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Old 21st November 2017, 08:01 AM   #31
colin henshaw
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This sword was recently sold in England. It would appear to have been made to look even more overtly "exotic". Most likely another example of the "made for sale" genre, dating to the early part of the 20th century ? (Although from the image it does seem to have some wear).
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Old 21st November 2017, 04:53 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
This sword was recently sold in England. It would appear to have been made to look even more overtly "exotic". Most likely another example of the "made for sale" genre, dating to the early part of the 20th century ? (Although from the image it does seem to have some wear).


I'd agree. The blade looks to be sheet steel and very crude.
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Old 21st November 2017, 06:26 PM   #33
Jim McDougall
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Agree, sheet steel, and this certainly seems a piece made 'in the spirit of the Mahdist spectrum of weapons'.

It would be naļve to think that in the time of the Condominium, post Omdurman, that industrious native sellers would not fashion items for the bustling souvenier markets to satisfy occupying forces.

It seems a well known fact that often the production of certain items were even produced in Birmingham and furnished to vendors in the bazaars for such purpose. After all, Birmingham had been producing armor and such materials to Egypt for the Khedives forces long before this.

However, we do know that these 'souvenier' items which have severely clouded the integrity of the collected weaponry from Omdurman, and in the time thereafter, which was authentically used.

In fact the volume of such authentic weaponry was staggering, and the removal of much of it was seemingly a standard for British forces. Actually, as well shown by Kipling, the British military had great respect for the Ansar of the Mahdist forces as brave warriors, and collected his weapons in that regard. Certainly in the early years, even toward WWI, there was still substantial volume of authentic materials from these campaigns.

The conundrum faced by the ethnographic weapons collector is of course, how to discern whether a 'Mahdist' item is in fact an authentically collected campaign relic, or a facsimile produced for bazaar's or other commercial sale.

It must be remembered that in the time of the Khalifa, after the death of the Mahdi in 1885, there was a great push for weaponry to arm the forces, and the need to carry forward the instilled power of the Mahdi and the cause.
The use of profound embellishment in the form of 'thuluth' calligraphy was instrumental on these weapons, which in effect carried the messages and the 'magic' of the Mahdi.
In forces which were brought in from other regions, their ethnic forms of weapons were retained and even produced faithfully in Khartoum, many more ornate and thuluth embellished and intended for chiefs and tribal leaders of these groups.

Many of these unusual weapons seem to have been of somewhat dubious quality, and there is no doubt that the sheet steel and materials which had been in the shops and factories at Khartoum were used in fabrication of weapons intended more as emblems of authority to such figures. One source I recall noted that it seemed virtually every scrap of metal in the Sudan had ended up in Gordon's industrial complexes.

These are the kinds of considerations which come into play as we examine these kinds of examples, and each item must be judged on its own merits.
It is very hard to gauge from photos of course, and there seems to be few limits to the variations in weaponry which came from these times in the Sudan.
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Old 27th December 2017, 03:23 PM   #34
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Just to add to the mix ... here is an image of a vitrine in the Powell-Cotton Museum, showing objects the Major collected in the Beja Hills, Eastern Sudan during his trip there in the early 20th century.

Shown is a kaskara from the Hadendoa, which is of small size and quite crudely constructed, with the blade probably made from sheet steel/iron. However, I believe this weapon to be likely for indigenous use and not for sale to Europeans...
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Old 28th December 2017, 06:54 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Shown is a kaskara from the Hadendoa, which is of small size and quite crudely constructed, with the blade probably made from sheet steel/iron. However, I believe this weapon to be likely for indigenous use and not for sale to Europeans...


I agree.
You opened another topic "the mini kaskara" (and also the mini tabouka).
Obviously they were used as short shorts and they were not toys or shortened later by Europeans as some members suggested.
Here is another one and I add also my mini Ethiopian kaskara...
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Old 6th January 2019, 03:48 PM   #36
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Here is a further piece of detail regarding "souvenirs" from the Sudanese Mahdist period - I have been reading Major E A de Cosson's account of his participation in the Suakin Expedition of 1885 ("Days and Nights of Service with Sir Gerald Graham's Field Force at Suakin" published London 1886), and in it he mentions the topic of souvenirs from Eastern Sudan. I attach the relevant extracts.

It should be noted these events took place 13 years before the Battle of Omdurman...
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Old 6th January 2019, 06:37 PM   #37
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Hi Colin,

An excellent bit of info, really shows the extent of this trade and of course as you say this is before the most infamous period in the British involvement in the Sudan when interest spiked in all things Madhist.

Sounds as though they were making good money as well! 5 pounds sterling in 1885 was around 590 today accounting for inflation!
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Old 7th January 2019, 06:13 AM   #38
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Sorry, double posting

Last edited by ariel : 7th January 2019 at 06:24 AM.
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Old 7th January 2019, 06:22 AM   #39
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In Post 17 , the Sudanese holds a kaskara with a diamond-like blade. I have never seen such a kaskara. Have you? Artistic license was always present in iconography.

Also, I have read somewhere that returning British military personnel was allocated different space during sea voyage for the luggage, with the rank and file being the most limited. Not much diffferent from air travel now: coach vs. business classes. One can surmise that short or local market- shortened kaskaras might have been soldiers’ bringbacks.



Iain: as per Bank of Britain inflation calculator in 2017 it was £610.80. Collecting is not very profitable: today we buy kaskaras on E-Bay for about $200-300:-(((
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Old 7th January 2019, 08:10 AM   #40
colin henshaw
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[QUOTE=ariel]In Post 17 , the Sudanese holds a kaskara with a diamond-like blade. I have never seen such a kaskara. Have you? Artistic license was always present in iconography.

The blade of the kaskara in post 17 appears to be artistic licence, the diamond section and sharp point seem as if copied from a European medieval sword ?
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Old 7th January 2019, 08:21 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
In Post 17 , the Sudanese holds a kaskara with a diamond-like blade. I have never seen such a kaskara. Have you? Artistic license was always present in iconography.

Also, I have read somewhere that returning British military personnel was allocated different space during sea voyage for the luggage, with the rank and file being the most limited. Not much diffferent from air travel now: coach vs. business classes. One can surmise that short or local market- shortened kaskaras might have been soldiers’ bringbacks.


Hi Ariel,

I agree with Colin, the illustrated kaskara is artistic license. The guard and pommel are taken from a typical European sword rather than a kaskara.

Quote:
Iain: as per Bank of Britain inflation calculator in 2017 it was £610.80. Collecting is not very profitable: today we buy kaskaras on E-Bay for about $200-300:-(((


I was using the 2018 index. Sadly the price of kaskara, at least good ones, is also inflating. $300 would be a nice surprise these days for an old one!
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Old 8th January 2019, 04:13 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
In Post 17 , the Sudanese holds a kaskara with a diamond-like blade. I have never seen such a kaskara. Have you? Artistic license was always present in iconography.

Also, I have read somewhere that returning British military personnel was allocated different space during sea voyage for the luggage, with the rank and file being the most limited. Not much diffferent from air travel now: coach vs. business classes. One can surmise that short or local market- shortened kaskaras might have been soldiers’ bringbacks.



Iain: as per Bank of Britain inflation calculator in 2017 it was £610.80. Collecting is not very profitable: today we buy kaskaras on E-Bay for about $200-300:-(((



Interesting minutiae!!
The 'souvenir' phenomenon gained great popularity after the Omdurman battle and Sudanese campaigns, and there was huge demand for these items by occupying troops and later tourists. I am not sure I agree with the notion that 'kaskaras' were shortened to make carriage more convenient for returning forces.
Obviously things like lances or such large weapons were not among things typically brought home, and I have understood that the main deterrent for not bringing coats of mail back was the weight. However kaskaras were often in shorter form as they were worn in a baldric over the shoulder and under the arm, much like a gun holster in modern times.

The purpose for this may have been for more suitable carriage in city or metropolitan settings, much in the way many Chinese dao are often found with much shorter blades in the same instance.

As for the items such as spear heads etc. Birmingham had long been a producer of materials for Sudan and in fact they were the producers of the coats of mail for the Khedive of Egypt's 'iron men'. They apparently were furnishing these spear heads for sale to vendors in Sudanese locations.


Clearly there were numbers of items which were authentic, but over the years identifying them has been deeply clouded by their diffusion into the realm of the 'produced' souvenirs.


With the artists rendering of kaskara, it is interesting to acknowledge Oakshott's assertions describing the many cases where kaskara blades were remounted into alleged medieval swords. As contemporary writers seemed to continually refer to kaskaras as 'crusader' swords (by comparison) it is not surprising an artist would render one accordingly.


On collecting, and inevitably selling of these, as with any antique or collectible weapon, their value is whatever the market will bear. There is no real 'blue book' on typically unusual items and each is valued or priced on its own merits and how badly the purchaser (collector) wants it. I learned that from the days I collected!

Just my take on the topics at hand FWIW.
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