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Old 12th December 2009, 05:16 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Drum like flyssa marking

Some years ago I encountered an unusual marking on a flyssa blade, which was an odd cylindrical, almost hourglass like shape, along with the more familiar geometrics and flourishes typically seen.

In recent reading, I came across this image of a 'talking drum' which is the type often used by 'griots' (essentially singer/poet/musician) and who served in a manner of minstrels or troubadiers recalling oral traditions. These figures were important in tribal cultures from regions in Mali, Chad, Niger to the west coast tribes . Apparantly they were closely associated with the warrior kings of these tribes.

I am wondering if any out there have encountered such a marking on either a flyssa blade, or any weapons or items from these regions.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 13th December 2009, 03:20 PM   #2
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every thing it's possible but;
- flissa it's a sword of Berbers from mountains of Kabylia, located in North of Algeria
- distances between Kabylia and Mali/Niger/Chad ... several thousands km
- in between, one of the largest worldwide desert
- Chad/Mali have their typically swords without similarity with flissa
taking in consideration; difference of ethnic, difference of language, remote locations,
made that theory could be aleatory
but ... it's just a point of view, not "the truth"
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Old 13th December 2009, 06:06 PM   #3
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Hi Jim, Dom,

The F word again

The darbuka drum is similar, and it is found in North Africa and throughtout the Middle East.
I will check my flyssas...

Emanuel
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Old 13th December 2009, 09:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for answering Dom and Emanuel, and for the info.
In checking through some photos of flyssa hilts, and noticed that the triangular geometrics (as in the 'fibula' linear on the blade) are sometimes in the hourglass shape on the hilt in places.
As I recall, the shape of the figure on the example I refer to, was much more 'dimensional' and seemed to have lines through it or over it, resembling those on these hourglass shape pressure drums.

The vast distances through these desert regions are indeed formidable, and it is always amazing to look at the incredible trade networks that crisscross these regions. These are of course key in trying to follow some of the many weapon diffusions that present the complexities in understanding African arms. Naturally, rather than single trans Saharan journeys, the networking between various centers and interactions there, with materials and traded wares then following various routes resulted in these carried far and wide.

Factor in the nonspecific and ever changing boundaries of nomadic tribes, as well as interaction along these routes including raiding and more hospitable contact, the equation compounds dramatically

Dom, I never underestimate your very astute 'points of view'!!! and I am hoping that something similar with show up with the outstanding and comprehensive collections I know are out there with the Africa enthusiasts.

Emanuel, I always recall your keen interest in flyssas, and hoped you would come in on this.

Thanks so much guys!

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 15th March 2011, 01:34 AM   #5
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Hi Jim,

While gathering material on Kabylia and the Iflissen, I found these pictures of motifs used on traditional Kabyle pottery. Notice that one symbol, the double drum means "axe", while the double zigzaging lines could mean "arrow" or "mosquito". I will keep looking at the various symbols we sometimes see on flyssas.

Will you be at this year's Timonium?

All the best!
Emanuel
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Old 18th March 2011, 09:06 PM   #6
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I did not know about the use of talking drums by Afrasians (ex. Berbers), but among the Bantus (ie formerly "negroes") to their South/West talking drums and talking trumpets are traditionally very important royal/warfare tools for their instant communication power.
Flyssa per se is AFAIK a Kabyle tribe weapon, but a whole slew of awfully flyssa-like kodmes etc. ("wedding banquet nimchas") seem to be more widely distributed.
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Old 19th March 2011, 08:56 AM   #7
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there is a drum-like object on the port side of my flyssa near the integral bolster. the carry strap is on the bolster side of the 'drum' (1st photo attached)

interestingly, there is a khukuri kami (blacksmith) in nepal that uses a similar Madal Drum (<-linky) mark (2nd photo) with the strap. jokingly referred to as the 'beer mug' kami. More Madal Drums <-linky - shows vertically displayed drums with cords curlicued off in similar to the curled lines off my flyssa 'drum', they appear to be the ends of the cords used to mount & tighten the drumheads, left long but curled up.

edited:
p.s. - i thought i remembered us discussing this in a flyssa thread before. heck, it was 4 years ago!

HERE

i'd posted pics of mine there but the decoration was not clearly what jim mentioned in his post #13 & it didn't sink in with me at the time.
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Old 19th March 2011, 04:05 PM   #8
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Default The Drums of War

drums of War are signal drums other cultures, too, of course
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Old 19th March 2011, 10:35 PM   #9
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Thank you Emanuel, Tom and Kronckew for reviving this old thread! I still find the symbolism and motif on the flyssa fascinating, especially these odd variations from the somewhat standard geometrics. While I dont have my old notes handy at the moment, this sure makes me want to find them. It seems like somewhere the drum served as some kind of symbol of authority.

On the 'talking drums' it seems that as Tom notes, they were closely associated with Bantu speaking people as well as most West African regions.
I have the book on these drum signals but cant recall the title at the moment. It seems that the 'syntax' has to do somewhat with the dialects and languages that incorporate sounds like clicking, but again, details not handy at the moment. Naturally 'Hollywood' has made pretty much a cliche' out of these drum signals and messages, but they really are a fascinating and viable means of communication of these intriguing tribal peoples.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 20th March 2011, 01:14 AM   #10
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The syntax is based on spoken speach and progresses by means of the ability to produce two distinct tones, from what I've read and heard
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Old 22nd March 2011, 04:54 PM   #11
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Just a few observations of the symbols shown by Emanuel....and a few thoughts 'outside the box' ....so bear with me

The symbol for lune (moon) and that of marteau (hammer) are very similar (related ?). Which makes me wonder about several possibillities.

If this symbolism is widely accepted across the Saharal regions ....could this indicate the reason of the the moon symbols on Tabouka ? It is interesting that the moon and hammer symbols seemed linked perhaps because...

The hammer is the main tool of the blacksmith/bladesmith.
Forging during the day with the heat of the sun and forge would be 'uncomfortable'....perhaps dusk/evening would be prefered ?
Whilst heat treating the steel the 'colour' of the steel would need to be acurately gauged....dusk/night time might be much better conditions than direct sunlight ?

Could evening be the best time to forge blades ...hence the hammer and moon link ?? Could a blade forged at 'night' be considered a better blade and the moon mark be a sign of quality ??

My other observation is the Soleil (Sun) symbol ...it is almost an interpretation of the famed 'eyelash' mark ???? Perhaps coincidence ....but interesting never the less.

Regards David
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Old 22nd March 2011, 07:58 PM   #12
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Excellent observations David! The sun mark's similarity to the gourda mark had come to mind but I didn't make the connections to the moon marks. Note that those are usually back to back )||(, not front to front (||) . Very nice extra-box thinking

Here's a thought that's been bugging me since I saw the axe symbol. I haven't found pictures of any similar double-headed axes used in north Africa. The symbol does however remind me strongly of the "labrys" the axe symbol of the Minoan civilization (see attached).
As always, this can be simple coincidence, but it's fascinating to think that such symbols should persist for so long in cultural memory.

Emanuel
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Old 22nd March 2011, 08:15 PM   #13
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Emanuel ,
found this ...

".........The labrys is a double headed ritual axe. It is found in ancient Minoan depictions of the Mother Goddess, where its symbolism is related to the labrynth. The word “labrys” is Minoan in origin and is from the same root as the Latin labus, or lips.

Similar symbols appear on Norse, African, and Greek religious objects, where it is most often a feminine symbol, most likely lunar in origin........"

".....lunar in origin " ......the moon, yet again ??

Regards David
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Old 23rd March 2011, 06:30 PM   #14
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Nice one David

We could probably run around the whole spectrum of symbols and come back to the same thing.

What is odd is that I'm starting to see the combination ( and dots everywhere, including on Nepalese khukri
I'm sure this is pure coincidence but it's amazing that people so far apart developed such similar symbols for similar concepts.

Attached are some better shots of all the symbols.

E
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