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Old 20th October 2011, 10:00 PM   #1
Iain
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Default Some period photos of African 'knights'

EDIT: The system managed to mess up the order of my image attachments. Should be fine now.

I've had these archived on my computer for a while. Following Vandoo's call to arms... I may as well post them and hope some folks find them interesting even if you've seen a few before.

The first photo is of Bornu body guards for the Shehu (or ruler) of the Dikwa Bornu Emirate in Nigeria. The Shehu at the time would be Sanda Kyarimi, and the photo should then be from around 1917 to 1920s. This role was extremely important socially.

Riders all wear Yan Lifida (quilted armour although this is the Hausa term, not sure what it is in Kanuri as I only have a note for their term for maille).

Riders all have kwalkwali (helms, again a Hausa term the Kanuri term might be a variation of jaba) with what are likely brass headpieces. The decorative tops should be ostrich feathers.

The rider on the left carries a wide bladed takouba - the hilt appears leather covered. Much like this example from my own collection: http://takouba.org/takouba09

The rider in the center with a visible sword, carries a brass hilted takouba, it is difficult to make out the blade profile.

These men are bodyguards to the Shehu, the cream of the crop in terms of the cavalry, I would expect them to carry weapons with heritage and quality. In particular the carriage of a wide blade takouba, helps support my belief these swords were valued in Hausa and it appears also Bornu society. There seem to be less of them and they are usually well made.

Second photo is of a Hausa man from 1899 or 1900 carrying a wideblade as well, so we know the style is more than pre 1900.

Third photo is a potrait of a Dikwa (one of the remnant states of the Bornu empire) sheshu taken under German colonialism - Shehu Sanda Mandara (note the last name and geographical location of Dikwa for those with regional interests...). The photo should date somewhere between 1902-1917. Closer inspection of his takouba reveals a flatter pommel which seems similar to this sword of mine (although there is possibly a leather covered guard in the photo) http://takouba.org/takouba13/. He's missing the chap on his scabbard which is a bit surprising for a ruler!

The fourth photo is of cavalry from Mali, not sure where exactly as it wasn't in my notes but quite possibly Hausa cavalry. Notice how similar the look is to the Bornu cavalry. The yan lifida armour and the kwalkwali, the takoubas visible are wide bladed and can be termed fatefate takobi.

The fifth photo is of riders from Cameroon. Again not sure exactly where. There is some level of heavy cloth, although the construction is different from the Hausa or Bornu style of padded armour. A variation of the helms with ostrich feathers is also visible. Large typical lance but no swords in visible.

The sixth photo is from somewhere in what was termed the 'French Sudan'. Unfortunately a small picture we can however see the cavalry in armour, a large lance on the right hand side and a man in a Fulani style hat on the left.

That's all the attachments I can get into one post. Hopefully of interest to some. I can add some photos of other things from the general region like fortifications, cities etc if there's any interest.
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Last edited by Iain : 20th October 2011 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 20th October 2011, 11:06 PM   #2
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Very beautiful stuff! thanks for sharing, Iain :-)
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Old 21st October 2011, 01:20 AM   #3
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This is GOLD Iain, thank you for sharing....the large headed spear seen in the hands of the knight of the rearing horse looks awesome too!!!

Gav
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Old 21st October 2011, 03:57 AM   #4
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Glad you guys enjoyed it.

The spears are rather nice. Something I have yet to add to my collections.

Anyways as the first photos proved popular I may as well post a few more. I've got a bit of time tonight, a whisky in hand and leafing through the old is proving surprisingly enjoyable!

I turned up some interesting tidbits I'd jotted down while reading Boyd Alexander's "From the Niger to the Nile" and "Last Journey".

The shafts on these spears should be made often from tree roots and are thus quite light.

Even more interesting is a bit about the padded armor. Repeatedly it is referred to as arrow proof (which is why fire arrows got popular and these poor chaps had buckets of water on hand to put out the fires!) but seems like it was also of some effect against spears. One local ruler (the kachella of Yo) is noted to have received 8 spear thrusts and while seriously wounded survived. It was the belief of the Europeans that the thick padded armour probably saved his life.

So to keep the photos flowing, a few shots from both of Alexander's expeditions. All ranging from 1904-1910 in terms of dating.

First is a review of troops at Dikwa, nice sense of scale with the city wall visible. EDIT for some reason it's messing up photo order again, this one is at the bottom of the page

Second is a party from Abechir.

Third is the kachella (a title denoting a slave but one with a military leadership, slaves were often highly trusted in Sahel society) of Konduga, in the far north of Nigeria. Note the staff of office.

Fourth is a Dikwa rider wearing maille and with a long lance.

Fifth is an odd picture of a man wearing armor taken from Tuaregs. Alexander wrongly believed it to be relics of the Crusades. This sort of thing mainly filtered into the Sahel via Egypt. Being ideally placed in the desert to profit from this trade the Tuareg should have had decent access to whatever came into the Sahel via this route.

Finally a taste of some other native armor... this is an iron cuirass from Bornu that was auctioned in this past year - sadly not to me!
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Old 21st October 2011, 09:26 AM   #5
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Iain, very interesting photos - keep them coming...
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Old 21st October 2011, 11:14 PM   #6
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Glad you enjoyed them Colin.

Few more for the evening...

First the palace at Dikwa. Built by the infamous Rabeh Ibn Fade-Allah.

Second another view of the palace.

Third some Tuaregs at Zinder also circa 1916. More about that city in a sec.

Fourth, the main gate at Zinder. A rather interesting city famed for local weapons production, swords, spears and even cannon! Photo from 1916.

Fifth some more Dikwa cavalry doing a mock charge. This should also be an early 1900s photo.

Sixth another view of Sanda Mandara on his horse - he appears quite young so I'm assuming the image was shot sometime between 1917 when he took the throne and maybe 1920?
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Old 22nd October 2011, 12:32 AM   #7
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Iain, thank you for the photos. Your passion for the knights of the Savannah and their takoubas is contagious and I appreciate all the work you have done on shedding some light on the arms and armor of Western Africa. It is nice to visualize the warriors that Smaldone writes about.

Teodor
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Old 22nd October 2011, 08:42 AM   #8
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Many thanks Ian to share your material and knowledge. This is water for thirsty people !! I was impressed by all photos but regarding the swords from the 1st one is quite interesting . In fact, in that image a classical takouba, the one you call brass hilted takouba with a blade with almost simmetrical sides, is used together a large triangular blade, the wide bladed takouba, that I would have attributed to the Nupe. In this photo it seems that the latter one is used by an higher rank man. Any comment is welcome.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 09:16 AM   #9
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After a search I can add this image, if of any use...
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Old 22nd October 2011, 10:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauro
Many thanks Ian to share your material and knowledge. This is water for thirsty people !! I was impressed by all photos but regarding the swords from the 1st one is quite interesting . In fact, in that image a classical takouba, the one you call brass hilted takouba with a blade with almost simmetrical sides, is used together a large triangular blade, the wide bladed takouba, that I would have attributed to the Nupe. In this photo it seems that the latter one is used by an higher rank man. Any comment is welcome.


Hi Mauro, glad you are enjoying the photos. The wide blade takoubas are find among the Nupe but also the Hausa. The two cultures had some similarities (and a lot of wars!).

I would not say the brass hilted takouba is carried by a man with higher rank - in this photo they should all be the same rank. The position of body guard was often occupied by slave soldiers as they were considered reliable. So I don't think we can say much about the differences in these two swords from rank of the men.

My personal theory is that the wide blades are an older native form (not European trade blade copy), the symmetrical sword in this picture is very likely a European blade with one central fuller.


Colin,

Great photo! Interesting to note the use of a musket. Also on the one rider we can clearly see a telek hilt. I will try to dig up some more Tuareg photos as well this weekend.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 10:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Iain, thank you for the photos. Your passion for the knights of the Savannah and their takoubas is contagious and I appreciate all the work you have done on shedding some light on the arms and armor of Western Africa. It is nice to visualize the warriors that Smaldone writes about.

Teodor


Hi Teodor, many thanks for your kind words. It's comments like these that make it so enjoyable and rewarding to participate on these forums.

I have a fascination with photography from this period and we are particularly lucky that photographers were able to accurately capture images of cultures that had changed very little in hundreds of years. Truly a chance to look back in time!

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 22nd October 2011, 11:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
After a search I can add this image, if of any use...

Anyone notice the Pith helmet in the doorway and a native chap in the button up coat?

Gav
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Old 22nd October 2011, 12:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
Anyone notice the Pith helmet in the doorway and a native chap in the button up coat?

Gav


Hi Gav,

The photo likely dates from 1900-1920 or so, at which time Timbuku was under French Colonial administration. Native levies where common I believe and a French fort was established in the town from 1894 (I think that is the date, there was a fort and the French military arrived in 1894 so I'm assuming they established it rather quickly).

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 22nd October 2011, 02:00 PM   #14
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Iain, thank you and Colin for sharing this magnificent old photos. When I came to my office a while ago, I wanted to work (at least a little). The only "mistake" was I switched on vikingsword forum....

Do you think the photo of Dikwa rider with a long and thick lance may somewat clear up the origin of a steel spear-end piece, which I bought in Maroua 3 years ago ?? It is 115 cms long with a diameter at the outset around 4 cms - see the photo. (btw: That time it was possible to go by car from Maiduguri to Maroua - through Bama, which is a little bit more south from Dikwa - now it is warmly not recommended from the security reasons, so another peace of the Earth became unaccessible from this reasons...)

Concerning the Dikwa cavalry mock charge, I think it is a scene from the local Durbar festival, as the people standing infront of the riders are (dancing) women. (Now there is Durbar time again, I think it will e.g. take place in Kano from November 5 to 6)
Best regards
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Old 22nd October 2011, 02:27 PM   #15
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Hi Martin, glad you are also enjoying the photos. :-)

I think your spear butt is probably Bornu (or we can perhaps say Kanuri at least), it looks somewhat similar to the one in the photo. Very nice item! A pity the spear head did not come with it. I am still jealous you get to travel to such places!

I agree the other photo is probably from a Durbar. Durbars are usually held on Eid ul-Fitr and Eid-el Kabir. This year Eid-el Kabir occurs on November 6th. Unfortunately as you noted the security situation is very bad right now. In past years I remember even CNN doing some reports from Durbars... A pity, it is nice to see the riders still keeping the traditions alive - although the costumes now days are a bit more fancy!
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Old 22nd October 2011, 03:14 PM   #16
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I just can't say enough about the pics....thanks so much for sharing.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 04:39 PM   #17
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Thanks Charles!

Time for the next batch. A bit of an eclectic grouping this time.

EDIT: Photo order messed up again. Should be fairly obvious though from what's on the cards I hope.

First, a Tuareg attack posed for the camera.

Second Mandingo riders in the region of Segon (can't seem to find exactly where that is now).

Third heavy knights in padded armor in Niger. I believe this is originally from a 1926 National Geographic trip around Niamey.

Fourth, a truly excellent French Colonial image with French posing with foot soldiers with lances and mounted knights. Notice the Tuareg style hide shield. The men are from the Zarma, a Songhai people. They founded the Dosso kingdom in 1750 and led much of the resistance to the expanding power of Sokoto in the 1800s.

Fifth, an incredible image from the highland grasslands of Cameroon showing an un identified ethnic group (anyone have any clues based on the clothing? Maybe Tikar?). The one man is holding a brass hilted wide bladed takouba. These swords certainly got around!

Sixth, a Mossi warrior from the Hombori region.
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Last edited by Lew : 28th October 2011 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 25th October 2011, 07:53 PM   #18
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Hmm, I was hoping this thread would stay alive a little longer. May as well throw up a few pictures from the Sudan and Somalia. Probably familiar to most folks here already, but maybe a few are not.
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Old 28th October 2011, 03:34 PM   #19
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some photos also from my side.
1. This is an ald postcard but I do not know the age. The style is similar to the photos made during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia but this is coming from France. It could be the same age or even earlier.
2.Somalian warrior with a nice belawa
3.Touareg warrior with his shield and takouba
4.Tuareg warrior on a camel
5. An astonishing beautyfull Touareg girl. Simply a lovely photo !!
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Old 28th October 2011, 06:26 PM   #20
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I must admit I have remiss in not commenting on these magnificent photos Iain has shared here as from the outset I seem to have experienced the 'Stendahl thing'!!! (=Stendahls syndrome, being overwhelmed by exposure to overpowering doses of fantastic art).
It is amazing to experience the weapons and objects we study here effectively in 'real time', almost as if via time machine. Thank you Iain, and everybody here who has continued this most valuable thread. I honestly hope it keeps going, kinda like a movie you dont want to end

I find the mail armor of the Sudan interesting, and that so many observers from the time of these expeditions perceived much of it as 'from the crusades'. Hopefully they meant 'of the type' rather than actual remnants of that time. During the Mahdiyya there was a considerable number of coats of mail produced in Birmingham for the Khedive of Egypts forces. To the dismay of the Khedives 'iron men' the armor proved disastrous when hit by bullets and the rings shattered and greatly worsened the wounding power.

Regarding the quilted armor, it is interesting about the potential for fire from fire arrows, and carrying the water to douse flaming warriors. I had heard of this in the use of padded armor in the Spanish southwest as well.

Please keep this thread going guys!!!!

All the best,
Jim

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Old 28th October 2011, 07:03 PM   #21
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I just noted that the tuareg mounting a camel, and with his own takouba, was not uploaded. I also upload another tuareg group. I love these old photos !!
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Old 29th October 2011, 12:43 PM   #22
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Hi Mauro,

Great photos from Somalia!

Since we are already in East Africa we should probably have some Ethiopian warriors as well.

Thanks for the kind words Jim, I think we are very lucky to be interested in an area of collecting where photography managed to coexist for a while with period dress and weapons.
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Old 29th October 2011, 04:21 PM   #23
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I love Ethiopia and Somalia where I have been working and I hope to go back again. Here are some more photos of Hadendoa and Ethiopian warriors.
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Old 29th October 2011, 05:31 PM   #24
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There are interesting photos in the book "Ethiopia Photographed" by Pankhurst and Gerard
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Old 31st October 2011, 12:56 PM   #25
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There is a nice webpage where you can see some early photos of Peul riders as well as the Emir of Agadez. Unfortunately the images are very small.

http://www.vospiresamis.net/PAFpgEs...0Niger%201.html
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Old 7th January 2012, 01:37 PM   #26
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Some more images of Tuaregs I dug up off my hard drive. Notice the spears, teleks and most interesting for those of us who like costumes... the heavy furs worn by the warrior in one image!
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Old 11th March 2012, 06:22 PM   #27
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I am reviving this thread to add a most unusual image. A Andinna (a woman who enters spirtual trances among the Kunama people) sitting with a kaskara.

The image was found here, were you can read more about the Andinna.
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Old 13th March 2012, 12:02 PM   #28
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A few more interesting images. A 1883 photo of a Mahdist warrior.

Two images from inside the museum at Zinder, one showing the rarely seen short throwing darts and the second a Portuguese helmet.

Finally an image from the 1950s from the court in Katsina, the bodyguard of the emir (in the traditional red and green of Hausa court guards) has the tip of his scabbard showing with the usual long chap often seen on higher end Hausa swords.
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Old 13th March 2012, 01:06 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
a Portuguese helmet.
Hi Iain
may be more "Spanish comb morion" but doesn't matter
it was an helmet used during the 16th and early 17th centuries,
the morion, though generally identified with Spanish conquistadors,
was common among foot soldiers of European nationalities (several)
but more intriguing ... how this helmet reached the deep South Sahara
I suppose according with ; the native's dress, and environment, could be North Niger ...
spoils of war ? (razzia)(غزو)
item of trade ?
Thanks a lot for sharing with us these amazing postcards

ŕ +

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Old 13th March 2012, 01:11 PM   #30
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Hi Dom, I had it noted as Portuguese in my image files, probably was a caption on the image when I originally found it.

Actually Portuguese makes the most sense as they had established trade centers and commercial activity on the West African coast around the time these helmets were popular. Not such a long way then into Niger.
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