Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 22nd January 2007, 02:51 AM   #1
FenrisWolf
Member
 
FenrisWolf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 181
Default Questions on Nimcha

Recently I finally was lucky enough to add a Nimcha to my collection, not the fancy Moroccan dagger that goes by the name, but the sword. According to the tag that accompanied it, it was originally purchased in 1980 from a Berber family in the mountains outside of Morocco, and was attributed to being 150 years old at that time (sorry about the blurriness on the first couple of shots, I forgot to reset from macro):





The metalwork is solid, high-content German silver, completely engraved on both sides of the scabbard. Whoever the artist was, he was REALLY into detail! What does puzzle me, though, is this: I'm familiar with the tradition that calls for European blades to be remounted in the traditional hilts, but every one I've seen prior to this has had a blade in good to excellent condition mounted in the fittings. This is definitely NOT the case here:



The blade was cleaned prior to being fitted in its new furniture, but prior to that had been horribly neglected for a very long time. It also has the maltese crosses and crescent moons that are supposedly significant as to its origins?



And finally, the blade was originally longer, a true saber blade of some sort, and was shortened and given a true thrusting tip:



So, any ideas? My own wild speculation is that the original blade belonged to a trophy that was of great significance to the owner, otherwise I can't imagine why such elaborate fittings would've been put on such a battered blade.

Fenris
FenrisWolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd January 2007, 09:04 PM   #2
BBJW
Member
 
BBJW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Idaho, USA
Posts: 167
Default

Looks like a European blade to me that was broken and then re-pointed. Is the scabbard longer than the blade?

bbjw
BBJW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd January 2007, 11:07 PM   #3
Battara
EAAF Staff
 
Battara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 5,685
Default

Just remember that "German Silver" is a nickel/copper mix and no actual silver is present.
Battara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd January 2007, 11:18 PM   #4
FenrisWolf
Member
 
FenrisWolf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 181
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBJW
Looks like a European blade to me that was broken and then re-pointed. Is the scabbard longer than the blade?

bbjw
No, the scabbard was definitely fitted to the blade in its current configuration. That's what puzzled me, they put a LOT of work into preserving a severely distressed blade....
FenrisWolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd January 2007, 11:22 PM   #5
FenrisWolf
Member
 
FenrisWolf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 181
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
Just remember that "German Silver" is a nickel/copper mix and no actual silver is present.

My mistake, I was thinking of the silver/copper alloy used by the Tuareg and Berber peoples. This definitely is a silver alloy of some kind from the way it responds to the polishing cloth. I don't know if a jeweler can test the percentage without damaging the scabbard, but if it can be done I'll have it checked at some point. By the weight and the way it shines up it feels like it must be high.
FenrisWolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th January 2007, 07:24 PM   #6
Battara
EAAF Staff
 
Battara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 5,685
Default

A polishing cloth can make German silver shine too. A jeweler can test for copper or silver content.
Battara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th January 2007, 05:51 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,654
Default

Hi Fenris,
The mounts on this 'nimcha' are fantastic! and the old European trade blade is intriguing. It is interesting that, as you note, such a worn blade would be placed in such sumptuous mounts. However, European blades were of course the much sought after standard, and were typically remounted numerous times over thier working life, which of course extends well into the 20th century.
I have gone through quite a number of resources concerning those markings, and have not yet been successful in finding the 'quatrefoil' arrangement of these presumably Spanish (Cross of Santiago) type crosses, along with the crescent moon. I have however found similar crosses in linear arrangement over a crescent moon, also on a similar European trade blade, and on a nimcha of the form attributed typically to trade between Zanzibar and Arabia (Yemen specifically).
It seems worthy of note here that the 'four crosses' in that arrangement is seen in the regalia of Moorish Spain, on the hilt of the sword of Boabdil (Abu 'abd Allah Muhammed XII) , the last Emir before the fall of the Moors there. The very ornate Hispano-Moresque hilt has four crosses in its motif surrounding the eight pointed Islamic star. Perhaps this motif may have some significance in what appear to be applied by local armourer in the Maghreb. It seems plausible that that arrangement might have been known through trade items coming in from Spain, and may have provided influence.

The reprofiling of the blade seems to be perhaps intended to approach the fine point of the Berber flyssa, and it would seem that reprofiling blades is a practice not unusual for Berber armourers. This of course recalls the sabres that have been attributed to Berbers in Morocco with the heavily profiled tips on old British M1796 light cavalry blades, although the case on that Moroccan attribution remains somewhat speculative.

Outstanding piece!!!

All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th January 2007, 06:19 PM   #8
Emanuel
Member
 
Emanuel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,242
Default

Hello,

About the quatrefoil mark, in my mind it is similar to that on the koummiya posted by berberdagger: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=3996

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attac...tid=17420&stc=1

In which case the Raisuli link surfaces again.
Regards,
Emanuel
Emanuel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th January 2007, 06:41 PM   #9
FenrisWolf
Member
 
FenrisWolf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 181
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Fenris,
The mounts on this 'nimcha' are fantastic! and the old European trade blade is intriguing. It is interesting that, as you note, such a worn blade would be placed in such sumptuous mounts. However, European blades were of course the much sought after standard, and were typically remounted numerous times over thier working life, which of course extends well into the 20th century.

Outstanding piece!!!

All the best,
Jim
Thanks, Jim! This is definitely the gem of my collection, and one of those cases of being in the right place at the right time. I'll be chortling over this one for years; I didn't even have anyone bidding against me! I think it may have been a case of other potential buyers not recognizing what they were seeing. The pics the seller posted were just poor enough that it could've been easy to dismiss the fancy metal work as tourist junk, which unfortunately many of the pieces coming out of Morocco are. What gave it away for me was the extra work that had been put into the harness rings. The spiralled metal combined with the thicker material cued me into taking a closer look and realizing that the fittings were not trash.

Thank you for the information as to the possible sources for the markings on the blade. I wish the initial buyer had asked more questions of the Berber family from whom he purchased it, or if he did, had recorded the information. All I have is that the family lived in the mountains, but which mountains? At this point it is of course nothing more than pure speculation, but I can only believe that the blade was some form of family heirloom with significance to its owner beyond its basic function. At least no other theory I can think of would explain the huge difference between the opulence of the fittings and the decidedly 'shaggy dog' nature of the blade.

I'm still figuring out how to get the best pics possible out of my little digital camera. As soon as I manage some better ones of the marks on the blade I'll post them, as well as a better series of pics of the engraving on the scabbard and hilt.

Thanks again for your help!
Fenris
FenrisWolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th January 2007, 10:05 PM   #10
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,654
Default

Thanks very much Fenris! I'll be looking forward to those photos, and I'll keep looking for more on the markings, and if I can find other similar.
All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 01:51 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.