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Old 11th November 2017, 04:13 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default A Massive and All Business Old Manding Sword

Here is a very unusual Manding sword, likely from the first half of the 20th century. It is rather plain, especially its scabbard, by Manding standards. It is the largest Manding sword I have ever handled.

The blade is well made, may be European, and feature three shallow fullers to the forte, similar to some other swords from the region. It is razor sharp!

The hilt is tooled leather over wood, with a reptile skin grip and an unusually large brass pommel.

The sword has a heavy, no thrills, baldric of leather.

The scabbard is thicker and heavier than most Manding scabbards and is finished with applied tooled and pierced leather panels in brown and black.

Comments welcomed!


Dimensions:
Overall length: 43.33in.
Blade length: 35in.
BLade width at the forte: 1.5in.
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Old 11th November 2017, 09:43 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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It is always interesting to see the character of weapons reflecting different tribal and cultural in these kinds of hybrid examples.
The hilt style with the distinct knob at capstan of pommel, and the rondel elements , which is of course Manding ; the grip of crocodile belly hide, which is a Sudanese style from Darfur.

The blade appears to be of the 'masri' form which is very much Tuareg and these are typically produced by Hausa swordsmiths in Saharan regions. The rough sharpening practices using stones has taken its toll, with the central fullers now nearly gone, but the blades sharpness reflects the obsession of these constant rugged honings.

The scabbard is Tuareg as well, and it and the blade may have well been rehilted with this interesting composite form. The Manding were the trade merchants in Mali and other contiguous Saharan areas, and the combining of influences and elements coming in and through their areas surely is well seen in this interesting example of hybrid sword.
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Old 12th November 2017, 04:34 AM   #3
Iain
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Hi Charles, agree on the dating. Locally made blade I would think but hard to say given the amount of polishing on the fullers. Looks quite good quality though.

Scabbard doesn't look 'Tuareg' to me. But the belt strikes me as not fitting with the ensemble. Maybe a replacement?

Love the hilt! And well preserved leather and skin. I like these Manding examples with the larger guards. I think its hard to call a skin grip like this a Sudanese style in particular.
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Old 12th November 2017, 04:10 PM   #4
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Iain, I'm glad to see you on this, your perspective on these Saharan swords is always spot on. I see what you mean on the scabbard, and while 'similar' , certainly does not correspond 'by the numbers' to the Tuareg work.
Also, regarding the croc belly hide as embellishment on grip, very much again, similar to Sudanese (Darfur) hilts, mostly early 1900s, but as you say, certainly not a feature confined to Sudan.

I have not seen enough Saharan examples or other to think of other use of crocodile skin on hilts in other areas, and would really like to know more on this. It would surely seem the totemism recognized in Sudanese areas toward the crocodile surely was present in other regions and tribes.

I recall in Briggs, there was mention of something written by Turnbull on 'crocodile cults', and I wonder if you ever found anything to explain just who or where these were. I thought perhaps the extensive use of crocodile hides on weapon mounts might have some connection.
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Old 13th November 2017, 06:32 PM   #5
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Loverly sword, but am I the only one to whom the hilt looks similar to those on Toma swords?

Teodor
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Old 13th November 2017, 07:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Loverly sword, but am I the only one to whom the hilt looks similar to those on Toma swords?

Teodor



Well noted Teodor, and hadn't thought of these people further west on the coast Toma/Mande and in Sierra Leone, Guinea. These people used the 'rondel' style hilts, but the sphere atop the pommel disc still reflects Manding and in the Mali regions.

These kinds of diffusion make it really difficult to classify many of these weapons to a certain group or geographic area. All we can do is recognize the influences present in whatever weapon we are examining.
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Old 14th November 2017, 07:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain/
But the belt strikes me as not fitting with the ensemble. Maybe a replacement?


Thanks Iain. I agree the baldric mount looks a bit odd, but its age seems commensurate with the rest and it is really quite worn.
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