Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 17th December 2012, 12:16 AM   #1
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default A nimcha that was not.... :-)

Sometime ago, I saw a saber on e-bay that was advertised as Yemeni Nimcha. Since I am a complete sucker for those little and unsophisticated things, I looked and saw several features that were... welll... bizarre... To make the long story short, I got it. Not for a song, but for much less than a price of a dinner for 4 in a good steakhouse :-)

So, it came.
First thing that struck me was that the blade was of even width throughout, unlike Yemeni things that usually get wider toward the tip. Second, the simple incised decorations were vaguely familiar, but I could not place them other than to notice some european flavor. Also, they showed the Star of David ( well, that's my background; had I been a Muslim, I would have called it Seal of Suleiman:-)). And, even stranger, it had a very realistic picture of a bird. Well, AFAIK, no religious Muslim ( and there were unlikely many atheists or heathens in old Yemen:-)) would have put one on his sword!
And, third, the pommel was of the most unusual shape: not a Badawi one, leaning down, not a Persian one with the 90 degrees angle, and not a "Saudi" one, tilting upward. Instead, it looked like a rounded triangle.

Please see pics now.
Attached Images
     

Last edited by ariel : 17th December 2012 at 02:49 AM.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 12:35 AM   #2
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Then, I went to the books.

And, in a Hungarian book by Kovacs S. Tibor ( Hungarians are strange peiople: they put their first name last. Anywhere else in the world the author would have been known as Tibor S. Kovacs, G-d bless him:-)) "Huszarfegyverek a 15-17, szazadban" ( Hussar Weapons of 15-17th century), I found a very similar one, with the same pommel, dated to the 17th century, and even a 1560 gravure of Gyorgy Thury, " the Hungarian El Cid" carrying a very similar one!
So, even if I did not get a Yemeni nimcha, I might have landed a significantly more intriguing find.

I am very happy, but want to exercise a healthy degree of caution and ask you for your opinions. Where did I go wrong ( hopefully, you will not find a flaw:-))?
Attached Images
  
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 05:04 AM   #3
TribalBlades
Member
 
TribalBlades's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 33
Default

those drawings on the blade look like mere scribbles, possibly by the owner. they dont look professionally incised.
TribalBlades is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 09:49 AM   #4
spiral
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,712
Default

Interesting sword, No idea on the hilt...

Sometimes Syrians put slighty better renderd Doves on the blades, sharks to on occasion.

Doves & sharks is that the light & dark sides of weapons?

Spiral
spiral is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 11:00 AM   #5
A.alnakkas
Member
 
A.alnakkas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Kuwait
Posts: 1,203
Default

I was watching this one.

The hilt looks identical to the ones coming out of Iraq. I have several come my way with wootz blades. The pattern seems that Iraqi's would have diff styles but rarely (if ever) cover the pommel.

Lotfy
A.alnakkas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 04:16 PM   #6
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Attached is a pic of the so-called Transylvanian Knot, a magical/talismanic mark on Hungarian blades XVI-XVIII centuries. There were several variants, see lower right and left.

Would love to see Syrian/Iraqi examples.
Attached Images
 
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 05:19 PM   #7
spiral
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,712
Default

Sure Ariel...

Heres a poor dove on a Shibrya, {not mine.} {Dated 1942.} {photo at bottom, of all others....

& A shark {or tuna? } that is...

Top one in this photo.








Dated 1940.

Seem to recall seeing one on this forum on A Yemini Jambiya as well?

Spiral
Attached Images
 
spiral is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 05:27 PM   #8
A.alnakkas
Member
 
A.alnakkas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Kuwait
Posts: 1,203
Default

Hey Ariel,

Check these:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=16202

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=15313

All of these came from Iraq. There was others aswell, one with a hilt very similar to yours but with a majari blade. It is sold now though.
A.alnakkas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 05:29 PM   #9
A.alnakkas
Member
 
A.alnakkas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Kuwait
Posts: 1,203
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Attached is a pic of the so-called Transylvanian Knot, a magical/talismanic mark on Hungarian blades XVI-XVIII centuries. There were several variants, see lower right and left.

Would love to see Syrian/Iraqi examples.


The blade inscription is very poorly done, I expect someone tried to imitate majari blades :P
A.alnakkas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th December 2012, 06:23 PM   #10
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Wow! Ariel,
I think you have hit on something here! at least it has revealed something to me that has been a mystery for well over thirty years! I once acquired what was listed as an 18th century Hungarian Hussars sabre from a well known and somewhat notorious dealer. It had no scabbard and a somewhat damaged pistol grip Ottoman style with narrow crossguard quillons. The blade was virtually like this one, but most importantly there were engraved banner type devices with words like those described in the 'Transylvanian knot'....something I quite honestly have not been aware of.

Years later, I had become aware this was likely not Hungarian at all, but Arabian, and probably among the array of sabres used by various Bedouin tribes over vast regional probabilities. Reading Elgood, again years after that I realized that Hungarian blades had indeed often entered Arabia and presumed that was likely the case through various Ottoman entrepots.
What was always a mystery was what in the world were the strange words with those distinct 'z's , a maker, a motto?
Eventually in a transaction with another dealer I traded this away and quite clearly for 'a song' compared to what it cost me and now, even more clearly, it was more intrinsically valuable than I thought. He had minimized the wording and devices as 'jibberish' and insignificant, completely indecipherable.

This moment in reading this I realize those blade markings are exactly what you describe as the 'Transylanian knot', and something extremely important to me with my fascination in blade markings.

With the sword you have posted, the markings are clearly 'field' type ersatz markings applied to a refurbished sword in any number of circumstances in the long working lives of these Arabian sabres. It would appear to me that the stylized beaked birdhead hilt is compellingly like this early Hungarian form, and quite possibly an example of early components with added crossguard to the original blade, maybe even the hilt. I would be inclined to think that the hilt form, although shown as 17th century probably remained traditionally used well through the 18th c. in Hungary and environs. It certainly presents tempting associations worthy of further research.

I'd like to know more on this 'Transylvanian knot' for my own purposes on blade markings, and what sort of talismanic use etc. I know it doesnt necessarily apply to this blade overall, but the link to the sabre I owned years ago seems in accord with this example.

Outstanding example and keen observations, thank you!

All the best,
Jim

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 17th December 2012 at 10:31 PM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2012, 06:10 PM   #11
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Member
 
Ibrahiim al Balooshi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
Posts: 3,985
Send a message via MSN to Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Attached is a pic of the so-called Transylvanian Knot, a magical/talismanic mark on Hungarian blades XVI-XVIII centuries. There were several variants, see lower right and left.

Would love to see Syrian/Iraqi examples.


Salaams Ariel ~ Are the inscriptions linked to Hungarian mythology? I looked at Hungarian Mythology and saw various clues;

Turul (animal) The great bird resembling to a falcon that was sent forth by Isten to guide the creation and destiny of the Magyar people. The first kings after St Stephen I. were the hereditiary of Turul ("Turul nemzetség")

Griff (animal) Also known as griffin in Western Europe, but without special features. In Hungarian mythology, it is similar to turul. Featuring in some fairy tales (like Fehérlófia, The son of the white horse), it is a cruel, greedy bird eating humans, but its the only way to get back from Under World to Middle World.

The inscribed bird looks a Hungarian Partridge but could be amongst any of the 373 Hungarian bird species..

This is very interesting since this could be the source of the beak shaped (Falcon Head) Arabian/ Red Sea styles.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2012, 08:02 PM   #12
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Ariel ~ Are the inscriptions linked to Hungarian mythology? I looked at Hungarian Mythology and saw various clues;

Turul (animal) The great bird resembling to a falcon that was sent forth by Isten to guide the creation and destiny of the Magyar people. The first kings after St Stephen I. were the hereditiary of Turul ("Turul nemzetség")

Griff (animal) Also known as griffin in Western Europe, but without special features. In Hungarian mythology, it is similar to turul. Featuring in some fairy tales (like Fehérlófia, The son of the white horse), it is a cruel, greedy bird eating humans, but its the only way to get back from Under World to Middle World.

The inscribed bird looks a Hungarian Partridge but could be amongst any of the 373 Hungarian bird species..

This is very interesting since this could be the source of the beak shaped (Falcon Head) Arabian/ Red Sea styles.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.



Thank you so much Ibrahiim!
Your tenacity and skill at research is remarkable! and these are excellent clues toward some of these interesting markings and invocations on Hungarian blades as well as the distinct birds beak pommel. It seems to me that in Arabia falcons are very important, and it is interesting to see the 'turul' you found information on.
I still want to discover more on the 'Transylvanian knot' and would like to get that over to the Trademarks thread once we have some better footing on detail.

All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2012, 08:08 PM   #13
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
The blade inscription is very poorly done, I expect someone tried to imitate majari blades :P


I agree Lofty, it is most interesting to see that they had placed enough importance on the apparant early devices and motifs to consider duplicating them rather than applying thier own. This would suggest that Hungarian swords may have been there in trade as early as 17th century, perhaps later, but whatever the case, the prototype influences seem apparent.

All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2012, 09:36 PM   #14
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Wrong post
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2012, 11:34 PM   #15
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Wrong post

Guess so.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2012, 12:23 PM   #16
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Sorry for the confusion:-((

Now, the real stuff.
The Shibriya from Artzi Yarom's collection bears the engraved picture of a bird-like creature. This is eerily reminescent of the Transylvanian Knot motif.
The TK motif was very popular on Caucasian, more precisely old Circassian blades. They were mostly imitation and re-interpretations of the decorations seen on the imported Hungarian blades. Examples of real and Circassian-interpreted renditions are seen in the book of Astvatsaturyan on Caucasian weapons.

Circassians were forcibly exiled by the Russians in the 1860s. They went to the Ottoman Empire and were resettled in the Turkey proper, but mainly at the remote areas of the Ottoman Empire: Balkans, Syria, as well as what is now Israel and Jordan. The future capital of Jordan, Amman, was in fact a Shapsugh town, and there are Circassian villages in Israel - Rehaniya and Kfar Kama.
They still carry their old weapons and manufacture new ones with their ancient Circassian motives. The shibriya in Spiral's pic, - the one with niello, - has classic Circassian decorative motives, too: sparse geometric figures of bull horns.
I am wondering whether the shibriya shown here is one of those examples, and the "bird" is a remnant of the old Transylvanian Knot: Hungary to the Caucasus, to Israel, - a long and tortuous trek...
Here is a pic of Circassian men in Kfar Kama.
Attached Images
 
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2012, 01:28 PM   #17
spiral
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,712
Default

Intersting theory Ariel, possible as well!

If its not to much of a side track, I wonder if theres any possible historic connection to the fish symbol?

Spiral
spiral is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2012, 01:46 PM   #18
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Thanks very much Ariel for elaborating on this. I wish I had Emma's book at hand, but I was not among those brought with me in the bookmobile.
I think your interpretations from her books have been one of the vital denominators here in better understanding these Caucasian weapons and thier often key influences in so many other regions.

The illustration plate from Kovac's book is most telling, and as I mentioned I had never heard of the 'Transylvanian knot'. As I understand the curious sigil type device on the left and the unidentified and presumably bird figure at bottom are elements of the 'TK'. What I am wondering is how the bird figures in, and what the term itself applies to. It seems like most talismanically applied devices or images have some sort of history or traditional origin.
I am wondering if perhaps the 'TK' term derives from the often colorful and mysterious terms used in Caucasian parlance to describe these adopted markings and symbols, such as the 'gurda', 'ters maymal' and kaldam?

Are the words or terms inscribed in the bannerlike motif in that same plate, but above the images described included collectively in the 'TK' term, or are they simply included in the plate as markings? I am wondering what these words signify, makers name or an invocation?

I know very inquisitive, but you happen to not only have these references, but the language skills and contacts pertinant in using them. I would be most grateful for your further perspective on this questions, as I mentioned the one regarding those inscribed words having been perplexing for years in my ever open cases

All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2012, 05:47 PM   #19
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Dear Jim,
AFAIK, the locals put either a single mark on their blade, or the entire panoply: eg, Gorda + something else, Gorda and "little bees" ( stars, essentially), TK and Vivat Hussar or Virgo Maria, Patrona Hungariae ( misspelled, as a rule). It was a marketing tool, not different from any other culture.


Dear Spiral,
Never seen or heard of a fish on Caucasian blades. Old Mamluk swords apparently often had a fish as a handle fitting, but that's too far away and long gone:-)
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2012, 07:16 PM   #20
spiral
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,712
Default

Thank you Ariel. One to ponder...

Spiral
spiral is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2012, 03:22 AM   #21
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Thanks very much Ariel. It does seem of course that certain marks and symbolic motif were often used collectively to allude to blade quality and talismanic imbuement.
What I am wondering is where in the world did the 'Transylvanian knot' term come from, who used it , and what did that mean? Was the illustration plate you showed from the Kovacs book?
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2012, 12:19 PM   #22
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Jim,
The only source I was able to find for the Transylvanian Knot term is the Astvatsaturyan's book.
She doesn' dwell on it, but just mentions in a single paragraph that it was a "white magic" symbol consisting of 3 knots and an undecipherable latin inscription in the middle ( see the Post #6, it is the upper row on the left). She mentions without reference ( shouldn't we all know such obvious things?:-) that the blades were made in Transylvania, 17-18th century and were of excellent quality and gave a beautiful ring when flicked. They were very popular in Circassia and fakes were abound ( see same post, lower row). That's it. End of quote and story. I will inquire further re. potentially Circassian source.

In a larger vein, I was very impressed by the supposedly Iraqi sword shown by Lotfi. Indeed, a very similar configuration of the pommel. Together with the obviously "homemade" decorations, and faked "Transylvanian Knot" motives, it makes the genuinely Hungarian source less likely.

Thanks to all for all the help and thoughts. Sometimes, sharp and pointy things present a genuine mystery and there is a need for several heads :-) to solve the puzzle.
Please continue adding your thoughts!


Happy Holidays!

Last edited by ariel : 21st December 2012 at 12:35 PM.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2012, 02:36 PM   #23
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Ariel, thank you so much for that added detail! I was thinking that the Astavatsaturyan book might be the source. It is frustrating that often authors will pop in these little tidbits as if they should be common knowledge. The language barrier for many of us is enough to impede the subtle nuances in such text, let alone cultural semantics and colloquial terms.
I think your observations on the lessening of actual Hungarian provenance due to the character of the Iraqi example, and the imitation of these original features. This is pretty much the same kind of situation encountered with virtually all types of markings and motif, like with the 'Passau wolf'; the 'sickle marks' and so many others.
I really appreciate your sharing and insight into this, and look forward to anything further you might find through your contacts.
Great stuff Ariel!

All the very best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2012, 12:43 PM   #24
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

A colleague from the Russian Forum kindly provided a picture of an old Transylvanian blade ( Hungarian hunting sword) with their magical signs. He suggested that the Seal of Suleiman on my blade is apparently a primitively-drawn motif of the " white magic" symbol.
Attached Images
  
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd December 2012, 12:02 PM   #25
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685
Default

Hi Ariel,
Thank you for posting these additional images, and that information. I was just reading another post by Vaho on his article on the Khevsurian 'dashna' and just now realized how closely some of these 'white magic' geometrics and images might be found in that context as well.
It seems in Askhabov ("Chechen Arms") some of these curious 'looped' corner devices are seen on some of the blades and I wonder if these could derive from the Hungarian blades which entered Caucasian areas.

In looking at this sabre in your original post it is tempting to note how closely the blades and sabres in Arabian context are to some of the Khevsurian sabres in thier rugged nature and the clearly established Hungarian denominator in blades, as well as perhaps some hilt features.
It is sometimes hard to imagine the complexity of trade and cultural diffusion between areas not typically thought of as directly connected.

All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th December 2012, 03:06 PM   #26
A.alnakkas
Member
 
A.alnakkas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Kuwait
Posts: 1,203
Default

A.alnakkas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th December 2012, 07:57 PM   #27
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,981
Default

Thank, Lotfi!
When in doubt, look over Artzi's collection:-)
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 02:01 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.