19th century, but again, very limited production except bayonets etc.


I have never been aware of sword making centers in Central America, thought there may have been pretty much blacksmith grade shops as in Cuba and some Mexican regions. There are numbers of such blacksmith grade espada ancha blades from Mexico.
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Old 19th March 2019, 06:28 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
[QUOTE=ariel]
Actually British blades were not of especially high repute overall until Wilkinson advanced the quality just after mid 19th c. Even then there was always the ever present 'duel' with Solingen, and true, the British never used spurious marks in the Solingen manner, at least not in notable references.
The exceptions were Thomas Gill, Samuel Harvey, James Woolley of Birmingham whose blades were sound as they competed with Solingen in the last quarter of the 18th c.


To support Jim's preach, here is my samuel harvey 18th c nimcha
British blades stay popular in Morocco during the 19th c. with the koummiya. only but it's another story..

Amen
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Old 19th March 2019, 08:24 AM   #16
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My guardless pseudo-shashka nimcha? Eyelash stamps, horn grip...
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Old 19th March 2019, 11:03 AM   #17
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British machete middle of XIXth.

Another one.

My Nimcha.
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Old 19th March 2019, 03:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
[QUOTE=Jim McDougall]

To support Jim's preach, here is my samuel harvey 18th c nimcha
British blades stay popular in Morocco during the 19th c. with the koummiya. only but it's another story..

Amen



Thank you for my ordainment Kubur!!! and for the support in my 'sermon'.
As has often been noted, British blades surely did find circulation in many unusual places, and Africa was of course included.

I have a takouba with a MOLE blade. Unusual to see a 'Harvey' blade in a nimcha.


The koummya story sounds exciting! Possibly there is a parable in it as well.


Peace.
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Old 19th March 2019, 06:24 PM   #19
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For what it's worth, and probably not much, I'd say the style of the lettering on the stamps on these blades is consistent with a British manufacture. I'm not saying this makes them British, just that it does not rule this out.
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Old 19th March 2019, 06:34 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
For what it's worth, and probably not much, I'd say the style of the lettering on the stamps on these blades is consistent with a British manufacture. I'm not saying this makes them British, just that it does not rule this out.
Regards
Richard



Well noted Richard, and these stamps are consistent with British produced blades of second half 19th c. and in the manner of tool type products.
It does seem the three fuller pattern so consistent with German blades of the previous century were indeed favored by these firms.

Martindale &Co. of Birmingham produced machetes of these types from about 1880s into WWII, as well as bolos etc. for Philippines. They also apparently supplied blades to Masai in Kenya in 19th c. for their seme swords and I believe the spears.
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