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Old 1st September 2013, 11:45 AM   #61
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
With respect to your updated post from which I drew my quote of yours.

With consideration to a number of things mentioned but the absence of examples collected by these authors, they are but merely telling a story in their journals, not studying specifics of weapons nor collecting them.

This sword of fighting type we discuss between us for example, is certainly a thin sword to coin the phrase presented above by one author...very thin compared to English regulation swords for sure and thin in many respects to Indian swords of the time and period that he was exposed to but a strong well forged fighting type.

As I have mentioned, I have no denial that these swords were used in dance, that is not being questioned, but they did certainly carry heavier fighting blades in this style of sword.


Gavin



Salaams, SwordsAntiqueWeapons ~ Your viewpoint, whilst respected, is at loggerheads with mine. Last paragraph first.. There is no evidence of another type of Omani sword with a non flexible blade in dancing guise. Other than the rehilts I have detailed there is no Omani type that fits the description except of course, Tourist Sword.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 1st September 2013, 11:51 AM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams SwordsAntiqueWeapons,

I dont understand your first paragraph ?




Ibrahiim,

The paragraph is indicative that if you were here with me examining this sword, in a controlled enviroment you would be convinced to understand it better than your dismissal of it for what it is that you claim from afar.

Equally, if it was put through stringent scientific examination at both superfical level and through scientific disassembly of the sword, it too would convince you of the sword as being of antiquity.

Apart from, and keeping this comment specific to this sword we discuss, hot the type, I have not had you present a comparable example to support your claims, only crude all steel examples and hearsay. Equally for me here, now only having this one example in my hands, I will engage the collection of others as they come to hand to better support the type I suggest.

Gavin
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Old 1st September 2013, 11:54 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams, SwordsAntiqueWeapons ~ Your viewpoint, whilst respected, is at loggerheads with mine. Last paragraph first.. There is no evidence of another type of Omani sword with a non flexible blade in dancing guise. Other than the rehilts I have detailed there is no Omani type that fits the description except of course, Tourist Sword.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Loggerheads it is Ibrahiim...but there is evidence not being embraced...the one I hold and others I have handled...of the poor crude unrefined tourist types you mention, I have never gone out of my way to obtain one.

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Old 1st September 2013, 11:56 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams SwordsAntiqueWeapons,

If you have an idea as to how these arrived then lets hear it ! The hot anvil of Forum discussion awaits your findings...



One bridge at a time friend, one bridge at a time.

Gavin
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Old 1st September 2013, 03:20 PM   #65
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Salaams all~ Whilst we are waiting for that I should remind Forum of what I mean by Mimic Fighting and March Past using the The Straight Dancing Sword; The Flexible sword invented for the Bussaidi Dynasty in 1744 and still in power thus the sword is still used in a declaration of support in all the related pageants. The March Past by tribal infantry and the Mimic Fight are shown below;see also #38.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 4th September 2013, 07:44 AM   #66
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Ibrahiim..........Are you planning on addressing the issue raised by Gavin?
I for one would be interested to see where this goes...........and I am sure there are others who would be interested also.
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Old 4th September 2013, 09:14 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Ibrahiim..........Are you planning on addressing the issue raised by Gavin?
I for one would be interested to see where this goes...........and I am sure there are others who would be interested also.


Hi Stu,

As far as the discussion goes, we are at loggerheads as noted. Points have been addressed but with disbelief which is part and parcel of working through things.
If time permits I will seek out provenanced examples and advise further, maybe someone with more spare time can also do so.

Other than that, without opening another can of worms you may have to request a specific point not yet answered, I may have missed one.

I would also like to add, the black and white image above;
The gent crouching embraces a sword of fighting form with a tip not seen on dance swords...I too note the buckler has some nasty cuts out of it...surely not from a dance sword dance which further leads me to suspect and suspect only that he must own two or more swords by all accounts noted by Ibrahiim, especially if each sword has its specific use, a straight one for dance a curved one for fighting and if lucky a straight one for fighting, which begs another question to be asked, did by this measure, every man able to fight, carry two or more swords when away from his home in the century past, a dance sword, a battle sword and a curved sword...seems out of place, I would suggest, on a pilgrimage, only one sword would be carried, likely a long handled fighting type being of preference and that it was used for both dance and protection/fighting(speculation but plausible).
I might too add that these fighting swords of a straight type are more than meets the eye at first glace, much like Iain's swords when viewed closely, they are straight but one way in the hand has straight sword weight and feel, turn the swords 180deg in the hands and they have a sabre like weight distribution. This is an aspect seen in many straight double edged swords throughout time.

Gavin
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Old 4th September 2013, 05:39 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Ibrahiim..........Are you planning on addressing the issue raised by Gavin?
I for one would be interested to see where this goes...........and I am sure there are others who would be interested also.




Salaams khanjar 1... As you well know... I have addressed the issue many times, however, as noted there is a log jam.

Of the many thousands of rehilted non Omani blades on Omani long hilts sold via Muscat I am certain there are quite a few foreign people holding made up swords of the style I have outlined in their collections. The rule is simple;

Straight, not flexible on a long Omani Hilt= Not an Omani Dancing Sword= Fake.

SwordsAntiqueWeapons ..Your comment about the tip of the sword is because the sword is moving, twisting, flexing and displayed as more pointed than usual but this is only an optical illusion ...see also the optical effect on the parade past below. It is a standard Omani, straight, flat, spatulate, flexible, round tipped, dancing sword.

Your remaining paragraph covers purely so far as I can see conjecture on the whyfors of cuts in the Terrs shield and sumations on pilgrimage carriage of sword/swords... none of which has a bearing on this case and which are simply unproven guesses. Most terrs have cuts in them caused by the mimic fight morelikely..and since after all the blades are very sharp. In the case of a Terrs having actually been used in combat with the Omani Battle Sword I can imagine cuts in the shield in that function. You will recall the reason why the Terrs was awarded/ordered to be included in the pageants with the 1744 dancer?

Unless you are about to re write Omani Sword History please be advised that there is no evidence of stiff fighting blades on Omani Dancing swords... the vast number of rehilted tourist swords , has however, created its own weather pattern. The source has been identified as has the rehilting region (Muttrah) and the date from about and after 1970 til now viz;

Germany/Europe>Ethiopia>Yemen/Saudia>Sanaa>Salalah/Muscat>Muttrah Souk>World.

The dancing sword has been carried by tribal infantry in Oman since 1744 but only for the dedication ... the parade ... and march past in front of the Bussaidi Ruler; The straight dancing sword could well be described as the Bussaidi Dynastic Sword and I can show a sketch of it carried by tribal infantry in the 19th C... That doesn't make it a fighting weapon. I have to say however that it certainly adds fog to the situation..!! It was, however, a dancing sword and is still used today only for that and the pageants.

I think the biggest mistake is in classing the sword as a fighting weapon because it feels, looks and appears to be so. This has fooled visitors and collectors alike for a very long time. The fact that it can apparently chop an arm off, cut a man in half, or that the warriors weilding it look war-like, vicious , deadly ...etc etc is purely coincidental..they probably are but not with that sword.

Now firstly to be absolutely clear and specific and we are not talking about any other combination such as battle swords... The long Omani flexible dancing Sword on the long hilt, called The Sayf or Saif is purely for pageants and dancing and I think that is agreed...

Secondly what seems to be questionable is a stiff bladed fighting version on the same long hilt. This is not the case. Any stiff variants are relatively recently cross hilted as detailed by me as not genuine.

( Owners of the fake version with the stiff blade may pontificate untill they are blue in the face but that will never change the scenario..If it doesn't flex ... if its stiff ... its not an Omani dancing sword... and there is no other category to slot it into since by definition its a 1970 (from and to-date) fake. A Tourist sword.

I have seen these stiff bladed swords and some are in excellent disguise and clearly went for a considerable sum .. They are accompanied by well made Omani Scabbards and occasionally superb furniture..I have never seen one in the ownership of a local... they all seem to be externally owned... why? Perhaps because they all traversed the souk system which created them and were outed to foreign ownership from about 1970 (thus they are tourist swords) and since Omani men don't use them... because... the blades don't flex.

Anyone conducting research into these stiff blades should keep that in mind.


Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 4th September 2013, 08:30 PM   #69
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I don't really feel like diving into all this again, but I'd be curious Ibrahiim, if you've come across a provenanced 19th century, or earlier, dance version (i.e. super flexi blade). By provenance I mean a sword that has not been rehilted or tampered with and has a firm, documented collection date. in the 1800s or earlier.

I think it would be interesting to see.
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Old 5th September 2013, 05:06 PM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
I don't really feel like diving into all this again, but I'd be curious Ibrahiim, if you've come across a provenanced 19th century, or earlier, dance version (i.e. super flexi blade). By provenance I mean a sword that has not been rehilted or tampered with and has a firm, documented collection date. in the 1800s or earlier.

I think it would be interesting to see.



Salaams Iain, The only likely source of that is the National Museum which I shall try to access shortly. The other document which probably exists in some far flung corner of the Museum admin section would be the signed order for the actual Dancing Sword being brought into play in 1744...

That being the perfect solution I can wager straight away that perhaps neither exist !

Fine dancing swords are in private hands since they are part of an Omani Families Heirloom...and like the Museum quest it is on my list.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 5th September 2013, 05:14 PM   #71
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Hi Ibrahiim, I would be very surprised if some examples did not end up in European collections during the 19th century. That is perhaps a more likely avenue to have properly dated items with provenance.
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Old 5th September 2013, 05:44 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi Ibrahiim, I would be very surprised if some examples did not end up in European collections during the 19th century. That is perhaps a more likely avenue to have properly dated items with provenance.



Salaams Iain~ Im not about to argue that point, however, it seems to me that few Europeans if any have swords from 19th C. Oman which was in decline and largely side stepped because of the Suez canal etc.
I am not particularly well positioned either to view possible European collections but I am astride the situation here in Oman. It is, therefor, here that I shall research.

It should be noted that those in favour of an old dancing sword used for fighting may be trying to push the envelope back from the 1970 rehilted lineage to suggest a thicker stiff bladed sword of earlier provenance... when in fact no such weapon exists... save for the fake, rehilted, Red Sea variants already outlined.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 5th September 2013, 06:06 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain~ Im not about to argue that point, however, it seems to me that few Europeans if any have swords from 19th C. Oman which was in decline and largely side stepped because of the Suez canal etc.
I am not particularly well positioned either to view possible European collections but I am astride the situation here in Oman. It is, therefor, here that I shall research.


Hopefully you'll turn something up, however, one of the great benefits of Colonial era bring backs is that the when the item was removed from the source culture it remained unchanged. Given that Britain had involvement in the region from the 1820s it would not be surprising to turn up a few.

Perhaps you'll be able to find that locally, but I'll be interested about any dated provenance.


Quote:
It should be noted that those in favour of an old dancing sword used for fighting may be trying to push the envelope back from the 1970 rehilted lineage to suggest a thicker stiff bladed sword of earlier provenance... when in fact no such weapon exists... save for the fake, rehilted, Red Sea variants already outlined.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Well seeing documented early 20th century and 19th century examples can only help with particular question don't you think?
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Old 6th September 2013, 09:08 AM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
I don't really feel like diving into all this again, but I'd be curious Ibrahiim, if you've come across a provenanced 19th century, or earlier, dance version (i.e. super flexi blade). By provenance I mean a sword that has not been rehilted or tampered with and has a firm, documented collection date. in the 1800s or earlier.

I think it would be interesting to see.


I have had one dance sword of the proper dance type of the vintage noted but without provenance or one never enquired about at the time.
The swords as a type was of EU form shaved within an inch of its life through the top 6-8 inches.

Gavin
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Old 6th September 2013, 05:36 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
I have had one dance sword of the proper dance type of the vintage noted but without provenance or one never enquired about at the time.
The swords as a type was of EU form shaved within an inch of its life through the top 6-8 inches.

Gavin


Hi Gav,

And therein lies the problem I think, there's a few folks around here who've had or have swords they'd attribute to the 19th century and on the other side we've got someone who's aware of similar items still being made today.

A few examples with provenance won't answer all the questions about each individual sword that comes up for discussion, but would at least provide a baseline for what's possible versus the current ideas being put forth in this thread about tourist weapons and fakes.

Since there's a lack of pictorial and archaeological evidence either way for this, really the only thing will be items with collection dates or period photos that clearly show blades.

Ibrahiim, have you ever been to the Bait Al Zubair museum? They apparently have a sword on display with a 17th century Portuguese blade. Not sure of the mounts but it could be interesting.
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Old 6th September 2013, 09:37 PM   #76
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I would like to say that it has been most intesting to see this debate/discussion unfold, and while there aeem to have been a degree of 'loggerheads' etc. everyone seems to have maintained a good level of courtesy in interaction. Most interesting is the nature of the weapons which are the focus here.
If I may add some thoughts and personal experience which though limited, might add a little perspective. I would clarify, as this is a 'discussion' in my view I do not take 'sides'

When I first acquired one of this long cylinder hilt Omani swords, it seems it was around 1994-5 , around the time Robert Elgood published "Arms and Armour of Arabia". At this time, these were still considered remarkably rare, and thier appearance was even rarer in catalogs or auctions. I recall that the admittedly 'wreck' of a 'kattara' I acquired was considered a bit of conquest in the limited collecting circles in which I was involved.

With Elgoods book, we knew of these forms, and the swords referred to in these threads as 'battle swords' from factions in Nizwa were must sought as rare early to even 'ancient' prototypes for the kattara. They were almost invariably misidentified accordingly, as medieval etc.

As has been often the case, in a short time more of the cylinder hilts began to occur in markets, and great excitement grew when several of the 'old' type kattara appeared.
As has been noted, Oman has not been a particularly open place to the west until relatively recent years. Presumably that degree of opening up allowed for more examples to enter collectibles venues.

It would seem to me that kattara, while certainly known of, in the 19th century, were not especially avaliable in the typical colonial 'tourist' and souvenier centers of North Africa, Arabia and Red Sea areas. What seems to be known of them, as seen with the references by Auguste Demmin (1867) and subsequently copied by Burton (1884), these cylinder hilts appear to have been regarded as from Zanzibar. That is reflected in these references in drawings, and while Oman itself was effectively 'closed', the bustling entrepot of Zanzibar was not, but it was a Sultanate of Oman. Clearly the Zanzibar attribution resulted, and most notably, the limited data regarding these weapons has remained largely stagnant until Elgood in 1994.

The ceremonial function of these cylindrical hilt swords is well established, but it would seem that thier use in form as battle swords in Muscati circumstances was also a case in degree in the 19th century. It also seems that they were worn in more ostentatious dress as a status symbol and mark of prestige by the burgeoning ranks of merchants from Oman (Muscat as I understand), while interior Nizwa maintained thier traditional forms.

It does not seem particularly remarkable that various trade blades from German and other sources would have entered Omani armouries, and that their armourers would have copied markings etc just as in other colonial or native settings.
That the cottage industry of commercially producing these swords not only for ceremonial purposes, but for tourist ('collecting') venues also does not seem remarkable.

It is clear that the early days of these becoming available in limited degree opened doors for the usual dealer opportunities, which became exploited in many cases as is typically the case with arms antiquities. I think the open look into these kinds of circumstances that has been revealed in these pages is wonderfully helpful to collectors, however I am not sure that these weapons as types can be categorically classified without individual evalution of each one on its own merits.

End of solilioquy
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Old 7th September 2013, 11:02 AM   #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I would like to say that it has been most intesting to see this debate/discussion unfold, and while there aeem to have been a degree of 'loggerheads' etc. everyone seems to have maintained a good level of courtesy in interaction. Most interesting is the nature of the weapons which are the focus here.
If I may add some thoughts and personal experience which though limited, might add a little perspective. I would clarify, as this is a 'discussion' in my view I do not take 'sides'

When I first acquired one of this long cylinder hilt Omani swords, it seems it was around 1994-5 , around the time Robert Elgood published "Arms and Armour of Arabia". At this time, these were still considered remarkably rare, and thier appearance was even rarer in catalogs or auctions. I recall that the admittedly 'wreck' of a 'kattara' I acquired was considered a bit of conquest in the limited collecting circles in which I was involved.

With Elgoods book, we knew of these forms, and the swords referred to in these threads as 'battle swords' from factions in Nizwa were must sought as rare early to even 'ancient' prototypes for the kattara. They were almost invariably misidentified accordingly, as medieval etc.

As has been often the case, in a short time more of the cylinder hilts began to occur in markets, and great excitement grew when several of the 'old' type kattara appeared.
As has been noted, Oman has not been a particularly open place to the west until relatively recent years. Presumably that degree of opening up allowed for more examples to enter collectibles venues.

It would seem to me that kattara, while certainly known of, in the 19th century, were not especially avaliable in the typical colonial 'tourist' and souvenier centers of North Africa, Arabia and Red Sea areas. What seems to be known of them, as seen with the references by Auguste Demmin (1867) and subsequently copied by Burton (1884), these cylinder hilts appear to have been regarded as from Zanzibar. That is reflected in these references in drawings, and while Oman itself was effectively 'closed', the bustling entrepot of Zanzibar was not, but it was a Sultanate of Oman. Clearly the Zanzibar attribution resulted, and most notably, the limited data regarding these weapons has remained largely stagnant until Elgood in 1994.

The ceremonial function of these cylindrical hilt swords is well established, but it would seem that thier use in form as battle swords in Muscati circumstances was also a case in degree in the 19th century. It also seems that they were worn in more ostentatious dress as a status symbol and mark of prestige by the burgeoning ranks of merchants from Oman (Muscat as I understand), while interior Nizwa maintained thier traditional forms.

It does not seem particularly remarkable that various trade blades from German and other sources would have entered Omani armouries, and that their armourers would have copied markings etc just as in other colonial or native settings.
That the cottage industry of commercially producing these swords not only for ceremonial purposes, but for tourist ('collecting') venues also does not seem remarkable.

It is clear that the early days of these becoming available in limited degree opened doors for the usual dealer opportunities, which became exploited in many cases as is typically the case with arms antiquities. I think the open look into these kinds of circumstances that has been revealed in these pages is wonderfully helpful to collectors, however I am not sure that these weapons as types can be categorically classified without individual evalution of each one on its own merits.

End of solilioquy




Salaams Jim,
Thank you for your post which I feel well underlines the cleansing humility about doubt in the matter of The Dancing Sword.

I have to say that one part of the puzzle I cannot get to the root of, is the date of appearance of the Kattara; The Curved Omani Sword, though, incidentally more often seen with a European blade..Did this appear before or after the Straight Omani Dancing Sword ?.. whose known birthdate is 1744 at the outset of the Bussaidi Dynasty. Naturally, part of the question is "where did the long Omani hilt come from" ? Which sword/thus which hilt came first?

I have been in most of the Museums, though, Bait Zubair not yet but friends have seen the exhibits, however, the Portuguese oddity is one blade I would like to look at and to ask where did it appear from and when? Portuguese Swords tended to be Rapier style... or at least the few I have owned were... I would like to examine any broadsword of that period pre 1650 in Muscat museums...though I am aware of certain exhibits that have a shall we say "dubious recent history". It would indeed be odd to discover a Portuguese blade of pre 1650 vintage on a post 1744 hilt !! but I suspect that is all it will be.

Meanwhile I continue to help build a strong reference library on this subject and I believe we are healthier for it.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 7th September 2013, 02:04 PM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Jim,
It would indeed be odd to discover a Portuguese blade of pre 1650 vintage on a post 1744 hilt !! but I suspect that is all it will be.


It would have to be done post 1970 then to fit in with the typology you've outlined and would have to be classed as a "tourist item" as it would not be a flexible dancing sword.

Hopefully you can visit the museum in the near future and clear this up, I'm quite a few folks would be curious to see this particular sword.
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Old 7th September 2013, 05:27 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
It would have to be done post 1970 then to fit in with the typology you've outlined and would have to be classed as a "tourist item" as it would not be a flexible dancing sword.

Hopefully you can visit the museum in the near future and clear this up, I'm quite a few folks would be curious to see this particular sword.




Salaams Iain... Of the half dozen or so scenarios that is one of them...I can only speculate on the potential range of variations since if the sword was left behind/captured when the Portuguese left we are talking about 1650. That puts the long hilt and the dancing sword out of sight. If the blade was slapped onto an Omani Longhilt later it raises many questions and if it was mounted post 1970 then it's a fake by definition. Surprisingly the Richardson and Dorr team included a few swords from that collection in their book but they are Shamshiirs..one with a 18th C. German blade ... I shall visit there soon but I know they are camera allergenic !
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 7th September 2013, 08:27 PM   #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Jim,
Thank you for your post which I feel well underlines the cleansing humility about doubt in the matter of The Dancing Sword.

I have to say that one part of the puzzle I cannot get to the root of, is the date of appearance of the Kattara; The Curved Omani Sword, though, incidentally more often seen with a European blade..Did this appear before or after the Straight Omani Dancing Sword ?.. whose known birthdate is 1744 at the outset of the Bussaidi Dynasty. Naturally, part of the question is "where did the long Omani hilt come from" ? Which sword/thus which hilt came first?

I have been in most of the Museums, though, Bait Zubair not yet but friends have seen the exhibits, however, the Portuguese oddity is one blade I would like to look at and to ask where did it appear from and when? Portuguese Swords tended to be Rapier style... or at least the few I have owned were... I would like to examine any broadsword of that period pre 1650 in Muscat museums...though I am aware of certain exhibits that have a shall we say "dubious recent history". It would indeed be odd to discover a Portuguese blade of pre 1650 vintage on a post 1744 hilt !! but I suspect that is all it will be.

Meanwhile I continue to help build a strong reference library on this subject and I believe we are healthier for it.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi



Regarding the curved 'kattara' (using the generally held term for Omani swords with cylindrical hilt), these I think would be likely to have evolved from these type hilts being placed on 'trade' or perhaps even 'surplus' European blades entering Omani trade sphere. This would most likely have occurred post the hypothetical mid 18th century benchmark for these type hilts.

While the open, guardless hilt is certainly not a unique characteristic of course, and is well known in swords such as the shashka In Central Asia and certain other instances. Obviously we cannot arbitrarily presume influences of these toward the broadsword with such hilt which became known in association with these pageantry events mid18th century, but by the same token cannot ignore the potential.

It would seem to me that these style hilts becoming popularized in these clearly very important traditional events might be adopted into actual weapons intended for regular military use. The 'cross over' of weapons commonly held to be 'non combat' ceremonial or dress weapons in many cases fail to recognize that often such weapons, like the smallsword and other military officers swords are in fact sully capable of deadly use.

Also, many true combat level arms are used in various traditional ceremonies, with sword dances in Scotland, India, Africa, and many other cases. Despite use of combat weapons in these, the production of less formidable blades on similiar hilt forms was common as well as the continuation of these kinds of ceremonies sometimes called for less potential for accidental harm to participants.

Returning to the original question of the curved blades, I think as noted these probably were the result of availability of these blades in the trade spheres and preferences of local consumers. Obviously the sabre had become highly favored throughout Arabia as well as many of the cultural spheres, and even in North Africa, where broadswords typically reigned supreme from the Sudan into Saharan regions...sabres such as the Manding form in Mali and contiguous areas and that of Tuareg regions termed 'aljuinar' were present by the 19th century.
As with the Manding swords, it seems most of the sabre blades were German with names like FW Holler and some French examples, but I have seen even British blades with MOLE.

I have often noticed and often mentioned that it would seem there are compelling similarities between the Manding sabres and their open cylindrical hilts and the Omani hilts. The interesting hilt style is of course quite contrary to the typical crossguard form hilts of takouba and kaskara as well as the military hilts of the sabres which often provided curved blades.
This has always led me to the well established connection with these Saharan regions via caravan routes into eastern Africa and ultimately Zanzibar, where the Omani Sultanate thrived in trade.

When the other broadsword with cylindrical hilt, the Maasai 'seme' comes to mind, it becomes even more tempting to consider these routes of diffusion for these type hilts. The availability and increased favor of the sabre may well have carried across these same routes, and conversely toward Oman, in these 19th century times.

Again, all admittedly speculation, however with somewhat compelling plausibility I would think. Hopefully I have not digressed too much in trying to offer my views.
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Old 7th September 2013, 08:41 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Regarding the curved 'kattara' (using the generally held term for Omani swords with cylindrical hilt), these I think would be likely to have evolved from these type hilts being placed on 'trade' or perhaps even 'surplus' European blades entering Omani trade sphere. This would most likely have occurred post the hypothetical mid 18th century benchmark for these type hilts.

While the open, guardless hilt is certainly not a unique characteristic of course, and is well known in swords such as the shashka In Central Asia and certain other instances. Obviously we cannot arbitrarily presume influences of these toward the broadsword with such hilt which became known in association with these pageantry events mid18th century, but by the same token cannot ignore the potential.

It would seem to me that these style hilts becoming popularized in these clearly very important traditional events might be adopted into actual weapons intended for regular military use. The 'cross over' of weapons commonly held to be 'non combat' ceremonial or dress weapons in many cases fail to recognize that often such weapons, like the smallsword and other military officers swords are in fact sully capable of deadly use.

Also, many true combat level arms are used in various traditional ceremonies, with sword dances in Scotland, India, Africa, and many other cases. Despite use of combat weapons in these, the production of less formidable blades on similiar hilt forms was common as well as the continuation of these kinds of ceremonies sometimes called for less potential for accidental harm to participants.

Returning to the original question of the curved blades, I think as noted these probably were the result of availability of these blades in the trade spheres and preferences of local consumers. Obviously the sabre had become highly favored throughout Arabia as well as many of the cultural spheres, and even in North Africa, where broadswords typically reigned supreme from the Sudan into Saharan regions...sabres such as the Manding form in Mali and contiguous areas and that of Tuareg regions termed 'aljuinar' were present by the 19th century.
As with the Manding swords, it seems most of the sabre blades were German with names like FW Holler and some French examples, but I have seen even British blades with MOLE.

I have often noticed and often mentioned that it would seem there are compelling similarities between the Manding sabres and their open cylindrical hilts and the Omani hilts. The interesting hilt style is of course quite contrary to the typical crossguard form hilts of takouba and kaskara as well as the military hilts of the sabres which often provided curved blades.
This has always led me to the well established connection with these Saharan regions via caravan routes into eastern Africa and ultimately Zanzibar, where the Omani Sultanate thrived in trade.

When the other broadsword with cylindrical hilt, the Maasai 'seme' comes to mind, it becomes even more tempting to consider these routes of diffusion for these type hilts. The availability and increased favor of the sabre may well have carried across these same routes, and conversely toward Oman, in these 19th century times.

Again, all admittedly speculation, however with somewhat compelling plausibility I would think. Hopefully I have not digressed too much in trying to offer my views.

Hi Jim,
I should point out that it is not the curved Omani sword at issue here, but the straight fighting bladed Omani hilted sword, about which Gavin and Ibrahiim are at loggerheads. I do not like the word FAKE particularly, but since it has been well used to describe these so-called "nonexistant" swords made by suppliers to the tourist market, then the word should also sit squarely on Khanjars which are being modern made and sold at exhorbitant prices to the unwitting tourist. These also would then be classified as FAKES.
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Old 7th September 2013, 10:33 PM   #82
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Exactly Stu, and realizing that the curved kattara was of course off topic, I tried to address that aspect as well as trying to express my views toward the dancing/combat etc. issues.

I also personally pretty much detest the unfortunate term 'fake' , especially in the world of ethnographic arms. While obviously there are commercial exploitations of many distinct weapon forms which are made explicitly to be hawked to wide eyed tourists. However there are many examples of such forms which are modernly produced as part of the traditional costume and accoutrements worn in accord with local customs, and made observing established traditional guidelines. This is at least the understanding I have in many accounts I have been made aware of with these kinds of circumstances.
It does seem that in this context, often tourists will try to purchase a weapon actually being worn by an individual, in thier hopes of acquiring an 'authentic' traditional weapon over a 'bazaar' piece from off a display table. At least temporally they feel they have acquired an item from the tribal context which they are attempting to 'experience. In such cases, the individual who relinquishes his weapon for sale simply replaces it. While industriously off center in degree, the weapons themselves do have also in degree some level of interpretive authenticity.

It would be incredibly naieve to assume that many weapons are not indeed produced expressly to be hawked in bazaars or shops for the less adventurous or time constrained souvenier hunters. Again, as collectors, I think that there can never be too much knowledge at hand, and it is incumbent on that collector to be wary of these conditions and of course caveat emptor.

Again to the topic at loggerheads...there can be no doubt that weapons (regardless of term, in this case the Omani broadswords long generally termed as 'kattara') used in pageantry events have been produced expressly for that purpose. It does not seem inconceivable that equivilent examples of said type might have been produced as combat or military arms. As I noted, by the same token, the availability of imported trade blades or already mounted examples certainly might have become used in certain cases in these pageants.
What has been said is that the inflexibility of certain blades would in most cases impair the key element of the exhibition of swords, being the undulation and movement of the blades and thier effects. Again, certainly there might be cases where fully functional combat level bladed weapons might have been used.

In my own opinion, I cannot see where there must be hard and fast rules or circumstances dictating which swords by nature of thier blades must be confined to specific use by the varying degree of blade flexibility. Obviously in cases of extremely flimsy blades, they would serve poorly in actual combat, but as these are slashing weapons in a secondary use situation it seems they might have served for lack of better weapon.

These situations would be toward much earlier instances as in more modern times, the use of guns and bayonets would be of course in place in combat circumstances, and there would be no place for such traditional swords.
This then would again look toward this discussion at hand, and it would seem clear that in earlier times, there were indeed combat swords and lighter ceremonial swords of the straight blade, cylinder hilt form.

It is duly noted that at present, and in more recent years, examples of these same form swords have been produced, whether to serve as implements in the pageantry described or of course, in the cottage industry of weapons for souvenier hunters and unwary collectors. In my impression, there are apparantly some artisans and dealers who perform refurbishing of some of these sword forms using authentic components and traditionally observed methods of restoration. As long as properly described and presented, these I believe are not within the again unfortunate, 'fake' classification, and should be accepted by collectors for exactly what they are.
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Old 8th September 2013, 06:26 AM   #83
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Hi Jim,
I have to agree with the last part of your last paragraph above, where you mention new built/restored items being passed off as genuine old collectors pieces. As we all know by now these are being openly advertised on the Net at huge prices, and with no mention that they are not genuine old pieces. So as you state, Caveat Emptor.
With regard to the "Loggerheads issue", I do not see a resolve here unless there is progress made by ALL parties towards the acceptance that JUST MAYBE there COULD BE swords of the Omani Saif type with stiff fighting blades.
Also it should be born in mind that this is a DISCUSSION Forum, the opinions written here are only the opinions of the writer, and should not necessarily be taken as 100% correct. The unfortunate thing here is that there appears to be absolutely no room for movement, or anyone else's view.
Stu
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Old 8th September 2013, 06:13 PM   #84
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Old 8th September 2013, 06:32 PM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jim,
I should point out that it is not the curved Omani sword at issue here, but the straight fighting bladed Omani hilted sword, about which Gavin and Ibrahiim are at loggerheads. I do not like the word FAKE particularly, but since it has been well used to describe these so-called "nonexistant" swords made by suppliers to the tourist market, then the word should also sit squarely on Khanjars which are being modern made and sold at exhorbitant prices to the unwitting tourist. These also would then be classified as FAKES.



Salaams Khanjar 1 ~You write with a bitter taste in your pen...no?

It is a fact that the two styles are called Sayf or Saif for the straight dancer and Kattarah for the great curved sword. Im not sure if the collectors care one way or the other what they are called in Oman and I gave up worrying about that ages ago.

Be advised that ethnographic arms generally applies to collectors of such weapons that are not in vogue/newly made/used/ today... For antiques part of their charm may in fact be because they are artefacts used in battles before... a long time ago. In fact a lot of collectors tend to ringfence more modern weapons because of this fact. Weapons in some countries, however, are made as a continuum of that process i.e. They never fell from grace... they are still worn in honour of the forefathers and they are still made new today. A new Omani Khanjar expertly made will no doubt in future become a collectors item and joins the long respected and honourable process of antiquity in due course. This is the peculiar position in Oman.

Naturally many Omani weapons are heirloom items which almost never get sold but are passed down the family line... they quite often come in for repair but don't usually appear for sale. Equally local people also demand brand new pieces... made in the time honoured way with the same tools and by expert craftsmen who learned the trade from their fathers and who still even use the same old tools. On top of that there are some workshops in India and now in China that do cheap copies and which also do appear mixed all together in the souks in particular Sharjah and Muscat ~ mixed with stuff from the Yemen and Saudia as well as Syria and as those countries come under pressure internally the percentage of stuff from these regions climbs ..

I estimate the level of non Omani gear in Muttrah is somewhere in the region of 80 to 90% but in Sharjah it's different and worse .. The vast bulk of it is non UAE..with authentic and mixed fake work eminating from Afghanistan, India and China... and everywhere else ... about 99% fake.

I use the word "fake" and I mean it. A sword deliberately cross hilted after 1970 for selling onto the tourist market with a 19th C. blade (or any other age) from the Red Sea regions with a hilt of Omani style and sold as an Omani Sword is a Fake. A khanjar made for the Omani market isn't. A Khanjar made as a deliberate fake aimed at hoodwinking tourists is.

It is a matter of experience...Countless hours spent in the old workshops of The Baatinah, Nizwa, Sanau and Muscat coupled with the experience of many decades studying and talking to the makers... it rather undermines your case; The fact that a few fake Khanjars may be encountered in Sharjah Souk (or other) is unrelated to the canny, crafty way the Muttrah sword, cross hilting, situation has inserted itself since 1970. Thats life.

What is important is not to grumble about it... ... but conversely to inform this important international panel of collectors so that they may be aware of it. I mean you do realise that buying in any souk it must be down to the individual not to get stupidly ripped off ! The best defence against that surely is knowledge..and Forum is honourably packed with that.


Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 8th September 2013 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 8th September 2013, 07:55 PM   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Regarding the curved 'kattara' (using the generally held term for Omani swords with cylindrical hilt), these I think would be likely to have evolved from these type hilts being placed on 'trade' or perhaps even 'surplus' European blades entering Omani trade sphere. This would most likely have occurred post the hypothetical mid 18th century benchmark for these type hilts.

While the open, guardless hilt is certainly not a unique characteristic of course, and is well known in swords such as the shashka In Central Asia and certain other instances. Obviously we cannot arbitrarily presume influences of these toward the broadsword with such hilt which became known in association with these pageantry events mid18th century, but by the same token cannot ignore the potential.

It would seem to me that these style hilts becoming popularized in these clearly very important traditional events might be adopted into actual weapons intended for regular military use. The 'cross over' of weapons commonly held to be 'non combat' ceremonial or dress weapons in many cases fail to recognize that often such weapons, like the smallsword and other military officers swords are in fact sully capable of deadly use.

Also, many true combat level arms are used in various traditional ceremonies, with sword dances in Scotland, India, Africa, and many other cases. Despite use of combat weapons in these, the production of less formidable blades on similiar hilt forms was common as well as the continuation of these kinds of ceremonies sometimes called for less potential for accidental harm to participants.

Returning to the original question of the curved blades, I think as noted these probably were the result of availability of these blades in the trade spheres and preferences of local consumers. Obviously the sabre had become highly favored throughout Arabia as well as many of the cultural spheres, and even in North Africa, where broadswords typically reigned supreme from the Sudan into Saharan regions...sabres such as the Manding form in Mali and contiguous areas and that of Tuareg regions termed 'aljuinar' were present by the 19th century.
As with the Manding swords, it seems most of the sabre blades were German with names like FW Holler and some French examples, but I have seen even British blades with MOLE.

I have often noticed and often mentioned that it would seem there are compelling similarities between the Manding sabres and their open cylindrical hilts and the Omani hilts. The interesting hilt style is of course quite contrary to the typical crossguard form hilts of takouba and kaskara as well as the military hilts of the sabres which often provided curved blades.
This has always led me to the well established connection with these Saharan regions via caravan routes into eastern Africa and ultimately Zanzibar, where the Omani Sultanate thrived in trade.

When the other broadsword with cylindrical hilt, the Maasai 'seme' comes to mind, it becomes even more tempting to consider these routes of diffusion for these type hilts. The availability and increased favor of the sabre may well have carried across these same routes, and conversely toward Oman, in these 19th century times.

Again, all admittedly speculation, however with somewhat compelling plausibility I would think. Hopefully I have not digressed too much in trying to offer my views.



Salaams Jim ~ Thank you for your detailed post. Not withstanding the situation regarding The Omani Dancing Sword I found your comments well placed about the curved weapon ~ it begs the question where/when did the long Omani Hilt originate? Which sword was first on the scene?; The Dancing Sword of 1744 or the Curved Kattarah? Is it possible that they arrived at the same time?

It would be plausible to suppose that the Mandingo long hilt transmitted onto a long Omani hilt form via a slavers sword pre 1744 and became the accepted Omani Longhilt but there is not enough evidence yet... In fact the timings are interesting since if the form suddenly appeared direct from Mandingo to Omani Dancing sword it could be that it was then transmitted onto the curved Kattarah style...in 1744... so we are in full circle.

I continue to look at blades and hope to get in again to the Museums in Muscat to see if the dates can be separated. It would be nice to know. Does it make any diffrence to the connundrum about the odd stiff blades on Omani Longhilts? I'm not sure.

I was lucky enough to have Bin Gabaishas son (Bin Gabaisha of Thesiger fame) over this evening for a chat and he reports his father is alive and well and still buying and selling camels in the UAE. It struck me that the photo of Bin Gabaisha and bin Gabina looked similar to a group sketch of Omani tribal infantry I saw recently and I was going to put the two together for comparison. I digress....

The date of 1744 seems pretty well cemented in by the Museums and is the official start date of the Bussaidi Dynasty... thus the 1744 is taken as the beginning of the Dancing Sword.

I don't believe that the open connical flat hilt is in any way related to other swords without a cross guard except perhaps the Mandingo. It seems quite clear that the dancer was just for pageants and funoon activity.. though the few visitors to Oman in the 19th C. have commented on the weapon and the swordsmen; I think this is a case of mistaken identity... they looked fierce... the swords looked real... but were only for the traditions.

I see the straight dancing sword as carried by tribal infantry as part of their equipment but only as a badge of office or identity as Omani Guards/Military and for applauding the Royalty/ Bussaidi Dynasty.. not for use as weapons. The specifics are precise in this regard... see #1 for the comparison in design and the fact that the Terrs was awarded directly linking the two swords together...and both razor sharp on both edges, round tipped and with the Terrs Shield.

The question of a rigid stiff blade is rejected since the line of such weapons has been identified as souk made/ modified since 1970. It seems logical that anyone who wants to prove otherwise that swords of this nature existed prior to that need only prove that earlier provenance. I tried but simply couldn't.. because they only appeared after that date in the structure I have described from Red Sea Blades.

Would I otherwise suggest that there was no such thing ? Perhaps I should have said.."The Omani fighting straight sword based upon the dancing sword but with a stiff blade is an Omani fighting sword".... That would be completely untrue !

Where does a blade, imported from Red Sea regions, which has been tang extended, and fitted up with an Omani long hilt, after 1970, in Muttrah, deliberately for tourists fit? Is it a real Omani sword, after all it was made in Oman (partly) ? The curved Kattarah has often an imported Euroblade with an Omani Hilt ... that's an Omani sword so why isn't this one? I've made the comparison before but if a Japanese blade is fitted to a Norwegian hilt in the same time frame is it a Norwegian sword?

It is for this reason that I categorise the stiff bladed version as a fake.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 8th September 2013, 08:50 PM   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi

The date of 1744 seems pretty well cemented in by the Museums and is the official start date of the Bussaidi Dynasty... thus the 1744 is taken as the beginning of the Dancing Sword.


Yet without a single piece dated to this period (at least that I can recall popping up on these myriad threads about the type) it is rather difficult to say what it looked like no? Surely for a sword designed as an icon something from the 18th century attributed to a particular person should at least be around?

Frankly I can't recall exactly what the museum told you, perhaps you can re-link the post where you detailed that? It didn't come up on a search easily.

Quote:
The question of a rigid stiff blade is rejected since the line of such weapons has been identified as souk made/ modified since 1970. It seems logical that anyone who wants to prove otherwise that swords of this nature existed prior to that need only prove that earlier provenance. I tried but simply couldn't.. because they only appeared after that date in the structure I have described from Red Sea Blades.


Perhaps this would be better phrased that you have identified blades of this nature being made recently. However, this does not categorically rule out older combinations of the same predating the timeline you've given (1970).

You've admitted yourself you haven't looked into the potential of European colonial bring backs from the late 19th through early 20th century.

Since we haven't seen a single 19th century piece with provenance of ANY style (at least none when I asked about it!) regarding the straight bladed form, this all seems rather hasty.
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Old 8th September 2013, 11:20 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Yet without a single piece dated to this period (at least that I can recall popping up on these myriad threads about the type) it is rather difficult to say what it looked like no? Surely for a sword designed as an icon something from the 18th century attributed to a particular person should at least be around?

Frankly I can't recall exactly what the museum told you, perhaps you can re-link the post where you detailed that? It didn't come up on a search easily.



Perhaps this would be better phrased that you have identified blades of this nature being made recently. However, this does not categorically rule out older combinations of the same predating the timeline you've given (1970).

You've admitted yourself you haven't looked into the potential of European colonial bring backs from the late 19th through early 20th century.

Since we haven't seen a single 19th century piece with provenance of ANY style (at least none when I asked about it!) regarding the straight bladed form, this all seems rather hasty.


Salaams Iain, Did you just say Hasty? The Museum statements confirm the sword as a dancing sword only. I cant recall where it is in the Myriad either but its not a problem as I have the documents here... and I am in the National Museum again this week on research. The Omani Dancing Sword was instigated by the Bussaidi Dynasty in or about 1744 at the beginning of the Dynasty and it is still used for the same thing today... Pageant march past mimic fighting and Traditions only... see funoon.

The notion that there is another straight stiff fighting version on a long hilt is without substance and may be confused by the influx of Red Sea variants cross mounted onto Omani Long Hilts... since 1970.

(You've admitted yourself you haven't looked into the potential of European colonial bring backs from the late 19th through early 20th century). Can you tell me where I said that please??

I assume that the theory behind the 1744 dancing sword is now generally accepted and that insofar as the dancing sword is concerned it ... the straight flexible blade was never used in fighting... and only for Pageants.

However regarding the strange stiff sword which I have described as from the Red Sea regions there is some question? and so that when I am in the Museum I can have that verified and at the same time I can get some old blade shots.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 8th September 2013, 11:52 PM   #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Iain, Did you just say Hasty? The Museum statements confirm the sword as a dancing sword only. I cant recall where it is in the Myriad either but its not a problem as I have the documents here... and I am in the National Museum again this week on research. The Omani Dancing Sword was instigated by the Bussaidi Dynasty in or about 1744 at the beginning of the Dynasty and it is still used for the same thing today... Pageant march past mimic fighting and Traditions only... see funoon.


Whatever documentation you have - as time allows it would be interesting to see. I assume it would require some translation. But we have a few Arabic speaking members, so perhaps you could scan and share originals.


Quote:
(You've admitted yourself you haven't looked into the potential of European colonial bring backs from the late 19th through early 20th century). Can you tell me where I said that please??


I was paraphrasing, see post #72 of yours, the jist being your focus is on research conducted within Oman.


Quote:
I assume that the theory behind the 1744 dancing sword is now generally accepted and that insofar as the dancing sword is concerned it ... the straight flexible blade was never used in fighting... and only for Pageants.

However regarding the strange stiff sword which I have described as from the Red Sea regions there is some question? and so that when I am in the Museum I can have that verified and at the same time I can get some old blade shots.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


It's an interesting theory, I'm not involved enough around these particular weapons to judge it as a whole. It's not my field, still I enjoy occasionally commenting on these threads. Personally I think there's still some logical gaps missing within it which I've mentioned before, but just in case the museum visit can answer a few of them, off the top of my head...

1. A reason why the "dance sword" happens to use blade forms that closely mirror the proportion and design (fullers and geometry) of European blades.

2. As above but goes for blade marks.

These really are two points I've never felt there was a satisfactory answer for in your theory, suddenly there's a shift from a fighting weapon that happens to have wider, shorter, flat blades, to a dance only item that somehow manages to have an almost identical form and set of features to European blades seen elsewhere in the region...

All the best,
Iain
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Old 9th September 2013, 03:52 AM   #90
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An expanation of item two in Ricks presentation of rare swords would be interesting;

http://www.vikingsword.com/library/...eldomwootz1.pdf

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