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Old 11th December 2004, 12:00 PM   #1
VVV
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Default Mystery Jewish Sword From Atlas Mountains???

I found this sword in Marrakesh, together with a very nice Nimcha, a couple of years ago. According to the dealer, who also had a lot of Sefardic religious items to sell, this is a Jewish sword from the Atlas mountains.
I have looked in several reference books but haven't been able to find anything even close to it?
Does any of you recognize what it is?
The balance of the sword is very good, suitable for slashes as well as follow up circular thrusts, and perfect for the Kali bridging movements I like to use. It's of identical lenght and weight as the Talibons and Ginuntings I usually practise with.

Mike

PS Sorry about the picture quality but only have a mobile phone camera at the moment.
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Old 11th December 2004, 02:22 PM   #2
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Thank you for posting pictures of this most unusual sword. First, I do not think it is a Jewish sword from the Atlas mountains. The handle seems typical of Indian sword handles. You see both antique and contemporary examples with the "parrot" handle. The scabbard, especially the belt loops, appear very Moroccan to me. That, plus the overal decoration on the scabbard, reminds me of similar decoration found on Moroccan Jambiya. If the handle decoration matches in patina and decoration to the scabbard, perhaps this is a Moroccan sword with an Indian inspired handle. Being that it came with a Nimcha could be suggestive they both originated from the same place. A neat and unusual piece.
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Old 11th December 2004, 03:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply.
Yes the handle matches the scabbard in patina.
Do you have any idea what this kind of sword is called?
On the nimcha, they only happened to be in the same store but there is no resemblance at all in style, patterns etc.

Mike
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Old 11th December 2004, 04:54 PM   #4
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Hello VVV, according to my copy of(African Arms and Armour by C.Spring)this bird head pommel sabre like weapon is a Mediterranean form of Kopis used in the region for the last two and a half millennia.Tim
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Old 11th December 2004, 08:07 PM   #5
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Kopis has quite different hilt.

If we say that bird hilt comes from kopis we make a big step in evolution. It is like to say that human comes from the amphibians.
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Old 11th December 2004, 08:36 PM   #6
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Hi Yannis, some people think we do.I am only the messenger.If you Know better then please show us all.Tim
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Old 11th December 2004, 10:50 PM   #7
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I dont understand why but uploading pictures dont work for me today. Anyway this is the authentic kopis

http://photobucket.com/albums/v12/Y...rrent=kopis.jpg

and here is a modern reproduction

http://www.armae.com/antiquite/1144falcata.htm
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Old 11th December 2004, 11:00 PM   #8
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Stupid me

I had forgot how we upload
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Old 12th December 2004, 02:52 AM   #9
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Rick,
Excellent observations!! You are right on target noting the similarity to Indian bird head khanjar hilts with distinct beak protrusion. These occur on Indian short swords, with most seeming to originate in northern regions, particularly Rajasthan. The blades are of varying length and form, some are serpentine(nagan) with shikargar (hunting scene) motif and some are about 22" with sosun pattah blade and reinforced armor piercing point.

I also agree with your note on the Moroccan motif. It is interesting that the scabbard carries both side mount carrying rings as well as an opposite ring at scabbard throat in Arabian favored baldric style. These baldric mounts are most typical for the Moroccan 'khoummya' daggers. The high relief motif on the scabbard also suggests the 'agrab' (scorpion) talismanic symbolism found on many Arabian scabbard mounts. Many of these were manufactured in India, typically Hyderabad, for export to Arabia.

The trade routes that prevailed between India's Malabar Coast, the Red Sea and the Maghreb were long established and account for the diffusion of considerable weapon forms.

The presence of Sephardic Jews of course were well established in Morocco from early times after fleeing Spain. They were outstanding artisans who were known for brilliant workmanship on weapons mountings, and were also trade merchants who travelled with Saharan caravans. It would not be unreasonable to consider such a weapon as this mounted in Morocco and influenced by the khanjar form hilts from India. While not actually a Jewish sword, it may well have been crafted by a Jewish artisan and traded by that community.

Tim,
Could you please note the location of the material in Spring on the birdhead pommel you mention?

Yannis,
Excellent note on the kopis!!

VVV:
There is often considerable difficulty and constant debate about the application of specific terms to certain weapons. It becomes even more complicated when a weapon is hybridized or outside its presumed cultural sphere. In this case, pending more conclusive research, it would be most safe to rely on description more than specific names, thus short sabre or hanger from Morocco with Indian khanjar form hilt.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 12th December 2004, 03:15 AM   #10
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My memory can betray me, but I think Morocco was one of a few muslim countries that allowed jews to carry weapons, indeed most of them did wear daggers since the end of XIX century.

However was there anything specific about their khandjars, I would not know.
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Old 12th December 2004, 09:55 AM   #11
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Jim,The British Museum publication,Afican Arms and Armour by C.Spring ,ISBN 0-7141-2508-3, pages 22-23 does not mention specific materials but does mention {versions} of a sabre-like weapon with birds head pommel.It also speculates an Asian origin rather than Mediterranean for development of the Kopis.Tim
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Old 12th December 2004, 09:54 PM   #12
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Thank you all for helping me learn more about this sword!!!

Mike
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Old 13th December 2004, 03:27 AM   #13
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Tim, Thank you very much for the direct response and for the pages for the reference in Spring's outstanding book. It must be remembered that the term 'birds head' is quite vague in description as in many cases we may be referring to a defined likeness or widely varied degree of stylization. The picture of the kopis posted by Yannis illustrates a stylized birdhead with hooked beak which forms the nock for the base of the hand. The trilobate pommel of the karabela is considered a birdhead form, as are the pommels of the so called Berber sabres and the Algerian flyssa (both highly stylized to where there is considerable dispute over what creature may be represented).

The note in Spring that suggests an Asian rather than Mediterranean origin for the kopis presents an interesting suggestion for further research on the development of these fascinating weapons.

Rivkin, interesting note on the allowing of certain of the Jewish population carrying weapons within the Muslim sphere in Morocco. This very topic has raised some opposition in discussions, and it is unclear whether they actually were permitted to carry the weapons as personal arms or whether they simply crafted, mounted and traded in them. Can you cite any references that might specify?

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 13th December 2004, 05:42 PM   #14
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Unfortunately I've got this information from a personal discussion rather than from a book. A guy Iused to know was visiting Israel about 50 years ago when he encountered a group of people wearing daggers. He asked them where they are from and they replied that they are migrants from Morocco.
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