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Old 10th January 2017, 08:21 AM   #31
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Originally Posted by TVV
Thank you Ibrahim, the sword you posted is indeed similar in the use of brass as material for the guard and the band below the guard. However, the guard is more complex than the one on my sword, and with the three prongs looks Maghrebi, does not it? I understand that as far back as you can trace this sword it has been in South Arabia, and not in North Africa.

Regards,
Teodor



My Sword ~ The knuckle guard is curved; not at right angles... Its from Red Sea Regions / Zanzibar. Virtually no swords here are from North Africa. I would certainly say this has come out of Yemen .. probably sucked into that region via Zanzibar... but not North African.

For three pronged versions see Butins chart at http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...highlight=butin on # 16.

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 18th January 2017, 10:27 PM   #32
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Default The Word; "NIMCHA".

Please see http://quod.lib.umich.edu/g/genpub/...n;view=fulltext where at page 75 a most peculiar link to the word Nimcha occurs. This surfaces in 1725 and mentions the name of the owner of such a weapon...and probably earlier suggesting an Indian provenance as copied in below...Quote"

Page 75
EQUIPMENT. -- (B) OFFENSIVE ARMS; I, "SHORT" ARMS. 75 respect to their sword-belts, which are in general very broad and handsomely embroidered; and, though on horseback, they wear them over the shoulder." But the sword was not always carried in a belt hung from the shoulder. On plate 8 in B.M. Or. 375 (Rieu, 785), Azam Shah carries his sword by three straps hanging from a waist-belt.

The generic name of a sword was tegh (Arabic), shamsher (Persian) or talwar (Hindi). The Arabic word s8aif was also used occasionally. One kind of shortsword was called the nzmchah-8samsher (Steingass 1445). It was the weapon carried by Ibrahim Quli Khan in 1137 H. (1725), when he made his attack on Hamid Khan at the governor's palace in Ahmadabad (Gujarat), Mirat-i-Ahmadi, fol. 179a. It is also to be found in the Akbarndmah, Lucknow edition, ii, 225, second line.

I have not seen in Indian works the word paldrak used for a sword in Maujmil-ut-tarikh bacd Nidiriyah, p. 110, line 3. Names of the various parts are (B.M. N~. 6599 fol. 84a), teqhah, blade, nabai, furrows on blade, qabzah, hilt, jaenarela(?), sarnal or muhnal and tahnal, metal mountings of scabbard, kamrsal (the belt?) 1, bandtr (?). The quality or temper of a blade was its ab (water) or jauhar (lustre). One name of the belt was haamd,il (Steingass, 430, plural of hirnalat); and Khair-ud-din, cIbratnama/h, i, 91, uses the word thus, in repeating the speech of one Daler Khan and another man to Shah cAlam (1173 H.), "fidwz az wafte kih sipar o shamsher ra hamd,il kardah-em, gde ba dushman-i-khud pushl na namadah": "Since we hung from our shoulders sword and shield never have we shown an enemy our back." Another word that I have seen used for a sword-belt is kamr-i-khanjar, see Steingass 1049; also Budaoni, text, 441, Ranking 566. Shamsher. This word when used with a more specific I This is described in Qanoone Islam, app. XXVIII, as a belt worn by women, consisting of square metal tablets hinged together. I find it named in native authors as part of men's equipment".Unquote.

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Old 20th January 2017, 06:17 PM   #33
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Further to my post above there is a reference to the Akbarnama however, ...The Akbarnama which translates to Book of Akbar, is the official chronicle of the reign of Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor (r. 15561605), commissioned by Akbar himself by his court historian and biographer, Abul Fazl who was one of the nine jewels in Akbar's court. It was written in Persian, the literary language of the Mughals, and includes vivid and detailed descriptions of his life and times. (The book took 7 years to make)

If the note at #32 above is correct it means that the sword called a Nimcha was around far earlier than first thought (if the supposition that the work spans the period 15561605) and that a closer relationship may exist with the Indian form and design.

The time frame precedes the ejection of the Portuguese from Muscat(1650) by as much as 100 years and well before the Nimcha could have been used by Baluch Mercenaries working for the Omani Rulers on the Zanj.

A reference exists on the short sword being used by Ibrahim Quli Khan ; please see~ https://books.google.com.om/books?i...%20khan&f=false

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 20th January 2017, 07:07 PM   #34
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This is brilliant research Ibrahiim!!! and I admire your tenacity in plowing through all of these references. It is well noted that the term nimcha is present at a much earlier date than we had realized in Indian context.
While we know the sword itself with the distinctive hilt system with downturned quillons was known in the early 17th century, and perhaps even earlier in accord with Italian hilts similar in the latter 16th (North , 1975)..these were believed in the Arab sphere.This information gives us a better idea of this form in Indian context.

It is more than a conundrum trying to discern the direction of diffusion with these various forms and their features and elements as provenance and depictions are limited at best. Even then they are subject to scrutiny. It is difficult to determine from narratives and records exactly what these swords described actually looked like, as we have encountered many times with 'katar'; 'tegha; and a number of other descriptive terms. Still, the presence of this term and its earliest use referring to a kind of sword is most important.
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Old 21st January 2017, 02:09 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is brilliant research Ibrahiim!!! and I admire your tenacity in plowing through all of these references. It is well noted that the term nimcha is present at a much earlier date than we had realized in Indian context.
While we know the sword itself with the distinctive hilt system with downturned quillons was known in the early 17th century, and perhaps even earlier in accord with Italian hilts similar in the latter 16th (North , 1975)..these were believed in the Arab sphere.This information gives us a better idea of this form in Indian context.

It is more than a conundrum trying to discern the direction of diffusion with these various forms and their features and elements as provenance and depictions are limited at best. Even then they are subject to scrutiny. It is difficult to determine from narratives and records exactly what these swords described actually looked like, as we have encountered many times with 'katar'; 'tegha; and a number of other descriptive terms. Still, the presence of this term and its earliest use referring to a kind of sword is most important.


Thank you Jim, My post at 31 above mentions Quote" The generic name of a sword was tegh (Arabic), shamsher (Persian) or talwar (Hindi). The Arabic word s8aif was also used occasionally. One kind of shortsword was called the nzmchah-8samsher (Steingass 1445). It was the weapon carried by Ibrahim Quli Khan in 1137 H. (1725), when he made his attack on Hamid Khan at the governor's palace in Ahmadabad (Gujarat), Mirat-i-Ahmadi, fol. 179a. It is also to be found in the Akbarndmah, Lucknow edition, ii, 225, second line".Unquote. This may be quite relevant in terms of the word Nimcha although it describes it as misspelled as nzmchah-8samsher..it probably means Nimcha-Shamshiir...Remembering that the original script was done in the Persian language;I think this is important since a lot of Baluch words come from Persian and since a third of their country lies in Iran the diffusion of artifacts and linguistics is clear.

It is further interesting that what appears to be a short form of Shamshiir appears on the Buttin charts but without a specific name. I agree that the word Nimcha more likely spread across the region probably via India via trade and war and although we find it odd... and confused because of the North Africa style (perhaps incorrectly attributed with the same name) the Akbarnama seems to be shining a light on the origin of the term likely to reach into the realms of Persian history..and giving a clue as to why the Baluch mercenaries operating on the Zanj had a weapon called Nimcha in their armoury.

For interest the Butin Chart with the 1010 exhibit bottom left... Is this the Nimcha-Shamsheer refered to in the Akbarnama?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 5th June 2018, 06:17 PM   #36
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Here is another Zanzibari saif, and while the discussion so far has focused on the hilts, the blades are also interesting. In this case the blade is single edged and almost straight, with 4 shallow fullers - three narrow ones by the back and another wider one just below them. The seller, who is a member of this forum and quite knowledgeable, thought it was perhaps Indian made in imitation of European blades. Looking at it, I am wondering if it could have been from the Caucasus, originally from a shashka? Elgood in his book on Arab arms mentions that following the Russian conquest of the Caucasus and during the Circassian diaspora a number of shashka blades ended up in Southern Arabia.

What is interesting about this hilt type is that it appears with all kinds of blades - some have broadsword blades, others have hanger type blades, this could be from a Shashka (or made in India), and so on - there does not seem to be a particular tendency when it comes to the blade. Meanwhile, the older boradswords, aka saif Yamani and the newer broadswords with conical hilts tend to have fairly similar blades in terms of overall shape. The kattaras with their curved blades are a little more varied, but then the Southern Yemeni swords with metal hilts, which were probably produced in Hyderabad tend to have almost the same blades. So why the huge variety for this particular hilt type?
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Old 20th June 2018, 03:02 PM   #37
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That is an extremely well placed question, which has come up many times.I think the explanation is in degree as complex, but in the short version.....it is trade that is the conduit which brought the diffusion of blades. As these blades traveled through the vast network of Arab routes they ended up mounted in the hilt forms favored in the entrepots where they were received.

Ibrahiim has carried out profound field research on these and many of the weapons of Oman and Zanzibar, which has proven to be the 'X-factor' in the distribution of many forms of weapons through the 'Arab' sphere. In point of fact, the venerable catalog of Charles Buttin (1933) shows a number of these 'nimcha' but refers to them as 'Arab' ...not specifying Zanzibar as their source. While there have been some which had hilts with motif attributed to Zanzibar, the bulk of these swords with their peculiar characteristics seem to have a vast spectrum of blades used in them, and are not known to be from Zanzibar itself.

The reason for this is that Zanzibar itself was a bustling trade center with traders from many countries represented, and being an Omani Sultanate, the Arab trade routes of course prevailed here. It is the networks of trade which brought blades from many sources together, and were further amalgamated with those in other entrepots before finally settling in one, where they were hllted as required.

As Robert Elgood did well note, there were blades from the Caucusus which probably were coupled with the much favored 'Magyar' blades from sources which produced them for Hungary.
This blade does seem to have the character of one of those blades, which indeed did often find use in shashkas.
The trade ports in the Black Sea of course networked with Ottoman trade, which in turn entered routes which included Arab trade contact. There were also blades out of the Malabar coast in India in some degree.

I think this very interesting blade may well be from Caucasian sources but corresponds to some European blades, i.e. Solingen, which they copied as well, so difficult to say for sure. As noted, what is curious is that these Arab swords are likely to be mounted indiscriminately with broadsword blades in some cases, but those seem more common in the 'Maghrebi' variety.
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Old 20th June 2018, 05:05 PM   #38
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Jim,

Thank you for the thorough response. In Buttin's plate XXX, a I find it interesting that while the vast majority of weapons are clearly Arab in form, for example the khanjars/jambiya, in the top two corners there are a few nimchas (safe to call them that based on blade characteristics) with hilts, which are generally associated with Algeria. On the same plate one can also observe a few Syrian kindjals, which further demonstrate the Caucasus influence in Arabia in the late 19th century.

On the subject of Caucasus weapons, the best author and expert currently, at least in my opinion, is Kirill Rivkin. I am yet to start reading his book on Caucasus Arms, as I am still finishing his work on the development of the Eastern Saber, but he mentions that the shashka arose as a lighter, shorter version of the earlier sabers as a result of the requirements of mountain warfare and skirmishes, characterized by long distance sniping and rapid close quarters melees. Therefore one did not really need a long and curved saber, but a shorter, straighter blade, easier to deploy and maneuver during hand to hand fighting.

In the sword I posted above, the blade is indeed shorter and almost straight. There are however no marks on it whatsoever. We know that Caucasians assigned a huge importance to markings, and even had blade terminology based on the markings present - Gurda, Abbas Mirza, Ters Maimal, Kaldam, etc. I have to believe markings were important in Oman and its colonies as well, based on the blades that clearly show local attempts at copying them, as found on the conical hilt Omani saifs and kattaras. So it seems a little bizarre that this blade, with three narrow fullers and one wider one, mimicking earlier Eastern European blades, would be left unmarked.

Regards,
Teodor
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