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Old 14th May 2009, 08:02 AM   #1
Ronin 47
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Default Help with blade of possible european Make

I have been told the blade looks like a Kattara with a trade blade of European origin possible put together in Oman, but I can't seem to find a example of this kind of Arabic Saif style mountings with one of these European trade blades. Anyway the blade its self is about 32incs long with a fuller and three symbols engraved on it towards the hilt. If any body could point me to a possible place and date of manufacture for the blade that would be great. Thanks in Advice, here are some pictures.

Austin R.
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Old 15th May 2009, 03:06 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Hi Austin,
Its good to have you posting here, and thank you for posting this interesting Arabian sa'if. The blade does seem to have European character but I'm not sure it is actually a trade blade from there. The markings are rather crude interpretations of the typically seen 'cabbalistic' markings often seen on the trade blades which entered the North African and Arabian sphere in the Red Sea trade, probably native applied.
I think your Omani assessment is well placed, as the rounded tip on the blade is indeed characteristic of the 'kattara', while the hilt is similar essentially to those of the sa'if forms to the west (as well as the scabbard throat style receiving the langet). These hilts are expected more in end of 19th to early years of the 20th in Yemen and possibly Hadramaut.
It really is difficult to say exactly as Arab trade clearly diffused these swords widely, but I think that Oman is likely for the mounts. They seem to have favored the standard double ring scabbard mounts on one side, while the Yemeni and Hadramaut seemed to favor the baldric type mounts with rings on either side of the scabbard throat.

A very nice S. Arabian sa'if, probably early 20th century. Fascinating history reflected in these swords and these regions then.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 15th May 2009, 05:44 AM   #3
Ronin 47
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Thanks for the input Jim I really appreciate it. Someone told me the markings might not be original to the blade, but I would assume they must have been on there for a while because thy are almost completely worn out on one side, unless someone made it look that way? Is there a way to distinguish between the locally made blades, and the European ones? Here are some closer pictures of the scabbed, hopefully these might help to further narrow down the production date.
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Old 15th May 2009, 10:28 PM   #4
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Hi Austin,
Thanks for the additional closeups, thats does help a lot. That blade has me a bit puzzled, and I cannot place the fuller style, but it is distinctly different than the typical Omani blades which seem to usually be very similar to the blades found on kaskaras of Sudan. I have tried to see if this triple channel the full blade length shows up on these but havent yet.

The scabbard throat with langet receiver and most important, the device just below it, which is known as the aghrab (=scorpion) is distinctly of the style seen on Arabian sa'if's from Hadhramaut, in the Yemen just to the west of Oman.

In closer view of these elements I would feel inclined that this blade was likely mounted in these regions in the 19th century, safely suggesting mid century. The native application of the trade blade symbols was likely due to the fact that these symbols were believed to enhance the power imbued in the blades. The folk religion that prevailed among Bedouin tribes recognized such beliefs in addition to the aghrab device, which were originally used to defy 'the evil eye' and similar superstitions. These elements were maintained as traditional motif designs long after these designs were first used in the 18th century, and probably even earlier.

This really is a nice example, and I have always thought Arabian swords were especially interesting with the profound importance of Arabs in the trade world. Oman was key in trade in the Red Sea and the Atlantic, and the Omani Sultanate at Zanzibar was I think one of the key centers into Africa.

Thanks again for sharing this here Austin!
All the best,
Jim
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Old 16th May 2009, 02:53 AM   #5
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Ok first I thought I was seeing things but then I took the blade over to a friends house who has some wootz blades, and we both saw what appears to be a grainy structure in the blade which looks like wootz, we compared it to other wootz examples in similiar condition and there appears to be some similarities overall with the grain structure. I'm posting some (not to great) pictures and was just wondering what other board members thought, and if it might be worth going at the blade with some Japanese figure stones to try and bring up the pattern if there really is one, or should I just leave it as is?
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Old 16th May 2009, 03:10 AM   #6
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I do not see anything, but wootz is very difficult to photograph, so anything is possible, even if very unlikely.
Regards,
Teodor
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Old 16th May 2009, 03:16 AM   #7
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Looks like a Euro trade blade to me, probably 18th century.
If you etch it you might get a little layering but not wootz.
Myself, I'd leave it as it is, looks like it has original finish on it.
Just hit it with some fine steel wool to get the gunk off
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Old 18th May 2009, 01:06 AM   #8
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After looking at it further I think there is grain, but most likely not wootz, so I will just leave best alone. Anyway this sword looks a lot like the South German Landsknegt Broadsword, circa 1530, that's coming up for auction at Hessink's if you broke or filed the tip down, its probably not that old but its still interesting.

Thanks again for all the help

Austin R.
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Old 18th May 2009, 11:26 PM   #9
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Could this be a re-hilted Kaskara ? Geographically Oman and the eastern coast of Africa are linked by sea trade, its not too unreasonable to think a blade may have travelled via sea ports.

Regards David
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Old 19th May 2009, 11:37 PM   #10
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I hate to do this but Arabian weaponry much less any weaponry from that part of the world is not really my area of expertise, and I would appreciate it if someone could please PM a rough going price for these Arabian sa'if's with European trade blades. This is not for resale purposes but I think I overpayed and I would like to know by how much, I have been looking through past auction house records but I can't seem to find a similiar example to go on. Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 20th May 2009, 04:39 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Ronin 47]I hate to do this but Arabian weaponry much less any weaponry from that part of the world is not really my area of expertise, and I would appreciate it if someone could please PM a rough going price for these Arabian sa'if's with European trade blades. This is not for resale purposes but I think I overpayed and I would like to know by how much, I have been looking through past auction house records but I can't seem to find a similiar example to go on. Thanks in advance for any help.[/QUOTE


Hi Austin,
Actually, if you like the sword, and since you have already acquired it, it really doesnt matter what you payed. If you were selling the sword there may be obvious concern. Since you have noted you know little on Arabian swords, your purchase of this one, as well as your desire to learn more on it indicates you clearly developing an interest in them. This is a good thing, as by sharing your weapon here we all benefit by learning more on them.

Obviously the matter of price is a matter of extremely subjective opinion, and without going through professionals, you may expect a wide array of answers.
Thank you for observing our protocol concerning valuations by specifying PM use on this.

I will say, in my opinion, this seems a relatively unusual Bedouin sa'if with what appears, as Ward has assessed, a European blade of probably 18th century, with 19th century mounts.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 21st February 2012, 09:26 AM   #12
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Salaams all ~Bump for this interesting thread please. Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 10:43 AM   #13
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Salaams all ~ The scabbard has a line of Arabic in the last decorated rectangle which may be a clue. To me this looks like a Red Sea variant with either a badly worn or faked decoration to a blade I can't quite fathom . The hilt looks possibly bedouin possibly Hadramaut even Hyderabadi and possibly an Omani adoption. I suggest inclusion in the Ethnographic side. Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:46 PM   #14
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This is an interesting sword which as Ibrahiim has suggested is of a style of Arabian preference characteristic of Hadhramaut and Yemen. The scabbard which includes the distinct 'aghrab' at the throat is of the type that according to Elgood were produced in Hyderabad for these regions.
The blade seems of 19th century European style and the unusual coloration reminds me of galvanized metal, which has worn through in the rusty areas. The stylized decoration is copied from much earlier European blades using the sword holding arm from a cloud, sun and moon with faces ,popular in many Eastern European blades from 18th century. Many of these earlier blades were purported to be Hungarian, but were likely from either Caucasian or Styrian sources.

The sword itself overall seems to be a relatively modern composite, revising my previous assessment on the blade, which in retrospect does not seem 18th century as the spurious decoration had suggested.
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