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Old 21st May 2011, 03:06 PM   #31
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default KATTARA OR MENDINGO etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12242
The plot thickens.................. Refer to above link where Kattara were also discussed. ARCHER posted pics of a sword with "knobs" on the top of the hilt. This was (I think) eventually identified as Manding, but take a look at the sword held by Sultan Tipu! Looks remarkably similar.
So what do the Members think now..............? Is ARCHER'S sword in fact a Kattara?


Salaams, Archers is Mendingo and the other with the Sultan is kattara. Thats not "Tippu Sultan".. that may have been a misleading comment by me ... Tippu tip al swahili was a slave trader (there was a tipu sultan but he was off another generation altogether from India not related)

Tippu Tip or Tib (1837 - June 14, 1905), real name Hamad bin Muḥammad bin Jumah bin Rajab bin Muḥammad bin Sa‘īd al-Murghabī, (Arabic: حمد بن محمد بن جمعة بن رجب بن محمد بن سعيد المرجبي‎), was a Swahili-Zanzibari trader of mixed descent. He was famously known as Tippu Tib after an eye disease which made him blind. A notorious slave trader, plantation owner and governor, who worked for a succession of sultans of Zanzibar, he led many trading expeditions into east-central Africa, involving the slave trade and ivory trade. He constructed profitable trading posts that reached deep into Central Africa.

The photo may be one of the Zanzibari sultans like Barghash or whoever but anyway that is an Omani Kattara...with a hole in the pommel !!

I think what may be important here is that the link with African swords to the Omani Kattara is being dismantled and it may be that the Kattara is a thoroughbred Omani system coupled with the buckler Terss shield and possibly pre-dating previous estimates and dwarfing age estimates by possibly 500 years !! since it is engrained in the historical cultural Omani tradition by way of a sword and shield war dance.

My estimate is 9th century inspired from the Oman Coast, war, trade and slavery and by the fact of the traditional dance.

I think what is also slowly dawning is the suposition that the Omani Short Battle Sword may be well and truly ancient predating previous estimates by several centuries as a staggering 8th Century weapon copied from the Abbasid.

What clouds the issue on the Long Kattara is the abundance of european blades though presumeably the original blade was similar ?? Im not even sure that looking at the blade is all that relevant ~ it is the hilt and the shield which seem to be more an important flag on origin and the cultural aspect of a traditional war dance which takes ages before it becomes imprinted as a national iconic structure.

By the way do you notice the brass escutcheons on the front of the Buckler ?... They are for securing the handle and for disarming with a twist the opponents sword.

I think I should put on record the number of different swords on this long hilt is vast...both straight, double edged, single edged, zig zag blades, slight curved, and very curved and in my collection alone there are lots... so a picture should be seen displaying that conundrum~

That alone underpins how difficult it is to trace back the origin of species of the Omani Kattara and the oldest picture(photo) I have seen is about 1860. If anyone has any older photos or pictures I would appreciate that.

Regards Ibrahiim.
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Old 21st May 2011, 04:06 PM   #32
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Outstanding Stu!! Thats exactly the example of Yemeni sword I was thinking of!
Nicely explained summation of the discussion to date and reiteration of what we are closer to agreeing on the development of these swords Ibrahiim. Thank you for providing all the detail on Tipu Tib as well, as the slave trade seems key to much of the diffusion involved here, and it is well established that Zanzibar was one of the busy if not key East African centers.

With this I wanted to reassert my thoughts on the idea that the Mandingo sabre hilt form may well be connected to these Omani kattara (long) through these slave trade routes. I agree that the sword shown by Archer in the linked thread is Mandingo, with similar hilt shape to kattara, but note the ring around the leather wrapped grip midpoint, and the spherical knob atip the grip is of course different than the squared Omani pommel (with aperture). I would reemphasize that I believe the influence in Mandingo swords reflected probably the Omani type swords.

The Trans Saharan trade routes crossed through Timbuktu, in Mali, and it is worthy of note that the Mandingo settlements in Burkina Faso and Mali were built around these long distance trade routes. In these regions these were contolled by the Mandingo people known as Dyula (Manding=merchant). It would seem reasonable that Omani swords travelling with these long distance caravans, including probably some slaves destined for Morocco (and likely with Omani overseers and merchants factors) as one key terminus, may have deeply influenced the Dyula. As noted, these kattara were esteemed symbols of status for the Omani merchants, and it would seem that thier Saharan counterparts would seek to emulate these probably keenly noted swords in thier own interpretation.

The example shown by Archer seems to reflect deeply the Omani form hilt, and has the typical Saharan broadsword blade seen on takouba, and in the larger examples on kaskara, instead of the typical European sabre blades.
It is also interesting that these triple fullered blades are seen on the cylindrically hilted swords of Sierra Leone as well, again with local hilting being favored, in this case with rondel type hilt.

All best regards,
Jim
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Last edited by Jim McDougall : 21st May 2011 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 21st May 2011, 04:27 PM   #33
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Default Omani Swords. Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Ibrahiim,
More on the 'karabela':
From: "Polish Sabres:Their Origins and Evolution", Jan Ostroski, in
"Art , Arms & Armour" ed. Robert Held, 1979, pp.220-237.

The hilt form known as karabela, was also widely known as 'the Polish Sabre'.
"...the oldest available karabelas now in Poland are known to have been captured at Vienna in 1683, and hence originated in Turkey, probably under Persian influence, at the beginning of the 17th century. Within a short time it became more popular in Poland than it had ever been in Turkey or Hungary."

In "The Arms and Armour of Arabia", Robert Elgood, 1994, p.15, a sword found in the suqs of Riyadh described as follows, "...the hilt is like the karabella in form with silver sheet or other netal partly covering the grip made of wood or horn. The Arab traders say these are acquired in the Yemen. **

** as noted

The so called karabela hilt became popular in Persia in the early 17th century and Shah Abbas I can be seen wearing a sword with this hilt in miniature paintings. Because of the close trade and political links between Persia and Poland, which were in alliance against the Ottomans, and the adaption of Persian culture at court, the sword became extremely popular in Poland".

Elgood further notes that in 1623 Shah Abbas had occupied Baghdad and in taking control of areas including the city of Karbala, suggesting that the name for the sword hilt was in memory of that campaign.He also cites Nadolski ('Polish Side Arms') who states that there was considerable export of these type swords in later 17th early 18th c. entering the Persian Gulf trade, with many of course arriving in Arabia.

Also discussed are these shorter combat swords 'nim sha' which indeed were ideal for maritime use and well known in the Arab trade world. I know that many of these have the 'karabela' type hilt form and are wire wrapped at the neck of the hilt as are Persian shamshirs. In Arabia, Persian swords and blades are held in the highest esteem.

While these references illustrate the probable sources of the karabela style hilts in Arabia, there is still the question of the cylindrical or guardless Omani long kattara and its origins. The examples of leather covered guardless swords posted do seem to reflect in degree a certain recognition of the Caucasian shashka, but really it seems again, a tenous connection and likely a simple hilt solution to the use of the sabre blades which came not only from the Caucusus but other European sources as well. These kinds of swords with sabre blades are well known with Bedouin tribesmen even into the Sinai.

The simple open hilt Omani 'long kattara' seems likely also a product of simplistic hilting of these longer trade blades to be used as described with the buckler. The more decorative and silver mounted versions were likely of course for prominant and status conscious Omani merchants and officials.

All the best,
Jim


Salaams Jim, I can't disagree with a single point.

It appears that there were a number of sword species in Oman concurrently viz;

1. The Omani Short Battle Sword.
2a. The Omani Kattara/ Buckler.
2b. Long curved single edged rigid pointed Sayfs on Kattara hilts.
2c. Long curved double edged pointed Sayfs on Kattara hilts.
3. Curved short variants; European, Caucaz, Polish, "Karabella", "Shasqa" seagoing swords.
4a. "Nimcha" Zanzibari Omani weapons long mistaken for Moroccan swords.
4b. Hilted, as above, with imported blades various.

In addition there are other variants that perhaps dont quite make it into the pool such as Shamshir or African bladed swords(european imports ) on Tulvar handles, some with fake running wolf marks etc

It appears that both the Omani Short and Omani Long kattara were selected as icons or badge of office worn by Sultans and VIPs (as were Shamshirs). These were often adorned with silver and gold decoration etc...and though they were weapons they were not accompanied(in the case of the Kattara) with the Terrs Buckler Shield... but the weapon often slung on the belt in the long trail position.

The Omani Short Battle Sword; I argue, is related to the Abbasid and is put at 8th Century which although it is an astonishing date is a result of the Abbasid century of attendance in Oman before they were ousted. The early date is incredible because it can also be seen on the Zanzibar Sultan Barghash in about 1895. First introduced in the 8th Century !

The Omani Long Kattara; The long shafted unguarded hilt, conical and flat ending in a counterbalanced pommel with a hole, the handle either leathered and or silver stitched in flat silver thread in a variety of geometric patterns. The fight system accompanied by a buckler shield made from Rhino ( or other thick African animal hide ) and developed with a martial dance. I suggest and argue that it was not copied nor developed from an African sword but unrelated as an Omani system designed to be fought with a Buckler. Perhaps designed in Oman around the 9th Century !

The rest they say... "is history".

Regards Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 12:18 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Heres the photo~

I see the pics did not transfer with the "quote" Please refer to post #21 dated 18/5 by Ibrahiim
This is the pic I was refering to when I commented on the post by ARCHER. I do not see any hole in the hilt of this sword, just the knob as per the Mandingo sword................... so what are we really looking at here? The person in the pic wears a dagger (presumably Omani) of the saidi hilted type. Are we now saying that the sword he holds is in fact a Kattara, and if so is the hilt of the Mandingo type?
Regarding blade types found on Middle Eastern swords: The (then) colonial powers were very active in the area for a long period of time, and as a result numerious sword blades found there way to the area as "trade blades", and were hilted in the various countries with the local style of hilt. Ethiopia is a great example of this activity, where blades from all over europe appear on local swords.
Why should Oman be any different, particularly as the Omanis were well known a great seafarers and must have travelled great distances?
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Old 22nd May 2011, 02:08 PM   #35
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
I see the pics did not transfer with the "quote" Please refer to post #21 dated 18/5 by Ibrahiim
This is the pic I was refering to when I commented on the post by ARCHER. I do not see any hole in the hilt of this sword, just the knob as per the Mandingo sword................... so what are we really looking at here? The person in the pic wears a dagger (presumably Omani) of the saidi hilted type. Are we now saying that the sword he holds is in fact a Kattara, and if so is the hilt of the Mandingo type?
Regarding blade types found on Middle Eastern swords: The (then) colonial powers were very active in the area for a long period of time, and as a result numerious sword blades found there way to the area as "trade blades", and were hilted in the various countries with the local style of hilt. Ethiopia is a great example of this activity, where blades from all over europe appear on local swords.
Why should Oman be any different, particularly as the Omanis were well known a great seafarers and must have travelled great distances?


Salaams, No not at all Mendingo; The sword at #21 carried by the great slave trader Tippu Tip and photographed in the 1860s is a long Kattara hilt on what some people may call a curved kattara but which is also called a Sayf in Oman. Although we cannot see the blade it can be seen that the scabbard is curved and that it has rings so that it can be slung in the low mount thus favoured by VIPs even then as a badge of office. I can see the hole in the pommel on photo one at # 21.

What I suggest is that perhaps :

1.Such was the influence of Oman in the east of Africa that some effect may have occured to sway the design of African swords e.g. from the Omani Kattara hilt to the Mendingo hilt. This is based on the slave trade control by Omani traders over huge swathes of Africa etc.

2. The African hilt "at some point" swayed the design of the kattara Omani hilt ~ something I find difficult to believe.

3. That there was no influence from anywhere on the Omani Kattara design and the Omanis dreamed up the design of hilt, blade and buckler plus the war dance "The Razha" independently.

I have to say that I am sold so far on point 3 but I am open to ideas !

On the point of colonial power; it is true that European influence did inspire a lot of African swords however not many of, for example, the typical swords of Ethiopia imported from Germany, appeared in Oman because they were rigid and pointed... The Omanis used, were brought up with and favoured the Kattara system. Luckhouse and Gunter straight german blades were useless with a Buckler and even cut back would not have found much use perhaps as ships swords opposed to the shaska style also adopted in Oman... not in Oman anyway. In Ethiopia however the full length import was ~ superb!
I have two Luckhouse and Gunters mounted on Tulvar handles but Ive seen no Omani variants yet !!

Regards,
Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.

p.s. The chap wearing the Khanjar and sword is Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar. Yes that khanjar is the family traditional "Al Bu Saidi".

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 22nd May 2011 at 02:24 PM. Reason: small alterations...
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Old 22nd May 2011, 05:23 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams, No not at all Mendingo; The sword at #21 carried by the great slave trader Tippu Tip and photographed in the 1860s is a long Kattara hilt on what some people may call a curved kattara but which is also called a Sayf in Oman. Although we cannot see the blade it can be seen that the scabbard is curved and that it has rings so that it can be slung in the low mount thus favoured by VIPs even then as a badge of office. I can see the hole in the pommel on photo one at # 21.

What I suggest is that perhaps :

1.Such was the influence of Oman in the east of Africa that some effect may have occured to sway the design of African swords e.g. from the Omani Kattara hilt to the Mendingo hilt. This is based on the slave trade control by Omani traders over huge swathes of Africa etc.

2. The African hilt "at some point" swayed the design of the kattara Omani hilt ~ something I find difficult to believe.

3. That there was no influence from anywhere on the Omani Kattara design and the Omanis dreamed up the design of hilt, blade and buckler plus the war dance "The Razha" independently.

I have to say that I am sold so far on point 3 but I am open to ideas !

On the point of colonial power; it is true that European influence did inspire a lot of African swords however not many of, for example, the typical swords of Ethiopia imported from Germany, appeared in Oman because they were rigid and pointed... The Omanis used, were brought up with and favoured the Kattara system. Luckhouse and Gunter straight german blades were useless with a Buckler and even cut back would not have found much use perhaps as ships swords opposed to the shaska style also adopted in Oman... not in Oman anyway. In Ethiopia however the full length import was ~ superb!
I have two Luckhouse and Gunters mounted on Tulvar handles but Ive seen no Omani variants yet !!

Regards,
Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.

p.s. The chap wearing the Khanjar and sword is Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar. Yes that khanjar is the family traditional "Al Bu Saidi".


..........so taking your Point #1 above....it IS possible then that ARCHERS sword IS a Kattara??
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Old 23rd May 2011, 01:23 PM   #37
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Default KATTARA OR MENDINGO etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
..........so taking your Point #1 above....it IS possible then that ARCHERS sword IS a Kattara??


Salaams, Not in my book.. Theres just no proof. It may all be so wrapped up in historical time much of it frozen in Oman that getting to the bottom of this may take a while and some dedicated research. I would need to be convinced that mendingo warriors used the shield and sword and danced the same Razha... thereby using a same same fight technique and that does not seem to be the case.
My money is on number 3. Omani 100% and unrelated to any other area. Kattara and Terrs. It is a unique fighting system and I believe much earlier than first thought... Not 17th or 18th Century... more like 9th !
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Old 24th May 2011, 02:26 PM   #38
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I really dont think that the African hilts from either Mali or anywhere else influenced the Omani hilt, as I had mentioned earlier, in my opinion the simple cylindrical style hilt without guard seems more likely applied in Africa with the diffusion of the Omani swords worn by traders.
As far as the 'style' itself, of the long kattara.....it is not as far as I can see and actual 'development' but a reduction in style from the more structured form of the kattara with quilloned guard.

An analogy, if I may, would be for example if considering colors, black is complex, actually an amalgam of colors, while white is actually an absence of color. In this case, developed structure has given way to simpler form more as a matter of convenience and viability in adapting the now available trade blades. While by no means am I discounting the simple attractiveness of the 'long kattaras' , it is just viewing thier development pragmatically.

Naturally, this 'design' would be suitably embellished and adorned in the case of the extremely status and image conscious merchants, and influenced other imitators accordingly.

With the 'gurade' or European style sabre in Abyssinia/Ethiopia, it was not a case of these people adopting the style influentially as much as it was that these swords were produced in entirity for the forces of Abyssinia. Again, it is a matter of availability and opportunity, as well as admittedly in degree that Westernization of many armies colonially and globally, was becoming well known by the mid to latter 19th century. Though the 'gurade' was indeed supplied to the Abyssinian military as produced by German manufacturers, the blades of sabre form produced in England and Germany were still mounted locally in the rhino horn hilts of the favored ancestral swords, the shotel.

The fact that many of these British and German blades are known to appear on swords often hilted in Yemen, and if I recall correctly from earlier discussions, often ended up there more for the rhino horn hilts than anything else...the blades being remounted locally there. These are typically recognized by of course the familiar Abyssinian 'Lion of Judah' and Amharic script (ge'ez) on the blades.

I am inclined to think that the style of fighting with sword and buckler of course, in itself, dates far into antiquity, and cannot be relegated to Omani invention, though thier practice of it certainly became as well known because of the described 'dancing' and exaggerated performance of martial skills.
As I earlier noted, this same type of crouching, leaping and parrying is well known in many other regions outside Omani influence, and developed probably in similar fashion. Different characteristics of course would likely be seen, and naturally the terms describing it will vary somewhat, but basically it will be the same type of technique.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 24th May 2011, 05:45 PM   #39
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I really dont think that the African hilts from either Mali or anywhere else influenced the Omani hilt, as I had mentioned earlier, in my opinion the simple cylindrical style hilt without guard seems more likely applied in Africa with the diffusion of the Omani swords worn by traders.
As far as the 'style' itself, of the long kattara.....it is not as far as I can see and actual 'development' but a reduction in style from the more structured form of the kattara with quilloned guard.

An analogy, if I may, would be for example if considering colors, black is complex, actually an amalgam of colors, while white is actually an absence of color. In this case, developed structure has given way to simpler form more as a matter of convenience and viability in adapting the now available trade blades. While by no means am I discounting the simple attractiveness of the 'long kattaras' , it is just viewing thier development pragmatically.

Naturally, this 'design' would be suitably embellished and adorned in the case of the extremely status and image conscious merchants, and influenced other imitators accordingly.

With the 'gurade' or European style sabre in Abyssinia/Ethiopia, it was not a case of these people adopting the style influentially as much as it was that these swords were produced in entirity for the forces of Abyssinia. Again, it is a matter of availability and opportunity, as well as admittedly in degree that Westernization of many armies colonially and globally, was becoming well known by the mid to latter 19th century. Though the 'gurade' was indeed supplied to the Abyssinian military as produced by German manufacturers, the blades of sabre form produced in England and Germany were still mounted locally in the rhino horn hilts of the favored ancestral swords, the shotel.

The fact that many of these British and German blades are known to appear on swords often hilted in Yemen, and if I recall correctly from earlier discussions, often ended up there more for the rhino horn hilts than anything else...the blades being remounted locally there. These are typically recognized by of course the familiar Abyssinian 'Lion of Judah' and Amharic script (ge'ez) on the blades.

I am inclined to think that the style of fighting with sword and buckler of course, in itself, dates far into antiquity, and cannot be relegated to Omani invention, though thier practice of it certainly became as well known because of the described 'dancing' and exaggerated performance of martial skills.
As I earlier noted, this same type of crouching, leaping and parrying is well known in many other regions outside Omani influence, and developed probably in similar fashion. Different characteristics of course would likely be seen, and naturally the terms describing it will vary somewhat, but basically it will be the same type of technique.

All best regards,
Jim


Salaams, It could be true that the Omani Kattara developed either independantly or with some ripple influence one or both ways from African styles but it cetainly hasn't been proven yet. It may never be. None of the African variants, however, have the same system. This was not a Zanzibari invention as only the Omanis did the Razha ritual dance. They still do it.

I liked your analogy of the two colours. It could be that a long blade needs a long hilt and pommel and to lighten the blade it needs fullers then it is a short step to the shape of the Omani Kattara. Maybe.

The indicators I have suggested place the Omani Long Kattara early possibly 9th Century because it has the terrs shield and is a system with a traditional dance. Tradition takes a long time to imprint thus my suggestion of a far earlier timeframe for the Kattara.

Oman was at war with itself for many centuries (Interior versus Coast) and it is easy to see how the interior used a different sword to those on the coast. The interior were staunch Ibathi followers and I suggest the Omani Short Battle Sword froze there for many centuries. The coast on the other hand was raked over by many invaders and extensively open to trade so change and influence would have come faster... I believe the straight kattara was adopted by the coastal half of Oman and later by the Swahili, in particular the slave traders, who fitted the long handle with slightly curved Sayfs. My previous picture shows the Tippu Tip slave trader with that setup. In that form it didnt need a shield. By the way I believe that makes it a different sword! The Omani Sayf.

What appears to have happened is that both the Omani Short and the Long Kattara were at some point used together as the country became more united and the Omani Short, The Straight Kattara and the curved variant on long hilt(Sayf) additionally became icons worn as badges of office by VIPs. The different swords overlapped. My previous picture shows a sketch of a Omani Short being worn in the late 19th Century by Sultan Bargash.

It has certainly been an interesting discussion and I thank you for your excellent replies. Yaa Ustaath !! (Oh Master !!)

Regards Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.
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Old 25th May 2011, 04:04 AM   #40
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Hi Ibrahiim,
In discussions of what we have been referring to as the Omani short sword, with the hilt having drooping quillons, this does seem to carry traditional hilt form values of very early swords, and I think your suggestion on the Abbasid association is quite plausible.

I also agree that these quite likely might have existed for quite a long period and concurrently with the evolving simple cylinder hilt 'long kattaras'. The early form swords were as noted, most likely to have remained in use in the tribally controlled interior regions of Oman, and these regions and tribes were notably conservative. It is interesting that the Omanis from early times did have considerable contact and influence with the Baluchi's in regions of what is now Pakistan. These were people of Iranian origins with heritage from Mesopotamia. It would seem, without entering into the complexities of the previous Abbasid associations, that these connections would add further support for the quite ancient associations to the hilt style.

I believe that Elgood's comments noting the strong ties between Baluchistan and Oman were well placed, as seems to be quite supportable here.

With Muscat being the primary coastal center of power and of trade from early times, it does seem that it was exposed to considerably more influence from foreign powers, and that in later times would have been more inclined to deviate from the conservative forms of the interior tribal regions. While it is known that with the maritime trade, the short nim'cha, cutlass type sabres which seem to have come in from Yemen in many cases would of course have been well known aboard the vessels, it would appear that the developing variety of 'long kattara' was favored by persons of standing, particularly merchants.

As previously noted, these were likely a simplified version of broadsword using readily available trade blades which were quite present in these trade routes. With the Portuguese presence in Muscat, it is worthy of note that many of these blades in the 16th and 17th centuries were German produced, and quite present in India as well. In India, in fact, the term 'firangi' used for many straight blades used on the swords of khanda and pata type is believed to transliterate to 'Portuguese' and loosely 'foreign'. The trade with India's western Malabar Coast, as well as with the northern areas including Baluchistan might well account for not only the arrival of these blades initiating the newer and simpler hilted kattaras, but might well be the source for the swordplay and dance, which is mentioned in Burton (1884).
He notes on p.163, "...the swordplay of North Africa is that of Arabia and India, apparantly borrowed from the original sword dance". He references the'sword dance' having been Thracian, and describes high leaps and circling performance which included feigned wounding etc.

Similar type swordplay is noted by Halliburton (1935) who went into remote tribal regions high in the Caucusus in Georgia, where the Khevsur people duel with similar actions. The fighters crouch with one knee near the ground. They use small light shields to parry, and they jump about with amazing agility, in circles and trying to outmanuever and exchange blows with thier swords.
In studying the arms of these regions, there seem to be distinct influences from India, as well as of course from Islamic oriented sources, though they are animists and in Orthodox Christian areas in Georgia.

Getting back to the variants of the simple cylinder hilt kattara, again, this is just basically a hilt form which may have evolved as previously noted, as an easy to produce style adjusting to the blades becoming available through trade. With the curved sabre blades, the primary association with the shashka is that in many cases the same type trade blades were used. These same blades turned up on many sabres in many countries. Similar blades are seen on tulwars, Syrian shamshirs, and virtually throughout areas with ports of call visited by these traders. The sabre became more popular through the 19th century with European colonial contact and more availability of these kinds of blades.

I would like to thank you as well for such well placed comments and observations, and am most humbled by your kind compliments, thank you so much,

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 25th May 2011, 06:05 PM   #41
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Ibrahiim,
In discussions of what we have been referring to as the Omani short sword, with the hilt having drooping quillons, this does seem to carry traditional hilt form values of very early swords, and I think your suggestion on the Abbasid association is quite plausible.

I also agree that these quite likely might have existed for quite a long period and concurrently with the evolving simple cylinder hilt 'long kattaras'. The early form swords were as noted, most likely to have remained in use in the tribally controlled interior regions of Oman, and these regions and tribes were notably conservative. It is interesting that the Omanis from early times did have considerable contact and influence with the Baluchi's in regions of what is now Pakistan. These were people of Iranian origins with heritage from Mesopotamia. It would seem, without entering into the complexities of the previous Abbasid associations, that these connections would add further support for the quite ancient associations to the hilt style.

I believe that Elgood's comments noting the strong ties between Baluchistan and Oman were well placed, as seems to be quite supportable here.

With Muscat being the primary coastal center of power and of trade from early times, it does seem that it was exposed to considerably more influence from foreign powers, and that in later times would have been more inclined to deviate from the conservative forms of the interior tribal regions. While it is known that with the maritime trade, the short nim'cha, cutlass type sabres which seem to have come in from Yemen in many cases would of course have been well known aboard the vessels, it would appear that the developing variety of 'long kattara' was favored by persons of standing, particularly merchants.

As previously noted, these were likely a simplified version of broadsword using readily available trade blades which were quite present in these trade routes. With the Portuguese presence in Muscat, it is worthy of note that many of these blades in the 16th and 17th centuries were German produced, and quite present in India as well. In India, in fact, the term 'firangi' used for many straight blades used on the swords of khanda and pata type is believed to transliterate to 'Portuguese' and loosely 'foreign'. The trade with India's western Malabar Coast, as well as with the northern areas including Baluchistan might well account for not only the arrival of these blades initiating the newer and simpler hilted kattaras, but might well be the source for the swordplay and dance, which is mentioned in Burton (1884).
He notes on p.163, "...the swordplay of North Africa is that of Arabia and India, apparantly borrowed from the original sword dance". He references the'sword dance' having been Thracian, and describes high leaps and circling performance which included feigned wounding etc.

Similar type swordplay is noted by Halliburton (1935) who went into remote tribal regions high in the Caucusus in Georgia, where the Khevsur people duel with similar actions. The fighters crouch with one knee near the ground. They use small light shields to parry, and they jump about with amazing agility, in circles and trying to outmanuever and exchange blows with thier swords.
In studying the arms of these regions, there seem to be distinct influences from India, as well as of course from Islamic oriented sources, though they are animists and in Orthodox Christian areas in Georgia.

Getting back to the variants of the simple cylinder hilt kattara, again, this is just basically a hilt form which may have evolved as previously noted, as an easy to produce style adjusting to the blades becoming available through trade. With the curved sabre blades, the primary association with the shashka is that in many cases the same type trade blades were used. These same blades turned up on many sabres in many countries. Similar blades are seen on tulwars, Syrian shamshirs, and virtually throughout areas with ports of call visited by these traders. The sabre became more popular through the 19th century with European colonial contact and more availability of these kinds of blades.

I would like to thank you as well for such well placed comments and observations, and am most humbled by your kind compliments, thank you so much,

All the very best,
Jim



Salaams ~ Thank you for your superb reply.
Whilst we may have to some extent refined the origin of the Omani Short Battle Sword (turned down quillons) and to some extent the shaska and european influence plus some inroads into the long curved sayf; the question on Omani Kattara still lies unsolved. On this subject I think I am ready to lay down my pen until such time as a suitable reference is discovered either by another forum member or by us perhaps from one of the Omani museums or cultural institutions.

I admit to running out of reference material at this point, however, I believe the Razha hold the key, though I also think Zanzibar, whilst fascinating in many aspects, is a diversion along with the entire African sword development history which I think has no bearing at all on the Omani Kattara ~ The Straight Omani Long flexible two edged spattula tipped sword with the conical handle. However the entire subject of African weapons is extremely interesting and fascinating a subject that I have ever studied.

Both in support of your letter and in defence of mine I offer a small reference from the web (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

"A war dance is a dance involving mock combat, usually in reference to tribal warrior societies where such dances were performed as a ritual connected with endemic warfare. Martial arts in various cultures can be performed in dance-like settings for various reasons, such as for evoking ferocity in preparation for battle or showing off skill in a more stylized manner. Many such martial arts incorporate music, especially strong percussive rhythms. Examples of such war dances include: is a martial art traditionally performed with a dance-like flavor and to live musical accompaniment";
* A'rda - In Kuwait.:* El-Tahteeb in upper Egypt:* Buza - From Russia.:* Panther Dance - Burmese Bando with swords (dha):* Gymnopaidiai - ancient Sparta:* European Sword dance or Weapon dance of various kinds:* Haka - New Zealand:* Indlamu (Zulu):* Khorumi - Georgia:* Sabre Dance - depicted in Khachaturian's ballet Gayane:* Maasai moran (warrior age-set) dances:* Aduk-Aduk - Brunei:* Ayyalah - Qatar:* Khattak Dance - Afghanistan and Pakistan:* Brazil's Capoeira, as well as some similar Afro-Caribbean arts:* Dannsa Biodag - Scotland and Scottish sword dances:* Hula & Lua - from the traditions of indigenous Hawaiian:* Combat Hopak - From Ukraine:* Yolah - From Oman/UAE"

(the following added by Ibrahiim) And specific to Oman The Razha.

The question isn’t so much on comparison between different countries dance but when in the case of Oman did Razha start? If that can be discovered then the story of the Omani Kattara can be better understood. The indicators are that since Oman was largely a closed society at war with itself and isolated because of mountains and deserts and to some extent sea… external influence was very reduced. Oman only really emerged from the middle ages in the mid to late 20th century. It is suggested that here the effect of systems / weapon freeze was very much in evidence. It is in precisely these conditions that folklore and cultural tradition flourish.

I shall try to uncover more facts about the Razha whilst maintaining my suspicion (unproven) that it entered Omani folklore in about the 9th century.

Regards
Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.
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Old 25th May 2011, 08:05 PM   #42
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Hi Ibrahiim,
I agree that we have pretty much reached the point where we obviously need more key information that would offer clues to enable our moving further, but I am really glad we have been able to move this far. You;re right that information from either museums or academic institutions in Oman, Zanzibar and Mali might have more revealing data.

I agree also that the Razha is strongly associated with the long kattara and that the spatulate tip is indicative of the type of sweeping, slashing cuts used in wielding these swords. I have always thought it interesting that this feature is characteristic on the takouba of the Sahara, while its cousin, the broadsword kaskara in Sudan uses a spear type point.

More needs to be learned on the chronological history and development of the Razha, and if it can be determined culturally where it is likely to have come from. Burton suggests the Thracians, but then, was this the same type dance? More research needed as always, but very much enjoying discussing this with you!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 1st June 2011, 06:25 PM   #43
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Ibrahiim,
I agree that we have pretty much reached the point where we obviously need more key information that would offer clues to enable our moving further, but I am really glad we have been able to move this far. You;re right that information from either museums or academic institutions in Oman, Zanzibar and Mali might have more revealing data.

I agree also that the Razha is strongly associated with the long kattara and that the spatulate tip is indicative of the type of sweeping, slashing cuts used in wielding these swords. I have always thought it interesting that this feature is characteristic on the takouba of the Sahara, while its cousin, the broadsword kaskara in Sudan uses a spear type point.

More needs to be learned on the chronological history and development of the Razha, and if it can be determined culturally where it is likely to have come from. Burton suggests the Thracians, but then, was this the same type dance? More research needed as always, but very much enjoying discussing this with you!

All the best,
Jim



Jim McDougall.
Salaams,
I have almost completed my initial research on Omani Folklore and have unearthed some fairly spectacular information. I propose to publish this to you as soon as I can and certainly inside the next few days. Not to put too fine a point on it (no pun intended) most people would fall over laughing if someone suggested that the Omani Kattara was 10th century and folks would fall off their chairs if it was shown to be 7th .... The implications of such a story and the potential relationship with the Omani Short Battle Sword are mind boggling.
Please allow me a few days to generate the paper.

Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.
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Old 2nd June 2011, 03:22 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Jim McDougall.
Salaams,
I have almost completed my initial research on Omani Folklore and have unearthed some fairly spectacular information. I propose to publish this to you as soon as I can and certainly inside the next few days. Not to put too fine a point on it (no pun intended) most people would fall over laughing if someone suggested that the Omani Kattara was 10th century and folks would fall off their chairs if it was shown to be 7th .... The implications of such a story and the potential relationship with the Omani Short Battle Sword are mind boggling.
Please allow me a few days to generate the paper.

Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim,
This is most exciting news, and I know you have been probing this subject deeply. As you note there may be some consternation with assessing such early period for these swords mostly associated with relatively modern times in the Omani sphere of influence, however supported theory can be very compelling. It is wonderful that you have taken such a serious approach to the study of the development of these fascinating weapons, and I am really looking forward to your work !!

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 3rd June 2011, 08:32 AM   #45
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Ibrahiim,
This is most exciting news, and I know you have been probing this subject deeply. As you note there may be some consternation with assessing such early period for these swords mostly associated with relatively modern times in the Omani sphere of influence, however supported theory can be very compelling. It is wonderful that you have taken such a serious approach to the study of the development of these fascinating weapons, and I am really looking forward to your work !!

All the very best,
Jim



Jim McDougall.

Salaams,
By way of introduction I intend to show the origin and date of the Omani Long Kattara and the relationship with Omani Short Battle Sword. I intend to prove that both weapons stem from the same concept and that the two are branches of the same sword from the late 7th Century AD. In so doing I also intend to show that the original Long Kattara was exported to Saudia where it froze as a design and can in fact be viewed at Michael Blalocks excellent pictures of it in a Riyadh Souk and at a Yemeni Museum on Arabian Swords #1.

My main research into Omani Folklore; specifically focusses upon the traditional music, poetry and dance of Oman and my main reference is www.octm-folk.gov.om/meng/rhythem.asp I have avoided putting it as a footnote as it runs on to many pages.

Oman adopted Islam in the late 7th century and within a very short term had modified its style following that of the Ibadi Islamic structure. Religious linkage with traditional Omani music is well known and the first layer or strata of music(the most important) and dance celebrates this. This "genre" of music at the start of Omani Islamic adoption is called the FUNUN.

In celebration of the memorable annual dates in the Islamic calendar, in particular the two Eid periods and at weddings, certain fixed ritual music and dance patterns emerged. One group of dances accompanied by music, especially drums, was the Razha. "The Sword Dance".

There are several subcategories of Omani Long Kattara sword dance display. The first is with the swords (without shields) paraded in front of the onlookers. Performers swagger to the drumbeat occasionally tossing their swords high in the air and catching them clean by the hilt whilst others leap in the air causing the swords to buzz by clever flick of the wrists. The second form is where two performers mimic a swordfight using Kattara and Buckler Shield urged on by the drums ..The aim being to touch the opponents thumb though in the event of no result a third referee cuts the air between the opponents with his sword to end the set.

The importance of music dance and poetry cannot be over emphasised since it has grown to scores of different performances reflecting sea exploration, trade and war with far off lands~ indeed Oman was trading with the Chinese in the mid 7th Century and later with the west coast of India (Malibar coast) and Africa as well as Persia and its close neighbors. The different genres within traditional music dance and poetry of Oman reflect these occurences and the different beat and tone as well as the dance indicate the provenance like a fingerprint so that you can see where the influence is say, Portuguese or tribal African or a seagoing episode or camel journeying. Each belongs to a separate volume, strata or genre but vitally they are all passed down from generation to generation illustrating the history and lives of Oman before. What is peculiar about the forms is that each has a totally different beat like a fingerprint which makes each performance traceable as each set of music is so unique. Music is after all a mathematical sequence. Different regions Mussandam or Salalah for example have separate genres like tha Jebali Khanjar dance for example.

However The Razha is in the Funun and the Funun was the first and most important of the music and dance traditions cemented around the newly adopted Islamic religion in the late 7th Century. The sword and shield used in the Razha are the Long Kattara and Terrs.

This traditional body of work of Omani poetry, music and dance are very much alive today having been passed down the line for 1300 years.

Please view Michael Blalocks excellent pictures of a sword in a Riyadh Souk and at a Yemeni Museum "posted on Arabian Swords #1".
You may also wish to see the pictures previously put by me of the Omani Short Battle Sword to compare hilts. Plus you may also note the rounded spatula tip in Michaels picture. Could this be related?

In my previous script you will note that I attached the Omani Short Battle Sword as a development of the Abbasid sword being used against Oman in the 7th and 8th Centuries by the Garrison from Baghdad in Oman. In that post I pointed out that the hilt was a celebration of the adoption of Ibadi Islam and I believe it is almost identical to the Long hilt in #1

I believe that there were two swords and both evolved with a similar hilt but with different blades at about the same time. The Short and The Long. Two different swords for two different purposes The short for close infighting possibly with a big shield (now lost)... and the Long for use with the Terrs . Interestingly the Omanis still call both swords by the same name (Kattara). I believe that the Long Kattara eventually superceded the Short simply because it was more popular in its secondary role in traditional celebrations..though it can be proven that both weapons(and others) were iconic badges of office until now. Anyway there were plenty of places the short weapon was good for.. on board ship... in fortresses and amongst fortified villages...The long sword better in the wide open spaces.. The two swords continued to be used for many centuries side by side.

It has to be remembered that for centuries Oman was essentially two countries or one country at war with itself i.e. The Interior versus the Coastal Belt. Even in the mid 20th Century it was still known as Muscat and Oman ! Muscat was capital on the Coast whilst the seat of power in the interior was at Nizwa which as it happens was also the centre for Ibadi Islam.


Trade from the interior was with the rest of Arabia etc through the empty quarter in what is now Saudi Arabia, though then, in the early days, it was all one big massive tribal jigsaw puzzle. Trade in swords, slaves, dates and other products from Nizwa to Arabia by camel caravans would have been standard practise as no trade would have been possible with Muscat. Export and technical freezing of the original Long Kattara as seen at the reference could easily have happened and what we see today in that photo is I believe the Omani Long Kattara in near original form.

So what happened to the Long Kattara hilt? It evolved.. not in Saudia but in Oman. Perhaps the jolting in both its uses as a dance weapon and as a fighting weapon the old handle was prone to breaking apart. Certainly the degree of vibration up into the cruder handle on the #1 Long Kattara would be substantial and as sword making became more modernised the technical ability to make a sword tang and pommel as one piece simply hatched. Timescale?.. The transition to conical hilt? I have no idea but even as late as the introduction of European trade blades.. and so the old handle was simply superceded.

In conclusion I argue that both the Omani Long and Short Kattara are two branches of the same weapon which evolved in the late 7th Century and used in the interior (Dhakiliya) against the Coast of Oman and in support of the Ibadi religious seat which retained the music and Ibadi dance traditions until today. The Razha ( Sword Dance ) is part of the Funun and the two can be date matched to the start of Islam in Oman. I further argue that the virtually identical sword hilt at #1 to the Omani Short speaks volumes and that it is the original Omani Long Kattara frozen in time having been exported centuries ago.

Regards,

Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 3rd June 2011 at 08:48 AM. Reason: consolidation
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Old 3rd June 2011, 06:12 PM   #46
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Default comparison between the Abbasid and the Omani Short Battle Sword

Note to Forum.
Comparison with Topkapi Museum Abbasid Sword and Omani Short Battle Sword under discussion currently and argued by me as 7TH / 8th C.

Salaams,
I happen to be restoring an Omani Short Battle Sword and I realised that I had missed a characteristic repeated on both swords (Abbasid Sword and Omani Short Battle Sword) and placed on the Forum earlier by me outlining 10 similarities in the two swords :

I believe this is similar characteristic~

no 11. Both handles are octagonal in cross section.

Can this vital point be added to my original letter outlining the similarities please perhaps as a footnote or as advised by Moderator Staff.

Shukran,
Regards Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.
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Old 3rd June 2011, 08:12 PM   #47
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Hi Ibrahiim,
I have been completely intrigued by your writing on this in what I consider absolutely superb scholarship in presenting theory and support concerning these variations of the Omani 'kattara'.
I have also added your excellent observation concerning the octagonal cross section in the hilts on many of the earlier examples to the itemized list of points in your earlier post as requested. I would like to note here that the domed pommel on these is remarkably similar to some minarets as seen in the Mosque of al-Hakim in Cairo (attachment below). One of the prevalent characteristics of hilt construction in many instances is compellingly associated with architectural features of these kinds of religious structures.
Regarding your note on the octagonal cross section, many minarets and elements of structure in mosques have eight sided features.

One of the most pleasing and rewarding aspects of our discourse on studying these swords is that it perfectly illustrates the importance of considering so many ancillary aspects in the way we look at them. With the sword obviously being a combat weapon, many would wonder what in the world would dancing amd music have to do with this? As you have well shown, the anthropology of these dance traditions, and in particular the rhythms with drums that accompany them, not only preserve these traditions, but have well served as martially oriented honing of skills in handling these weapons.

Much in the way that hunting often served not only the important purpose of supplying food, which kepts skills with weapons at optimum levels, these kinds of martial 'dances' were actually a kind of training exercise in my view.
Being familiar with the weight and balance of a weapon, and perfecting instinctively reactive movements using them seems of course well placed, and essential at combat skills. It has long been known how important music and accompanying movements have been since earliest times, even to the shamanistic rituals of prehistory. The rhythmic beat of drums and certain other instruments carrying melodic accompaniment certainly has dramatic impact in psychotropic perspective, as well as chants, singing, etc. and the link to the Omani funun you attached is fascinating.

As I mentioned earlier, it is I think most important to go sort of 'long form' is describing these weapons as we discuss them, although the seemingly more general term 'kattara' of course applies generally. I agree that the short battle sword likely was developed and maintained in the inland sectors of Oman. These regions were as previously mentioned, notably conservative and distinct adherents of the Ibadi sect of Islam, and which appears to have evolved just a short time after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632C.E. The Ibadiyya seems to have extended into Zanzibar and regions in East and North Africa

The development of these short battle swords are most likely as you suggest, developed from the Abbasid type swords, but the actual form as far as I have been able to find resources on, seems unclear. In "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths", (the late Dr. Unsal Yucel, Istanbul, 1986.).. it is noted that no Abbasid hilts are known and he suggests they were probably closer in form to Mamluk/Syrian types of 14th c. (AD). He does note that some of the earliest Arab miniatures (c. 13th c. AD) reflect hilts having downturned quillons.

While trade contact with coastal regions in Muscat would have been prohibitive obviously for the tribal groups of interior Oman, as you note there were trade contacts in place into the Rub al Khali which connected to other parts of Arabia and Syria in network. With considerably more diverse external influences from many countries it would seem likely that the break from the more conservative weapon would take place in this context. The development of the cylindrical, sans quillons hilt it would seem to me would as you note probably be in accord with the Razha tradition as the longer unobstructed handle would lend well to the elaborate movements and catching the sword hilt.

The well established tradition of the blunt tip was from early times, where the thrust was not favored and chopping or slashing moves were used. The short heavy blade sabre forms you have described with the karabela style hilts and resembling cutlasses were of course more inclined to maritime use and the coastal trade regions in Muscat. These trade connections by sea to Yemen were likely how these were received as well as the manner the 'long kattara' form went to Yemen (as seem in Michaels post Arabian Swords 2009). It is indeed most interesting to see the vestiges of the interior (possibly we might designate these short battle swords of 'Nizwa' form?) style hilt on the example in the souk in Riyadh. I am not sure this represents a developmental form or a contemporary hybridization though. If more corroborating examples were found of course it would be more compelling. It is a captivating example and definitely worth following further though.
Seeing the old 'minaret' style pommel grafted to the collared and segmented shaft without the familiar drooping quillons is truly a tempting variation.

Regarding the leather covered examples of the 'shashka' type profile hilt which seem to be found with various blades, I think these are most likely Bedouin examples from varying contact tribes further into the Rub al Khali and along established routes. Through intertribal contact and trade these seem to be of a Bedouin type which extends throughout their territories throughout Arabia and into the Sinai regions.
The use of curved blades of course is favored as they are more pragmatically applied to mounted use.

This is truly a fascinating discussion Ibrahiim, and I hope we can keep looking more into these kattara, and your work is outstanding, Im truly learning a great deal here!!! and I thank you so much.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 4th June 2011, 09:43 AM   #48
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Salaams,
I have a brief note to add as an advisory on a more precise date for the Omani Kattaras which I put more toward the end of the 8th Century A.D. since Oman adopted Islam in 630 A.D. however, it is the Ibadi sect we are concerned with and that only transpired in the early 8th Century AD.(about 710) Allowing for time to settle and inform the masses my estimate would be mid to late in the 8th C. My target date therefor is 751AD; Religion, tradition, swords and all. 751AD.
This date to be further supported in my next addition to the Forum expected later today.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
4/6/2011.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 4th June 2011 at 10:44 AM. Reason: date correction
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Old 4th June 2011, 11:09 AM   #49
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Ibrahiim,
I have been completely intrigued by your writing on this in what I consider absolutely superb scholarship in presenting theory and support concerning these variations of the Omani 'kattara'.
I have also added your excellent observation concerning the octagonal cross section in the hilts on many of the earlier examples to the itemized list of points in your earlier post as requested. I would like to note here that the domed pommel on these is remarkably similar to some minarets as seen in the Mosque of al-Hakim in Cairo (attachment below). One of the prevalent characteristics of hilt construction in many instances is compellingly associated with architectural features of these kinds of religious structures.
Regarding your note on the octagonal cross section, many minarets and elements of structure in mosques have eight sided features.

One of the most pleasing and rewarding aspects of our discourse on studying these swords is that it perfectly illustrates the importance of considering so many ancillary aspects in the way we look at them. With the sword obviously being a combat weapon, many would wonder what in the world would dancing amd music have to do with this? As you have well shown, the anthropology of these dance traditions, and in particular the rhythms with drums that accompany them, not only preserve these traditions, but have well served as martially oriented honing of skills in handling these weapons.

Much in the way that hunting often served not only the important purpose of supplying food, which kepts skills with weapons at optimum levels, these kinds of martial 'dances' were actually a kind of training exercise in my view.
Being familiar with the weight and balance of a weapon, and perfecting instinctively reactive movements using them seems of course well placed, and essential at combat skills. It has long been known how important music and accompanying movements have been since earliest times, even to the shamanistic rituals of prehistory. The rhythmic beat of drums and certain other instruments carrying melodic accompaniment certainly has dramatic impact in psychotropic perspective, as well as chants, singing, etc. and the link to the Omani funun you attached is fascinating.

As I mentioned earlier, it is I think most important to go sort of 'long form' is describing these weapons as we discuss them, although the seemingly more general term 'kattara' of course applies generally. I agree that the short battle sword likely was developed and maintained in the inland sectors of Oman. These regions were as previously mentioned, notably conservative and distinct adherents of the Ibadi sect of Islam, and which appears to have evolved just a short time after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632C.E. The Ibadiyya seems to have extended into Zanzibar and regions in East and North Africa

The development of these short battle swords are most likely as you suggest, developed from the Abbasid type swords, but the actual form as far as I have been able to find resources on, seems unclear. In "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths", (the late Dr. Unsal Yucel, Istanbul, 1986.).. it is noted that no Abbasid hilts are known and he suggests they were probably closer in form to Mamluk/Syrian types of 14th c. (AD). He does note that some of the earliest Arab miniatures (c. 13th c. AD) reflect hilts having downturned quillons.

While trade contact with coastal regions in Muscat would have been prohibitive obviously for the tribal groups of interior Oman, as you note there were trade contacts in place into the Rub al Khali which connected to other parts of Arabia and Syria in network. With considerably more diverse external influences from many countries it would seem likely that the break from the more conservative weapon would take place in this context. The development of the cylindrical, sans quillons hilt it would seem to me would as you note probably be in accord with the Razha tradition as the longer unobstructed handle would lend well to the elaborate movements and catching the sword hilt.

The well established tradition of the blunt tip was from early times, where the thrust was not favored and chopping or slashing moves were used. The short heavy blade sabre forms you have described with the karabela style hilts and resembling cutlasses were of course more inclined to maritime use and the coastal trade regions in Muscat. These trade connections by sea to Yemen were likely how these were received as well as the manner the 'long kattara' form went to Yemen (as seem in Michaels post Arabian Swords 2009). It is indeed most interesting to see the vestiges of the interior (possibly we might designate these short battle swords of 'Nizwa' form?) style hilt on the example in the souk in Riyadh. I am not sure this represents a developmental form or a contemporary hybridization though. If more corroborating examples were found of course it would be more compelling. It is a captivating example and definitely worth following further though.
Seeing the old 'minaret' style pommel grafted to the collared and segmented shaft without the familiar drooping quillons is truly a tempting variation.

Regarding the leather covered examples of the 'shashka' type profile hilt which seem to be found with various blades, I think these are most likely Bedouin examples from varying contact tribes further into the Rub al Khali and along established routes. Through intertribal contact and trade these seem to be of a Bedouin type which extends throughout their territories throughout Arabia and into the Sinai regions.
The use of curved blades of course is favored as they are more pragmatically applied to mounted use.

This is truly a fascinating discussion Ibrahiim, and I hope we can keep looking more into these kattara, and your work is outstanding, Im truly learning a great deal here!!! and I thank you so much.

All the best,
Jim


Salaams, Jim.

Salaams,
Dear Jim, Thank you for your immediate and excellent reply. I wonder if I may reply using your text and answering each paragraph in blue?

I suspect that we have pushed the envelope on origins and dates of this sword group to the ultimate. Many theorists, authors and museums attribute the Long Omani Kattara to the 17th Century whilst the Short has even been suggested as 14th or recently quite daringly to the 10th Century AD almost without a reasoned proof. Placing both weapons as Ibadi Omani Islamic at inception demolishes previous guestimates. I am confident that the whole body of work will convince specialists and future authors, therefore, I request please, that you act for the Forum in presenting the situation correctly. Imagine the repercussions throughout the ethnographic arms world? They will be astonished._______________________________________ _

Hi Ibrahiim,
I have been completely intrigued by your writing on this in what I consider absolutely superb scholarship in presenting theory and support concerning these variations of the Omani 'kattara'.
I have also added your excellent observation concerning the octagonal cross section in the hilts on many of the earlier examples to the itemized list of points in your earlier post as requested. I would like to note here that the domed pommel on these is remarkably similar to some minarets as seen in the Mosque of al-Hakim in Cairo (attachment below). One of the prevalent characteristics of hilt construction in many instances is compellingly associated with architectural features of these kinds of religious structures.
Regarding your note on the octagonal cross section, many minarets and elements of structure in mosques have eight sided features.

Thank you for amending my hilt comparison list with the Omani Short Battle Sword and the Topkapi Abbasid Sword. Your observations are splendid and underscore the Islamic nature of the hilt. I note that some later hilts were copies and did not follow the octagonal approach but the sword I am restoring and many others I have handled I now realize are octagonal original style The domed Pommel of course is Islamic. The Islamic Arch. The turned down Quillons are not only aesthetic and possibly Islamic designs but completely practical. The Pommel not only a counter balance but a spike for close in combat. Intrigue is added by the rather odd collar however that makes practical sense so as to protect the guard and make a tight scabbard fit. Perhaps this weapon carried a shield and of similar form but bigger than the Terrs?

One of the most pleasing and rewarding aspects of our discourse on studying these swords is that it perfectly illustrates the importance of considering so many ancillary aspects in the way we look at them. With the sword obviously being a combat weapon, many would wonder what in the world would dancing amd music have to do with this? As you have well shown, the anthropology of these dance traditions, and in particular the rhythms with drums that accompany them, not only preserve these traditions, but have well served as martially oriented honing of skills in handling these weapons.

Even the local people couldn’t understand why I was examining music and dance!! The Razha certainly developed as a martial art exercise and was locked into the history as it was passed down unchanged through the ages. People couldn’t all read and write, therefore, passing down tradition through music dance and poetry was the method of transition.

Much in the way that hunting often served not only the important purpose of supplying food, which kepts skills with weapons at optimum levels, these kinds of martial 'dances' were actually a kind of training exercise in my view.
Being familiar with the weight and balance of a weapon, and perfecting instinctively reactive movements using them seems of course well placed, and essential at combat skills. It has long been known how important music and accompanying movements have been since earliest times, even to the shamanistic rituals of prehistory. The rhythmic beat of drums and certain other instruments carrying melodic accompaniment certainly has dramatic impact in psychotropic perspective, as well as chants, singing, etc. and the link to the Omani funun you attached is fascinating.

The vital point was attaching the Razha to the Funun and therefore a date as the adoption date of Islam in Oman. The key indicator was the small note in the British Viziers journal in 1931 at Zanzibar when he said that the sword dance, The Razha, was done by Omani not Zanzibari people.

As I mentioned earlier, it is I think most important to go sort of 'long form' is describing these weapons as we discuss them, although the seemingly more general term 'kattara' of course applies generally. I agree that the short battle sword likely was developed and maintained in the inland sectors of Oman. These regions were as previously mentioned, notably conservative and distinct adherents of the Ibadi sect of Islam, and which appears to have evolved just a short time after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632C.E. The Ibadiyya seems to have extended into Zanzibar and regions in East and North Africa

I agree that both kattara long and short went to the inland Ibadi half of Oman(in due course) and locked because of tradition and geographical isolation. From there the old long was exported or seeped into what is now Saudi Arabia and possibly Yemen.

The development of these short battle swords are most likely as you suggest, developed from the Abbasid type swords, but the actual form as far as I have been able to find resources on, seems unclear. In "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths", (the late Dr. Unsal Yucel, Istanbul, 1986.).. it is noted that no Abbasid hilts are known and he suggests they were probably closer in form to Mamluk/Syrian types of 14th c. (AD). He does note that some of the earliest Arab miniatures (c. 13th c. AD) reflect hilts having downturned quillons.

Perhaps the Topkapi resource had not received the Abbasid sword by 1986? The Abbasid Garrison in Oman must have had that weapon.

The delicate question of precise date needs to be looked at. Oman did adopt Islam in 630 AD however Ibadi Islam did not fully take hold until a while after that. It was not until early in the 8th C that Ibadi religion was accepted. I think it fair to add some slip time before everything was functioning as an Ibadi state and the support structures of Islamic Instruction through missionaries (internal and external) plus learning doctrines, schools, mosques, etc were well founded. Therefore perhaps a fair date would be late 8th C. to early 9th C. Ibadiism plus weapons plus traditions. This allows for developments against the Abbasids and the key element of Ibadi religion as the driving force. It can be seen that: The first Ibadhi Imam, Julanda bin Mas'ud, was elected in 751 AD but that he was killed in battle and consolidation only occurred in 801.

To be fair to the first Ibadi Imam Julanda bin Mas'ud, I urge the new amended and consolidated date of 751 AD when he was elected as the most plausible date for the birth of both Kattara Swords. A second plausible and earlier date may exist because Jabr Ibn Zaid who was the first leader in the oman struggle had been in Iraq and would have seen the Abbasid swords and perhaps transmitted the technology to Oman when he arrived therefor an earlier date would be perhaps 730 AD


While trade contact with coastal regions in Muscat would have been prohibitive obviously for the tribal groups of interior Oman, as you note there were trade contacts in place into the Rub al Khali which connected to other parts of Arabia and Syria in network. With considerably more diverse external influences from many countries it would seem likely that the break from the more conservative weapon would take place in this context. The development of the cylindrical, sans quillons hilt it would seem to me would as you note probably be in accord with the Razha tradition as the longer unobstructed handle would lend well to the elaborate movements and catching the sword hilt.

(As a cautionary note it needs to be realized that although there was early turmoil with the Abbasids that after they left, Oman was one country for about 300 years before entering a disjointed period of war with itself on and off down the ages)

The flat cylindrical hilt on the long kattara (integral tang blade and pommel) and without quillons or collar developed in due course though when is beyond me. It could have come as late as the introduction of European trade blades. It is a diversion I suspect. The true original long kattara became frozen as an export to neighboring tribes now in Saudia (and possibly Yemen)

The well established tradition of the blunt tip was from early times, where the thrust was not favored and chopping or slashing moves were used. The short heavy blade sabre forms you have described with the karabela style hilts and resembling cutlasses were of course more inclined to maritime use and the coastal trade regions in Muscat. These trade connections by sea to Yemen were likely how these were received as well as the manner the 'long kattara' form went to Yemen (as seem in Michaels post Arabian Swords 2009). It is indeed most interesting to see the vestiges of the interior (possibly we might designate these short battle swords of 'Nizwa' form?) style hilt on the example in the souk in Riyadh. I am not sure this represents a developmental form or a contemporary hybridization though. If more corroborating examples were found of course it would be more compelling. It is a captivating example and definitely worth following further though.
Seeing the old 'minaret' style pommel grafted to the collared and segmented shaft without the familiar drooping quillons is truly a tempting variation.

I think the stretched hilt form shown in the Riyadh and Yemen museum picture is original in style though may contain some hybrid changes such as a tubular hilt cross section. I have handled two such swords in Muscat and have photos already put to the forum earlier. This seems to me to be the forerunner to the conical flat hilt. Flat spatula tips seem early and could pre-date Islam. As a cautionary note it needs to be realized that although there was early turmoil with the Abbasids that after they left, Oman was one country for about 300 years before entering a disjointed period of war with itself on and off down the ages. It is most probable that the swords transmitted throughout all of Oman at that time though the very strong Ibadi links were in the interior and remained so.


Regarding the leather covered examples of the 'shashka' type profile hilt which seem to be found with various blades, I think these are most likely Bedouin examples from varying contact tribes further into the Rub al Khali and along established routes. Through intertribal contact and trade these seem to be of a Bedouin type which extends throughout their territories throughout Arabia and into the Sinai regions.
The use of curved blades of course is favored as they are more pragmatically applied to mounted use.

I'm not sure if that is the case here. Short, curved, single edges are certainly ideal on board ships. I'm unclear as to what extent Oman used mounted infantry? What I do know is these swords are being made in Ras Al Khaimah today in that form therefore a maritime link is more likely in the case of Ras Al Khaimer at least?

This is truly a fascinating discussion Ibrahiim, and I hope we can keep looking more into these kattara, and your work is outstanding, Im truly learning a great deal here!!! and I thank you so much.


All the best,
Jim

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.






Notes ; The majority of Omanis are Ibadhi Muslims, followers of Abd Allah ibn Ibad. This sector is closely followed by Sunni Muslims. The Shi'a minority live along Al Batinah and Muscat coasts. This minority includes the Al-Lawatis, the Bahranis of Bahrain descent, and the Ajam, of vague origin but generally considered to originate in Iran.
Many people think that Ibadism is an outgrowth of the Kharijites movement, a variant form of Islam practiced by descendants of a sect that seceded from the principal Muslim body after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. Ibadies, however, deney this notion considering themselves ougrowthing from the famous follower (tabe'e) Jabir bin Zaid. Ibadies reject primogeniture succession of the Quraysh, the tribe of Muhammad, and assert that leadership of Islam, the caliphate, should be designated by an imam elected by the community from candidates who possess spiritual and personal qualities. Ibadhi leadership is vested in an imam, who is regarded as the sole legitimate leader and combines religious and political authority. The imam is elected by a council of prominent laymen or shaykhs. Adherence to Ibadism accounts in part for Oman's historical isolation. Ibadis were not inclined to integrate with their neighbours, as the majority of Sunni Muslims regard Ibadism as a heretical form of Islam.

Definition: Ibadiyah, or Abadiyah, is a moderate sect in Islam founded in the early 8th century in Oman by the scholar Jabir ibn Zayd al-Azid (d. 711), who was exiled to Oman by the governor of Basra in present-day south Iraq.
Ibadiyah Islam is a milder form of Khariji Islam, accepting coexistence with other Islamic sects and non-Muslims to a degree. Ibadiyahs originally believed in electing their imam and, in a characteristic familiar to any modern-day Jeffersonian, never abide tyranny. Paradoxically, the Ibadi ruler is invested with absolute authority over his followers, though he can be deposed if he does not follow the law.
Ibadiyah Islam flourished under the leadership of Aby Ubaydah Muslim ibn Abi Karimah, who trained missionaries and sent them across the Arab world as far as the Maghreb in North Africa and throughout Oman in hopoes of establishing a pan-Islamic Ibadi community. The movement took hold only in Oman, where it persists to this day.


The early Imamate in Oman arose out of a vision to create the true and ideal Muslim state. The first Ibadhi Imam, Julanda bin Mas'ud, was elected in 751 AD but he died in battle and it was not until 801 AD after a period of turmoil that Warith bin Kaab was elected. There then followed a period of peace, stability and prosperity lasting more than three hundred years.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 4th June 2011 at 11:41 AM. Reason: date changes
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Old 4th June 2011, 06:00 PM   #50
ariel
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Every ethnicity that was using swords as weapons had a dance with swords. No surprise here.
Just to clarify. I have never heard of a Russian sword dance called Buza. Dance with Sabers by Khachaturyan is a choreografic invention. While there were caucasian sword dances in the Caucasus, Khachaturyan's 's example cannot serve as an authentic evidence. Ukrainian Combat Hopak is a recent invention of Ukrainian nationalists claiming that most, if not all, Western culture stems from an ancient tribe called Ukr and that Sanskrit is just a bastardized ancient Ukrainian language ( I am not joking). Hopak is an old Ukrainian dance and has nothing to do with swords or martial arts ( unless we call every male dance martial). Combat Hopak is just an amalgam of Tae Quon Do, karate and a host of other east asian martial arts performed while wearing voluminous ukrainian pants. Fake from the beginning to the end. Generally all sword dances are just examples of male strutting. Re-phrasing Eli Wallach in " The good, the bad and the ugly", If you want to cut, cut. Don't dance.
Old Omani Kattara looks to me like an ossified tradition of pre-islamic arabian swords. See old mamluk swords in Yucel's and Aydin's books.
Daghestani armourers at the end of the 19th century made their living by mass-exporting their rather poorly-made blades to Arabia ( perhaps, the connection was via tens of thousands of Circassian and Daghestanis emigrating to the Ottoman lands in the 1870's). Shamil died in Medina, his son not far from there.
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Old 5th June 2011, 03:46 AM   #51
Jim McDougall
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Once again, outstanding response Ibrahiim! and I like very much your itemized responses to the various lines of my post, the blue letters work well.

I am unclear on what is meant by your request of my acting for the forum though, as my input is simply my own opinions and observations based on my own research. As I understand our discussion here is meant to evaluate the possibilities for discovering the possible source for what we have agreed to term the 'short battle sword' as well as the development and relationship of the 'long' kattara to these apparantly considerable earlier swords. I always look forward to the input from all members who add valued observations and pertinant information.

We have I think really put together a good base point for our understanding of these swords, and the perspective on the Razha definitely adds fascinating dimension to the study as we continue looking into the possible typology and developmental aspects of them.

In reviewing "The Arts of the Muslim Knight" (Furusiyya Art Foundation, 1988), on p.79 (#43) one of these early 'short battle swords' is shown with characteristic hilt form with the fluted pommel, tubular grip, 'winged quillons' with bud type downturned quillon tips. The authors note, "...swords of this type were popular over a long period of time and thier documented associations suggest they are ultimately based on dhu'l-Faqar, the silver hilted sword of the Prophet. They represent a simplified version of the luxurious Nasrid swords of the 15th c.". Much as noted in Elgood ("Arms and Armour of Arabia" op.cit.) it seems agreed that while it is generally held these are from Oman, thier precise origin is uncertain.

A number of these are listed in various collections:
Askeri Muzesi, Istanbul , #2382 and #7620 (Alexander, 1985);
Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi, Istanbul, #1/2765 signed Muhammed ibn Ahmad 1842;
Wallace Collection, London, #1796
Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y. #1987.43

According to the Furusiyya references, these are believed perhaps from North Africa and of 15th c. while one of 18th c. is said to be associated with the Banu Ahmari.

I did discover that there are indeed a number of Umayyad swords of 7th to 8th c. in Topkapi Saray, though there seems to be some reservations on some of the dating, possibly referring to inscriptions as it seems it is agreed these are early ("Medieval Arab Arms" Abdel Rahman Zaky, in Elgood, 1980, p.203). In this work, the author notes the sword Samsana (the sharp one) which was one of the swords of the Prophet. This sword was said to have been with the legendary people of Ad, in Southern Arabia, and later was passed to Umayyad Caliphs; then to Bedouin chieftains, ultimately to Abbasid Caliph, at which point record of it is lost.

Returning to the Furusiyya reference, (p.79, #43 op.cit.) this example is shown as 17th-18th c. and it is noted that the presumably much earlier 'Nasrid' examples usually have downward dragonhead or lionhead tips, but the Mamluk or North African examples quillon tips are unrecognizably stylized or vegetal.

Here it is mentioned that 'other examples have no guard, but only a cuff on the base of the blade'. Perhaps these are the transitional form seen in the souk in Riyadh shown by Michael Blaylock (2009)? That may suggest the example in the souk is a much earlier 'long' type which has now lost the winged quillons, but retains the blade cuff, and contemporary to the 'short battle swords' which are agreed to be 17th century, and quite likely at this point attributable to as early as 14th by the earliest Arab miniatures depicting them.

Though these references do not move us more conclusively toward the earlier date of 10th c. for the battle sword, it does seem to bring the two hilts closer in being contemporary earlier.

On the shashka form hilts,I have seen shashkas actually in Jordanian context, and the Circassian presence in Ottoman forces presents good reason for these entering many regions under thier control. The Caucasian blades produced often entered Arabian regions in trade and were simply hilted as noted, being used by Bedouin tribes across the Arabian Peninsula and into the many regions where these tribes are active.

The short sabre blades which often have the karabela (hawk head) hilts most definitely have associations to maritime use, which of course would suggest thier presence more likely on the Arabian coastal areas. The shashka blades tend to be longer and more used by individuals mounted, the curved blade more attuned to the preferred 'draw cut'.

I really do appreciate the time you take in responding with this detailed discourse and explaining the many important factors involved in understanding the history of Oman. The search and more discussion continues

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 5th June 2011, 08:41 AM   #52
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Every ethnicity that was using swords as weapons had a dance with swords. No surprise here.
Just to clarify. I have never heard of a Russian sword dance called Buza. Dance with Sabers by Khachaturyan is a choreografic invention. While there were caucasian sword dances in the Caucasus, Khachaturyan's 's example cannot serve as an authentic evidence. Ukrainian Combat Hopak is a recent invention of Ukrainian nationalists claiming that most, if not all, Western culture stems from an ancient tribe called Ukr and that Sanskrit is just a bastardized ancient Ukrainian language ( I am not joking). Hopak is an old Ukrainian dance and has nothing to do with swords or martial arts ( unless we call every male dance martial). Combat Hopak is just an amalgam of Tae Quon Do, karate and a host of other east asian martial arts performed while wearing voluminous ukrainian pants. Fake from the beginning to the end. Generally all sword dances are just examples of male strutting. Re-phrasing Eli Wallach in " The good, the bad and the ugly", If you want to cut, cut. Don't dance.
Old Omani Kattara looks to me like an ossified tradition of pre-islamic arabian swords. See old mamluk swords in Yucel's and Aydin's books.
Daghestani armourers at the end of the 19th century made their living by mass-exporting their rather poorly-made blades to Arabia ( perhaps, the connection was via tens of thousands of Circassian and Daghestanis emigrating to the Ottoman lands in the 1870's). Shamil died in Medina, his son not far from there.


Salaams,
Thankyou for the input which is very interesting. My research clearly flags up definite proof that the Omani Short Battle Sword and the Long Omani Kattara belong to Ibadi Islam at the beginning of its adoption by Oman. That was in the 8th Century AD.
The Short Omani Battle Sword is so similar as I have shown to the Abbasid Swords in the Topkapi Museum even down to the spot on the blade and the octagonal hilt cross section. Moreover that sword was in Oman at the time being used by the Abbasid Garrisons. The likely perveyor of that technology was the first Ibadi leader (political and war as opposed to religious) Jabr Ibn Zayd. However I suggest the slightly later date of 751 is also plausible as the first Immam (please see previous scripts)
Unlike other places and peoples The Omani tradition of dance, music and poetry was the method of passing down tradition through the ages and the "Funun Razha sword dance" is identical today as it was then .. as I say in 751 AD. Thats with the Long Kattara and Terrs Buckler Shield. The sword dance appertaining to fighting is pure form and sword practise in motion and I totally disagree about the "cut dont dance" in your reply because the technique for fighting with this system is unique and lethal so getting good through practice with live blades and the inspiration of drums against a live opponent is similar to any martial art form except in this case more so since they dont use wooden practice sticks ! This is as live as you want it without chopping lumps off the other bloke !... Look to the web and search Razha Oman Sword Dance and you will see video of this event.
Swords Date. I realise that this appears to be somewhat outragious, however, there it is. The others were wrong and the new date though still not absolutely precise gives us a proven birthdate in an aproximate range vastly earlier than previously reckoned.
There is still work to be done in sourcing the likely shield for the Short Omani Battle Sword and in trying to further source the origins of the hilts unless they were as I suggest invented at the time as a celebratory design for what was to be a relgiously inspired weapon ~ The Ibadi Swords. 8th Century A.D. Oman. There may be further advances in finding the exact origins of long flexi blades with spatula round tips which may well be Pre Islamic..

Regards,

Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.
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Old 5th June 2011, 11:26 AM   #53
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Once again, outstanding response Ibrahiim! and I like very much your itemized responses to the various lines of my post, the blue letters work well.

I am unclear on what is meant by your request of my acting for the forum though, as my input is simply my own opinions and observations based on my own research. As I understand our discussion here is meant to evaluate the possibilities for discovering the possible source for what we have agreed to term the 'short battle sword' as well as the development and relationship of the 'long' kattara to these apparantly considerable earlier swords. I always look forward to the input from all members who add valued observations and pertinant information.

We have I think really put together a good base point for our understanding of these swords, and the perspective on the Razha definitely adds fascinating dimension to the study as we continue looking into the possible typology and developmental aspects of them.

In reviewing "The Arts of the Muslim Knight" (Furusiyya Art Foundation, 1988), on p.79 (#43) one of these early 'short battle swords' is shown with characteristic hilt form with the fluted pommel, tubular grip, 'winged quillons' with bud type downturned quillon tips. The authors note, "...swords of this type were popular over a long period of time and thier documented associations suggest they are ultimately based on dhu'l-Faqar, the silver hilted sword of the Prophet. They represent a simplified version of the luxurious Nasrid swords of the 15th c.". Much as noted in Elgood ("Arms and Armour of Arabia" op.cit.) it seems agreed that while it is generally held these are from Oman, thier precise origin is uncertain.

A number of these are listed in various collections:
Askeri Muzesi, Istanbul , #2382 and #7620 (Alexander, 1985);
Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi, Istanbul, #1/2765 signed Muhammed ibn Ahmad 1842;
Wallace Collection, London, #1796
Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y. #1987.43

According to the Furusiyya references, these are believed perhaps from North Africa and of 15th c. while one of 18th c. is said to be associated with the Banu Ahmari.

I did discover that there are indeed a number of Umayyad swords of 7th to 8th c. in Topkapi Saray, though there seems to be some reservations on some of the dating, possibly referring to inscriptions as it seems it is agreed these are early ("Medieval Arab Arms" Abdel Rahman Zaky, in Elgood, 1980, p.203). In this work, the author notes the sword Samsana (the sharp one) which was one of the swords of the Prophet. This sword was said to have been with the legendary people of Ad, in Southern Arabia, and later was passed to Umayyad Caliphs; then to Bedouin chieftains, ultimately to Abbasid Caliph, at which point record of it is lost.

Returning to the Furusiyya reference, (p.79, #43 op.cit.) this example is shown as 17th-18th c. and it is noted that the presumably much earlier 'Nasrid' examples usually have downward dragonhead or lionhead tips, but the Mamluk or North African examples quillon tips are unrecognizably stylized or vegetal.

Here it is mentioned that 'other examples have no guard, but only a cuff on the base of the blade'. Perhaps these are the transitional form seen in the souk in Riyadh shown by Michael Blaylock (2009)? That may suggest the example in the souk is a much earlier 'long' type which has now lost the winged quillons, but retains the blade cuff, and contemporary to the 'short battle swords' which are agreed to be 17th century, and quite likely at this point attributable to as early as 14th by the earliest Arab miniatures depicting them.

Though these references do not move us more conclusively toward the earlier date of 10th c. for the battle sword, it does seem to bring the two hilts closer in being contemporary earlier.

On the shashka form hilts,I have seen shashkas actually in Jordanian context, and the Circassian presence in Ottoman forces presents good reason for these entering many regions under thier control. The Caucasian blades produced often entered Arabian regions in trade and were simply hilted as noted, being used by Bedouin tribes across the Arabian Peninsula and into the many regions where these tribes are active.

The short sabre blades which often have the karabela (hawk head) hilts most definitely have associations to maritime use, which of course would suggest thier presence more likely on the Arabian coastal areas. The shashka blades tend to be longer and more used by individuals mounted, the curved blade more attuned to the preferred 'draw cut'.

I really do appreciate the time you take in responding with this detailed discourse and explaining the many important factors involved in understanding the history of Oman. The search and more discussion continues

All the very best,
Jim


Salaams,



Salaams Jim, I have again opted for the answers in blue after your excellent comments :see below.


QUOTE=Jim McDougall]Once again, outstanding response Ibrahiim! and I like very much your itemized responses to the various lines of my post, the blue letters work well
.
Thank you your support is excellent.

I am unclear on what is meant by your request of my acting for the forum though, as my input is simply my own opinions and observations based on my own research. As I understand our discussion here is meant to evaluate the possibilities for discovering the possible source for what we have agreed to term the 'short battle sword' as well as the development and relationship of the 'long' kattara to these apparantly considerable earlier swords. I always look forward to the input from all members who add valued observations and pertinant information.

I imagine the forum as a wealth of knowledge from which authors of ethnological weapon expertise draw a lot upon for the information since it is live, current and very informative especially from experts such as yourself…I often find when reearching on the web that I get referred back to the forum site for references !

We have I think really put together a good base point for our understanding of these swords, and the perspective on the Razha definitely adds fascinating dimension to the study as we continue looking into the possible typology and developmental aspects of them.

Yes that has been interesting and there is another ancient dance form eminating from Salalah (Dhofar, Southern Oman) which uses the Khanjar in a performance called Bar-aa. That may be another story.

In reviewing "The Arts of the Muslim Knight" (Furusiyya Art Foundation, 1988), on p.79 (#43) one of these early 'short battle swords' is shown with characteristic hilt form with the fluted pommel, tubular grip, 'winged quillons' with bud type downturned quillon tips. The authors note, "...swords of this type were popular over a long period of time and thier documented associations suggest they are ultimately based on dhu'l-Faqar, the silver hilted sword of the Prophet. They represent a simplified version of the luxurious Nasrid swords of the 15th c.". Much as noted in Elgood ("Arms and Armour of Arabia" op.cit.) it seems agreed that while it is generally held these are from Oman, thier precise origin is uncertain

There is possibly some mythology surrounding the so called swords of the Prophet(PBOH) although they are incredible weapons and may have influenced swords, however, the time frame is a little cramped and I cannot see why it should cloud the issue. I think people are only too ready to place the swords into categories such as Sword of the Prophet(PBOH) and then the pitfall mistake of Spanish design, which is a massive diversion in my view.
Ummayid and Abbasid swords were similar as were Turkish ( In fact the royal palace guards working for the Abbasids in Iraq were Turks)
Making it all slide into a believable time frame often rules out certain formulas and we can only go on mathematical absolute proof rather like a good archeologist or forensic detective. The Ummayid time frame doesn’t fit… The Abbasid one does.

To me Nasrid swords are so far wide of the mark as to be non starters though they may have origins linked to dhul Faqar as may the Omani swords but of a separate branch (possibly).
.

A number of these are listed in various collections:
Askeri Muzesi, Istanbul , #2382 and #7620 (Alexander, 1985);
Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi, Istanbul, #1/2765 signed Muhammed ibn Ahmad 1842;
Wallace Collection, London, #1796
Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y. #1987.43


According to the Furusiyya references, these are believed perhaps from North Africa and of 15th c. while one of 18th c. is said to be associated with the Banu Ahmari.

I think that is al amari which would be an Omani reference but again very late: 18th Century? Ten centuries out. How can they be in the Funun if they are 18th Century?

Yes that is true however that is true for those references which I believe are correct but not complete. They omit the full facts about the Omani weapons and their origins linking the Ibadi Islamists around AD 751.

I did discover that there are indeed a number of Umayyad swords of 7th to 8th c. in Topkapi Saray, though there seems to be some reservations on some of the dating, possibly referring to inscriptions as it seems it is agreed these are early ("Medieval Arab Arms" Abdel Rahman Zaky, in Elgood, 1980, p.203). In this work, the author notes the sword Samsana (the sharp one) which was one of the swords of the Prophet. This sword was said to have been with the legendary people of Ad, in Southern Arabia, and later was passed to Umayyad Caliphs; then to Bedouin chieftains, ultimately to Abbasid Caliph, at which point record of it is lost.

It could be possible that Ummayid swords influenced the Abbasid Sword design (since Ummayid was the dynasty before) and even some influence to Omanis Swords at the time, however, the Ummayid time frame doesn’t fit. The Abbasid time frame does and the fact that they were garrisoned in Oman and operating against the Omani Ibadis (the first Omani Immam died at their hands in battle in the late 8thC)The fighting purely based on style of Islamic religion. The Omani Swords by then were Iconic Ibadi weapons.

Returning to the Furusiyya reference, (p.79, #43 op.cit.) this example is shown as 17th-18th c. and it is noted that the presumably much earlier 'Nasrid' examples usually have downward dragonhead or lionhead tips, but the Mamluk or North African examples quillon tips are unrecognizably stylized or vegetal

Nasrid is also miles too late and was one of the first casualties in my research. I call the Nasrid sword "Geographically Innert and Time Frame impossible".

The Nasrid dynasty or Banū Naṣr (Arabic: بنو نصر‎) was the last Moorish and Muslim dynasty in Spain. The Nasrid dynasty rose to power after the defeat of the Almohad dynasty in 1212 at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. Twenty-three different emirs ruled Granada from the founding of the dynasty in 1232 by Muhammed I ibn Nasr until January 2, 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered to the Christian Spanish kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. Today, the most visible evidence of the Nasrids is the Alhambra palace complex built under their rule. (500 to 700 years too late).


Here it is mentioned that 'other examples have no guard, but only a cuff on the base of the blade'. Perhaps these are the transitional form seen in the souk in Riyadh shown by Michael Blaylock (2009)? That may suggest the example in the souk is a much earlier 'long' type which has now lost the winged quillons, but retains the blade cuff, and contemporary to the 'short battle swords' which are agreed to be 17th century, and quite likely at this point attributable to as early as 14th by the earliest Arab miniatures depicting them

.

That is very interesting indeed. The Riyadh? Yemen Museum variants(Michael Blalocks) could also be described as such … The quillons are there but folded forward as part of the collar arrangement. It may be identical and the description of no guard is true though they coild easily have missed the collar and quillon incorporation as " no guard" in their description…That follows my argument that these are the original form of Omani Long Kattara. However I am totally at loggerheads with the dates 14th and 17th Century~ They are 8th Century.


Though these references do not move us more conclusively toward the earlier date of 10th c. for the battle sword, it does seem to bring the two hilts closer in being contemporary earlier
.
10th Century is too late. By then Oman was about to disintegrate into 2 warring factions. Ibadi Islam had been in place for over 2 centuries. The Razha had been drumming from 751 AD or slightly earlier if my supposition about the leader Jabr Ibn Zayd is allowed and Ibadi seat of control Nizwa was about to exert its rule of the Interior… The 10th Century doen't fit.

On the shashka form hilts,I have seen shashkas actually in Jordanian context, and the Circassian presence in Ottoman forces presents good reason for these entering many regions under thier control. The Caucasian blades produced often entered Arabian regions in trade and were simply hilted as noted, being used by Bedouin tribes across the Arabian Peninsula and into the many regions where these tribes are active

Agreed on shaska influence on other Omani weapons . However regarding the Omani Short and Katara Long ~The Ottoman empire is too late. Anyway they hardly ruled Oman though they thought they did on maps. Piri Reis did attack Muscat and expelled for a short period the Portuguese but 16th Century?; that is way too late.

I think there are a lot of weapons that could have entered Oman but didn’t. For example there are hundreds of Indian and Persian variant swords~ none came into use by Oman. Why? Mainly because Indianweapons were Hindu and even in the case of Muslim (Persia and later parts of India) weapons they weren’t the right style of Islam to be accepted.. However, the primary reason is that Oman adopted Islam before the Persians so they already had the Ibadi variant and they were happy to retain that. Once they had integrated these relgious inspired weapons into their tradition they were unmoveable.. They are still there today.


The short sabre blades which often have the karabela (hawk head) hilts most definitely have associations to maritime use, which of course would suggest thier presence more likely on the Arabian coastal areas. The shashka blades tend to be longer and more used by individuals mounted, the curved blade more attuned to the preferred 'draw cut'.

Agreed on shaska influence on other weapons later in Oman especially maritime via Yemen .

However as a note it doesn’t mean that the Kattara was not used on the coast… there were wide windows of influence when Oman was "one country" and both Ibadi weapons would have been used throughout. It seems clear to me that it was this coastal effect that eventually brought a change to the Long Kattara hilt.


When the two factions of coastal and interior war flared up as it did on several occasions the seat of Ibadi Islam was in Nizwa and it is there that the powerful traditions; "The Funun" etc eminate. No matter what the state of affairs between coastal / interior factions in Oman this tradition has been retained there in the interior through thick and thin... as a permanent tradition.

This is an Interior Omani weapons system timelocked frozen and stored in the national memory banks and wheeled out at every wedding and twice yearly at each Eid celebration..ad infinitum since about 751 A.D.


I really do appreciate the time you take in responding with this detailed discourse and explaining the many important factors involved in understanding the history of Oman. The search and more discussion continues

All the very best,
Jim[/QUOTE

Thank You very much.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi..

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 5th June 2011 at 11:42 AM. Reason: add on note
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Old 6th June 2011, 11:31 PM   #54
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If we are talking about sword dances, this one

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRpo...feature=related


might be intriguing
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Old 7th June 2011, 09:07 AM   #55
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
If we are talking about sword dances, this one

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRpo...feature=related


might be intriguing


Salaams,
That is intriguing . I note how well balanced the exponent is by having a sword in each hand which is similar to the balance achieved with Kattara and Terrs though the two dances are otherwise totally unrelated.

Parallel and unrelated tribal dances and even artefacts occur in unlinked tribal groups across the globe, for example, Australian Aborigine, Eskimo, African, Amazon Indian, North American Indian, South Arabian groups etc but only as accidental unrelated developments. Escrima Philipine martial arts have possibly similar style to the two sword slashing action of the video you posted, but again; not linked.

What I do think is worth looking at is Martial Arts use of The Kata(Japanese) or traditional sequence moves done as sets or drills. The Kata are sacred to each Martial System. The sets are often quite different for each style. They encompass the essence of that style and never change after being introduced at the birth of that Martial Art. Its the same in Korean and Chinese systems. All different, all sacred and all passed down the ages.

I draw the analogy between that and the Omani Funun which was the traditional genre drawn up at the birth of the Ibadi system ~ in this case a religion ~ that contained at its core the vital "pass down" ingredients from the start of the religious style; The Razha (sword procession and sword dances) carried out as pageants, rituals and as a martial system in honour of Ibadism in the date brackets of aproximately 700 to 800 A.D. Using the Omani Long Kattara and the Terrs.

Passed down as embedded folklore and religious conformity twice annually at each Eid, at almost every wedding, at meetings of VIPS, at cultural meetings and exchanges in schools , at cultural events, National Days and other important dates in the calendar; religious, political and social for about the last 1300 years and still going strong today.

Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 9th June 2011, 04:10 PM   #56
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Default Omani Swords ; Origins.

Jim McDougall.


Salaams,
I have found one sword in Muscat with the hilt we are all talking about. I now own that one. I believe this hilt to be from the original Long Omani Kattara and essentially the same hilt to the Omani Short Battla Sword, though stretched.
Mounted on this hilt is the Ethiopian blade probably Luckhouse and Gunther (German) Trade Blade. 19thC.

Update;[/B]

Our hypothesis is that the two swords( The Omani Short and Long) have a similar birth date into Oman as battle swords in commemoration of the Islamic sect accepted there after 630 (630 A.D. was the date of acceptance of Islam with a slightly later date for the adoption of the Ibadi style in the region in 751 chosen by this author as an honorary date in respect of the first Immam appointed on that date.) It is possible that it transpired earlier though the date 751.A.D. is chosen to illustrate the time zone rather than a specific and precise date. Narrowing it down to the mid 8th Century is however far more accurate but takes into consideration due cause giving it good reason to exist at that time as 1. Copied from the Abbasid 2. An honorary design with an Islamic Hilt to herald in the new unique Ibadi sect of Islam to Oman.

[B]Tradition.(Music, Dance, Poetry)[/B]

It is argued that the FUNUN holds the key as the celebratory and folklore method of honouring the two Islamic calendar Eid celebrations annually and was performed at wedding feasts and civic and political meetings down the ages. The Funun genre of music, dance and poetry is sacresanct and integral to Ibadi Islam and within this early volume is the [B]Razha
(Sword Dance using the Long Kattara and Buckler "Terrs" Shield)

If it can be viewed another way ? ~ In Oman music, dance, and poetry are rather like martial arts drills sequences or :"Kata" which were the blueprint and essential identity of that skill. They never change. In Oman it was the means by which folklore and the reflection of daily lives was passed down from generation to generation. Moreover the heart and soul of this folklore system was called The Funun containing a key element The Razha or Sword Dances. One in particular is a celebration of Long Omani Kattara and Terrs "mimic combat". Another is key to the sword honoring Ibadi religion by celebratory parading with leaps and throwing and showing off with the weapon to the exultation of the guests and the accompanying orchestra of drums.

The seat of the Ibadi was always Nizwa as the capital of the Dhakiliyya or interior. It is from there that the founding leader of the Omanis was born, went to Iraq and returned to lead the nation against the Abbasid. From Nizwa the traditions have been handed down through the folklore system. It is still being done to this day in the time honoured way.

Key Personalities.[/B]

Amir Ibn Al As in 630 presented a letter requesting adherence to Islam by the Omanis. Oman agreed. This important event took place at Nizwa. A short while later Oman adopted Ibadi Islam as its chosen sect. Note that Nizwa was to be the chosen seat of all the early Immams as well as the capital of the interior in peace and later in war with the Oman Coast.

The Abbasid Dynasty. The Abbasids from Iraq garrisoned in Oman and punished Omanis during the 8th and 9th Centuries for adopting Ibadi Islam as heretical. The sword used by the Abbasid Garrisons is in the Topkapi Museum Istanbul. (see my earlier text on the 11 similarities in sword design; Abbasid versus Omani Short Battle Sword)

Jabr Ibn Zayd (Originally from near Nizwa in the Oman Interior)was exiled from Iraq and returned to lead Oman against the Abbasids. He died in 711 therefor it is quite plausible that having seen the technology in Iraq he transferred the Abbasid sword for use by Omanis in the time honoured way of simply redesigning the hilts for both a short and long Kattara (The Long Omani Kattara and the Short Omani Battle Sword) and incorporated a hilt which had Islamic overtones and could prove Iconic for the Ibadi religion. The Long Omani Kattara Sword and Terrs Shield was then locked forever into Omani Folklore and tradition thus it is in the body of work called the Funun as the "Razha" sword dance.. at the inception of Ibadhi Islam.

Julanda bin Massoud; in 751 AD, It is plausible that he, as the first Immam completed the cycle of events as first Immam of the new Ibadi sect in Oman and took the fight to the Abbasid invaders. He was killed in battle only a year or so after that and it was not until 811 AD that a period of relative stability occured with another early Immam Warth bin Kaab.

Nizwa; The seat of the Ibadi was always Nizwa as the capital of the Dhakiliyya or interior. It is from there that the founding leader of the Omanis was born, went to Iraq and returned to lead the nation against the Abbasid. From Nizwa the traditions have been handed down through the folklore system. It is still being done to this day in the time honoured way.

The seat of the Ibadi sect remained in Nizwa and later when Oman was at war with itself, key to sword distribution around neighboring countries. Trade was vital to a segment of the country generally cut off from the Indian Ocean and Nizwa Capital of this "country within a country" turned to the camel train as its lifeline. It is likely that what is now Saudi Arabia but was then a segmented multi tribal feifdome hosted much of this trade though access north was also likely to Gulf nations and south to Yemen and Africa. Once the Long Kattara was exported it would have frozen, thus, what we see pictured here is, I believe, the original Omani Long Kattara "Hilt" rejigged in the last 150 years or so with a German trade blade originally destined for Ethiopia and likely used there and later hilt switched etc arriving in the last 20 years into Muscat. Virtually full circle.

Essentially and in conclusion therefore; these are [B]8th Century A.D.
original, Omani Battle Swords; A pair of weapons with hilts redesigned to herald in the new Islamic Ibadi sect and in the case of The Long Kattara and Terrs entering Omans Folklore, whilst the Short Omani Battle Sword was equally Iconic but used in close quarter battle like the Roman Gladius though probably with a bigger shield as yet not pinpointed. Through being used as a favourite in the procession and dance of Omani folklore the long probably superceded the short through the centuries.

The Long Kattara hilt evolved into a conical flat arrangement over the new "blade tang and pommel" construction whereas the old exported version froze in design but equally evolved in different directions being matched with long african/european trade blades viewable in the souk in Riyadh and Muscat(now with me) plus in a military museum in Yemen.

As a side related issue both the Omani Long Kattara and the Omani Short Battle Sword appear in drawings and photographs up to and beyond the 1890s worn by various Omani dignatories in and around Zanzibar and Oman (as well as the long curved Sayf on a Kattara hilt and Persian Shamshir and other Zanzibari and Omani weapons ie The Khanjar in the role of Iconic badge of Office in the region.) Ingram the English Visier at the Zanzibar court was, however, correct when he described the Razha as an Omani Dance and it is from that single line in his early 20th Century diary that this work transpires; pushing back the envelope to the 8th Century.

Without motive it was not logical to leave these weapons floundering between the 10th and in some cases the 17th or 18th century. Neither was it correct to assume African, Zanzibari, Portuguese, Indian or other birthright without due diligence. I believe we have corrected those mistakes.

Regards,

Ibrahiim Al Balooshi.

Below I present the swords photographed together with on the left two Short Omani Battle Swords then the old long original Kattara Hilt with a trade blade, then the Kattara with its more well known hilt;
Attached Images
  

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Old 10th June 2011, 04:40 PM   #57
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This is an absolutely outstanding synopsis of the hypothesis established to date, and it is wonderful to see how analyzing the various historical events extending to the earliest times of Islam in these regions form a key part of understanding the development of these swords.
Also an important facet of this analysis is the importance of the connection between the Razha (sword dance) and the martial arts application of these 'long kattara' in the preservation of the traditions of these forms of the sword.

It really is quite amazing that such an approach has not been pursued sooner. though clearly the questions have been there (as seen by the 2006 posts by al-Anizi. It has long been clear that the connections between Oman and trade centers in East Africa were reflected in the appearance of these long kattara in those regions. The advent of German trade blades entered into the sphere from 17th into 19th centuries in notable degree, which of course has long suggested that the Omani 'long' kattara was a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the greatest problems in establishing developmental lineage of various ethnographic sword forms has been the lack of chronologically provenanced examples. This is a case where a plausible theory is supported by the relative seclusion of these inner regions of Oman versus the more dynamic trade connections of Muscat, and how these earlier sword forms might have weathered these influences remaining in place for over a millenium.

As mentioned earlier, the existence of 'sword dance' is hardly unusual as a concept ethnographically, and the dramatic representation of combat and events seems a quite understandable manner of maintaining tradition in mankind in general. Such practices were even in degree practiced by early man and dancing as a development of shamanic ceremony was probably part of the formation of early religion and temporal perception of his surroundings.
There are however certain peculiarities it seems in these representations in vastly separated cultural spheres which have no apparant direct contact with each other. It does seem that the roots of the Razha must be shared with a number of other versions of this particular dance style, but though I believe the details are similar, for example with the crouched position in opening to the exaggerated leaps and wide blade sweeps to the Khevsur 'duels' in the Caucusus, there are a number of aspects that seem dissimilar. If I understand correctly, one of the elements key in the Omani performance is the undulating of the long blade to produce sound, which requires a longer well forged blade of strength and thinness.

Extremely well written and nicely presented Ibrahiim! Thank you so much for sharing this here, and again, it is fantastic to see this kind of research followed in the study of weapons. It is inspiring to see this, and gives us hope that equal attention will be afforded the many other weapons whose developments have remained clouded in mystery for so long.

With all very best regards,
Jim
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Old 11th June 2011, 02:00 PM   #58
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Default 0mani Sword Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is an absolutely outstanding synopsis of the hypothesis established to date, and it is wonderful to see how analyzing the various historical events extending to the earliest times of Islam in these regions form a key part of understanding the development of these swords.
Also an important facet of this analysis is the importance of the connection between the Razha (sword dance) and the martial arts application of these 'long kattara' in the preservation of the traditions of these forms of the sword.

It really is quite amazing that such an approach has not been pursued sooner. though clearly the questions have been there (as seen by the 2006 posts by al-Anizi. It has long been clear that the connections between Oman and trade centers in East Africa were reflected in the appearance of these long kattara in those regions. The advent of German trade blades entered into the sphere from 17th into 19th centuries in notable degree, which of course has long suggested that the Omani 'long' kattara was a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the greatest problems in establishing developmental lineage of various ethnographic sword forms has been the lack of chronologically provenanced examples. This is a case where a plausible theory is supported by the relative seclusion of these inner regions of Oman versus the more dynamic trade connections of Muscat, and how these earlier sword forms might have weathered these influences remaining in place for over a millenium.

As mentioned earlier, the existence of 'sword dance' is hardly unusual as a concept ethnographically, and the dramatic representation of combat and events seems a quite understandable manner of maintaining tradition in mankind in general. Such practices were even in degree practiced by early man and dancing as a development of shamanic ceremony was probably part of the formation of early religion and temporal perception of his surroundings.
There are however certain peculiarities it seems in these representations in vastly separated cultural spheres which have no apparant direct contact with each other. It does seem that the roots of the Razha must be shared with a number of other versions of this particular dance style, but though I believe the details are similar, for example with the crouched position in opening to the exaggerated leaps and wide blade sweeps to the Khevsur 'duels' in the Caucusus, there are a number of aspects that seem dissimilar. If I understand correctly, one of the elements key in the Omani performance is the undulating of the long blade to produce sound, which requires a longer well forged blade of strength and thinness.

Extremely well written and nicely presented Ibrahiim! Thank you so much for sharing this here, and again, it is fantastic to see this kind of research followed in the study of weapons. It is inspiring to see this, and gives us hope that equal attention will be afforded the many other weapons whose developments have remained clouded in mystery for so long.

With all very best regards,
Jim


Salaams Jim,
Thank you for this and all your inspiring replies. Your masterful approach has helped so much in finally examining this clouded issue which has puzzled experts for too long. Thanks to you and this forum we have at last got much closer to understanding these Omani Swords.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 17th June 2011, 03:47 PM   #59
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Default Omani Swords. Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is an absolutely outstanding synopsis of the hypothesis established to date, and it is wonderful to see how analyzing the various historical events extending to the earliest times of Islam in these regions form a key part of understanding the development of these swords.
Also an important facet of this analysis is the importance of the connection between the Razha (sword dance) and the martial arts application of these 'long kattara' in the preservation of the traditions of these forms of the sword.

It really is quite amazing that such an approach has not been pursued sooner. though clearly the questions have been there (as seen by the 2006 posts by al-Anizi. It has long been clear that the connections between Oman and trade centers in East Africa were reflected in the appearance of these long kattara in those regions. The advent of German trade blades entered into the sphere from 17th into 19th centuries in notable degree, which of course has long suggested that the Omani 'long' kattara was a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the greatest problems in establishing developmental lineage of various ethnographic sword forms has been the lack of chronologically provenanced examples. This is a case where a plausible theory is supported by the relative seclusion of these inner regions of Oman versus the more dynamic trade connections of Muscat, and how these earlier sword forms might have weathered these influences remaining in place for over a millenium.

As mentioned earlier, the existence of 'sword dance' is hardly unusual as a concept ethnographically, and the dramatic representation of combat and events seems a quite understandable manner of maintaining tradition in mankind in general. Such practices were even in degree practiced by early man and dancing as a development of shamanic ceremony was probably part of the formation of early religion and temporal perception of his surroundings.
There are however certain peculiarities it seems in these representations in vastly separated cultural spheres which have no apparant direct contact with each other. It does seem that the roots of the Razha must be shared with a number of other versions of this particular dance style, but though I believe the details are similar, for example with the crouched position in opening to the exaggerated leaps and wide blade sweeps to the Khevsur 'duels' in the Caucusus, there are a number of aspects that seem dissimilar. If I understand correctly, one of the elements key in the Omani performance is the undulating of the long blade to produce sound, which requires a longer well forged blade of strength and thinness.

Extremely well written and nicely presented Ibrahiim! Thank you so much for sharing this here, and again, it is fantastic to see this kind of research followed in the study of weapons. It is inspiring to see this, and gives us hope that equal attention will be afforded the many other weapons whose developments have remained clouded in mystery for so long.

With all very best regards,
Jim


Salaams Jim,
I was just sweeping back through all the posts related to this subject in an attempt at damage assessment as there were some possible swords linked which I thought could have been wrongly attributed.

Michael Blalaock on 28 feb 2010 on Yemeni Sword illustrates an excellent picture which is clearly similar to the sword by;

Steve on 28 march 2011 Arabian Swords #14.( Wallace Collection)

Both these swords hilts are clearly derived from the OLD Omani Long Kattara in this discussion. The swords are Hybrids, perhaps the brainchild of an arabian silversmith bringing the old Omani exported kattara up to Iconic, Badge of Office status. One sword is in the Wallace collection in the UK. Currently we have one sword being hybridised in the same way by our master silversmith.
I mention sword, however, in this context all we have is a fragmented hilt and a relatively modern 19th Century trade blade with a VR British Raj Crown stamp ... It is an interesting point since much of the conversation is about, for example, Omani swords yet I have never seen an "original" Kattara long blade (is it possible that all Omani Long Kattara blades were replaced with new blades in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries and thus a new style of hilt ?) whereas on the short sword they look distinctly original. Could that be the link in all these swords being exported from interior Oman? Technically you dont convert the old sword .. you simply replace it with a new one... new blade and new hilt.
If that is the case then there will be some original blades on original hilts out there having been exported to Yemen and what is now Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile The Wallace Collection needs an update !
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Old 19th June 2011, 06:16 AM   #60
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Hi Ibrahiim,
In looking at these four hilts, it is difficult to determine at this point whether these are regional variations, or whether there is a transitional development shown at this point. I am under the impression that the examples we are now calling the 'short battle swords' with the downturned 'winged' type guard are most likely to have existed from quite early times in the Dhakiliyya, where they are believed to have evolved from early Abbasid swords and with that plausibly existed as a type from as early as the 8th century.

With the conservativism and relative isolation of the Ibadi Sect in these interior regions these earlier type hilts in the kattara continued traditionally.These then became concurrent with a longer bladed type kattara which reflects certain elements of the hilt form of this older form with the cylindrical grip and minaret type pommel, and was guardless. A similar cuff covers the root of the blade of both types of kattara.

It remains unclear whether these long bladed hybrid type kattaras, which are essentially the same as the the square pommeled form which we consider associated with the dynamic trade regions of the coast in Muscat and other points of the Sultanate including Zanzibar, were in use in the interior regions by the Ibadi contemporararily with the traditional battle swords or not.

Robert Elgood ("Arms and Armour of Arabia", 1994, p.16) cites the 1821 narrative of James Fraser, who visited the Omani garrison at Ormuz and claimed the broadswords used by them resembled the Scottish broadsword blade, and that some of these were made in Yemen. I believe that he meant that they 'came' from Yemen, where they were probably mounted. The example posted by Michael Blalock in 2010 (and resembling the Wallace example) has a scabbard similar to the silver banded mounts known to have been from Yemen (Elgood p.15, noting C. Buttin's attribution) and that many of these had 17th century blades. These were likely of course German, and of the type of broadsword blades seen on Scottish swords as noted (Fraser), as most Scottish blades were German.

It would seem that many of these broadsword blades were German, and of the 17th and 18th centuries, and they were likely remounted numerous times during thier working lives as are most of the ethnographic swords. It would seem that the newer style hilts would be used, and perhaps these 'hybrids' are an amalgam of old form but with revised guard, or indeed transitional. The curved blades, though occasionally appearing in Omani kattara hilts, are it seems mostly 19th century.

It will be difficult to prove the 8th century origin on the hilt style of these early kattara now believed to be primarily of the interior regions until there is more proof. However, these do appear to be much earlier than the 17th-18th century date presumed by the blades found in many of them. Elgood (p.18, footnote #36) notes that one of these earlier hilts of bronze was sold at Sothebys (Islamic sale, 24 April, 1991, lot #1113) which was described as 12th-14th century. Though that attribution is not strongly supported, it is not necessarily disputed either.

As always, looking forward to continuing research and discussion. Do we have illustrations of the Abbasid swords in Istanbul?

All the best,
Jim
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