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Old 8th October 2006, 06:50 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Dha or Nimcha? Strange sword: need input

Gentlemen,
Here is a sword belonging to a group I love very much: a mystery.
The handle is very much Nimcha-like, but made of tropical wood (Not North African, of course , but would love somebody to tell me what kind). It has traces of old red paint ( never seen anything like that). The crossguard is brass and has 2 downturned "quillons": doesn't look Moroccan at all, although Algierean Nimchas had something similar.
The blade looks like a Thai Dha, very good quality, tempered and hand-made.
The blade was very wobbly and disconnected easily. The cavity was filled with remnants of some very old, crumbly, almost black petrified substance (like tulwars) adhering both to the tang and to the handle. Took me some time to remove it completely to assure good fit.
The scabbard is interesting: it is not cylindrical, like on Thai/Burmese swords, but flat, resembling Malay, Indonesian, Philippine samples. It is surrounded by brass circular fastenings. It is in a sorry shape, but was obviously made for this blade, as it fits perfectly well.
In general, the entire sword is well made, careful work, nice fits; definitely not a "dog's breakfast" assembly of unrelated parts.
Can we make sense out of it?
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Old 8th October 2006, 08:29 PM   #2
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Lots of trees in N.Africa Ariel.

olive, Accacia, walnut, orance, evergreen oak, lemon, etc.etc.

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Old 8th October 2006, 08:42 PM   #3
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Looking at the wood from your pictures, the grip and the scabbard seem to be of the same wood. Certainly the grip will have been fondled more frequently As the scabbard is made to fit the blade, is this just another example of variation on a theme so often seen in Africa? If it was not damaged at the scabbard mouth and sloppy in the grip I think it would look a very finnished weapon.
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Old 8th October 2006, 08:47 PM   #4
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The blade looks indonesian to me. The blade shape similar to a parang Langgai Tinggang or some parang naibor.
http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/phot...000850/ph-0.jpg
http://old.blades.free.fr/swords/da...dayak_intro.htm
I had seen some other blades with the saif ( nimcha ) type handles and Jim posted this about it "These Moroccan swords with complex guards were known from at least the earlier 17th century in the Maghreb (which included the Moroccan littoral as far as Algeria)and the hilts are believed to have developed from early Italian sabres via Arab trade.From those times, these were typically mounted with varying forms of trade blades"

I hope he sees this for I would be interested in seeing what he thinks of it


Whatever it is, its a great find and a rarity congratulations

Last edited by RhysMichael : 8th October 2006 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 8th October 2006, 08:55 PM   #5
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Yes, perhaps it is SE Asian. Just like one sees talwar type grips, maybe this is another "Islamic" influence grip, just happens to be seen more frequently in N Africa.
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Old 8th October 2006, 09:11 PM   #6
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Yeah, the overall shape of the blade, the scabbard and also the red color on the handle, remembers to me a "strange" parang nabor.
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Old 8th October 2006, 09:12 PM   #7
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Blade length, hilt length ?
Could be a N. African sword .
The thing looks like a boarding cutlass to me .
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:23 AM   #8
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Sorry, I got poetic and forgot about the "academic" part
The handle is 5.5 inches long; the blade is 23" long and a tad more than 2" wide (close to the point). I do not have it's weight without scabbard, with scabbard and scabbard separately. This will surely disqualify it from ever being written up in an " academic" book
On a more serious note, it is superbly balanced and a pleasure to hold and to wield. Another thing: it is not sharpened for the first 5-7 inches, but after that .... you can shave with it!
It does have a resemblance to naval cutlasses but could just as well be used elsewhere. I thought about it being a variant of Nabur, but I have never seen one with a Nimcha handle, most of them had knuckleguards and the blade looks and feels Thai. Southern Thailand, with sizeable Muslim population? Were Thai blades exported to nearby countries?
Which brings us back to a discussion we once had: what determines the provemance or a general classificaton of a sword: the handle or the blade?
Say, we have a sword with a typical Nabur handle and a Yataghan blade. Where did it come from from the usage point of view? Shall we say it is a Borneo Parang Nabur with an Ottoman Yataghan blade or an Ottoman Yataghan with a SE Asian handle? Following Polish tradition, I would vote for the former.
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Old 9th October 2006, 02:54 PM   #9
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I see a possibly Thai or Parang Nabur type blade with what I definitely would consider a N. African style handle .

I'd like to see some S.E.A. hilts that strongly resemble this one .

I apologise deeply for inferring that you were not being Academic Dr. ; myself; I'm just a lowly collector .
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Old 9th October 2006, 03:09 PM   #10
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I cannot tell the blade shape on this but in the scabbard the short one on here looks similar

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Old 9th October 2006, 03:30 PM   #11
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Number 2?
It looks like a classic Moroccan Nimcha with 3 down-turned quillons and the fourth one forming a knuckleguard.
Some South Arabian swords had pommels resembling " Nimcha's" ( likely, an influence from Zanzibar), but I am unaware of this pattern penetrating deeper to the East.
There were large Arab colonies in S. India and Arab traders went as far as Indonesia ( Sindbad must have gone there on a weekly basis )
We know about European and Indian influences on SEA swords. Are there any examples of Arab motives ? Inscriptions do not count: they are examples of religious Islamic influence rather than ethnographic Arabian influence.
I'll start: Indonesian Jambiya and Indian Haladie
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Old 9th October 2006, 03:47 PM   #12
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My casual observation is the blade profile does resemble that of Burmese and Thai swords.

However, I think the tang and fullering differ. Dha/darb tangs are not so "beefy" or squared off, and the fullering looks odd as well.
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Old 9th October 2006, 04:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
My casual observation is the blade profile does resemble that of Burmese and Thai swords.

However, I think the tang and fullering differ. Dha/darb tangs are not so "beefy" or squared off, and the fullering looks odd as well.


So do I, the square tang and such fuller do not fit with most of Siamese Dahb.

Last edited by PUFF : 9th October 2006 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 9th October 2006, 10:04 PM   #14
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An interesting sword! I agree with Rick in that I believe it possibly was a boarding cutlass and this goes with its length and blade profile well. I have seen the use of red paint from a number of cultures. I have seen remnants of red paint on Ayda katti and I have also seen remnants of red paint on "Zanzibar" swords. Buttin in his catalogue pictures several fairly early Nimcha hilted swords which have similar blade profiles as this sword. The downturned quillons is a bit unusual but over the years I have seen a few swords with this quillon configuration and all these swords had short blades broadening towards the tip and gave one the feeling of being Naval weapons. Given the hilt configuration, I lean towards Algeria but would defer to anyone who could speak about pirating off the coast of N Africa in the 19th century because my gut feeling on this sword is this is where it probably was used. Matter of fact, I want to say pirating was huge off the Barbary Coast in the 19th century with pirates hailing from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. I would venture to guess the red paint might have been a good preservative against the salty sea water.
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Old 20th July 2011, 10:36 AM   #15
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Both tang and tip of blade seem pretty strongly oceanic SE Asian.
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