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Old 17th May 2005, 01:22 AM   #1
Bill M
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Default Ethiopean Sword

Quite long at one meter (40 inches). Would like any info, particularly on the blade and the handle. Thanks
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Old 17th May 2005, 01:35 AM   #2
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I believe "G.G." is a Solingen mark.

Others here have much more experience with these (Jim? Derek?). The handle looks like horn, perhaps rino.

Nice sword, Bill. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 17th May 2005, 03:36 AM   #3
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I too think it is a German blade. The mark with the thermometer(?) seems familiar. I think there was at least one good thread on German/Ethiopian swords on the old forum....The lion with the flag is the "Lion of Judah" which was some sort of title held by one or more Ethiopian kings/emperors. Should be a nice spring tempered blade, and it looks like someone has already sharpened it at some time
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Old 17th May 2005, 03:51 AM   #4
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Strongly recommend reading the latest installment in the Flashman series:"Flashman on the march". It is not yet available in the US (November 2005), but I got it in the UK. It is about the British expedition to Ethiopia to capture Magdala and to overthrow Emperor Theodore.
Remarkably interesting story filled with genuine historical details, adventures and "wenching". Of course, there is a lot of stuff about warfare, military tactcs, equipment and fighting men (and women.... but you have to read about it yourselves).
In the same vein, read the rest of the series: Borneo pirates, India, Afghanistan, Sikh country, Turkestan, The Charge of the Light Brigade, China, Zulu wars, Dahomey amazons, Apaches, mad queen of Madagascar etc, etc.
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Old 17th May 2005, 02:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom hyle
I too think it is a German blade. The mark with the thermometer(?) seems familiar. I think there was at least one good thread on German/Ethiopian swords on the old forum....The lion with the flag is the "Lion of Judah" which was some sort of title held by one or more Ethiopian kings/emperors. Should be a nice spring tempered blade, and it looks like someone has already sharpened it at some time


"The Conquering Lion of Judah," one of the Ethiopian Imperial titles, was assumed by the Emperors based on the legend/tradition that the first Emperor of Ethiopia (Menelik I) was the son King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Imperial dynasty in general was (and I guess still is among
Ethiopian monarchists, since one of Selasse's sons is still alive) as the "Solomonic Dynasty."
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Old 17th May 2005, 02:30 PM   #6
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Once we went to a local Ethiopian restaurant and, after dinner, the owner proudly showed us the gallery of his pictures with celebrities. I admiringly pointed at a photograph of him with, apparently, Sammy Davis, Jr.
He almost killed me: it was Haile Selassie himself.
I never visited the place since.
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Old 17th May 2005, 02:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom hyle
I too think it is a German blade. The mark with the thermometer(?) seems familiar. I think there was at least one good thread on German/Ethiopian swords on the old forum....The lion with the flag is the "Lion of Judah" which was some sort of title held by one or more Ethiopian kings/emperors.


Thanks Tom,

Based on your remarks above I did a search on "The Lion of Judah."

In the Rastafarian religion, the Lion of Judah is an emblem of Ras Tafari, otherwise known as former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. According to rastafarian belief, Selassie was the Messiah, the second coming of Christ referenced in the Book of Revelation:

"the hair of whose head was like wool, whose feet were like unto burning brass. "

However it is also said that most emperors/kings of Ethiopia were called the "Lion of Judah" as they claim to have descended from David.

Mark,
I was posting the above while you were answering. Thanks for the explanation.
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Old 17th May 2005, 04:22 PM   #8
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Hi Bill,

The thermometer is used by F.W. Holler of Solingen. It is still unclear (at least to me) what the G.G. stands for. It is either the Ges. Gesch. mark or an importer/dealer.

Very nice sword!
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Old 17th May 2005, 04:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Once we went to a local Ethiopian restaurant and, after dinner, the owner proudly showed us the gallery of his pictures with celebrities. I admiringly pointed at a photograph of him with, apparently, Sammy Davis, Jr.
He almost killed me: it was Haile Selassie himself.
I never visited the place since.


LOL!!! I can see why he was upset. For an Ethiopian having your picture taken with the Emperor would be sort of like getting your picture taken with the Pope (only probably even more special -- I mean the guy was at least in theory a distant cousin to Jesus).
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Old 17th May 2005, 07:09 PM   #10
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Ive seen an identical sword to this here in Kuwait, with the G.G, thermometer and the lion of judah mark. Although that had no scabbard. The blade was in a better condition (not resharpened).
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Old 17th May 2005, 11:28 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies. Any ideas about the handle? Rhino??
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Old 18th May 2005, 12:35 AM   #12
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I'm not sure what would make you think the blade is resharpened; Looks to me like it's just "sharpened" and hasn't seen much if any use. As for characterizing an unsharpened sword as in better condition than a sharpened one; a little like saying a car that's never had any gasoling poluting its clean tank is in better condition than one that has been filled up
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Old 18th May 2005, 01:51 AM   #13
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A comment and a question, even if perhaps a little dumb.
As to the horn hilt, rhino is a possibility, based upon the close-up photo in which the thermometer is seen, as the edge shows a "roughened" area, but in all the hilt appears too translucent to my eye, a tough call with just photographs.
Keep in mind that rhino and giraffe horn are compacted hair that's completely opaque and not naturally shiny unless carefully buffed and polished.As to the question, is this still called a gurade, based upon the hilt, even though it has a perfectly straight blade?
At any rate, it's a completely beautiful sword, and while I'm not usually impressed by "blood stains" and the like, my own preferences are to a sharpened blade, particularly in military pieces, unless it was done with a Dremmel or on a garage grinder with a heavy hand.
Mike
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Old 18th May 2005, 03:15 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conogre
A comment and a question, even if perhaps a little dumb.
As to the horn hilt, rhino is a possibility, based upon the close-up photo in which the thermometer is seen, as the edge shows a "roughened" area, but in all the hilt appears too translucent to my eye, a tough call with just photographs.


Mike, There is a piece of the hilt broken off near the blade. The hilt does have a translucency to it. I did work to get the backlight to shine through it.

Most of the rhino horn I have seen looks more like wood, but here are some blond-looking rhino horn hilts.

http://www.oriental-arms.com/item.php?id=567
http://www.oriental-arms.com/item.php?id=1710


Quote:
Originally Posted by Conogre
Keep in mind that rhino and giraffe horn are compacted hair that's completely opaque and not naturally shiny unless carefully buffed and polished.


I recently met with a collector who has an incredible Jambiya with Giraffe hilt. It was slightly translucent and a strange, but beautiful greenish color. He said that someone told him that the Giraffe horn is too fibrous to make good hilts and that the hilt was made from a Giraffe hoof. I had never seen one before.

Most of the rhino horn I have seen looked very much like wood, but there are five different kinds of rhino alive today. Maybe one has this kind of horn???

http://www.priweb.org/ed/ICTHOL/ICT..._papers/42.html

"The most interesting fact about the rhino horns is that it is made of hair. Most people associate hair with soft furry substance found on ones head. But the rhino horns were extremely hard and sharp. The horns of cows are hollow with a bone core, but rhino horns are made of fused, fibrous constructions that are solid all the way through. The fibers are hairs that are attached to the nose by skin supported by a raised, roughened area on the skull."



Quote:
Originally Posted by Conogre
As to the question, is this still called a gurade, based upon the hilt, even though it has a perfectly straight blade?

At any rate, it's a completely beautiful sword, and while I'm not usually impressed by "blood stains" and the like, my own preferences are to a sharpened blade, particularly in military pieces, unless it was done with a Dremmel or on a garage grinder with a heavy hand.
Mike


The sharpening is OK with me.
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Old 18th May 2005, 07:29 AM   #15
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Hi Bill;
I too have seen blond colored rhino horn, and, as you mentioned, it is very similar to wood in its graininess and likewise in its being opaque, with no member of the rhino family having translucent horns.
Another way to tell is to moisten it...if it's rhino horn it will expand, making the hairs individually apparent and giving it a slightly "sticky" feel, as in very fine velcro, one of the prime reasons it was (and still is, thus the poaching problem) prized for hilt material, as opposed to regular horn, which will become slippery.
While the horns of giraffe are less compacted than rhinocerous, they are still used rarely to occasionally, very fortunate for giraffes, while the hoofs of many of the large quadrapeds are very similar to the material found in their horns and could also be easily used for hilting/ scabbard sheating purposes, although they are more commonly used, of course, as "Jello".
Mike
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Old 18th May 2005, 10:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conogre
Hi Bill;
I too have seen blond colored rhino horn, and, as you mentioned, it is very similar to wood in its graininess and likewise in its being opaque, with no member of the rhino family having translucent horns.
Another way to tell is to moisten it...if it's rhino horn it will expand, making the hairs individually apparent and giving it a slightly "sticky" feel, as in very fine velcro, one of the prime reasons it was (and still is, thus the poaching problem) prized for hilt material, as opposed to regular horn, which will become slippery.
While the horns of giraffe are less compacted than rhinocerous, they are still used rarely to occasionally, very fortunate for giraffes, while the hoofs of many of the large quadrapeds are very similar to the material found in their horns and could also be easily used for hilting/ scabbard sheating purposes, although they are more commonly used, of course, as "Jello".
Mike


Mike,

I tried your moistening suggestion and it does feel 'sticky' and not slippery. But with a strong light behind it, it IS translucent.

The blade and scabbard are much better than the average Ethiopean sword and a quailty hilt would be in order.

IF this is not rhino, what could it be?

A friend suggested it might be cow horn.

Discussion on this Forum earlier about hilt possibilities.

http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002288.html


"Jello?" This is making me hungry. Do they make a rhino or giraffe flavored Jello? On second thought, I think that I'll pass.

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Old 18th May 2005, 02:26 PM   #17
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I have been trying to think of which big, horned critters are found in Ethiopia, and actually there are not many. I do not believe that there are any native species of rhino, for instance. Of course, it might be imported. Is it possible that oils from handling impregnated the handle and made it more translucent?

Cow horn is not so outlandish and idea, actually, as there tons of them in Ethiopia, and some have enormous horns. Though generally hollow, the tip would be solid, and big horns would have sizable solid parts.
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Old 18th May 2005, 03:16 PM   #18
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I would tend to agree that this sword (IS it a gurade? ) would be deserving of a high quality hilt and that rhinocerous horn would certainly be in order and not at all unusual, so that's not a problem at all.
I also noticed that the only place that it appears slightly translucent is at the pommel end, which is a seperate piece that appears to be cut cross-grain from the rest of the hilt and even here only at the edges, so it's possible that it was cut from a piece of the horn that had slightly less mass (or possibly from a younger, immature animal whose horn was only partially developed) than the rest for wideness.
When dealing with animal by-products in weaponry, one thing that we tend to forget is that no two are ever exactly alike due to differences in individual animals so a certain amount of variation is not only to be expected, but is actually inevitable.
As to the likelihood of the hilt coming from a local animal, I'd like to interject here that if a material is highly valued enough, no distance is too great or cost too extreme for the very rich or royalty, and since rhinocerous horn is a commonly used material in Islamic weaponry of exceptional quality, it's also a good example as rhinocerous occur nowhere in what is commonly thought of as Islamic territory, with the possible exception of Borneo, and that's just since the acceptance of Indonesia as a unified nation.
Another extremely popular material for hilting, of course, is elephant ivory, this having been so since the days of the earliest cave paintings, not to mention look at the amount of Mammoth ivory that shows up as sword and knife hilts and the regions in which these weapons frequently appear.
While the jury is still out, it appears more and more likely that the extinction of the Wooly Mammoth was indeed largely brought about by overhunting by humans, with the entire tusk probably used as tent supports.
Mike
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Old 18th May 2005, 06:56 PM   #19
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Hi Guys,

Nice sword Bill!

Rhino horn sometimes has a translucent outer layer, at least.

Heres a solid, 26 inch long, 2part {eg. The handle & shaft} Georgian {As in pre Victorean.} Rhino horn riding crop, which shows the partial translucent outer layer in the handle.{from a small diameter tusk.The tusk center is the other lighter patch.}

When carried in bright sunlight it glows like a bulb in the translucent area !

The colour varies from yellow to green brown on the handle & the shaft is green brown without translucency.


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Old 19th May 2005, 01:40 AM   #20
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Thanks Spiral!

Here are some more pictures showing a damaged place. Unfortunately I don't have the chip.
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Old 14th June 2005, 03:48 PM   #21
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Hi guys,

Just saw this one, several comments.

First, that's rhino. The first pics show it well. The way it's broken shows the fibers also.

As Jeff noted, and according to Mr. Wilkinson-Latham who provided me with a lot of blade rubbings, catalogs and copies of sword orders from Abyssinia, the G.G. is in fact the Ges Gesh mark that was stamped on blades exported from Solingen by various manufacturers. VERY cool that someone has already ID'ed the stamp on this sword. Julius Voos also sent many swords to Ethiopia.

The Lion of Judah is based on the claim that the emporers of Abyssinia are descended from Solomon & the "queen of Sheba". Solomon & David were of the tribe of Judah, as was Jesus, who is referred to as the conquering lion of Judah. Haille Selassie had many titles, this was one, along with Light of the World. There were a few good old threads on this in the old forum.

That's a fantastic sword, Bill. Rare to find a scabbard in such good shape.

Regarding the terms used, this is the best I can figure based on what I've read and seen, so don't hold it as etched in stone.

The recurved swords are called shotels.

The curved sabre styles are called gurades.

The straight swords are often referred to as seifs. Just a guess, but I'm thinking maybe the term "seif", which is obviously arabic, filtered in over time because they are shaped like the kaskara -- which I have read on this forum is also called a seif by locals very often.
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Old 10th July 2005, 11:48 PM   #22
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Sorry to disagree with some of you guys (Hi, Derek), but the hilt is NOT rhino. It is of bovine origin. Lots of humped cattle in Abyssinia with huge horns. I have enought rhino hilts and "cow" hilts in my collection to tell the difference. I agree that the main straight piece looks fibrous, BUT it is clearly "scaly". Cow horn will look translucent too. The give-away is the hole that is usully found in the "cross" piece. The tip of cow/buffalo horns is solid but not wide enough. So they are cut sideway and the end of the hole will show most of the times. By the way, I have seen several examples of the same sword with wooden hilts. And I have seen very crudely made shotes with rhino hilts. So the quality of the blade is not always associated with the quality, or material, of the hilt.
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Old 11th July 2005, 12:06 AM   #23
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As an afterthought, I am sending one more picture. The cross piece is VERY yellow and translucent. But NOT rhino. Just cow... Not that it makes any difference. One of the "flares" of the straight black piece is broken and it shows very clearly (not in the picture) its fibrous structure. But it is also cow. The cow horn fibres are very very tight and the single "strands" can be seen with some magnification. In the rhino horn, the individual strands are much coarser and can easly be seen by the naked eyes. I hope this will be of some help.
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Old 11th July 2005, 12:24 AM   #24
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I don't think I'm going to even attempt to ID one from the other at this point.


Roano, will you run down a list of features to look for that will confirm what a hilt is or isn't? We did this on another forum about a type of kukri and it was extremely helpful.

I'm further in doubt about a few others I've seen now............help.......

-d
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Old 14th July 2005, 01:02 AM   #25
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Greatl info Roanoa! any more points to look out for? Its cool to find such knowledge.

thanks!

Spiral
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