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Old 8th October 2012, 07:18 PM   #1
Iain
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Default Very odd Sudanese sword for discussion

This finished recently at Christies, fetching an enormous sum well above the estimate.

It is a very unusual sword with odd finials on the pommel and guard, which if removed, would resemble very closely a viking style hilt.

Description from Christies as follows:
Quote:
A LONG SWORD IN THE NAME OF MUHAMMAD AL-MAHDI
SUDAN, 19TH CENTURY
With straight blade inscribed in loose naskh script with the Profession of Faith and the name of the Sudanese leader Muhammad al-Mahdi (La Illah allah Muhammad Rasul All Nasr min allah wa Fath Qarib Muhammad al-Mahdi Khalifa Rasul Allah "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is his Prophet, help from Allah and present Victory"), one side engraved with a lion within a roundel and pseudo-calligraphic medallions, the hilt with an engraved lattice of quatrefoils, the leather sheath with cowry tassels
43žin. (111cm.) long


I am having trouble extracting a large image from the Christie's website, but here's the link.
http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/...3f-80e8fe6fde47

It is completely unlike the kaskara of the region and not particularly resembling anything else I can think off. There is perhaps a slight resemblance to the hilt in this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12979
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Old 8th October 2012, 08:40 PM   #2
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This is a very lovely piece. Imho, it could be similar to Rsword's type but with abit of added creativity? :-) it belonged to the same person so it seems.
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Old 8th October 2012, 09:17 PM   #3
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This is the highest res image I can upload directly.
Very interesting sword. The blade seems to have dimensions and shape typical of the kaskara trade blades, but of course the inscription is very interesting. The highly decorated and oddly styled hilt is extremely unusual to say the least. I'm having a little difficulty fitting the inscription and the rich hilt together since richly decorated swords are not a general feature of that era as far as I'm aware - but pretty much anything is possible if it was a gift.
Shame we cannot see the other side. I asked Christies for more pictures, but they never came - maybe they knew I did not have 15,000 GBP to spend
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Old 8th October 2012, 09:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
This is a very lovely piece. Imho, it could be similar to Rsword's type but with abit of added creativity? :-) it belonged to the same person so it seems.


Hi Lofty,

Could well be another piece out of the Ali Dinar group. It could be something collected earlier than that as well (Dinar died in 1916).

My first thoughts when I saw it were the odd brass hilt kaskara like this one: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14711 Which seem to be presentation pieces.

However this item seems to have a very good blade and the brass looks better aged...

It is a bit odd to me the auction had no provenance attached, yet it reached such a price.

The oddest feature to me seems to be the spikes coming off the guard - has anyone seen anything similar?

EDIT: Thanks Chris for the higher resolution image! Very helpful. I had also requested more images from Christies but never received any. I particularly wanted to see the lion mark.
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Old 8th October 2012, 10:41 PM   #5
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Am I the only person who suspects a modern repro viking sword hilt, with the odd spikes added to make the piece look a little more genuine and "africanized"?

Teodor
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Old 8th October 2012, 10:41 PM   #6
Timo Nieminen
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My first thought was that it appears to be built from a sword like this one.

(There are some swords like this made in India that are much cheaper than the Del Tin one above.)
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Old 8th October 2012, 10:53 PM   #7
Norman McCormick
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Hi,
According to the Christie's catalogue, as I understand it, this item was part of a collection of Arms and Armour that belonged to Heinrich Schliemann. This sword was the last item of weaponry under that title i.e. 'Arms and Armour from the Collection of Heinrich Schliemann, the Discoverer of Troy'. Other items assigned to this collection were also in the same sale.
Regards,
Norman.

P.S. From Archeologist to Time Traveller.
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Old 8th October 2012, 10:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
My first thought was that it appears to be built from a sword like this one.

(There are some swords like this made in India that are much cheaper than the Del Tin one above.)



A very good point.
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Old 8th October 2012, 11:13 PM   #9
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Ouch! This does not look good....
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Old 8th October 2012, 11:20 PM   #10
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That certainly looks like the Del Tin hilt dressed up with a few little extra knobs. The decorative motif is identicle.
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Old 9th October 2012, 03:34 AM   #11
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I would say this is a composite sword. The scabbard has thin rings which indicates it was made post 1950 or so. The older scabbards had wide flattened rings. Looks like someone copied a Viking hilt and added some extra tidbits .
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Old 9th October 2012, 06:21 AM   #12
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Wow - a good example of why its worth keeping tabs on all the modern sword catalogues!

I suppose this is at least a new variant on kaskara blades in medieval hilts
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Old 9th October 2012, 07:37 AM   #13
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Thanks guys for all the comments and detective work. Certainly looks like Timo is spot on with the Del Tin hilt.

This is one of the reasons I wanted to post this here - something just felt off about it. I always get nervous when a one of a kind sword shows up that's supposedly genuine in a culture that stuck to a particular pattern pretty rigidly. I'd actually done a little photoshoped image without the knobs on this hilt to illustrate just how close, well now it appears identical, this was to a viking hilt. Obviously no need to post that now.

I guess this just goes to show the interest generated by thinking something is rare and unusual leads to some cloudy judgement and someone spending a lot of money for nothing - I am quite curious now where this ended up. The sad thing out of all this I think is that because Christie's sold it, it will probably knock around in the collecting world for quite a while longer as a genuine article.
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Old 9th October 2012, 09:41 AM   #14
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Would Christies be able to admit a mistake (if the knew about it) ?
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Old 9th October 2012, 10:23 AM   #15
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Inspiration?
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Old 9th October 2012, 11:54 AM   #16
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Well to be fair the christie's sword hilt looks hand made compared to the Del Tin one :P but its frightening to know there are such items going for alot of money!
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Old 9th October 2012, 03:08 PM   #17
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Hi,
What disturbs me most about this is the provenance now attached to this item. If enough "experts" quote previous sale history, well, we all know what tends to happen.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 9th October 2012, 06:38 PM   #18
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What Norman says rings most true, the sale catalogues of auctions as well as often highly regarded dealers are quite often cited as supporting sources for identifying and classifying weapons. The reason obviously is based on the presumption of reputation and constant exposure to many variants and anamolous examples which exceed the published resources typically referred to.

I find this most disturbing as I have always regarded this particular auction house as remarkably distinguished, and thier assessments quite accurate. It seems that in recent years with the dramatic changes in geoeconomic circumstances, there have been huge changes in arms collecting related more to investing than in bonified collecting. The prices being realized in some sales are in many cases beyond belief, and most disturbing is that many of the items involved are either overvalued or questionably assessed, with authenticity equally compromised.

Regarding this particular case my questions would be, first why would a Mahdist sword, particularly of this stature, be in the collection of Heinrich Schliemann? A German businessman who was during the time of the Mahdiyya involved in excavations in Hissarlik, Turkey, with the Ottomans clearly at odds with these movements in Sudan. It seems that Schliemann was himself at some odds with the Turkish government with his own circumstances, so unlikely this might have been something captured or taken, and somehow presented to him for some reason. He died in 1890, which would have precluded any addition to his collection at that point.

Aside from the provenance, in returning to the sword itself, it seems quite possible this might be an authentic blade, with the only concerns being with the described lion in roundel marking, which I presume to be the Lion of God symbol used on the Assad Adullah trade blades, typically on shamshir or sabre blades. I personally have never seen this kind of 'trade' marking on a broadsword blade.
The hilt is of course perplexing especially with the remarkable similarity to the Del Tin production, which seems to closely follow the Viking type hilt mentioned. The interesting projections from the crossguard recall similar seen on early Omani sa'if (proto-kattara) and it is of course impossible to say if this influence was in mind in producing this anomaly.

I must admit being disappointed at this outcome, as I had hoped for the possibility of an interesting variant to the typically seen kaskara and broadswords of the Sudan. Personally I would consider this situation with this particular auction as much an amomaly as the sword itself, as I have often been well served with the descriptions they have provided me over many years.
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Old 9th October 2012, 06:47 PM   #19
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I find it hard to believe even a silver hilted Kaskara being worth much more than a Ł1000. I have heard that the "market" is often prejudice and ignorant or at least bias and ill-informed which we see quite often with the commonest items finding high prices.
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Old 9th October 2012, 09:22 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Inspiration?


I think that the inspiration for the Del Tin is the sword shown on pages 44=45 of Ian Peirce, "Swords of the Viking Age", Boydell Press 2002. The sword is C1572, Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen. The hilt is bronze or brass over iron. There are some other metal hilted (i.e., with metal grip as will as metal pommel and guard) Viking swords known, often with silver or gold. This particular sword is nice for reproduction since brass is actually authentic (or close) rather than a substitute for gold.

The blade doesn't look like the Del Tin. But it does like like it might come from a modern repro. In particular, the blade past the fuller is diamond-section - I don't recall seeing this geometry on any authentic kaskara or kaskara0like sword. But it is very common on modern repros, since it's what you get when you start with a diamond section blade and cut a fuller into it. Usually, this makes a bad blade, since this means that the blade becomes thicker just where you want it to become thinner.

There are clones of the Del Tin, so if somebody doesn't want to invest Del Tin level money in a gamble like this, there might be alternatives. If it's a non-Del Tin, then the blade might be original to the hilt. On the side-by-side photos above, the edge of the Del Tin looks more rounded than the "antique".

I have a brass hilt a little like this. Undecorated sides - the pattern is only on the front and back, and the pommel is flatter front-to-back, included over the top, rather than rounded. Unfullered blade. But this one was at the cheap-and-nasty end of the scale, and there are probably others intermediate between this and the Del Tin. (This, or at least the blade, was intended as a pell sword, with the hilt perhaps to be recycled.)
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Old 10th October 2012, 08:25 AM   #21
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Flipping through an old sale catalogue, I found this - described as "a fine Spanish exhibition sword, in the style of the 15th century". Perhaps the inspiration for the hilt appendages....??
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Old 10th October 2012, 09:11 AM   #22
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the hilt looks like the indians took the fresh from the mold pieces and did not cut off the sprues, just flattened them a bit & added a few decorative lines.

you can fool some of the people ...
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Old 10th October 2012, 02:11 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi,
What disturbs me most about this is the provenance now attached to this item. If enough "experts" quote previous sale history, well, we all know what tends to happen.
Regards,
Norman.


I agree completely. The curious thing to me is, as Jim notes, how this ended up being collected by Heinrich Schliemann - if it even was? Very, very odd...
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Old 10th October 2012, 03:32 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Lubojacky
Would Christies be able to admit a mistake (if the knew about it) ?


Even if you notified them Christie's is under no obligation to inform the buyer. Read the sales contract. The buyer meanwhile has 5 years to challenge the authenticity of the piece, after which it would be very difficult for them to get their money back.

The auction catalogues are full of things of questionable authenticity...indeed in their defense, its impossible for the people who do this to be completely sure about every piece in a sale as most auction houses process so much material...and of such variety they simply can't keep a specialist on staff who happens to be up on the latest Del Tin creations.

So the bottom line is still caveat emptor and bollocks to you if you get taken in mate
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Old 19th October 2012, 04:01 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
This finished recently at Christies, fetching an enormous sum well above the estimate.

It is a very unusual sword with odd finials on the pommel and guard, which if removed, would resemble very closely a viking style hilt.

Description from Christies as follows:


I am having trouble extracting a large image from the Christie's website, but here's the link.
http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/...3f-80e8fe6fde47

It is completely unlike the kaskara of the region and not particularly resembling anything else I can think off. There is perhaps a slight resemblance to the hilt in this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12979


Salaams Iain, This is indeed a confusing issue. I only have one book on The Vikings so I had to turn to the web for details. There I discovered that they were marauding and trading in the Mediterranean between about 800 and 1000 AD. They even reached Baghdad. Perhaps their sword style migrated and was frozen in certain parts ...Its a long shot (from a longboat...ha ! ) It is not impossible for the Omani Battle Sword to have diffused or for designs other than the Omani style to have morphed from what I suggest was "from" the original blueprint seen at the Topkapi ... The Abbasid Sword.

Counter to that argument please see~ http://www.thisisgabes.com/images/s...aper_lowres.pdf where the geometry of Taureg artefacts is discussed in particular tentpoles and the majic square system where it becomes obvious that such sword hilt geometry could indeed be present.

On the other hand we may be looking at a total fake.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 19th October 2012 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 19th October 2012, 04:47 PM   #26
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Default Why Tauregs don't like touching Iron.

Salaams ~ Note to Library.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Note. Quote"Takoba From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Takoba (also takuba or takouba) is the sword that is used across the western Sahel and among ethnic groups such as the Tuareg, the Hausa, the Fulani. It usually measures about one meter. Takoba blades can exhibit several notable features, including three or more hand-ground fuller grooves and a rounded point. The word, takoba, is derived from Hausa takobi, but is also used among other peoples Tuareg and the Fulani. Takoba were also commonly manufactured in Hausa city states such as Kano.

Since the Tuareg have an aversion to touching iron, the takoba's handle, like many iron implements, is covered in bronze or other material.

There is much debate about whether the takoba was used only by the imúšaɣ or warrior class or whether it could be borne by vassals.
As with most crafted items used by the Tuareg, takoba are crafted by the ěnhćdʻćn (singular énhćdʻ) caste, who are of a different ethnicity from the imúšaɣ and speak Ténet, a secret language. The imúšaɣ believe that the ěnhćdʻćn have magical powers, which some theorize to be associated with their traditional roles as metalworkers and to the imúšaɣ aversion to both metalworking and touching iron". Unquote.
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Old 19th October 2012, 05:00 PM   #27
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Hi Ibrahiim, the sword in question is certainly not Tuareg.

By the way I really need to update my write up on Wikipedia
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Old 20th October 2012, 03:15 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim, the sword in question is certainly not Tuareg.

By the way I really need to update my write up on Wikipedia



Salaams ~ Aha ! Someone paid a lot of money for a ...fake! (they ought to have read your description first)...!

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 21st October 2012, 04:11 PM   #29
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Hi Ibrahiim, this may well be a case of something not being entirely a fake, but simple put together to please the buyer. There have been other ornate kaskara style swords to come out of the post Mahdist war period. One was discussed here a little while back and the particular lot also included some odd throwing knives that also looked to be imitations.

Odd stuff and nothing I'd want to collect - but obviously someone did!
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Old 15th March 2014, 11:03 PM   #30
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Default Strange Kaskara

Interesting thread and a fine guide to the potential buyers: Czerny's proposes this same "intersting Kaskara" on March, the 29th, 2014, extimation Euros 1000 to 1500 and they say it was sold on 2012 for Ł 12000 (Christie's auction details given) without expressing any doubt about its age and originality but without explaining as well why their extimation is so much lower..... what a bargain!
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