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Old 16th October 2010, 03:12 AM   #1
roanoa
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Default European blade on Ethiopian gurade

Can anybody identify the maker of this blade through the stamp at the ricasso? The blade seems to be of reasonably good quality. German??
Thanks, RON
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Old 18th October 2010, 08:21 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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I am always puzzled by the term 'gurade' and while assuming that it is applied to the familiar stirrup hilted military style sabres imported into Ethiopia in the latter 19th-into 20th century...it seems it as equally applied to these sabres with this curvature and the traditional hilt which I have always termed shotel.
The more familiar shotel is of course the deep parabolic sickle type sword which was well known traditionally in Abyssinia, later known as Ethiopia.

Naturally I just wanted to include that for the readers, and it does seem we're having pretty good traffic on this thread, despite no responses.

I honestly do not know what this marking might represent, but I'm not afraid to at least present an idea of what it could mean. As always, the mark seems familiar, but does not appear in the standard sources Wagner, Cronau, Walter, Gyngell, Lenciewicz, Boeheim, thus must be more modern and of course not a makers mark.

The style of the blade is the cavalry type sabre blade evolved from the British M1796, used by Germany in 1811 and which continued to be produced by both England and Germany for colonial forces as late as the early 20th century.
It is well known that both England and Germany produced blades to be exported to Ethiopia (then Abyssinia) in the early years of the 20th century.
While the blade shape corresponds to some of these, there are none of the markings typically applied to them by makers before export.

In the mid to latter 19th century, Solingen also produced blades for the U.S. and Mexico. I have seen heavy, stout bladed almost cutlass type blades on Mexican sabres which carried deep stamps that represented various aspects of the hierarchy of the Republic of Mexico, usually armories etc. Some of the markings have devices backed by the radiating lines of the sun. Often these are accompanied by letters for various acronyms.

With the quality of this blade, it does seem possible it might have been a 'blank' produced in Solingen, perhaps intended for export to Mexico. The conundrum would be, if this was a Mexican acceptance mark, how would it end up in Ethiopia. It does seem plausible that the stamp might have been for a contract in a group of blades for Mexico which ended up diverted to Ethiopia, although of course admittedly speculative.

Pending the entry of this very marking being posted by someone out there with either an example of it on another sword, or in a reference outside that in the references I have mentioned....this is what I would suggest.

While the sun with a face is a well known marking on blades used from the 17th century by Peter Munsten in Solingen, and becoming part of the usual cabalistic astral repertoire used by many German smiths through the 18th century on 'talisman' blades, this style with simple lines seems more like a Mexican device, or certainly more modern than the heavy artistic rays of the early makers.

Of course I could be wrong, but that is a chance I'm willing to take, after all we are here to discuss. If I am wrong, excellent! if somebody else provides a better answer, thats what its all about........just post
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Old 18th October 2010, 08:35 PM   #3
roanoa
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Thanks for your input, Jim.
Three different terms are usually associated with Ethiopian swords:
GURADE = sabre = traditionally curved, one edge blade
SEIF = sword = straight double edged blade
SHOTEL = (no European equivalent) = sickle shaped double edge blade
They all have the traditional Abyssinian hilt. Many gurade are found with European style hilt. Cheers, RON
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Old 19th October 2010, 01:06 AM   #4
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Thank you for clarifying that Ron, I was hoping you would as when it comes to these Ethiopian swords I have always considered you as having the final word.
Now, if we can just get to the bottom of this puzzling mark!!

All the best,
Jim
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