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Old 30th July 2011, 12:21 PM   #1
Kurt
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Default Oman, Morocco or Zanzibar?

Who can say more about it?
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Old 30th July 2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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Hello Kurt,

The shape of the guard is moroccan. The scabbard is very interesting, reminds me of persian style!

It looks very small though, what are the dimensions?
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Old 30th July 2011, 12:35 PM   #3
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Default dimensions

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Hello Kurt,

The shape of the guard is moroccan. The scabbard is very interesting, reminds me of persian style!

It looks very small though, what are the dimensions?




Total length is 95cm .
Best
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Old 30th July 2011, 02:45 PM   #4
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A.alnakkas
"It looks very small though"


Because it is a "Nimcha" :-)
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Old 30th July 2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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You have a nice nimcha with atypical blade. The hilt material - is it ivory or camel bone and gold?
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Old 30th July 2011, 03:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
A.alnakkas
"It looks very small though"


Because it is a "Nimcha" :-)


Hey Ariel,

Can you explain more please? most of the nimchas I have seen ( have 3 personally) have european blades of normal length. I must say though, I like the length on this one, looks vicious!
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Old 30th July 2011, 04:04 PM   #7
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Most of my info derives from Elgood's book, where he explains that nimcha has a connotation of being small. This one has a feel not of a Moroccan one, but of a South-Arabian ( Oman, perhaps, since they had more sophisticated tastes and were a seafaring bunch). Such swords are quite useless as cavalry weapons and would not be suitable for horse or camel riders, but ideal for sea battles, analogous to european cutlases.

Kurt, it is a beauty!!!
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Old 30th July 2011, 04:06 PM   #8
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Kurt,
Most interesting example . The term 'nimcha' has been most often colloquially applied to the Moroccan sa'ifs which typically have this distinct hilt system. This hilt type with downturned quillons and incorporated upswept knuckle guard developed from probably Italian hilts possibly as early as 16th century, but did not attain wide popularity in the Maghreb until the 17th.

The blades on most of the sa'if's in Morocco which we know as 'nim'cha (=Ar. short sword) are interestingly with full length blades, as typically they were from European trade blades readily available in the trade networks to the ports of the North African littoral. Also the well known 'Barbary Pirates' brought materials including blades to these areas.

The hilt style on this weapon actually seems Arabian to me, and has strong resemblances to Hadhramauti types of swords (the discs are seen usually in repousse silver karabela type hilts), and the scabbard which along with the mounts seems more modern of course than the blade. The blade resembles earlier European military types of 18th-19th century sidearms and of 'cutlass' type. This incarnation seems to be Ottoman sphere quite likely Arab and recalling the much shorter hanger/cutlass type weapons that were well known in Arabian regions in Ottoman control and favored for maritime use.

I know I have seen this hilt (with the peaked extension at top of hilt) and the swirled motif embossed in the leather of the scabbard but need to look further.
In the meantime, very nice example Kurt, and hope my thoughts are of some help.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 30th July 2011, 04:29 PM   #9
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Default The hilt material

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
You have a nice nimcha with atypical blade. The hilt material - is it ivory or camel bone and gold?

Hi Battara ,

The handle is made ​​of ivory.
With 20 carat gold.
Kurt
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Old 30th July 2011, 05:07 PM   #10
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Default the swirled

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Kurt,
Most interesting example . The term 'nimcha' has been most often colloquially applied to the Moroccan sa'ifs which typically have this distinct hilt system. This hilt type with downturned quillons and incorporated upswept knuckle guard developed from probably Italian hilts possibly as early as 16th century, but did not attain wide popularity in the Maghreb until the 17th.

The blades on most of the sa'if's in Morocco which we know as 'nim'cha (=Ar. short sword) are interestingly with full length blades, as typically they were from European trade blades readily available in the trade networks to the ports of the North African littoral. Also the well known 'Barbary Pirates' brought materials including blades to these areas.

The hilt style on this weapon actually seems Arabian to me, and has strong resemblances to Hadhramauti types of swords (the discs are seen usually in repousse silver karabela type hilts), and the scabbard which along with the mounts seems more modern of course than the blade. The blade resembles earlier European military types of 18th-19th century sidearms and of 'cutlass' type. This incarnation seems to be Ottoman sphere quite likely Arab and recalling the much shorter hanger/cutlass type weapons that were well known in Arabian regions in Ottoman control and favored for maritime use.

I know I have seen this hilt (with the peaked extension at top of hilt) and the swirled motif embossed in the leather of the scabbard but need to look further.
In the meantime, very nice example Kurt, and hope my thoughts are of some help.

All best regards,
Jim


Thanks Jim ,
I think like you can see it is typical lether motif of Oman.
18 century ??

Regards
Kurt
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Old 30th July 2011, 05:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurt
Who can say more about it?
as per
"George Cameron Stone"
"a glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of ARMS AND ARMOR in all countries and all times"

Arab.
Grooved blade 21 inches long.
Hilt covered with tortoise shell and inlaid with pearl,
engraved silver mounts and brass guard

Kurt, in case of, your hilt and guard did looks as well the above description
the general shape of your sword is the same, isn't it ?

and to complete the picture ... if I might said so

the last pic, is issued from a book in French
"ARMES ET ARMURES
armes traditionnelles de l'Inde
by; E. Jaiwant Paul

comments attached to this pic;
- poigne d'pe sertie de pierres prcieuses, Rajasthan
(sword hilt set with precious stones, Rajasthan)

very popular, this type of hilt
from Morroco, to Zanzibar, passing by Saudi, might be Indonesia, until India
really popular

+

Dom
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Old 30th July 2011, 05:37 PM   #12
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Default very popular

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dom
as per
"George Cameron Stone"
"a glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of ARMS AND ARMOR in all countries and all times"

Arab.
Grooved blade 21 inches long.
Hilt covered with tortoise shell and inlaid with pearl,
engraved silver mounts and brass guard

Kurt, in case of, your hilt and guard did looks as well the above description
the general shape of your sword is the same, isn't it ?

and to complete the picture ... if I might said so

the last pic, is issued from a book in French
"ARMES ET ARMURES
armes traditionnelles de l'Inde
by; E. Jaiwant Paul

comments attached to this pic;
- poigne d'pe sertie de pierres prcieuses, Rajasthan
(sword hilt set with precious stones, Rajasthan)

very popular, this type of hilt
from Morroco, to Zanzibar, passing by Saudi, might be Indonesia, until India
really popular

+

Dom

Hi Dom ,

You're absolutely right, this was very common.
Regards
Kurt
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Old 30th July 2011, 09:05 PM   #13
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Lovely!
The shortness of the quillon block and its lack of bowed-out sides suggest an Eastern (Swahili?) origin rather than Mooroccan. The squared shape of the quillon tips also suggests such origins. It lacks the annoe often seen on such pieces.
The way the groove runs out at the tip suggests it might have once been a longer blade.
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Old 31st July 2011, 04:45 AM   #14
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Kurt, thank you for the response. Now that I have been able to 'hit the books' I can see in Elgood the illustration of the Omani sword which is typically associated with the interior regions, and the scabbard does have this interesting pattern motif embossed in the leather (p.17, 2.13).

These pronged pommel type hilts do seem widespread in use and from the 17th century (possibly earlier) and probably well through the 19th. In looking at various examples of these,one example ("Arts of the Muslim Knight", Furisiyya, Milan, 2008, p.77, #41) with the same type hilt, but single downturned quillons, is shown as having been captured at Battle of Oran (Algeria) in 1732). These are shown as 'cutlasses' and often found in naval context throughout the North African littoral. This same type hilt on a sword also pictured in Elgood ("Arms and Armour of Arabia" p.11, 2.2) is strikingly similar in profile, but subtle variations in decoration and blades. This may well be the one mentioned from Stone as well, as the 'tortoise shell' is mentioned in all representations.

It seems these were notably popular in Ottoman association (particularly in N.Africa) and examples of these in Ottoman context are known from as early as the 16th century. The influence of the hilt form seems to have diffused into the Deccan in India in the 17th century as hybrids of the peaked pommel or pronged, are seen with Ottoman type quillon terminals and Indian langet. The linear design of rosettes on the hilt faces similar to yours bring to mind that Hyderabad produced swords for export to Arabia, typically Hadhramaut in the 18th century. Many have these same type discs in motif.

Elgood notes these cutlass type swords with such pronged hilt profile are well known on Arab maritime routes. The coastal region in Oman, Muscat, is the trade power which also controlled areas beyond Zanzibar, which included parts of North Africa including Libya, Algeria and Tunisia in commerce. The Ottomans were driven out of Oman by Ahmed inb Said of Yemen in 1741.

All of this seems to show distinct links in Arab maritime provenance to this type of sword, and hilts of this form with profound traditional presence. The heritage of the style from North Africa, connections to Arabia through the Yemen, particularly Hadhramaut (and sword influences between Hyderabad and Deccan), and the Omani type leatherwork in scabbard with Arab type cord and fringed swag trappings present hybridization noted to be quite well known in these type swords.

As usual, just thinking out loud here, and that this cutlass may well be quite old and simply newer scabbard, and in ivory/gold for someone of importance in trade connected to Oman's networks. It seems the merchant class in Oman were quite status and fashion conscious, but they typically carried the cylindrical hilt kattara.
Obviously these ramblings dont present anything conclusive, but hopefully the elements noted will offer possibilities for consideration and maybe even some discussion

Extremely exciting piece there!

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 31st July 2011, 05:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Hello Kurt,

The shape of the guard is moroccan. The scabbard is very interesting, reminds me of persian style!

It looks very small though, what are the dimensions?

I agree with Lofty.....Moroccan hilt style. The "Zanzibari" style has a D shaped "guard" at the extremity of the quillons.
Can't comment on the scabbard but no doubt Ibrahiim will have some comment as to possible origins when he sees this post. Very nice piece by the way.
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Old 31st July 2011, 07:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
I agree with Lofty.....Moroccan hilt style. The "Zanzibari" style has a D shaped "guard" at the extremity of the quillons.
Can't comment on the scabbard but no doubt Ibrahiim will have some comment as to possible origins when he sees this post. Very nice piece by the way.



The hilt style on Kurts example seems more in accord with these kinds of swords associated with Algeria, though the 'Zanzibar' (per Buttin)form with ring on guard often has the prong as in this case (attached posted by Dom). The 'Saudi' form (red back ground posted by Dom), which is actually specific to Hadhramaut (per Elgood) The Zanzibar types seem to have been much associated with Yemen where many of them seem to have come from.

The sa'if with two quillons on one side, one on the other, no ring guard on the crossguard and no peak on the pommel is the 'Moroccan' style hilt )as posted by Rick with decking background).
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Old 31st July 2011, 07:31 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
The hilt style on Kurts example seems more in accord with these kinds of swords associated with Algeria, though the 'Zanzibar' (per Buttin)form with ring on guard often has the prong as in this case (attached posted by Dom). The 'Saudi' form (red back ground posted by Dom), which is actually specific to Hadhramaut (per Elgood) The Zanzibar types seem to have been much associated with Yemen where many of them seem to have come from.

The sa'if with two quillons on one side, one on the other, no ring guard on the crossguard and no peak on the pommel is the 'Moroccan' style hilt )as posted by Rick with decking background).

Yes I agree. I had forgotten those pics of Doms. They clearly show the ring "guard" of the "Zanzibari" type.
Hope all is well with you Jim.
Regards Stu
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Old 31st July 2011, 09:59 AM   #18
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Default Oman,Morocco or Zanzibar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Kurt, thank you for the response. Now that I have been able to 'hit the books' I can see in Elgood the illustration of the Omani sword which is typically associated with the interior regions, and the scabbard does have this interesting pattern motif embossed in the leather (p.17, 2.13).

These pronged pommel type hilts do seem widespread in use and from the 17th century (possibly earlier) and probably well through the 19th. In looking at various examples of these,one example ("Arts of the Muslim Knight", Furisiyya, Milan, 2008, p.77, #41) with the same type hilt, but single downturned quillons, is shown as having been captured at Battle of Oran (Algeria) in 1732). These are shown as 'cutlasses' and often found in naval context throughout the North African littoral. This same type hilt on a sword also pictured in Elgood ("Arms and Armour of Arabia" p.11, 2.2) is strikingly similar in profile, but subtle variations in decoration and blades. This may well be the one mentioned from Stone as well, as the 'tortoise shell' is mentioned in all representations.

It seems these were notably popular in Ottoman association (particularly in N.Africa) and examples of these in Ottoman context are known from as early as the 16th century. The influence of the hilt form seems to have diffused into the Deccan in India in the 17th century as hybrids of the peaked pommel or pronged, are seen with Ottoman type quillon terminals and Indian langet. The linear design of rosettes on the hilt faces similar to yours bring to mind that Hyderabad produced swords for export to Arabia, typically Hadhramaut in the 18th century. Many have these same type discs in motif.

Elgood notes these cutlass type swords with such pronged hilt profile are well known on Arab maritime routes. The coastal region in Oman, Muscat, is the trade power which also controlled areas beyond Zanzibar, which included parts of North Africa including Libya, Algeria and Tunisia in commerce. The Ottomans were driven out of Oman by Ahmed inb Said of Yemen in 1741.

All of this seems to show distinct links in Arab maritime provenance to this type of sword, and hilts of this form with profound traditional presence. The heritage of the style from North Africa, connections to Arabia through the Yemen, particularly Hadhramaut (and sword influences between Hyderabad and Deccan), and the Omani type leatherwork in scabbard with Arab type cord and fringed swag trappings present hybridization noted to be quite well known in these type swords.

As usual, just thinking out loud here, and that this cutlass may well be quite old and simply newer scabbard, and in ivory/gold for someone of importance in trade connected to Oman's networks. It seems the merchant class in Oman were quite status and fashion conscious, but they typically carried the cylindrical hilt kattara.
Obviously these ramblings dont present anything conclusive, but hopefully the elements noted will offer possibilities for consideration and maybe even some discussion

Extremely exciting piece there!

All best regards,
Jim

Jim ,thank you for your detailed explanation!
Best Kurt
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Old 31st July 2011, 11:06 AM   #19
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I would like to offer these images of the same type of sabre.

Where once these swords were very rarely seen, the last 12 months alone has seen 4 that I know of on the market.

The suspension fitting on this example is similar to another seen and may also offer some insight to the origins.
All 4 examples I viewed had the single upper suspension mount only, 2 like this, 2 like Kurts.

I feel they could be from the Oman Persian Gulf regions.

Gav
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Last edited by freebooter : 31st July 2011 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 31st July 2011, 08:23 PM   #20
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Thank you Stu and Kurt!

Gav, outstanding example that really does give us better perspective! Obviously this example has been static for some time without any attention and seems later, perhaps late 18th, into 19th by the condition of materials perhaps even later. The faceted shape of the mounts seem to me to resemble Ottoman type shamshir mounts some of which were hallmarked silver c.1870s and believed from Egypt.

I found this exact hilt ,discs and all but unable to see blade in Buttin (1933,#1004) shown as Arab, 17th century. After lookingh into hilts of a number of examples this form seems to have eminated from Ottoman forms, the earliest example found so far end of 16th century (Murad III, 1574-95) in an article by David Alexander. In the Anthony North article "A Late 15th Century Italian Sword (1975) it appears this particular hilt style including quillon system was around even late 15th century on a number of thier swords. It had apparantly become favored by Ottomans and would appear to have well permeated Ottoman, thus Arab, trade routes and regions inland.

With this it seems a traditional hilt form of Arab/Ottoman style which diffused widely through trade and remained traditionally quite late

All best regards,
JIm
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Old 1st August 2011, 06:21 AM   #21
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Hi guys,

The word nimcha or nimsha suits perfectly in its size (from Arabic nim = half, thus a short sabre as a cutlas).

But it is not a Moroccan nimcha.

It is a sabre of used offshore on the Arabic dhows. Made in Zanzibar, dependence of Oman, for the Arabian Peninsula.

Usually, the safs of Zanzibar has a rounded off guarding protecting knocks sliding on the flat of the blade, but it is not a law.

Louis-Pierre
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:32 AM   #22
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Hi all,

I would like to point out that I have never heard the word "nim" in arabic nor is it used to describe "half"

The arabic word for "half" is nisf and accentrd, it would be nus. Unless nim is used in south arabia but i highly doubt it, the origin of the word scream non-arabic. Am thinking possibly barbary which was picked up by foreigners and then the name became the standard for this genre of swords.

I also never heard the term "nimcha" or "nimsha" before meeting foreign collectors. Arabs always address swords as saif which is arabic for sword :-)


Regards,

Abdullatif
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Old 1st August 2011, 10:14 AM   #23
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Default Made in Zanzibar

Quote:
Originally Posted by LPCA
Hi guys,

The word nimcha or nimsha suits perfectly in its size (from Arabic nim = half, thus a short sabre as a cutlas).

But it is not a Moroccan nimcha.

It is a sabre of used offshore on the Arabic dhows. Made in Zanzibar, dependence of Oman, for the Arabian Peninsula.

Usually, the safs of Zanzibar has a rounded off guarding protecting knocks sliding on the flat of the blade, but it is not a law.

Louis-Pierre


Good morning Louis Pierre ,
It is a sabre of used offshore on the Arabic dhows. Made in Zanzibar, dependence of Oman, for the Arabian Peninsula.
I think this statement is correct.
Best
Kurt
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Old 1st August 2011, 11:19 AM   #24
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What great proportions & craft work!

Spiral
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Old 1st August 2011, 05:14 PM   #25
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Hi Louis-Pierre,
Its great to have you posting on this! and your work on these sa'if has been one of my best resources for research. It has been a long time ago, but represents some of the best research compiled on these swords to date outside the standard references, i.e. Elgood and Buttin.

I agree that this example with stout, short blade of hanger/cutlass type blade would suggest maritime use as you have well pointed out. The hilt form is really interesting and seems to derive, or at least compare to quillon arrangements and in degree, hilt styles of North Italy as early as the end of the 16th century. The earliest example of this style hilt seems to be found in a sword of stated North African style from the period of Murid III (1574-95), well placing it in the Ottoman sphere ("The Silver Dragon and the Golden Fish", David Alexander, p.235, fig. 7).

As appears in Buttin ("Catalogue de la Collection d'Armes: Europiennes et Orientales of Charles Buttin", 1933, #1004) the exact hilt style and motif is seen as well as apparantly in ivory, shown as 'Arab, 17th century". The interesting highly stylized and blockish quillon terminals are also present.

It appears that this hilt style must have become highly favored and like many ethnographic hilt forms, perpetuated over long periods. Even in cases where other hilt forms intercede, often revivalist inclinations result in returning to the much revered old styles. This makes it difficult of course in establishing reliable chronological development patterns in many of these sword forms.

The term nim'sha, as has often been pointed out, by its alluded etymology to an Arabic term referring to 'short sword', has often, actually most typically, been misapplied to most of these sa'if from the Maghrebi versions to many of these hilt forms which have full size blades, yet still called 'nimsha'. It seems that the term itself, like many of the terms referring to many sword forms (katar, kaskara, kilij, tulwar, paluouar et al) falls into the colloquial 'collectors' glossary, in which they have apparantly been derived from unclear misinterpretations or broad assumptions. Some of these seem purely contrived, such as with the fanciful term 'scimitar' which appears more the product of literary convention than any reliable etymology.

Returning to this sword, the reference to it being of Zanzibar production brings it in parallel to the familiar sa'ifs of similar hilt form, but with the extended 'D' type ring projecting from the crossguard, presents an interesting conundrum. I have yet been unable to find any reference that unequivocally designates these sa'if with open ringed crossguard extensions or traverse bar to Zanzibar. I have only heard this conjecturally aside from in "Islamic Weapons:Maghreb to Moghul" (A. Tirri, 2003) in which Tirri claims on p.79, "...in Zanzibar, documentary evidence identifies an extensive edged weapon manufacturing center during the 19th and early 20th centuries".
In the Buttin catalog (op. cit. examples 996-1004) of the entire array of these ringed guard sa'ifs are designated as "Arab' and to the 17th and 18th centuries. It is clearly noted that thier characteristic rings also derived from North Italian hilt systems.

Unfortunately Mr. Tirri does not cite the source for the 'documentary evidence' which would have been most helpful. Another dilemma involving 'Zanzibar' weapons are the 'H' shaped (baselard form) short swords termed 'Zanzibar swords' , which designation derives from Sir Richard Burton's 1885 "Book of the Sword". In this case Burton (p.166, fig.183) actually perpetuated an original error in Auguste Demmens 1877 reference where he misidentifies the weapon as a Zanzibar weapon (p.416, #100). Charles Buttin (op.cit, p.270) cites this error in detail, and clarifies that the weapon is in reality the Moroccan form known as s'boula and these seem to have traversed the trade routes via Sekkin and into Zanzibar.

The diffusion of these weapon forms through these trade routes, both maritime as well as trans-Saharan caravans in indisputable. The broad identification as 'Arab' is probably most applicable in most cases where sound provenance is not attainable in my opinion.

I would very much like to know if anyone knows of any documented evidence assigning the ring hilted sa'if form to Zanzibar in specific, and to thier production there. In the case of Muscat (this coastal region of Oman was the actual trade operation), thier connection to thier Sultanate in Zanzibar offers more tangible assessment of 'Zanzibar' to this cutlass as it is hard to say which location actually produced the weapons...both were ports of call receiving large quantities of trade blades.

As earlier mentioned, there are potential cases for Hyderabad in India, via the Malabar trade route also plied by these dhows. These type hilts are known in India as well, in what degree unclear, but it is known that here swords were produced for Hadhramaut in the Yemen. The so called Zanzibar sa'if, while unclear if actually produced in Zanzibar were indeed destined for Yemen, so it would appear these hilts may have been produced at several locations, while it remains certain that they were present throughout the Arab trade sphere.


All best regards,
Jim
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Old 1st August 2011, 05:32 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Louis-Pierre,
Its great to have you posting on this! and your work on these sa'if has been one of my best resources for research. It has been a long time ago, but represents some of the best research compiled on these swords to date outside the standard references, i.e. Elgood and Buttin.

I agree that this example with stout, short blade of hanger/cutlass type blade would suggest maritime use as you have well pointed out. The hilt form is really interesting and seems to derive, or at least compare to quillon arrangements and in degree, hilt styles of North Italy as early as the end of the 16th century. The earliest example of this style hilt seems to be found in a sword of stated North African style from the period of Murid III (1574-95), well placing it in the Ottoman sphere ("The Silver Dragon and the Golden Fish", David Alexander, p.235, fig. 7).

As appears in Buttin ("Catalogue de la Collection d'Armes: Europiennes et Orientales of Charles Buttin", 1933, #1004) the exact hilt style and motif is seen as well as apparantly in ivory, shown as 'Arab, 17th century". The interesting highly stylized and blockish quillon terminals are also present.

It appears that this hilt style must have become highly favored and like many ethnographic hilt forms, perpetuated over long periods. Even in cases where other hilt forms intercede, often revivalist inclinations result in returning to the much revered old styles. This makes it difficult of course in establishing reliable chronological development patterns in many of these sword forms.

The term nim'sha, as has often been pointed out, by its alluded etymology to an Arabic term referring to 'short sword', has often, actually most typically, been misapplied to most of these sa'if from the Maghrebi versions to many of these hilt forms which have full size blades, yet still called 'nimsha'. It seems that the term itself, like many of the terms referring to many sword forms (katar, kaskara, kilij, tulwar, paluouar et al) falls into the colloquial 'collectors' glossary, in which they have apparantly been derived from unclear misinterpretations or broad assumptions. Some of these seem purely contrived, such as with the fanciful term 'scimitar' which appears more the product of literary convention than any reliable etymology.

Returning to this sword, the reference to it being of Zanzibar production brings it in parallel to the familiar sa'ifs of similar hilt form, but with the extended 'D' type ring projecting from the crossguard, presents an interesting conundrum. I have yet been unable to find any reference that unequivocally designates these sa'if with open ringed crossguard extensions or traverse bar to Zanzibar. I have only heard this conjecturally aside from in "Islamic Weapons:Maghreb to Moghul" (A. Tirri, 2003) in which Tirri claims on p.79, "...in Zanzibar, documentary evidence identifies an extensive edged weapon manufacturing center during the 19th and early 20th centuries".
In the Buttin catalog (op. cit. examples 996-1004) of the entire array of these ringed guard sa'ifs are designated as "Arab' and to the 17th and 18th centuries. It is clearly noted that thier characteristic rings also derived from North Italian hilt systems.

Unfortunately Mr. Tirri does not cite the source for the 'documentary evidence' which would have been most helpful. Another dilemma involving 'Zanzibar' weapons are the 'H' shaped (baselard form) short swords termed 'Zanzibar swords' , which designation derives from Sir Richard Burton's 1885 "Book of the Sword". In this case Burton (p.166, fig.183) actually perpetuated an original error in Auguste Demmens 1877 reference where he misidentifies the weapon as a Zanzibar weapon (p.416, #100). Charles Buttin (op.cit, p.270) cites this error in detail, and clarifies that the weapon is in reality the Moroccan form known as s'boula and these seem to have traversed the trade routes via Sekkin and into Zanzibar.

The diffusion of these weapon forms through these trade routes, both maritime as well as trans-Saharan caravans in indisputable. The broad identification as 'Arab' is probably most applicable in most cases where sound provenance is not attainable in my opinion.

I would very much like to know if anyone knows of any documented evidence assigning the ring hilted sa'if form to Zanzibar in specific, and to thier production there. In the case of Muscat (this coastal region of Oman was the actual trade operation), thier connection to thier Sultanate in Zanzibar offers more tangible assessment of 'Zanzibar' to this cutlass as it is hard to say which location actually produced the weapons...both were ports of call receiving large quantities of trade blades.

As earlier mentioned, there are potential cases for Hyderabad in India, via the Malabar trade route also plied by these dhows. These type hilts are known in India as well, in what degree unclear, but it is known that here swords were produced for Hadhramaut in the Yemen. The so called Zanzibar sa'if, while unclear if actually produced in Zanzibar were indeed destined for Yemen, so it would appear these hilts may have been produced at several locations, while it remains certain that they were present throughout the Arab trade sphere.


All best regards,
Jim

Dear Jim ,
for your excellent explanations to illustrate
here is a copy of Buttin.
Thanks
Kurt
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Old 1st August 2011, 05:46 PM   #27
Jim McDougall
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Thank you very much Kurt, and thank you for posting this wonderful example!
It has been a great opportunity to revisit research on these interesting swords and to write on the history associated with them.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 2nd August 2011, 06:10 AM   #28
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Hi Abdullatif,

Thanks for your remark.
You are right for the translation of HALF by NSFR in classic Arabic (called so in the Maghreb). Same for the word SWORD that is SAF SIF in classic arab.

But as you know, the Moroccan Arab (called Darija) is the spoken language by the Moroccans including the Berber populations. It belongs to the group of the dialects from the Maghreb, with the Algerians and the Tunisians.

Inspired widely by classic Arabic, the Moroccan Arab is the dialect from the Maghreb most strongly influenced by the Berber language. It was also influenced by French and Spanish and to a lesser extent by the languages of Black Africa, Portuguese, Italian and English.

There are real differences of vocabulary and grammar between Maghrebin and Classic Arab. That is why in schools and especially universities of the Maghreb, the courses of classic or literary Arabic are driven by Syrian or Egyptian professors. It is pure Arabic.

NIMCHA is the national sabre of Moroccan. It has not an european origin. We were a lot to think that this word was doubtless a Moroccan local word with maybe a Berber origin ( tamazight ).

It is not and i just received an answer from Faysal (International Forum: http://help.berberber.com).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I find that on this website:

- [] - 3 -

النِّيمَجَاه‏

كَلِمَةٌ فَارِسِيَّةٌ مُرَكَّبَةٌ مِن " نِيم " بِمَعنَى : نِصفٍ و " جَه " وَهِيَ عَلَامَةُ تَصغِيرٍ فَمَعنَاهَا الحَرفِيُّ: " النُّصَيفُ " وَهِيَ فِي
اَلفَارِسِيَّةِ اِسمٌ لِنَوعٍ مِن اَلسُّيُوفِ وَلِبُندُقِيَّةٍ قَصِيرَةٍ وَاستَعمَلَهَا اَلعَرَبُ بِمَعنَى اَلسَّيفِ فَقَط وَقَد وَرَدَت بِدُونِ يَاءٍ وَكَذَا قُلِبَت اَلجِيمُ
شِينًا فَأَصبَحَت : " النِّمشَاه ‏
Al-Nimjah, Also Al-Nimshah : A short saber

Translation:

النِّيمَجَاه‏ Al-Nimjah is a persian word composed of "نيم", meaning HALF and "Jah" " چه" a diminutive. The word "nimjah" "نيمچاه " means litteraly "Little Half" ! The word in persian means little saber or little gun, but the arabians used it only to mean a saber et they deleted ي of نيم and replaced the چ of چه by ش : the word became : Al-Nimshah النِّمشَاه .

In the near and middle Arabic world, it's called SAF, term of the Semitic languages (Aramaic) common to Arabic (indicating a curved blade) and in the Hebrew (indicating a straight blade).

With my best regards.
Louis-Pierre

Last edited by LPCA : 2nd August 2011 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 04:29 PM   #29
Jim McDougall
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Thanks Louis-Pierre, excellent information clarifying more on the probable etymology and application of this elusive term. There are so many of these kinds of anomalies among 'collectors terms' in ethnographic weapons it would be great if we could accomplish this kind of detail on some of the others.
In most cases they have become so firmly established in published material and colloquial use that it seems almost counterproductive to try to change at this point. Usually I try to use the proper term sa'if and 'nimcha' in parentheses.
This brings to mind also the 'Zanzibar' term for the forms of these sa'if which typically have transverse loop extending from crossguard over blade (sometimes termed 'D' guards) similar to the loops seen on many Italian storta and rapiers. I have not been able to find any reference or substantiation that assigns these specifically to 'Zanzibar' aside from the incited and allegedly 'documented' use of the classification in Tirri ("Islamic Arms: Mahreb to Moghul).
I agree with your more correct classification as 'Arab' in your work, which aligns with the term used by Buttin in his references.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 4th August 2011, 08:45 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
I agree with Lofty.....Moroccan hilt style. The "Zanzibari" style has a D shaped "guard" at the extremity of the quillons.


Known in Latin as an annoe (spellings various) or ring.
These are not universal to the Eastern type, but occasional to it.
IMHO much more diagnostic is the shape of the quillion block and of the quillons themselves.
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