Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 23rd August 2019, 09:11 PM   #1
drac2k
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 684
Default A Tale of Two Kaskaras

Ever notice that when one buys a particular type of weapon, all of a sudden others of the same genre become available; this is my case at this time in regards to Sudanese weapons, especially kaskaras.
The first kaskara is a short one, which was said to have been collected in Port Sudan in 1935. It looks to have been shortened and the width reduced. The blade is 20" long and 1.25" wide; it is sharp and it has a heavy guard. It has been previously stated on this site that the shorter blades were for archers or that the blades were cut down as trophies, however, I do not think that this is the case with this sword since the handle is only 3" long. The length of the handle leads me to conclude that this is indeed a child's' or woman's sword(were there any Sudanese women or children warriors?), or a tourist piece.
The second sword is another matter altogether. It has a huge sharp blade and it bespeaks power and authority when held. Is the maker's mark the "Kull Death Head?"Does the blue portapee have any significance such as rank, etc.?
Attached Images
            
drac2k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2019, 03:53 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 7,626
Default

Nice examples!!!
The larger of the two appears to have an old blade which has been remounted in Kassalawi form probably more recently, but I believe the guard is old. Ed will be the better judge of that.
The mark appears to be the well known Sudanese interpretation of the Peter Kull marking(Bezdek p. 145) of c. 1847-60, actually a fly.
The Sudanese version of this recognizes the fly (=duran) as representing a nimble warrior, quick and agile.
These markings appear in good number on kaskara of the Ali Dinar period (c. 1910) in Darfur. Clearly the markings as on this blade are stylized compared to the original Kull marking (illustrated below)

The smaller one, I do not think these were childrens, and I believe were genuinely worn in a shoulder strap. The use of the significant lizard hide as well as the blades on these seem to be cut down from full size to be more readily worn in this manner and used in close quarter situations. These were also less cumbersome in consistent wear.

The image of what is believed to be a Baggara tribesman wearing one of these in this manner, but note the full size kaskara under saddle.

The fact that the blades often still carry markings that were talismanically significant to the warrior and totemically powerful (the hides on grip and scabbard) suggests these were used by warriors. Swords with these properties I do not think would be summarily offered to children. As far as I know, there were no women in the warrior forces.
Attached Images
    
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2019, 07:31 AM   #3
Kubur
Member
 
Kubur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,623
Default

Your tourist piece is well sharpened!
Don't worry it's a real stuff, if you search on this forum at small tabouka and short kaskara, you will find plenty. They were just what they are: short swords.
For the hilts, look at the discussion on jambiya.
Chubby hands in North America and small hands in Yemen and Ethiopia, it's the diversity...
Kubur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2019, 01:37 PM   #4
Edster
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 222
Default

I can't really add much to Jim's discussions, but there a couple of observations.

The short sword has fuller styles common to those made in Kassaka, but poorly done. The maker's mark uses the same semi-circular inside punch used by smiths in Kassaka. It has be best the crossguard.

The long sword puzzles me. The profile lacks the taper I often attribute to locally made blades and the fuller style was common to European sources for centuries. However, the local version of the "fly" is not symmetrically stamped in the fuller suggesting local application. Also, my 1984 Kassala field notes has a similar sketch of a cow's head said to be invented in early 1950s. But the cow has small circles for eyes not seen on your sword. Bottom line, I can't really attribute a source and date.

As far as I know all Beja tassels are either unbleached or black cotton. The blue one was added recently.

Regards,
Ed
Edster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2019, 02:34 PM   #5
drac2k
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 684
Default

Thank you all for your comments! I am glad to be proven wrong on my belief that the short sword was for a child or a tourist.
In regards to the long sword, a possible indication of it possibly being a blade of European origin is the fact that the blade is unsharpened for the first 5.5" on both sides, as opposed to my other kaskaras that are sharpened the full length.
The tassel could be newer, but it was there in 1987 when the previous owner acquired it; even though I have never seen a blue one, I think that I might have seen a red one somewhere(or not)?
drac2k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2019, 09:34 PM   #6
Jim McDougall
Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 7,626
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by drac2k
Thank you all for your comments! I am glad to be proven wrong on my belief that the short sword was for a child or a tourist.
In regards to the long sword, a possible indication of it possibly being a blade of European origin is the fact that the blade is unsharpened for the first 5.5" on both sides, as opposed to my other kaskaras that are sharpened the full length.
The tassel could be newer, but it was there in 1987 when the previous owner acquired it; even though I have never seen a blue one, I think that I might have seen a red one somewhere(or not)?


The 'cows head' stamp seems to have been pretty well known in the Sudan around the turn of the century, and like a good number of other markings (which Briggs also tried to determine associations for) their exact meaning is unclear. To the native perception there are a number of possibilities which we cannot adequately recognize, and must presume our own ideas of what they might have been.
I have the same marking on what has been seen as an Ali Dinar period kaskara, stamped in much the same place and character.
The stylization well known in many of these marks to me allows the possibility it 'could' be a rendering of a fly (Samuel Kull blades), but the potential for a cows head remains possible.
The tribal groups in the south did herd cattle, and there has been notable attention to cattle brands (MacMillan, 'Cattle Brands in Kordofan, 1911).

It seems that over the years we have thought that there were possibilities that Solingen may have been producing blades for the Sudanese market. It would not seem unlikely given the production of blades for Ethiopia at the time. I am not sure of the sharpening factor, but the fullering as noted by Ed has been relatively standard for centuries. The off center mark as also noted by Ed seems a strong indicator it was locally stamped. The use of punches long in use certainly played a notable part in the character of stamps as seen in the degenerated examples of 'dukari' over generations.

The blue tassel is curious, and have not seen that color, though red is well known and my example has a dark brown.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 24th August 2019 at 11:01 PM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th August 2019, 02:54 AM   #7
drac2k
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 684
Default

Once again Jim, thank you for your knowledgeable comments.
drac2k is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 11:17 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.