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Old 8th February 2013, 09:22 AM   #1
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default The Omani Sayf. ( The Omani Straight Dancing Sword)

Salaams all ~ This new thread re-introduces The Omani Straight Sayf noted for its long hilt(identical to the Kattara), flexible blade, spatulate tip and sharpened on both sides to honour the forefathers and the sword they went to war with (The Omani Battle Sword) In this case the sword though vicious looking and used in anger would certainly cause damage is not, nor has it ever been a fighting weapon. It is a pageantry sword only. It is used in the famous Funoon traditions in dancing and warlike parading and in a mimic fights between 2 contestants where the single winning point is won by touching the thumb with your blade of the opponents shield bearing hand (left hand) The sword like the Omani Battle Sword is used with a Buckler Shield (Terrs). They are hoisted by squadrons of men buzzing the blades with fast wrist action and often tossed high in the air and caught by the hilt. It is also used at important meetings of VIPS and at weddings, National Day celebrations and Eid festivities.
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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 8th February 2013, 10:34 AM   #2
Gavin Nugent
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I was too busy typing in the old thread to remember you started another;

Thank you Ibrahiim,

There is not enough 18th and 19th century evidence to consider the straight form as a dance sword only.

The sword was the high symbol of the warrior. I am still not convinced that by form alone, curved vs. straight that one is separated by use from the other, more so when they both share the same hilts and scabbard types and the straight ones are seen in much higher numbers than the sabres. And why do they all have a sharpened edge in straight form, not something required of a dance sword.
By design, I think it would have been personal choice of what type was wanted and I wouldn't be surprised if W. H. INGRAMS failed to note curved types in the dance fray too.
To consider this is only a dance sword, to me would be like saying Jian and Dao or double edged vs. singled edged Khanda hilted sword have separate purposes.

If I was to follow the thought that straight sword is dance only, I add, when considering the ratio of straight vs. curved types that there was very little adventuring being done by the Omani and they were too busy dancing, something history says is the opposite off.
Also, when the straight form pushed so far west in to Mandingo dress and dress of other regions, that the sword was used and displayed to these western cultures as weapons as I am sure they didn't just dance with them after being in touch with traders.

I again return to the original TVV thread that I would suggest your post in that thread in post #6 is a correct way of viewing this sword, fighting, with a shield. Do not mistake flexibility for weakness, but an advantage when used in this manner with the flexible sword for cutting and the shield for defense.
I think the W. H. INGRAMS notation in post #18 is not it's sole purpose of the sword but important a cultural observation of the time with a more common sword used in the dance observed, one that has continued today as a matter of ceremony and importance...in much the same way the revered Jian is both used for fighting and also a spiritual weapon in Taoist ceremony and dance. To dismiss the form alone in its national dress as a dance sword is not supported but each sword I would suggest be inspected under it's own merit.

Regards

Gavin
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Old 8th February 2013, 11:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by freebooter
I was too busy typing in the old thread to remember you started another;

Thank you Ibrahiim,

There is not enough 18th and 19th century evidence to consider the straight form as a dance sword only.

The sword was the high symbol of the warrior. I am still not convinced that by form alone, curved vs. straight that one is separated by use from the other, more so when they both share the same hilts and scabbard types and the straight ones are seen in much higher numbers than the sabres. And why do they all have a sharpened edge in straight form, not something required of a dance sword.
By design, I think it would have been personal choice of what type was wanted and I wouldn't be surprised if W. H. INGRAMS failed to note curved types in the dance fray too.
To consider this is only a dance sword, to me would be like saying Jian and Dao or double edged vs. singled edged Khanda hilted sword have separate purposes.

If I was to follow the thought that straight sword is dance only, I add, when considering the ratio of straight vs. curved types that there was very little adventuring being done by the Omani and they were too busy dancing, something history says is the opposite off.
Also, when the straight form pushed so far west in to Mandingo dress and dress of other regions, that the sword was used and displayed to these western cultures as weapons as I am sure they didn't just dance with them after being in touch with traders.

I again return to the original TVV thread that I would suggest your post in that thread in post #6 is a correct way of viewing this sword, fighting, with a shield. Do not mistake flexibility for weakness, but an advantage when used in this manner with the flexible sword for cutting and the shield for defense.
I think the W. H. INGRAMS notation in post #18 is not it's sole purpose of the sword but important a cultural observation of the time with a more common sword used in the dance observed, one that has continued today as a matter of ceremony and importance...in much the same way the revered Jian is both used for fighting and also a spiritual weapon in Taoist ceremony and dance. To dismiss the form alone in its national dress as a dance sword is not supported but each sword I would suggest be inspected under it's own merit.

Regards

Gavin



Salaams Gavin, I have been through much of the same on Kattara for comment but Im sure of my ground and that thread is full of proof however I will take your point up straightaway. First it is important to see the development of no swords in Oman since about 751 ad..and why? Techno freeze was not uncommon and this is seen in the use of a battle sword from virtually day 1 of the Ibathi Islamic period. It never altered.

The pageantry sword happenend a lot later. It was always kept razor sharp. I also compare it with the Omani Battle Sword in that it was spatulate tipped and sharp both edges and given the status with the Terrs Shield.. I believe this occured in parallel or because of the 1744 Al Busaiid dynasty. I suspect that the hilt was a take off from the long Mamluke hilt and that it was adopted on two Omani swords... The Dancing Sayf and the Kattara. The latter being a Slave Captains or Merchant sword and badge of office and at about the same time mid 1700s.

By about then gunpowder was getting big and essentially the demise of swords was ongoing. The main battle sword, however, was still the Old Omani Battle Sword. The Museums have the documentation. The funoon is the living record of the traditions. Dictated in that are the fact that the flexible dancing sword was for pageants after a certain time(circa 1750?) though before that it had been done with the original Battle Sword . I shall be in Muscat in a few weeks and have a number of visits to each of the museums. I should be able to confirm my findings.

I know it is not very scientific but I have questioned a lot of people including sword makers here and they burst into laughter when the idea of this sword is put as a fighting weapon. If it was it would be slap bang in the funoon as such... whereas it isnt...It has no history as a battlefield sword and to my knowledge has never been used in a fight.

Its in there as a honorific idea praising the actual Old Omani Battle Sword and their forefathers who used it. The thing only goes back a couple of hundred years...Its a dancing sword only. Why is it sharp ? The Omanis who dance with it say its because of the other sword which was sharp ... and anyway theywouldnt perform with a blunt one as it would be dishonourable to the forefathers who went into battle with the Old sword... sharp as a razor.

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 14th February 2013, 02:46 PM   #4
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Salaams All, Since a I am often referring to Pageantry and The Omani Sayf only being used for dancing etc I should show some of these activities ~
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Old 16th February 2013, 12:07 PM   #5
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Default The Omani Sayf~ The Straight Omani Dancing Sword.

Salaams All ~ The Omani Sayf is not a weapon. It is an honorific dancing sword.

In the traditions there are two major parts played out with the Omani Sayf~

1. The Straight Dancing Sword is used in a sort of "parade past" generally in lines of massed participants (all male) waving the swords in a fashion that makes the blades shimmer. Occasional specialists throw the entire sword high in the air and catch it by the hilt.

2. The mimic fight; Two contestants "mimic fight" using Straight Swords and Shields (Sayf wa Terrs) The contest is won when one spatulate tip touches the thumb of the opponents shield hand. One touch only ends the contest.

Although these look like warlike manouvres they are only honoring their forefathers who went in to bat in real battles... with the Omani Battle Sword.
Indeed the Omani Dancing Sword is modelled on the old weapon but with the major differences being the long flexible blade on a long hilt. Retained in the design are many of the features of the old weapon including its sharp double edge and round tip as well as the use of the same shield ... The Terrs.

Naturally since this flexible dancing Sayf probably only appeared in about 1750 and the traditional dancing is ancient going back to the beginning of Ibathi Islam in 751AD it was the Battle Sword that was used previously in this part of The Funoon.

There is a fresh hypothesis in that prior to the advent of the flexible Sayf... that no Funoon dancing for swords existed and that the entire genre for sword work in the Funoon began with the flexible swords invention in about 1750?. It seems improbable since these traditions are handed down through the ages, however, that slim possibility is being examined via the Museums in Muscat and the Funoon authorities. In fact it would not make any difference to the general categorisation but it is being persued.

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 17th February 2013, 10:58 AM   #6
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Salaams All ~ As a background piece I have copied below one of my posts from "Kattara for comments" which will continue to be a rich source for study . In viewing the dancing Sayf I questioned many groups of people from all over Oman none of whom considered the straight Sayf as anything other than a pageantry sword. Getting down to the same questions with those that ought to know focussed my attention on known sword makers since they would surely be knowledgeable about this ... The speciality of swordmaking is usually handed down father to son moreover in the profession of swordmakers the likelihood of discovering the true facts must rate as high.

Here is the article ~

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Salaams Reference note for Forum library.
From http://www.thenational.ae/news/.../...ng-trade-in-rak
Anecdotal Evidence; The Omani Sayf; Dancing Swords Only.

Quote "RAS AL KHAIMAH // In the markets of the old town, swords are easily available and readily sold to mountain tribesmen.

"All Shehhi [tribesmen] should have swords," said Azziz al Shehhi, 22. "It's nice for dancing, not for fighting. These are for gifts, for celebrations."
Mr al Shehhi owns four swords, four traditional knives and two rifles that belonged to his father. But the party favourite was always the sword, an essential for any mountain celebration, he said.

Strong swordsmanship is the mark of a good wedding for mountain tribes like the Shehhu and Habus. Swords are not raised in combat, but thrown metres in the air and then caught.

The swords are forged in the workshops of the old RAK market, many of which have operated for more than three decades.
Shopkeepers must be licensed to sell swords, but are not required to keep records of how many they sell or to whom.
They make them according to demand. Some months they may sell only one or two, and other months they will sell dozens, especially in the summer wedding season.

Swords can be bought in glass cases as gifts and are a traditional reward at sporting events such as camel races. More often they are sold as an accessory for weddings, along with the canes and the yerz, a tribal axe.
Swords are sold blunt so men can catch them while dancing, but can be easily sharpened. Honing usually comes at the behest of elders, who want swords sharpened to a fine edge to honour their forefathers.
Zahee Ahmed, 28, of Pakistan, sells to tribesmen, sheikhs and tourists, as well as to shops in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. He said he had yet to hear of any case of swords being used as a weapon. "It's not dangerous," said Mr Ahmed. "We make them for celebration, not for killing. This is not for fighting, it is only for culture. The man is crazy if he will fight."
There is no age requirement on who can buy a sword, but some stores will only sell to Emiratis.

For many years, bargain hunters would often skip the markets of old RAK and buy from the family of Charchambi Daad Mohammed, a Baluchi axe and sword maker who crafted the weapons in his house.
Until last year, he roamed the streets of the Nakheel market with a bundle of swords and axes under his arm to be sold to whoever had the cash.
The swords business got a boost last December after Fujairah's first annual Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition, in which TV viewers and audience members voted by SMS for their favourite sword dancer.
RAK swordsmiths reported a sharp rise in demand for a month afterwards". Unquote.

None of the Museums have, as yet, disagreed with that concept. I am on a research session in March April and May in amongst the Muscat museums and will report on any findings.

It is very clear up to now that the Sayf in this thread; The Omani Dancing Sword; has never been used in war or fighting ever... but is solely used as a Pageantry sword.

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 18th February 2013, 05:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams All ~ As a background piece I have copied below one of my posts from "Kattara for comments" which will continue to be a rich source for study . In viewing the dancing Sayf I questioned many groups of people from all over Oman none of whom considered the straight Sayf as anything other than a pageantry sword. Getting down to the same questions with those that ought to know focussed my attention on known sword makers since they would surely be knowledgeable about this ... The speciality of swordmaking is usually handed down father to son moreover in the profession of swordmakers the likelihood of discovering the true facts must rate as high.

Here is the article ~


Hi Ibrahiim,

Interesting article, however I think it's important to point out the article is purely in reference to modern practices and use of the sword - it's not discussing the weapon in a historical context and in that sense the information it relays doesn't detail either for or against the sword being purely a dance article over the entire life of the form.

For me at least, there are three major areas that stand out with regards to the straight sayf:

1. Why do the blades follow the form of 18-19th century trade blades if they have never used trade blades with this hilt style.

2. Why the application of blade stamps if they have never used imported blades in these style mounts.

3. Given the above, why would the same hilt be applied to combat ready swords only in the context of curved blades with plenty of straight, quality European blades also floating around.

I simply can't see the reason behind going to the trouble of copying a functional blade form, from outside the culture no less, just for the sake of adapting it into a dancing item while happily using curved blades as is. This is absolutely nothing to do with what they are used for now - it's a question of why the form evolved to what it is now and from what. Why this pattern of blade, why the penchant for European style blade marks?

As I've said a few times before on these threads, I don't have any stake in these discussions. These weapons aren't my area and I don't own any. I'm an impartial reader.

Frankly this has nothing to do with the question of combat or non combat - but has everything to do with the notion that the straight swords never used heavier, imported blades.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 19th February 2013, 02:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

Interesting article, however I think it's important to point out the article is purely in reference to modern practices and use of the sword - it's not discussing the weapon in a historical context and in that sense the information it relays doesn't detail either for or against the sword being purely a dance article over the entire life of the form.

For me at least, there are three major areas that stand out with regards to the straight sayf:

1. Why do the blades follow the form of 18-19th century trade blades if they have never used trade blades with this hilt style.

2. Why the application of blade stamps if they have never used imported blades in these style mounts.

3. Given the above, why would the same hilt be applied to combat ready swords only in the context of curved blades with plenty of straight, quality European blades also floating around.

I simply can't see the reason behind going to the trouble of copying a functional blade form, from outside the culture no less, just for the sake of adapting it into a dancing item while happily using curved blades as is. This is absolutely nothing to do with what they are used for now - it's a question of why the form evolved to what it is now and from what. Why this pattern of blade, why the penchant for European style blade marks?

As I've said a few times before on these threads, I don't have any stake in these discussions. These weapons aren't my area and I don't own any. I'm an impartial reader.

Frankly this has nothing to do with the question of combat or non combat - but has everything to do with the notion that the straight swords never used heavier, imported blades.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain, Thank you for your post . It is my view (and apparently the same view is held by the Omani Museums which I will confirm in due course) that the Sayf has always been only a pageantry sword and never used in combat from its induction as a dancing sword probably at the beginning of the current ruling family dynasty in 1744... give or take a few years.

The item I reintroduced above was only back up to the situation and unfortunately the better of the two references contained in it ... The old Baluch sword maker wasn't questioned...We think that sword making in RAK goes back about 75 years but beyond that it is hard to establish. So I use it as a modest indicator but obviously one would expect them to have some historical knowledge of its prior history.

The straight Omani Sayf ... or what I call the pageantry sword or dancing sword is in my view based upon the only other straight sword in the Omani arsenal and I have compared it with that sword on Kattara for comments at #312. In essence this is not viewed by me as an outside sword moreover as a copied style mirroring the Omani Battle Sword. The Omani Battle Sword is not only similar but its Terrs Shield was also passed on to the Dancing Sayf as its accompanying shield in the honorific pageantry role.

Your questions are answered as under~

1. Why do the blades follow the form of 18-19th century trade blades if they have never used trade blades with this hilt style?

It could be that this sword evolved entirely from the Yemeni long hilt not from the trade blade..however again I point out the similarities in blade design to the Omani Battle Sword. In my view and having seen tons of these pageantry blades~ they are very flexible broad and spatulate tipped but not stamped with European blade stamps... at least not original ones. Many have absolutely local stamps...whilst many have none. They are deeply fullered to increase flex and lighten the swords...They appear as random local manufacture not least by Zutoot "Gypsy" wandering workshops pre 1970.. and likely to have been made in Nizwa and Muscat and lately in the last half century in RAK and in Salalah though I need more research on the latter.

2. Why the application of blade stamps if they have never used imported blades in these style mounts?

The regions sword makers have been copying blade stamps for hundreds of years. It is not necessarily a way of implying that the blade is by that maker but more a quality stamp perhaps in honour of great previous blade makers. Of course there is always the chance that it is simply a way to place a higher price on a blade. I shall be checking on the Museums collections for straight blades with original European stamps in a week or two. I see nothing sinister with running wolf copied squigles on swords here nor TAJ British India strikes. They were all done locally. I have met the sword joiners in Muscat who have since 1970 been uniting Omani longhilts on European blades still plentiful in the souk chain of supply mainly from Sanaa. These are tourist aimed.

3. Given the above, why would the same hilt be applied to combat ready swords only in the context of curved blades with plenty of straight, quality European blades also floating around?

I think by that you mean why was the same hilt applied to the Omani Curved Kattara and the Omani Sayf at the same time when one was a fighting blade and the other wasnt? Firstly, I don't think the curved was only a weapon... but more importantly a badge of office for a Ships Captain or VIP including occasionally Royalty and important slave traders like Tippu Tip. I don't view this curved sword as a battle sword though it would certainly work if struck by one ! On the other hand it was not seen with shield ..because it was only an identifier of rank though on occasions perhaps it was unleashed in anger as a punisher..It too failed to make it into the history books as a battle sword... in fact that was not its intention; "Badge of Office" was.

It is also worth remembering that the straight Sayf and curved Kattara swords appeared inside the parameters of the gunpowder timeframe and that swords were on their way out as fighting weapons vice long barrels and cannon. The demise of the spear also happened early on in the gunpowder revolution.

My theory stands based on the above and on the Funoon and the fact that the Omani Battle Sword and Terrs were the original battlefield duo and never changed in a thousand years. The sword even becoming Iconised and by the designer Sheherazad; a wife of Saiid Sultan 1804 to 1856. (Probably about 1850)

The timeframe I seek to prove the appearance of the Sayf (and probably the Kattara) is within that rulers scope or a little before perhaps at the beginning of the Dynasty in 1744..That is where I am looking.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 19th February 2013, 04:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain, Thank you for your post . It is my view (and apparently the same view is held by the Omani Museums which I will confirm in due course) that the Sayf has always been only a pageantry sword and never used in combat from its induction as a dancing sword probably at the beginning of the current ruling family dynasty in 1744... give or take a few years.

The item I reintroduced above was only back up to the situation and unfortunately the better of the two references contained in it ... The old Baluch sword maker wasn't questioned...We think that sword making in RAK goes back about 75 years but beyond that it is hard to establish. So I use it as a modest indicator but obviously one would expect them to have some historical knowledge of its prior history.

The straight Omani Sayf ... or what I call the pageantry sword or dancing sword is in my view based upon the only other straight sword in the Omani arsenal and I have compared it with that sword on Kattara for comments at #312. In essence this is not viewed by me as an outside sword moreover as a copied style mirroring the Omani Battle Sword. The Omani Battle Sword is not only similar but its Terrs Shield was also passed on to the Dancing Sayf as its accompanying shield in the honorific pageantry role.


Hi Ibrahiim,

Lets leave the combat/non combat question at the door for a bit. Its not really key to what I'm getting at.

I'm afraid I really fail to see this as much of a progression from the older Omani sword style. Flat, wider, shorter blades to longer, narrower fullered blades? Not much of a connection to my eyes...

Quote:
It could be that this sword evolved entirely from the Yemeni long hilt not from the trade blade..however again I point out the similarities in blade design to the Omani Battle Sword. In my view and having seen tons of these pageantry blades~ they are very flexible broad and spatulate tipped but not stamped with European blade stamps... at least not original ones. Many have absolutely local stamps...whilst many have none. They are deeply fullered to increase flex and lighten the swords...They appear as random local manufacture not least by Zutoot "Gypsy" wandering workshops pre 1970.. and likely to have been made in Nizwa and Muscat and lately in the last half century in RAK and in Salalah though I need more research on the latter.


See above - the Omani battle sword doesn't have many similarities. The Yemeni long hilts - lots of trade blades to be found in those...

Quote:
The regions sword makers have been copying blade stamps for hundreds of years. It is not necessarily a way of implying that the blade is by that maker but more a quality stamp perhaps in honour of great previous blade makers. Of course there is always the chance that it is simply a way to place a higher price on a blade. I shall be checking on the Museums collections for straight blades with original European stamps in a week or two. I see nothing sinister with running wolf copied squigles on swords here nor TAJ British India strikes. They were all done locally. I have met the sword joiners in Muscat who have since 1970 been uniting Omani longhilts on European blades still plentiful in the souk chain of supply mainly from Sanaa. These are tourist aimed.


If your point of view is that the straight sayf is directly related to the Omani battle sword - this makes no sense. The battle sword, at least all I've seen, don't have stamps. Why start on the dancing swords? It frankly makes no difference if the stamps are done locally or abroad - they are applied because they imply something. Quality usually, quality to be found in imported blades. Again, this is not a question of what is done now, it is a question of origins.

Your explanation provides no reasoning as to why stamps would start appearing on dance swords when they weren't on battle swords.


Quote:
I think by that you mean why was the same hilt applied to the Omani Curved Kattara and the Omani Sayf at the same time when one was a fighting blade and the other wasnt? Firstly, I don't think the curved was only a weapon... but more importantly a badge of office for a Ships Captain or VIP including occasionally Royalty and important slave traders like Tippu Tip. I don't view this curved sword as a battle sword though it would certainly work if struck by one ! On the other hand it was not seen with shield ..because it was only an identifier of rank though on occasions perhaps it was unleashed in anger as a punisher..It too failed to make it into the history books as a battle sword... in fact that was not its intention; "Badge of Office" was.

It is also worth remembering that the straight Sayf and curved Kattara swords appeared inside the parameters of the gunpowder timeframe and that swords were on their way out as fighting weapons vice long barrels and cannon. The demise of the spear also happened early on in the gunpowder revolution.

My theory stands based on the above and on the Funoon and the fact that the Omani Battle Sword and Terrs were the original battlefield duo and never changed in a thousand years. The sword even becoming Iconised and by the designer Sheherazad; a wife of Saiid Sultan 1804 to 1856. (Probably about 1850)

The timeframe I seek to prove the appearance of the Sayf (and probably the Kattara) is within that rulers scope or a little before perhaps at the beginning of the Dynasty in 1744..That is where I am looking.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Unfortunately I have the exact same problems still as before. Moving from a flat, broad and unfullered blade to a long, more narrow fullered blade that happens to match up in profile with widely available European exports and have the application of blade stamps which weren't used on the older form (whether local or European in application makes no difference) plus the simultaneous uptake of European curved blades into the same hilt style... Quite a lot of coincidences to just discount I'd say...

What drove the uptake of European trade blades in most regions of the world can be broken down into a few basic areas.

  • Availability
  • Effectiveness/quality
  • Cost
  • Symbolism

They were widely available, they were of excellent quality steel and the cost was proportional to the first two attributes. Symbolism and status are a natural follow on from the first attributes.

For me, there are still some broad gaps in the theory you've presented and I'll try to distill them once more in bullet form, really I think there are two points to focus on.
  • The "coincidence" of triple fuller dance swords appearing at just about the time European trade blades of the same pattern are widely available
  • The use of stamps in Oman, even if locally copied. These ONLY can be attributed to an experience of European blades lending attributes to the marks - such as an indication of quality. Otherwise there is no reason for them to be copied and applied.

I'll just try to make myself absolutely clear, this has nothing to do with dancing, pageantry, combat or non combat. It's simply a question of where the blade form came from - no matter what the modern iterations are.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 19th February 2013, 06:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

Lets leave the combat/non combat question at the door for a bit. Its not really key to what I'm getting at.

I'm afraid I really fail to see this as much of a progression from the older Omani sword style. Flat, wider, shorter blades to longer, narrower fullered blades? Not much of a connection to my eyes...



See above - the Omani battle sword doesn't have many similarities. The Yemeni long hilts - lots of trade blades to be found in those...



If your point of view is that the straight sayf is directly related to the Omani battle sword - this makes no sense. The battle sword, at least all I've seen, don't have stamps. Why start on the dancing swords? It frankly makes no difference if the stamps are done locally or abroad - they are applied because they imply something. Quality usually, quality to be found in imported blades. Again, this is not a question of what is done now, it is a question of origins.

Your explanation provides no reasoning as to why stamps would start appearing on dance swords when they weren't on battle swords.




Unfortunately I have the exact same problems still as before. Moving from a flat, broad and unfullered blade to a long, more narrow fullered blade that happens to match up in profile with widely available European exports and have the application of blade stamps which weren't used on the older form (whether local or European in application makes no difference) plus the simultaneous uptake of European curved blades into the same hilt style... Quite a lot of coincidences to just discount I'd say...

What drove the uptake of European trade blades in most regions of the world can be broken down into a few basic areas.

  • Availability
  • Effectiveness/quality
  • Cost
  • Symbolism

They were widely available, they were of excellent quality steel and the cost was proportional to the first two attributes. Symbolism and status are a natural follow on from the first attributes.

For me, there are still some broad gaps in the theory you've presented and I'll try to distill them once more in bullet form, really I think there are two points to focus on.
  • The "coincidence" of triple fuller dance swords appearing at just about the time European trade blades of the same pattern are widely available
  • The use of stamps in Oman, even if locally copied. These ONLY can be attributed to an experience of European blades lending attributes to the marks - such as an indication of quality. Otherwise there is no reason for them to be copied and applied.

I'll just try to make myself absolutely clear, this has nothing to do with dancing, pageantry, combat or non combat. It's simply a question of where the blade form came from - no matter what the modern iterations are.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain, I have not yet seen an old Omani blade with anything resembling an original European mark on it..I am at this time of the belief that in about Circa 1744 to 1850 the call went out for a pageantry sword to take over from the Omani Battle Sword in the traditions only... not for fighting. I have to say that I am continuing to persue both swords involvement and to discover for certain if the sword dances began when the flexible blade appeared or before with the Old Omani Battle Sword. Was the Omani Sayf really just invented as a pageantry sword by the new Dynasty or what? There is nothing in the entire Funoon to indicate that it was a battle field weapon ..but a great deal to indicate its honorific quality only. You would imagine that we would have a few battle names or some evidence to show some fighting took place with this dancing sword but there isn't any..

In viewing both swords and their similarities I have shown that this is a copy of the old Battle Sword but with no lethality. i.e. The blade is flexible to the point of being almost floppy. Its main and only quality is for buzzing in the air and as a mimic of the old weapon. Broadsword, sharp on both sides, spatulate tipped, used with the Terrs, and the hilt is very similar if you break it down with cuff style incorporated into the long hilt etc.

I intend to discover from Museum archives the exact date the sword appeared and who invented the concept.. We already have a Sultans wife in the frame for the Turban The Omani Royal Khanjar and The Omani Battle Sword iconic hilt. I hope to ID the originator of the Straight dancing sword.

Your note as to the symultaneous take up of the curved sword The Kattara is interesting and though I also believe it happenend at the same time I cannot prove it or when. Although the whats in a name debate is not relevant I have to say that Kuddara the Persian example is close ..on passing.. and has the heavy backblade and very slight curve although near the tip...but just to illustrate that other blades can be placed in the frame for the origin of the curved and of course the same applies to straight blades mainly out of the Ottoman stables.

The thread Yemeni Sayfs? Omani Kattaras? by Swedegreen I believe may hold clues to the Omani Sayfs beginnings.

Of course I agree about the fullers ... and in doing so also point out the myriad of Omani ones of varying length one, three and some going the whole hog right to the tip called Abu Falaj ... "The one with the irrigation channels". Anyway through trade the Omanis would have viewed all sorts of Fullered swords and at some point concluded that this was the style they wanted on the straight job... which I still say was brought on as the honorific shimmering pageantry sword and never a weapon.

That is "my understanding" and I have seen no evidence to the contrary but I have always driven the debate from the pageantry viewpoint ~ I mean I had no choice as no definitive details are yet to hand on its blade origin... but the pointers are there for local production... local stamping...and local use in the Traditions.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 19th February 2013 at 06:29 PM. Reason: slight re-alignment
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Old 19th February 2013, 09:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain, I have not yet seen an old Omani blade with anything resembling an original European mark on it..I am at this time of the belief that in about Circa 1744 to 1850 the call went out for a pageantry sword to take over from the Omani Battle Sword in the traditions only... not for fighting. I have to say that I am continuing to persue both swords involvement and to discover for certain if the sword dances began when the flexible blade appeared or before with the Old Omani Battle Sword. Was the Omani Sayf really just invented as a pageantry sword by the new Dynasty or what? There is nothing in the entire Funoon to indicate that it was a battle field weapon ..but a great deal to indicate its honorific quality only. You would imagine that we would have a few battle names or some evidence to show some fighting took place with this dancing sword but there isn't any..


Hi Ibrahiim,

I'll get into the marks again a bit below, but this is broadly why I didn't want to get caught up in the combat/non combat idea. I think its a bit counterproductive to examining the origins of the blade form and is leading to some preconceptions that are perhaps not entirely supported. I think you are certainly asking the right questions - i.e. why does this form pop up. Although the conclusions you are drawing aren't ones I can fully get behind.

Quote:
In viewing both swords and their similarities I have shown that this is a copy of the old Battle Sword but with no lethality. i.e. The blade is flexible to the point of being almost floppy. Its main and only quality is for buzzing in the air and as a mimic of the old weapon. Broadsword, sharp on both sides, spatulate tipped, used with the Terrs, and the hilt is very similar if you break it down with cuff style incorporated into the long hilt etc.


This is where I just have to flat out disagree. There are major differences that I've pointed out between the two forms.
  • Length
  • Profile
  • Use of fullering
  • Use of blade marks

The characteristics of the straight sayf are quite different then than the older battle sword form. To say it is merely a copy of the older form without the former's functionality is difficult to support I think. If that where the case, there would be no reason to adapt the different hilt, no reason to lengthen the blade, no reason to do anything really other than increase the flexibility and even that raises some interesting questions...

There's also the interesting question of why flexibility is important in the dance... Because of aesthetics? Because flexibility used to be considered an important quality for selecting blades (in a combat/usage sense) then taken to an extreme for effect in the dance? As I recall you have mentioned in fact that the older style is quite stiff. So that produces another question, when and why the focus on flexible blades.

Just to touch briefly on the stamps again but I guess my original point wasn't expressed clearly enough... It is not a question of local stamping versus European stamping. It is purely a question of why local makers used stamps clearly taken from a foreign context. The only logical reason is because blades with those original stamps were known, respected for their quality and thus the stamps and marks were worth the effort to copy.

Quote:
Of course I agree about the fullers ... and in doing so also point out the myriad of Omani ones of varying length one, three and some going the whole hog right to the tip called Abu Falaj ... "The one with the irrigation channels". Anyway through trade the Omanis would have viewed all sorts of Fullered swords and at some point concluded that this was the style they wanted on the straight job... which I still say was brought on as the honorific shimmering pageantry sword and never a weapon.


I'm glad you agree about the fullers - if you take the battle sword as a pattern of sword production before the straight sayf - the use of fullering is then due to outside influence. Why was it adopted? Why was this style chosen and how did they gain experience of this form if they weren't using these blades from a foreign context? It's not the sort of choice that I can imagining happening "overnight" and requires as a pre requisite: contact, use and evaluation. All of this points strongly to the use of straight blades, from a foreign source, in an Omani context.

Quote:
That is "my understanding" and I have seen no evidence to the contrary but I have always driven the debate from the pageantry viewpoint ~ I mean I had no choice as no definitive details are yet to hand on its blade origin... but the pointers are there for local production... local stamping...and local use in the Traditions.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


I've always found your efforts intriguing about this type and as you note your approach as always been from a certain viewpoint which I can understand. However I think the approach has certain inherent weaknesses (as do all approaches in varying respects). The main issue I see is that the pageantry viewpoint is inherently leading to often examining the form from the viewpoint of what the sword form is used for now and all that goes with that in a modern context - local production, local stamps etc. However that has left to the side the questions of origin. No matter if the blades are produced locally and the stamps locally done as well - where is the vector, the point of change which caused this to happen? Why such a close coincidence with European trade blades? Again, for me personally, its a little much to attribute to chance. The central question remains, as it has over the course of these discussions for me, the point of change between the older form and the newer. The idea that the newer is simply a development of the older form is still I think tenuous at best for all the reasons highlighted above.

Just a brief note when it comes to local sources and looking at modern versions of traditions like dance - I've had some experience with this in my own research areas. Unfortunately, and this is quite frustrating, the people inside the culture using a weapon are quite often not as interested in the history of it as we might be. The sort of detail we look for is often not preserved and I think conjecture over a period of several hundred years based on examining largely modern examples of a form is not conclusive. Particularly because you've noted that in a modern context the stiffer attributes of trade blades would not be desirable and thus unlikely to be encountered in the present day in the region - they aren't in demand.

This ties into your point about lack of evidence for an alternative to your theory - I personally think the evidence is there. It may be implied rather than a physical example in your hand - but it is there. From fullers to blade length. I've highlighted in past threads examples with likely European blades, always from collections and auctions outside the region. This ties directly into my point above - these are less likely to be encountered locally, going on all the detailed info you've given about the current situation of sayf manufacture and use - because nobody would want them now.

Hopefully the museums will have some more info they can make available to you of documented, older pieces. Ideally something 18th century that's known to have not been rehilted or otherwise changed.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 20th February 2013, 03:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

I'll get into the marks again a bit below, but this is broadly why I didn't want to get caught up in the combat/non combat idea. I think its a bit counterproductive to examining the origins of the blade form and is leading to some preconceptions that are perhaps not entirely supported. I think you are certainly asking the right questions - i.e. why does this form pop up. Although the conclusions you are drawing aren't ones I can fully get behind.



This is where I just have to flat out disagree. There are major differences that I've pointed out between the two forms.
  • Length
  • Profile
  • Use of fullering
  • Use of blade marks

The characteristics of the straight sayf are quite different then than the older battle sword form. To say it is merely a copy of the older form without the former's functionality is difficult to support I think. If that where the case, there would be no reason to adapt the different hilt, no reason to lengthen the blade, no reason to do anything really other than increase the flexibility and even that raises some interesting questions...

There's also the interesting question of why flexibility is important in the dance... Because of aesthetics? Because flexibility used to be considered an important quality for selecting blades (in a combat/usage sense) then taken to an extreme for effect in the dance? As I recall you have mentioned in fact that the older style is quite stiff. So that produces another question, when and why the focus on flexible blades.

Just to touch briefly on the stamps again but I guess my original point wasn't expressed clearly enough... It is not a question of local stamping versus European stamping. It is purely a question of why local makers used stamps clearly taken from a foreign context. The only logical reason is because blades with those original stamps were known, respected for their quality and thus the stamps and marks were worth the effort to copy.



I'm glad you agree about the fullers - if you take the battle sword as a pattern of sword production before the straight sayf - the use of fullering is then due to outside influence. Why was it adopted? Why was this style chosen and how did they gain experience of this form if they weren't using these blades from a foreign context? It's not the sort of choice that I can imagining happening "overnight" and requires as a pre requisite: contact, use and evaluation. All of this points strongly to the use of straight blades, from a foreign source, in an Omani context.



I've always found your efforts intriguing about this type and as you note your approach as always been from a certain viewpoint which I can understand. However I think the approach has certain inherent weaknesses (as do all approaches in varying respects). The main issue I see is that the pageantry viewpoint is inherently leading to often examining the form from the viewpoint of what the sword form is used for now and all that goes with that in a modern context - local production, local stamps etc. However that has left to the side the questions of origin. No matter if the blades are produced locally and the stamps locally done as well - where is the vector, the point of change which caused this to happen? Why such a close coincidence with European trade blades? Again, for me personally, its a little much to attribute to chance. The central question remains, as it has over the course of these discussions for me, the point of change between the older form and the newer. The idea that the newer is simply a development of the older form is still I think tenuous at best for all the reasons highlighted above.

Just a brief note when it comes to local sources and looking at modern versions of traditions like dance - I've had some experience with this in my own research areas. Unfortunately, and this is quite frustrating, the people inside the culture using a weapon are quite often not as interested in the history of it as we might be. The sort of detail we look for is often not preserved and I think conjecture over a period of several hundred years based on examining largely modern examples of a form is not conclusive. Particularly because you've noted that in a modern context the stiffer attributes of trade blades would not be desirable and thus unlikely to be encountered in the present day in the region - they aren't in demand.

This ties into your point about lack of evidence for an alternative to your theory - I personally think the evidence is there. It may be implied rather than a physical example in your hand - but it is there. From fullers to blade length. I've highlighted in past threads examples with likely European blades, always from collections and auctions outside the region. This ties directly into my point above - these are less likely to be encountered locally, going on all the detailed info you've given about the current situation of sayf manufacture and use - because nobody would want them now.

Hopefully the museums will have some more info they can make available to you of documented, older pieces. Ideally something 18th century that's known to have not been rehilted or otherwise changed.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain ~ Last point first.. I agree and hopefully I can get some details from Museum archives to give a pointer in the right direction.

I propose to debate the weapon now as a fighting sword in the 4 points discussed below.

The time criteria for this sword is quite tight. I think we are talking about a sword that appeared between 1750 and 1800. We know that the Rak makers were probably starting to make these in about 1950. That leaves quite a narrow fighting sword window of opportunity.

Swords were on their way out vice gunpowder weapons moreover this sword is very unsuitable for war. I have the following serious misgivings about the weapon ever being used as a Battle Sword viz;

1. It is spatulate tipped and thus useless for thrusting.. a prerequisite for doing battle against hard targets...body armour. Its Terrs shield would be useless agianst mounted infantry or ground troops. Can you envisage this being used in a war situation? Why would Omanis go for a battle weapon that is bendy and allow it to take over the battle role from such an excellent weapon as The Omani Battle Sword? Such an important decision and point in Omani military history as a total tactical sword change would be common knowledge and apparent in historical context in documents and in the swords literature but there is absolutely nothing ~ for good reason.

2. The war sword provided for by whom? The Europeans would hardly be in the market to create the blade in its bending format because it simply isnt a sword as such. What is more why would an Islamic country look to Euroipe to create its battle sword which would take over battle duties from its honorific Old Omani Battle Sword? An Islamic Icon. At the heart of Ibaathi Islam in Oman and centred on the interior capital Nizwa.. In the middle of a gunpowder revolution... in Oman. Why in all the Islamic documentation is there no clear indication of this provision?

3. The sword trail of European Swords the Trade Blade track is viewable clearly through Africa. No evidence of spin off of these blades is seen in African blades obtained from Europe. On the other hand take Ethiopian blades which are all over the red sea even mounted on every hilt from Muscat longhilts to Indian Tulvars. In other words there is no trail to follow. Why can we find no Omani blades produced in Europe on the African trade routes?

4. Masses of Swords went from Europe to Ethiopia etc... but they were all proper fighting blades with invariably throat stamps and original European marks... Omani Sayfs don't have these marks. Why is this?

Turning to other foreign suppliers which is to me half swallowable, for example; India and or Yemen. Frankly I am not convinced one way or the other that these countries are not in some way providers of ... in part ... of some of the blades. It could be that the sword style at Swede Greens thread and to which I have already pointed to in Kattara for comments may be responsible for the entire Omani dancing Sayf form; blade and hilt.

To my eye, however, (and having seen no evidence to the contrary yet) the Omani Sayf was locally made and since Nizwa was the seat of Ibaathi Islam I reckon it is there that we should also search. We know for certain that Gypsies known as Zutoot wandered the entire country making metal tools, dagger blades and swords on commission both before and during the period in question and fading out after 1970. Their time scale matches the timescale on the dancing sayfs.

I also must say that your posts are excellent, probing and detailed in analysis of what we are all trying to achieve and that I am filled with enthusiasm by your points raised... which may after all be quite correct. This would not be the first time I have gone after the red herring! I look forward to seeing what the museums have to say.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 20th February 2013, 03:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain ~ Last point first.. I agree and hopefully I can get some details from Museum archives to give a pointer in the right direction.

I propose to debate the weapon now as a fighting sword in the 4 points discussed below.


Hi Ibrahiim,

I'll just again say I think the combat or non combat question is irrelevant at the moment and is causing more confusion and questions than it needs to. See below...

Quote:
The time criteria for this sword is quite tight. I think we are talking about a sword that appeared between 1750 and 1800. We know that the Rak makers were probably starting to make these in about 1950. That leaves quite a narrow fighting sword window of opportunity.

Swords were on their way out vice gunpowder weapons moreover this sword is very unsuitable for war. I have the following serious misgivings about the weapon ever being used as a Battle Sword viz;


Agree completely about the influence of muskets and other firearms however:

Quote:
1. It is spatulate tipped and thus useless for thrusting.. a prerequisite for doing battle against hard targets...body armour. Its Terrs shield would be useless agianst mounted infantry or ground troops. Can you envisage this being used in a war situation? Why would Omanis go for a battle weapon that is bendy and allow it to take over the battle role from such an excellent weapon as The Omani Battle Sword? Such an important decision and point in Omani military history as a total tactical sword change would be common knowledge and apparent in historical context in documents and in the swords literature but there is absolutely nothing ~ for good reason.


I think perhaps you are misunderstanding some of my previous points. I am not talking about these modern, flexible blades in a combat sense.

I am talking about where the form (not the flexibility aspect) was drawn from.

Quote:
2. The war sword provided for by whom? The Europeans would hardly be in the market to create the blade in its bending format because it simply isnt a sword as such. What is more why would an Islamic country look to Euroipe to create its battle sword which would take over battle duties from its honorific Old Omani Battle Sword? An Islamic Icon. At the heart of Ibaathi Islam in Oman and centred on the interior capital Nizwa.. In the middle of a gunpowder revolution... in Oman. Why in all the Islamic documentation is there no clear indication of this provision?


Again, see above I'm not talking about the modern flexible blades.

Quote:
3. The sword trail of European Swords the Trade Blade track is viewable clearly through Africa. No evidence of spin off of these blades is seen in African blades obtained from Europe. On the other hand take Ethiopian blades which are all over the red sea even mounted on every hilt from Muscat longhilts to Indian Tulvars. In other words there is no trail to follow. Why can we find no Omani blades produced in Europe on the African trade routes?


Because again, I'm not talking about blades with the flexibility aspect you are referencing. I'm discussing the common European trade blades - not some European trade blade with massive flex. So yes, in that sense you are talking about something that doesn't exist.

Quote:
4. Masses of Swords went from Europe to Ethiopia etc... but they were all proper fighting blades with invariably throat stamps and original European marks... Omani Sayfs don't have these marks. Why is this?


Because as you've said many times, in a modern context fighting blades aren't desirable. I've shown in previous threads sayfs with stiff blades and European marks. I can go and dig them out again I guess. Heck, I've seen fullered European blades on Omani battle sword hilts as well.

Quote:
Turning to other foreign suppliers which is to me half swallowable, for example; India and or Yemen. Frankly I am not convinced one way or the other that these countries are not in some way providers of ... in part ... of some of the blades. It could be that the sword style at Swede Greens thread and to which I have already pointed to in Kattara for comments may be responsible for the entire Omani dancing Sayf form; blade and hilt.


I think your last sentence is probably correct. The dancing sayf is simply a progression from a style derived from mating European trade blades to local hilts. Which explains the trade blade inspired shape and use of fullers on dance blades.

I think you have perhaps misinterpreted a few of my points because you are focusing on the flex aspect.
  • I'm not talking about some trade blade with the flex of the dancing blades. I'm only talking about where the form/style of the flexible and locally made blades was taken from.
  • That, from the evidence you've provided, trade blades proper are unlikely to be found in Omani hilts in the present day because they are not desirable - this doesn't mean this was always the case.
  • That there's an obvious and very close link to other long hilted and trade blade using forms in neighboring areas.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 20th February 2013, 04:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

I'll just again say I think the combat or non combat question is irrelevant at the moment and is causing more confusion and questions than it needs to. See below...



Agree completely about the influence of muskets and other firearms however:



I think perhaps you are misunderstanding some of my previous points. I am not talking about these modern, flexible blades in a combat sense.

I am talking about where the form (not the flexibility aspect) was drawn from.



Again, see above I'm not talking about the modern flexible blades.



Because again, I'm not talking about blades with the flexibility aspect you are referencing. I'm discussing the common European trade blades - not some European trade blade with massive flex. So yes, in that sense you are talking about something that doesn't exist.



Because as you've said many times, in a modern context fighting blades aren't desirable. I've shown in previous threads sayfs with stiff blades and European marks. I can go and dig them out again I guess. Heck, I've seen fullered European blades on Omani battle sword hilts as well.



I think your last sentence is probably correct. The dancing sayf is simply a progression from a style derived from mating European trade blades to local hilts. Which explains the trade blade inspired shape and use of fullers on dance blades.

I think you have perhaps misinterpreted a few of my points because you are focusing on the flex aspect.
  • I'm not talking about some trade blade with the flex of the dancing blades. I'm only talking about where the form/style of the flexible and locally made blades was taken from.
  • That, from the evidence you've provided, trade blades proper are unlikely to be found in Omani hilts in the present day because they are not desirable - this doesn't mean this was always the case.
  • That there's an obvious and very close link to other long hilted and trade blade using forms in neighboring areas.

Cheers,

Iain


Salaams Iain ~ So the question as far as you are concerned is; What influence if any did European Trade Blades have on the Omani Sayf?

My opinion is that the Omani Sayf may have no root at all in the European Trade blade system/style except in the odd European(copied) inscription on a few blades. My attention is focussed on the Yemeni derivative at Swedegreens thread which in turn copied style from Ottoman through Mamluke to Abassiid design. It is a serious point for research in Muscat Museum where I hope to report from soon. I shall certainly be on the lookout for any early Omani Sayfs to consider the Trade blade question.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 20th February 2013, 04:59 PM   #15
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Default From where did Omani Sayfs originate?

Salaams All. Note to library on the origin of Omani Sayf style.

Here for comparison is the form of design style which may be responsible for the general design of the Dancing Sword (hilt and blade). The Straight Omani Sayf.

(In this respect the flexibility question is totally ignored..however newcomers may note that the Omani Sayf is flexible up to 90 degree bend and more at the tip whilst the Yemeni sword is relatively stiff and bends a few inches only.)

Picture 1.shows the more typical blade for the Yemeni weapon however other blades have been fitted to similar hilts such as the Ethiopian(German) blade shown lower.

Another picture demonstrates the similiarity between a sword in the Istanbul museum and the Yemeni sword.

As a transitional form there are many similarities in the Omani Sayf and the Yemeni sword. See picture 4. Are they linked?

It is posed here as an open question for comments.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 20th February 2013, 05:09 PM   #16
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Salaams Iain ~ So the question as far as you are concerned is; What influence if any did European Trade Blades have on the Omani Sayf?

My opinion is that the Omani Sayf may have no root at all in the European Trade blade system/style except in the odd European(copied) inscription on a few blades. My attention is focussed on the Yemeni derivative at Swedegreens thread which in turn copied style from Ottoman through Mamluke to Abassiid design. It is a serious point for research in Muscat Museum where I hope to report from soon. I shall certainly be on the lookout for any early Omani Sayfs to consider the Trade blade question.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


And therein lies my overall point.

In my opinion the blades in the thread you reference show clear European influence with the deep, central fullers, overall size and the period they are from. Whether those particular examples have European blades - the influence, to my eyes is there.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 20th February 2013, 05:28 PM   #17
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And therein lies my overall point.

In my opinion the blades in the thread you reference show clear European influence with the deep, central fullers, overall size and the period they are from. Whether those particular examples have European blades - the influence, to my eyes is there.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain~ I can at a stretch agree on ''influence'' but caution on size since I've never seen two Omani Blades the same length width or with the same combination of fullers. I hope you can see the post above at #15 that I place as a possible contender for style copy... taking the ball rather away in another direction.
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Old 20th February 2013, 05:48 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain~ I can at a stretch agree on ''influence'' but caution on size since I've never seen two Omani Blades the same length width or with the same combination of fullers. I hope you can see the post above at #15 that I place as a possible contender for style copy... taking the ball rather away in another direction.
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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim,

I saw your post with images - can't say I see the Mamluk connection. The image you shows are dramatically different blade profiles from a very different time period than the point in time when the straight sayf was likely being introduced.

Regarding size, blade length is effected by hilting, including rehilting. Most straight sayf fall within 27-33 inches are so for blade length. I've seen plenty of images of sayf with similar triple fuller layouts, plenty with single fuller layouts...

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 20th February 2013, 06:05 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

I saw your post with images - can't say I see the Mamluk connection. The image you shows are dramatically different blade profiles from a very different time period than the point in time when the straight sayf was likely being introduced.

Regarding size, blade length is effected by hilting, including rehilting. Most straight sayf fall within 27-33 inches are so for blade length. I've seen plenty of images of sayf with similar triple fuller layouts, plenty with single fuller layouts...

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain ~ I think the two (Yemeni Ottoman)are hugely similar in the hilt... not the blade so much. I think the Yemeni version has a much less expensive blade ... almost a utility mass produced type.

I think the Omani dancing sword is very similar to the Yemeni variant in all respects except flex..



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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 20th February 2013, 06:27 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain ~ I think the two (Yemeni Ottoman)are hugely similar in the hilt... not the blade so much. I think the Yemeni version has a much less expensive blade ... almost a utility mass produced type.

I think the Omani dancing sword is very similar to the Yemeni variant in all respects except flex..



Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim, the hilt comparison is fair enough and your point about blades is of course a nice way of saying why Euro trade blades were popular for these - utilitarian and mass produced. See my points in a previous post about why Euro trade blades had big uptake globally.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 20th February 2013, 06:55 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim, the hilt comparison is fair enough and your point about blades is of course a nice way of saying why Euro trade blades were popular for these - utilitarian and mass produced. See my points in a previous post about why Euro trade blades had big uptake globally.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain ~Yes all very interesting... but can you envisage Yemen under intense Ottoman control/ influence previously... taking blades off Europe for these swords when they had a perfectly reasonable sword manufacturing base in the Hadramaut?
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Old 20th February 2013, 10:16 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain ~Yes all very interesting... but can you envisage Yemen under intense Ottoman control/ influence previously... taking blades off Europe for these swords when they had a perfectly reasonable sword manufacturing base in the Hadramaut?
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim,

As always, it relates to cost and quality. Did Hadramaut have water driven hammers? One of the main reasons behind the economical production of blades in Solingen from a fairly early period... The ability to produce quality blades locally isn't necessarily an indication they could be produced cheaply or in a competitive volume.

By the 16th century Solingen was already making use of water driven mechanical hammers to increase the production of blade blanks. This was unusual in Europe at the time and as far as I know was not an industrial technique common in the Ottoman empire or Yemen... This industrialization only increased with time. I would also point out, to my understanding the Ottomans lost control of Yemen in the mid 17th century (principally Sana'a)?

Mechanical production of blade blanks increased production time about 5-6x over hand forging.

Solingen was the force it was because of the industrial tools they employed - allowing for a competitive edge, even when long distance transportation was factored in.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 21st February 2013, 02:48 PM   #23
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Hi Ibrahiim,

As always, it relates to cost and quality. Did Hadramaut have water driven hammers? One of the main reasons behind the economical production of blades in Solingen from a fairly early period... The ability to produce quality blades locally isn't necessarily an indication they could be produced cheaply or in a competitive volume.

By the 16th century Solingen was already making use of water driven mechanical hammers to increase the production of blade blanks. This was unusual in Europe at the time and as far as I know was not an industrial technique common in the Ottoman empire or Yemen... This industrialization only increased with time. I would also point out, to my understanding the Ottomans lost control of Yemen in the mid 17th century (principally Sana'a)?

Mechanical production of blade blanks increased production time about 5-6x over hand forging.

Solingen was the force it was because of the industrial tools they employed - allowing for a competitive edge, even when long distance transportation was factored in.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain.. Its odd but I was thinking about water hammers and if the Hadramaut had them. I will try to delve into that. Normally I would simply go and have a look but as you know its not possible. Further to that... looking at the Yemeni blades they just dont look like European blades. They do look mildly Red Sea perhaps from Turkish sources. However that is slightly off centre since we are actually looking at where were the early Omani Sayf dancing "blades" made (other than in Oman) . More as it unfolds.
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Old 21st February 2013, 03:42 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain.. Its odd but I was thinking about water hammers and if the Hadramaut had them. I will try to delve into that. Normally I would simply go and have a look but as you know its not possible. Further to that... looking at the Yemeni blades they just dont look like European blades. They do look mildly Red Sea perhaps from Turkish sources. However that is slightly off centre since we are actually looking at where were the early Omani Sayf dancing "blades" made (other than in Oman) . More as it unfolds.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim,

This is a point where we will just have to disagree - the Yemeni blades, or blades found in Yemeni hilts to be more precise - do look European or often are European. I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on that point. I'm rather curious what Turkish blades you think have that profile, a deep single fuller and are from that period... Anyways, that's perhaps a topic for another time.

As always, I'll be interested what you find in the museums, but I wouldn't expect much in the way of a "smoking gun" one way or the other.

Cheers,

Iain
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Old 21st February 2013, 03:55 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim,

This is a point where we will just have to disagree - the Yemeni blades, or blades found in Yemeni hilts to be more precise - do look European or often are European. I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on that point. I'm rather curious what Turkish blades you think have that profile, a deep single fuller and are from that period... Anyways, that's perhaps a topic for another time.

As always, I'll be interested what you find in the museums, but I wouldn't expect much in the way of a "smoking gun" one way or the other.

Cheers,

Iain



Salaams Iain... European blades certainly did get fitted up to Yemeni hilts absolutely agreed but not (I suspect) the type of straight, broad, virtually nonflexing long Yemeni blades on the foto below. I think these are Ottoman linked. I have pushed onto pictures below(not in order) all the steps between the Mamluke, Ottoman, Yemeni and Omani swords which makes it clear where my line of enquiry is going...to the museums!!
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 21st February 2013, 04:03 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain... European blades certainly did get fitted up to Yemeni hilts absolutely agreed but not (I suspect) the type of straight broad virtually nonflexing long Yemeni blades on the foto below. I think these are Ottoman linked.


Huge difference in the geometry and fullers. I see what you are getting at, but one straight, single fuller pattern is not quite like another. Notice the thickness, profile, geometry of the edges, relative width of the fullers among many other factors.
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Old 21st February 2013, 04:05 PM   #27
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Huge difference in the geometry and fullers. I see what you are getting at, but one straight, single fuller pattern is not quite like another. Notice the thickness, profile, geometry of the edges, relative width of the fullers among many other factors.



Salaams Iain ~Ya but influence? European Trade or somewhere else?
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Old 21st February 2013, 04:09 PM   #28
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Salaams Iain ~Ya but influence? European Trade or somewhere else?
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


I'm not aware of the profile seen in the image of Yemeni long hilts being found in Ottoman work. The comparison images you showed don't really work for the reasons highlighted above.

I am aware of it in European trade blades - in fact very common in these blades... I for one can draw certain conclusions from that. Deductive logic says...
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Old 21st February 2013, 04:29 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Iain
I'm not aware of the profile seen in the image of Yemeni long hilts being found in Ottoman work. The comparison images you showed don't really work for the reasons highlighted above.

I am aware of it in European trade blades - in fact very common in these blades... I for one can draw certain conclusions from that. Deductive logic says...



Salaams Iain ..It is by no means solved as yet.

1. First point ~ the 2nd picture above shows a man holding sword, Mamluke style, comparable with the Mamlukes in the Ottoman museum also shown in picture 4 ~
2. The man holding sword is I believe the same blade "format" as the Yemeni Sayfs... perhaps infact partly the origin of it.
3. The hilts however are where my main emphasis is placed. Mamluke, Ottoman, Yemeni, Omani all on long blades though in the transition finally quite different blades...ending with the flexible Omani dancing style.

I view all this as influence and aim to consider the Yemeni Sayf as a contender for the origin of species of the Omani dancing sword... aware as always that there are many possibilities but the transition from long Yemeni hilt (and or blade) and prior to that Ottoman hilt (and or blade) to long Omani Hilt (and or blade) seems plausible.

However, I hope I'm not wasting too much ink !

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 23rd February 2013, 03:13 AM   #30
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Default Just one question.....

Whilst I note that the above interesting discussion has for the present discounted the issue of flexibility, I have just one question for a straight "yes" or "no" answer please.
Do ALL the Straight bladed Omani Sayfs have a "90 degree" flex or not?
If not, then it would be reasonable to assume that those that DO NOT, were, or COULD have been, used for combat, and therefore could not accurately be called Dancing Swords. I have a Sayf in my collection which has only about 2" flex....pic below.
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