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Old 6th April 2014, 11:08 AM   #1
Iain
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Default ID on Sahel leather pattern

Hi all,

Anyone seen leather work like the attached? Any idea of a regional or tribal ID?

Thanks!
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Old 6th April 2014, 11:20 AM   #2
colin henshaw
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Hi Iain

When looking at such leather scabbards in the past, I came to the conclusion that... many of the impressed patterns at least, were made using bookbinders' tools. Whether European or North African bookbinders, I can't say...

Regards.
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Old 7th April 2014, 12:56 PM   #3
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Thanks Colin, an interesting suggestion!

I've privately been told Ethiopia is likely for this particular scabbard. Attached is the sword it came with, although it seems an odd marriage...
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Old 7th April 2014, 01:17 PM   #4
Martin Lubojacky
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It“s strange in connection with Takouba, but the pattern was really used in Ethiopia
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Old 7th April 2014, 01:54 PM   #5
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Hi Martin,

Thanks for the confirmation. It is indeed strange! I'm always amazed how many variants and odd combinations there seem to be.
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Old 9th April 2014, 07:22 AM   #6
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi all,

Anyone seen leather work like the attached? Any idea of a regional or tribal ID?

Thanks!



Salaams Iain, When I first looked at this I had to remind myself where the Sahel actually is... and since I always thought Sahel was something tied to a coastline it confused me somewhat...however I noted that Sahel means~

Quote"The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara desert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the southernmost extent of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The Arabic word sāḥil (ساحل) literally means "shore, coast", describing the appearance of the vegetation found in the Sahel as being akin to that of a coastline delimiting the sand of the Sahara".Unquote.

To confirm it in my mind I needed a map! See below.

With the map in mind and the task I first have to point out the enormity of the question; not least in actually getting on the ground to see these places...so if this is your chosen area then it underlines the huge scope involved.. In looking at leather it is impossible not to view other decorative styles ...such as jewellery patterns, woodcarving, architecture, tattooing to name a few....The scope is vast! Certainly Zanzibari /Omani style is in part similar and I would point to the broken chains as related to slavery.

The geometric other patterns have numerous meanings but as usual the tribes may well have forgotten those. The geometry, I think, happened when these regions adopted Islam alongside their ancient religions and superstitions.. Naturally therefor African tribal lore encompasses both humanistic and geometric form... thus often the two may sit side by side on decorative objects.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 9th April 2014 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 9th April 2014, 08:07 AM   #7
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Hi Ibrahiim,

The Sahel is simply the strip of land lying below the Sahara and is the transitional zone before the forest climates closer to the equator. When discussing swords, this is typically divided into the regions using takouba and those using kaskara, with of course Ethiopia at the far end.

The question was not as vast as you might think! While the Sahel is a large area, there are many commonalities in decorative elements, divided up between the major ethnic groups in these areas.

As you can see from previous responses to this thread this particular example has been more or less confirmed to be from Ethiopian regions.

Some of the patterns commonly observed in the Western Sahel have their roots with Berber influence and of course as you note Islamic influence certainly played a part. However non-Islamic groups had similar traditions of decorative motifs.

All the best,
Iain
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Old 9th April 2014, 03:52 PM   #8
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Yes indeed ... I noted from Art of Ethiopia see www.pinterest.com/bwtcproject/art-of-ethiopia that Ethiopian art comes in many forms, including religious and secular painting, basketry, crosses, jewelery, icons, illuminated manuscripts, crowns and many other art forms. Its history goes back almost three thousand years to the kingdom of D'mt.

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Old 9th April 2014, 04:09 PM   #9
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Just did a quick internet search for "bookbinding leather impressions" - the variety of patterns available seem endless...
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Old 10th April 2014, 08:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Just did a quick internet search for "bookbinding leather impressions" - the variety of patterns available seem endless...



Nice addition... More !!

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 10th April 2014, 08:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Just did a quick internet search for "bookbinding leather impressions" - the variety of patterns available seem endless...


Hi Colin,

The technology used is certainly similar, but also completely within the capabilities of local industry to produce. So I'm not sure there's necessarily an import of leather working tools from Europe to account for this. But it is a possibility.

Cheers
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Old 10th April 2014, 10:31 AM   #12
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Hi,
After spending more than 4 years in Ethiopia and collecting there I can just confirm again the pattern is typical for their sheaths, especially shabola“s and gorade“s sheaths.
Regards,
Martuin
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Old 10th April 2014, 10:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Lubojacky
Hi,
After spending more than 4 years in Ethiopia and collecting there I can just confirm again the pattern is typical for their sheaths, especially shabola“s and gorade“s sheaths.
Regards,
Martuin


Thanks again Martin, if I'm not mistaken the belt system seen here is also more typical in Ethiopia.

It is very unusual in the western Sahel regions, where it is usually a cloth, or cotton strap.
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Old 10th April 2014, 12:09 PM   #14
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Hi, Iain,
Not only the belt system. Also the perfect belt loop and the design on it. Such design used to be commonly struck on loops made of brass.
Regards,
Martin
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Old 17th April 2014, 07:30 PM   #15
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A little more sahel leather work to enjoy. :-) Unusual raised patterns on this scabbard. The handle wrap seems to be of the variety seen in the Cameroon border areas/North Nigeria.
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