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Old 8th June 2013, 09:50 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Spanish motto on takouba or kaskara blades?

I have recently been reviewing the types of markings and inscriptions found on these North African swords, and thus far I have not found any blades that have this motto.

I know that the motto has been found on the curious Berber sabres now discussed on concurrent thread, and of course the motto was well known on blades sent to Spains colonies from mid to latter 18th century, but could these blades not have ended up in the African trade routes?

I would really appreciate any input guys

Thank you,
Jim
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Old 9th June 2013, 11:29 PM   #2
Edster
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Jim,

In my limited experience I haven't encountered a kaskara with this or any other Spanish inscription. My guess is that it would not be understood within the language context of either the takouba or kaskara and thus not prized.

Also, blades from Toledo were considered of the highest quality and price among other European makers and wouldn't have been price competitive with the mass produced Solingen trade blades. Perhaps Toledo blades were mostly sold in Europe where broadswords were out of fashion and high quality appreciated. This link is the basis for this assertion. It also has some interesting data on blade mfg. techniques based on place of origin.

http://www.academia.edu/858988/Meta...d_rapier_blades

My opinion is based on primarily superficial (first principles) investigation. Hopefully more serious students will chime in with more substance.

Regards,
Ed
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Old 10th June 2013, 12:10 AM   #3
Gavin Nugent
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I agree with Ed.

Those involved in the inbound trade of these blades would be to some degree literate and have an understanding that these are white manís words and thus perhaps be considered to have power over them and have no real place amongst the regions who received these blades.

The blades with symbols from guilds could be presented as votive ad talismanic in a more primal sense.

As far as German vs. Spanish, with German centres being very productive and being cheaper to make and seeing the volumes of German blades worldwide, they really had a handle on this and no doubt a massive income from it...the Spanish would not have been as competitive until the water wheels started stamping out blades en masse but by this time I think the trade blade distribution had seen the horse already bolt andopportunity missed.



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Old 10th June 2013, 12:52 AM   #4
Oliver Pinchot
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Those involved in the inbound trade of these blades would be to some degree literate and have an understanding that these are white manís words and thus perhaps be considered to have power over them and have no real place amongst the regions who received these blades.

Respectfully, I find this both muddled and incorrect.

The inscription, which no one has bothered to relate in English, means

Do not draw me without right, do not sheathe me without honor.


If translated, such a basic phrase would be understood by virtually any human culture, particularly a chivalric one like that
of the Tuareg. And if not, it would simply represent a series of interesting if unintelligible marks, which even the most ignorant seller would ask a higher price for.
Secondly, the Tuareg are Caucasoid. They are white men, Gavin.

Oliver
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Old 10th June 2013, 01:41 AM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Thank you guys for these outstanding entries!!!
My goal was to hopefully find anyone out there who might have either takouba or kaskara with a blade inscribed with the so called 'Spanish Motto'. Since that particular phrase and motto has been so often discussed on these pages through the years, I presumed that the words and thier meaning were well understood by those reading here. Clearly I should have reiterated the translation.

I would point out that it would seem understandable as Gav has well pointed out, that these Spanish oriented words would not been as appealing for merchants trading in nominally Islamic tribal regions. It seems well placed that symbolic devices which may be perceived into local tribal parlances would be more marketable.

Actually it is important to note that indeed the Tauregs are indeed Caucasoid, as are the other Berber tribes included in these broad Saharan confederations (if that term is correctly applied). They indeed adopted chivalric customs, traditions and ideals largely through European contact and trade.
I would point out however that my question was directed more to ALL tribal groups using the takouba, many of whom are of course, not Caucasian.
I should have clarified that as well.

It is interesting to note that in actuality, the 'Spanish motto' blades were produced in Germany FOR Spain in the 18th century for apparant use in her colonies in New Spain. My thought was that though most of these went into the Americas in volume, perhaps some were redirected into the routes which headed for North Africa, and entered those into Saharan regions.

I rechecked notes from my copy of Briggs and found that he referenced an instance of some of these blades on 1948 (from Zohrer, 1953) and that Lhote has seen some of the French versions of the blades with motto about 1930. These instances seem to have been incidental, and not indicative of any large volume import, but I am hoping examples remain out there!

Thank you again guys for answering with these well placed observations, and my apologies for questions less than adequately postured.
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Old 10th June 2013, 06:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I have recently been reviewing the types of markings and inscriptions found on these North African swords, and thus far I have not found any blades that have this motto.

I know that the motto has been found on the curious Berber sabres now discussed on concurrent thread, and of course the motto was well known on blades sent to Spains colonies from mid to latter 18th century, but could these blades not have ended up in the African trade routes?

I would really appreciate any input guys

Thank you,
Jim

Interesting subject Jim, This link to former Spanish colonies might be of interest and perhaps explain why these blades are found in such wide areas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catego...panish_colonies
Regards Stu
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Old 10th June 2013, 12:07 PM   #7
Gavin Nugent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Those involved in the inbound trade of these blades would be to some degree literate and have an understanding that these are white manís words and thus perhaps be considered to have power over them and have no real place amongst the regions who received these blades.

Respectfully, I find this both muddled and incorrect.

The inscription, which no one has bothered to relate in English, means

Do not draw me without right, do not sheathe me without honor.


If translated, such a basic phrase would be understood by virtually any human culture, particularly a chivalric one like that
of the Tuareg. And if not, it would simply represent a series of interesting if unintelligible marks, which even the most ignorant seller would ask a higher price for.
Secondly, the Tuareg are Caucasoid. They are white men, Gavin.

Oliver


Respectfully, thank you for the origins of mankind insight and my apologies for the ambiguous brush stroke of mine, I should have quantified "white men" as those from Europe where these trade centres were located.

Whilst it is a noble phrase in its most common native tongue or translated for another in another region, without written account of such phrases being accepted in these regions, it is as much speculation as my thoughts about symbols being more potent, but it is speculation that sends us deeper in to the past looking for clues.

Good luck in your quest Jim.

Gavin
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Old 10th June 2013, 03:40 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
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Thank you Gav, and absolutely beautifully said!
Stu, thank you so much for the well placed link. It is often truly amazing at how far the trade networks of Spain actually reached, and with interaction with those of other powers and cultural spheres it becomes phenomenal.

Ed, thank you as well for the link to the exellent work by Marc on the metallurgy of many of these type blades! I wanted to also respectfully disagree with your extremely modest note on your experience with this topic. You have undertaken some of the most serious field work on the weapons of Sudan, and your outstanding work remains as one of the key perspectives on which much of the continuing research has benchmarked.

Thank you all for the great input and well wishes!
The quest for examples of these blades in these contexts continues!

All the best,
Jim
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