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Old 24th July 2008, 03:36 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Jineta/nimcha/kattara

I posted this question some time ago as a "relply" in one of the discussions, but it was buried deep and nobody bothered to answer...
Perhaps, this question was just stupid.
But I hope it was a proverbial "sleeper" and would like to try one more time:

There are several examples of swords with " drooping quillons" : Spanish-Moresque Jineta, North African and Zanzibari Nimcha and Omani Kattara ( the older variant). They look like sharing this feature.

Do these swords carry a " birthmark" of the early , pra-Islamic model? Or, were the "droopers" peculiar to local Berber traditions and later just spread both East and West? Or...
You got my drift.
Jim? Ward? Any volunteers?
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Old 25th July 2008, 12:23 AM   #2
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Ariel, any question put forward by you would never be considered stupid! quite the contrary! I know very well how disappointing it is when a post goes unanswered, so without doing my usual marathon of research I will just place tentative comments pending further detail.
The style of quillons drooping downward have of course brought forth the pragmatic idea that these were intended to catch and stop the opponents blade in sword to sword combat, and that hilts with more developed quillon systems followed.
In the middle ages, the term 'quillon' did not exist, and the broadsword was mounted with simple horizontal bar known as the crossguard. During the crusades this was known as the 'cross', and of course the imagery of these times noted the sword as in the image of the Holy Cross.
It would be tempting to suggest that the Islamic swords had thier guards fashioned dropping downward to move away from that representation, however unlikely the idea, it seemed worthy of note. Having brought in that suggestion, it should be noted that the drooping quillon was also quite well known in Europe and the multiple downward quillons arrangement is seen on the 'crab claw' hilts as well as simple downward quillons seen on French and Italian medieval broadswords as well.

The Hispano-Moresque jineta was likely a product of influences with Italy and France, and it seems more probable that that influence was most probably induced to the jineta much in the way that the stortas and hilts of Italy influenced development of the 'nimcha' hilt in the Maghreb.

The downward projection on the earlier form of kattara in Oman would seem to have also reflected the effect of the hilts seen on the early swords of Islam of which I believe many were remounted with these form hilts.

The Zanzibari nimchas seem to have also borne the influence of Italian swords, particularly with the ring on the crossguard.

While many scholars will take the pragmatic approach, and suggest this characteristic of these hilts as a combat improvement, some will take the romanticized concept related to the cross into serious consideration. From an artists or historians view, perhaps the style of turning down the quillon was simply a variant design to be aesthetically pleasing.

Whatever the case may be for the reason of the downward quillon, its diffusion seems most likely like that of most weapons, following trade and warfare.

I hope this perspective offering my own opinions may bring forth others, and as always I welcome other views.
It was a good question, so lets hear em !

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 26th July 2008, 06:00 AM   #3
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Maybe I misinterpreted the question?
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Old 26th July 2008, 08:43 AM   #4
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Jim, what makes you think that the jineta and it´s derivations are originated in their style from Europe? Do you have time tables and examples? As far as I know, the jineta was introduced from Africa to muslim Spain (Al-Andalús) by the Zenetes, a word which became in the spansih word "jinetes". I understand this sword was already in use from the 13th Century. Are there some causal nexus based on some evidences? This is an interesting subject.
My best regards

Gonzalo
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Old 26th July 2008, 04:41 PM   #5
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Thank you Gonzalo, you are right that is the accepted theory. I meant to suggest that there was distinct similarity in the weapons of Islamic Spain and Europe just as there were apparant cross influences between North Africa and Europe, particularly Italy which predominated trade in many Meditteranean routes as well as others. As I noted, I have worked on focused research regarding these developments for some time.

I hope that my comments regarding the drooping quillons on medieval Islamic broadswords being intended to deviate from the cross representation on the European broadsword will not be perceived as 'theory'

While there are many similarities and suggestions of influence reflected in a number of sword forms between varying cultural spheres, it is difficult to determine exactly which direction the influence moved in many cases. What I meant to say it that it seemed unlikely that Islamic design preferences would influence European hilt forms such as in this case of drooping quillons.

It does seem however that European designs did influence many sword hilt forms in the Islamic sphere such as the Moroccan 'nimcha' from the Italian stortas and others; the 'Zanzibar' type s'boula from baselards of undetermined origin but certainly European; and the koummya, whose pommel closely resembles and has been suggested to have developed from the Italian cinqueda.

Ariel, you asked a question, do you have thoughts?
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Old 27th July 2008, 02:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
While there are many similarities and suggestions of influence reflected in a number of sword forms between varying cultural spheres, it is difficult to determine exactly which direction the influence moved in many cases. What I meant to say it that it seemed unlikely that Islamic design preferences would influence European hilt forms such as in this case of drooping quillons.

It does seem however that European designs did influence many sword hilt forms in the Islamic sphere such as the Moroccan 'nimcha' from the Italian stortas and others; the 'Zanzibar' type s'boula from baselards of undetermined origin but certainly European; and the koummya, whose pommel closely resembles and has been suggested to have developed from the Italian cinqueda.


But on the contrary, it is an accepted fact that the jineta sword influenced in the first place the spanish swords, to the degree it was copied in Toledo by the christians (in that time Toledo was on spanish hands), and latter this type of hilt probably spread to other countries, but I don´t have any proof of this diffusion into the rest of Europe. I don´t have the impression that the zenetes had much contact with europeans. In fact, the jineta tactics to make war using the cavalry in a special form, for which even the stirrups of the saddle were modified, were latter copied by castillians to the point it was known by europeans as the "castillian way" to make war. Please see this reference:

http://xenophongroup.com/EMW/article001.htm

As you know, the main weapon used by the zenetes was a lance which can be also throwed. Jineta, or Gineta, was a whole complex of tactics, weapons, horse harnesses, all interrelated as a whole, so you can find a treatise of this development in the "Tractado de la Cauallería de la Gineta" a military cavalty treatise written in antique castillian languaje by Hernan Chacon, a knight of the Order of Calatrava, now traslated to english:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-77096829.html

On the other hand, I have seen many interpretations about the supposed influences from Europe to the rest of the world which do not have a base in actual evidences of a causal nexus, but only on similarities, more or less superficial, on the morphology of the weapon. This a very known practice of ethnocentrism which must be revised in order to have a more objetive vision of the history of the swords. The first example I recall, is the supposed influence of the macedonic machaira on the hindu sousson pata and the khukri, although there is older evidences of this kind of blades in the south of actual India, far from the area of contact with the greeks.

You must take on account that the islamic hilts (and blades) do influenced deeply the european swords, as in the case of the hussar swords from Poland and Hungary, form turkish influence, which latter went as far as Spain with their "sables a la turca" (sabers turkish style). This influence was also reinforced by the mamluke influences which came latter, in the beginning of the 19th Century, and which reached even England. I have seen many european blades on middle east and oriental swords, but always they were remounted in new hilts in the taste of the new owners, and the old hilts were discarded.

Speaking of resemblances, I don´t think the downward curved quillons is enough proof of any influence in either side. But the jineta sword, and specially the hilt, has a special morphology considered as a whole, from which I cannot find ancestry on european swords before the 13th Century. Apart from resembances, we need to establish the physical routes of influence, the commercial or warfare netwoks, the ancestor models and their evolution, and so on. From my sources (Ibn Jaldun history of the berbers), the zenetes were a relatively isolated tribe from Europe influences in that time, making war to other berber tribes and to the fatimides, and it was not until they had an ephimeral hegemony in North Africa, that they went to Spain, first as military contingent, and latter as conquerors of Al-Andalús. Between zenetes, in the west of North Africa, and the europeans, in the Middle East, there were the fatimids, and no commercial post on the coast linked them directly with Europe until latter, when the jineta swords already was an adopted weapon.

However, maybe I do not have enough information on this subject, but if you do, please help me to correct my mistake. I think I have many black spots in my knowlege of the berber and moorish history, and I would appreciate any solid reference you can give me on this point.
My best regards

Gonzalo

Last edited by Gonzalo G : 27th July 2008 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 27th July 2008, 05:05 AM   #7
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Outstanding Gonzalo!!! You have presented a well supported response to my comments that clearly shows you are extremely well informed on this topic. All of what you are saying is well placed and answers many questions about the development of weaponry and tactics in these medieval periods, and emphasizes the importance of Spain in the diffusion of these.

I think that you are the one with the key information on this, and I thank you for the detailed presentation which certainly clarifies my own perceptions on this.

I wonder if this information will answer Ariels question , regardless, thank you very much Gonzalo, you have definitely answered some for me!!

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 27th July 2008, 08:31 AM   #8
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Thank you very much Jim, but still, I think it remains open the question from Ariel, for which I have no answer. Did the jineta sword, and all their close relatives, were an islamic, or a pre-islamic model? Where does it comes from? I think more search must be made. Berbers are an antique people from Africa, related by some authors to the numidians, whose cavaly fought the romans and latter were their auxiliaries. It seems they had a very old culture. On the other hand, the influences comming from arabs or other islamic peoples cannot be discarded. We have to read the descriptions of the swords used by arabs, sarracens and berbers over the period from the 10th to the 13th Century, at least. The problem is that many sources were written in arab and no traslations are made to european languajes. There is a new book in english, a traslation from Al-Kindi with some information on this subject, and there are other sources we have to check. Even biznantine sources could be useful in this task, not to mention the accounts from the crusades. This is a literate job.

But maybe someone on the forum has just found something about this subject.
My best regards

Gonzalo
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Old 29th July 2008, 06:36 AM   #9
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Reviewing some resources at hand has given me some perspective on this interesting question that Ariel has posted, suggesting that he has either some interest in this subject and I would imagine, has formed his own opinions on this. Meanwhile, Gonzalo has posted well placed information, and I will try to add more of what I have discovered in review of my resources at hand.

I think that the Moroccan and Zanzibari nimchas are not inclusive in the subject of the Hispano-Moresque 'jineta' and the apparantly atavistic version in the mysterious Omani kattara of early form. Having said that, I think it is best to consider these distinctly formed hilt styles and focus on their possible ancestry. While the history of the Zenatas and the geopolitics of Spain in the medieval period is fascinating, I hope I can address the question without that complexity.

As Gonzalo has aptly noted, we do not know what form the tribal groups that became known collectively as Zeneta in pre-Islamic times, but as they are believed from Tunisian regions, some research on those regions in period may reveal clues. As noted, we do know that by the 8th century, most of the groups were distinctly Muslim, and these Berber warriors were well established in Andulusian armies. By the 15th century, it is noted however that these light horsemen equipped a la jineta (for Zeneta) though numerous, "...much of thier equipment was imported from Italy, though Spain had a long established armament industry". ("Fernando El Catolico", David Nicolle, Military Illustrated #44, January, 1992, p.48).

While this would seem to suggest that European weapons were prevalent, and possible influence was there, there is no qualified estimation of how prevalent. It is noted further a suggestion of an earlier form of weapon existing in the description of the war sword of Ferdinand the Catholic "...a magnificent late 15th century weapon in an older Iberian-Islamic tradition; it is distinctly related to lighter Granadan swords such as the superb surviving 'jinete' sword of Boabdil". ( M.I. #44, op.cit. p.51)

The sword of Boabdil is the distinct form of Hispano-Moresque jinete, with pointed dome pommel, and profusely ornate with the quillons dropping straight downward, parallel to the blade. The Ferdinand sword has the gently drooping guard with drooping inner quillons associated somewhat with European 'crab claw' type hilts.

In "El Cid and the Reconquista 1050-1492" (D.Nicolle, 1988, Osprey200) these distinct 'jinete' hilts are shown on p.19 (fig. I) as late 14th century, and on p.46 (plate F2) being wielded by a Qadi (religious judge) of late 14th century. It is noted that "...the decorated light sword is described of Grenadine form, a weapon originally developed for light cavalry a la jinete".
It is also noted that some of these jinete swords were richly decorated, probably as gifts or bribes for neighboring Christian aristocrats (p.36).

The sword of Boabdil is illustrated and described in David Nicolle's article "Abu 'Abdullah' Muhammed XI Boabdil of Granada" (M.I. #43, Dec.1991, p.50) and is apparantly held in the Museo del Ejercito in Madrid.

Turning to the later representation of this distinct sword type, the Omani kattara shown in Robert Elgood's "Arms and Armour of Arabia" ( 1994, pp.17,18, fig. 2.13 and 2.15) shows these hilts structurally of essentially the same form of the 'jineta' discussed, but with decorative coverings missing, the dramatic downward quillons vestigial. There is no definite ancestry offered for these swords which are considered of 17th to 18th century (despite an auction catalog with 12th-14th c. date suggested without specific support). Though there is no agreed regional provenance on these, it does seem clear that they are reflective of the 14th century jineta's of the form discussed.

These jineta swords, with dramatically straight downward guard extensions that run parallel to the blade, rather than being guard quillons, particularly with elaborate decoration as in the Boabdil sword, seem to reflect an almost architectural characteristic.

At this point, I feel that these distinct hilts of the jineta, and the later example appearing in the early Omani kattara, are reflective of the medieval period in Moorish Spain, and are most likely decorative forms derived perhaps in exaggerated form of much simpler weapons used by jineta forces.

While the reference to the sword of Ferdinand suggests association in its downturned quillons to the Boabdil jineta, I feel that this rather benign form in comparison relates more to cross influence with the European forms.

While this certainly does not answer the question, it has prompted me to learn more on the forms noted, which I have tried to share here.As always, I hope that others might have access to material that would describe the weapons used by the Zenete in North Africa, as well as early Granadan swords that might have been prototypes for the jinete.
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Old 29th July 2008, 12:21 PM   #10
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Just to add some thoughts to the discussion…

If by “the war sword of Ferdinand the Catholic” David Nicolle means either the so-called (sometimes) “Ferdinand’s sword” in the Real Armería:






or the sword from his tomb that stays now in Granada:







then, beyond some decorative aspects, I don’t really see any relationship with the so-called sword of Boabdil in Madrid’s Army museum:







which is a “typical” exemplar of the courtly/luxury Hispano-Moresque sword of Nasrid style from the 14th-15th c, of which some exemplars (less than a dozen, I think) are still extant. I seems quite clear that from this date afterwards this was the style associated with what a “jineta” sword was, specially in the Christian ambit, but it is not so clear that this was the kind of sword that the Zenetes brought with them. We know the Zenetes, in their 13th c. invasions of the Iberian Peninsula, bring with them the light cavalry tactics that will heavily influence the Christian Spanish way of fighting on horseback, including many changes of equipment. But the period descriptions of their swords are not clear enough to make us able to recognize a Zenete/Jineta sword by itself, specially regarding their morphological features, as many of the accounts are not only vague but also centred in the description of how rich and decorated some of them were, obviating the characteristics of those swords that were not destined to the rich and powerful.

On the other hand, in the 13th c. the Zenetes had already been Islamized for a long time, as they had contacts with the first Umayyad invading waves that in the 7th century swept North Africa from East to West, and in fact they helped them to first conquer Iberia as shock troops, at that time. Well, to make a long story short, what I try to point out is that the elite ruling classes in Muslim Spain, those who brought the strongest “foreign” influences in art, religion, society, law, technology, etc. were Umayyad Arabs. And the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arab swords had straight, double-edged blades, with short, curved quillions (even “D” shaped guards, where the blade emerges from the straight side and the grip from the curved one) of Persian/Sassanid influence (see, for example, HOYLAND, R. G. and GILMOUR, B. “Medieval Islamic Swords and Swordmaking. Kindi’s treatise ‘On Swords and their Kinds’ ”, Ed. By E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 2006; ALEXANDER, “Swords and sabers during the Early Islamic Period”, Gladius XXI, 2001, pp. 193-220 or ZAKY “Introduction to the study of Islamic Arms and Armour”, Gladius I, 1961, pp. 17-30). And in Al-Andalus there was no take-over by the Central Asian Turcoman tribes with their curved swords (among other things), but instead there was a certain fondness by the old Arab traditions. And on top of that, and most importantly, there are examples of straight double edged swords with short and/or curved quillions from the 9th (CANTÓ GARCÍA, “Una espada de época Omeya del siglo IX D.C”, Gladius XXI, 2001, pp. 183-192) and 12th (NICOLLE, “Two swords from the foundation of Gibraltar”, Gladius XXII, 2002, pp. 147-200) centuries in the territories of Muslim Spain. The picture that seems to emerge to all this, is that the late Nasrid swords are a development of these earlier double-edged swords which in turn are the inheritors of the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arab swords, and that their dropping quillions seem to owe more to the Persian/Sassanid typologies than to any European influence. As an additional twist to the question, those early Arab swords are, after all, what the Qajar “revival” swords tried to imitate, if I’m not mistaken, with a tendency to also feature the kind of dropping quillions that we also find in Qattaras from Oman and Yemen.

In short, that although the mutual influences between Hispanic Muslims and Christians is an absolutely undeniable reality for as long as they shared the territory, I don’t think that the dropping quillions of the late Nasrid luxury swords are a consequence of it, but a development of the old pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabic sword typologies.
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Old 29th July 2008, 12:29 PM   #11
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Of course, I have an opinion, but it is such a pleasure to stay on the sidelines and listen to the arguments!
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Old 29th July 2008, 06:02 PM   #12
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Fantastic Marc!!! I have been hoping you would write on this.
Thank you for posting the illustrations, which does show that the sword of Ferdinand and these Nasrid forms are not really typologically related.
I am, as always, in complete admiration of your knowledge and understanding of these weapons and particularly your command of the references on them. The Gladius references are of course especially important, and I notice some fairly recent issues. Can you recommend how one might obtain these or back issues? I presume they are in Spanish.

I agree of course, completely with all of what you have said, and am most grateful for the thorough detail you have added here. My understanding of most of the history and weapons of these early periods of Spanish history was notably lacking, and even after spending quite a bit of time reviewing resources at hand, still incomplete. What you have written beautifully fills in more of what I needed to know, and you have summed it up quite nicely.

Ariel....ya rascal!!! I figured you were out there watchin'
I told you this was a good question, and I know I've learned from it. Its always great when more resolution than disagreement comes out in a good discussion. With the detail added here by Gonzalo and Marc, I think the subject is greatly clarified.
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Old 30th July 2008, 01:36 AM   #13
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Marc, this is a remarkably clear and informed analysis. I just want to question a small part of your statement: "their dropping quillions seem to owe more to the Persian/Sassanid typologies "
The most exhaustive and partisan argument in favor of this hypothesis comes from Mr. Khorasani's book " "Arms and Armour from Iran" (Chapter 10, pp. 198-206). However, the actual pictures of Sassanian swords shown by him do not present a single example of a domed pommel and drooping quillons. He shows 2 schematic drawings of staright-bladed swords with curved handles ( Mameluke-type or Topkapi-type, attributed to the Prophet and companions) and drooping quillons than are kept in Russian museums ( ~17th century). The reason behind using them as a support for the "sassanian" theory is obscure.
Do you have any support for the Sassanian origin of the " straight blade/ domed pommel/downturned quillons" influence on the Zenetes/ pre-Islamic Arab swords?
Furthermore, he enumerates several arguments why the so-called Revival Qajar swords " revived" not the Arabian early and pre-Islamic traditions, but rather Achemenian/Sassanian one. The gist of it is that " It is highly unlikely, that Iranians, who fought the Arabs for centuries to gain their independence, would have imitated Arab straight swords". This argument, in my opinion, is weak and disingenious: Iranians willingly adopted the most salient elements of Arab culture: writing and religion. " Reviving" old Arab weapons would, in their mind, only bolster the sentiment that they, the Shias, were the true inheritors of the True Islamic Creed.
I fully agree with your final interpretation.
The only unanswered part of my question relates to the Nimcha-type quillon block. I fully understand Jim's position re. Italian influence, but I am still wondering whether even there the influence went from Africa to Europe or vice versa. Indeed, if there is a straight line between Arabia proper and Moorish/ Iberian constructions, the Moroccan/ Algerian Nimchas fall right in the middle.
My 5 cents....
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Old 30th July 2008, 12:55 PM   #14
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Jim:
As always, you are far too kind . And regarding the GLADIUS issues, the articles with the title in English are written in this language. Oh, and the issues from 1999 onwards are fully online, except for the current year's issue that has only the abstracts HERE
Enjoy

Ariel:
I'm glad we agree in the fundamental points Just wanted to reiterate that the "Zenete connection" bit is exactly what I have issues with: we don't know how the Zenete swords really looked like, but in this case that’s of only relative importance. I’m afraid I might have explained myself confusingly… I don't think we're here in front of a case of diffusion of the Arab typologies through geographically adjacent areas of influence East to West across North Africa. The 7th c. Umayyad culture was directly carried out to Southern Spain on the wings of the rulers of the conquering waves, who also became the rulers of these new territories. The swords of the elites were directly taken from Mecca to Córdoba, and THEN they started to evolve divergently in each place due to their local influences. Regarding the issue about the Sassanid influences on the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arab swords, it’s a field I which I really consider myself a bit out of my depth for any fine detail discussion (although it’s only of relative transcendence for our argumentation: there’s some iconographic evidence of the typology of these early Islamic Arab swords), but I would like anyway to point out that whan I mention this subject in my post the references I give don’t include Mr. Khorasani's book… And, yes, I do have it.
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Old 30th July 2008, 03:39 PM   #15
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i had read somewhere that late roman and visgothic pattern swords were still being made as late as the 11th century (and perhaps later) el cid's "Tizona" is considered an example of a "late roman style" sword.
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Old 31st July 2008, 01:21 AM   #16
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Marc, thank you so much for the link to the Gladius resource!

Chevalier, its good to see you posting on this! and especially contributing a very interesting observation. I have also seen the comment on 'Tizona' being of late Roman form. It seems that in the references I have seen it is unclear whether the mounts on the El Cid sword are original to the period of his use of the weapon.

Concerning the jineta, as Marc and Ariel have shown, more work is needed to determine the course of development and possible influences.

Ariel, I'm glad to see you coming in on this! The 'nimcha' does present problems in determining the direction of the diffusion of the multi quillon arrangement that is distinct on the Moroccan nimcha. In an excellent article by Anthony North ("A Late 15th Century Italian Sword", Connoisseur, Dec. 1975, pp.238-241) a sword with this quillon arrangement is presumed Moroccan but turns out that it is actually 15th century Italian. I cannot locate my copy of the article, but noted it to show the long standing of confusion on this subject.
I remain inclined to believe that the Italian hilts of this arrangement were diffused with Venetian traders in the 16th century into Meditteranean trade centers, and likely adopted by Arab armourers. It seems that the same basic quillon form may have found its way further east via Arab traders to Sinhala (Ceylon, Ar.=Serandib) resulting in the distinct Sinhalese kastane hilt, of which earliest known examples date into early 17th century. Clearly the same diffusion with Arab trade routes brought the hilt form to Morocco, which is as you note, a key point in the development of various interpretations of it.

It seems to me that Italian swords and blades seem to have generated a great deal of influence, certainly through thier trade. The familiar 'sickle marks' found widely on trade blades (incl. the 'gurda') trace back to Genoa; the cinquedea is considered the likely source for the pommel on the Moroccan Koummya; the s'boula form we have discussed with the T or I hilt
(the 'Zanzibar' swords) appears to have evolved from European, possibly Italian baselards (further from Switzerland).

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 31st July 2008, 11:52 AM   #17
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Marc, I´m very glad you came here. I think you made a splendid exposition. I only have some doubts. The influence from the Umayyad Dynasties ended in the 11th Century, and so the relatively isolation of the Califate of Cordoba from the rest of the islamic world. From the 11th Century, north african infuences went into Spain with the sucesive waves of the invasive berber which founded new dynasties, intensifying the cultural contact among them. First the Almoravids, latter the Almohads and finally the Zenetes related to the Marinid dynasty to the beginning of the 14th Century. They were part of the ruling class in Al-Andalús, and the support of the Nasrids for a time.

Although I think traditions changes slowly, some amount of influence must be carried by the new berber rulers along all those centuries of constant intercourse with North Africa, and this is specially valid in the case of weapons. I can´t imagine the berber warriors leaving their weapons and adopting new ones but in a period of time where very serious intercourses must be happened.

I agree that there are almost no recorded swords from this period, and the same thing happens with the christian swords. The swords from Santa Casilda, Don Fernando de la Cerda and King Sancho IV, are among the few we can count on. By the way, the sword of King Fernando El Católico is more related to this last sword, clearly a christian sword, than to the muslim swords. There are documented downward quillons in swords from the 12th Century in Europe, in Oakeshott, "Records of the Medieval Sword" from the types Xa and XII and foward, but I think those are clearly different from the muslim types.

So, there are great difficulties in establishing ancestries and the various steps on the evolution of the spanish-muslim swords and their infuence over the ones used by christians, as the swords used by the kings are not necessarily representative of the diverse variants used by the common soldier. But there is a fact which makes me think more, that there is a connection between the nasrid swords, and the espada jineta, and this is the fact of the great similarities among the Omani Qattara and those swords, a smilarity which goes more far than a mere coincidence and points directly to the berber as the link between them. Of course, as I said, in the measure we have more information, even in this thread, there can be other explanations. More archaeological developments and more translations from arab books must be made to have a firm certainty in all this genealogic tree of muslim swords in Africa and Spain. In this, I would leave a chapter apart for the nimcha.

Marc, I think you can get online only from the XIX Volume of Gladius. I only have texts from this volume to the XXVII. I would appreciate very much if you can tell me how to get the first volumes online. Maybe I´m not very good with the web. As with many other things.
My best regards

Gonzalo
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Old 31st July 2008, 06:09 PM   #18
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This question posed by Ariel has evolved into some great discourse on a topic that remains quite unclear in so many instances, the chronological and typological development of various sword types. In this case the focus is on the connection between the Nasrid espada jineta and the more recent Omani kattara of 17th and 18th century form. As seems to be agreed, the nimcha of Moroccan form as well as the Zanzibari form are separate developments but also with unclear developmental explanation.

It is great to have both Marc and Gonzalo in this discussion, and I am enjoying having the complexity of this field of study concerning the history of
Hispano-Moresque Iberia and North African Maghreb, being brought into perspective. I think everyone is bringing up excellent points, and it is most interesting seeing the balance of plausibity and probability in motion as the discussion continues.

What I think is most interesting is that the atavistic interpretation of various ancient and classical weapons presents a profound challenge in trying to establish the direct lineage of many relatively modern forms. As is noted, there are distinct gaps in the chronology that defeat such attempts, as well as the absence of archaeological or reliably provenanced examples.

It seems that the elaborate espada jineta was a form in itself of limited production, and as noted in my earlier post, made exclusively for important figures or for in some cases presentation, probably not made in large numbers. These seem to have been sumptuously decorated and the dramatically downturned guard seems to be more aesthetic than practical.

As I mentioned, it seems that in many cases, classic weapon styles are fashioned in later times recalling those early weapon forms. Obviously it would seem these are intended to instill nationalistic fervor in being produced in such forms, and certainly profound reverence is intended in the case of the Qajar 'Revival' arms and armour. In this sense, the Omani kattara appears to have been intended to represent the distinctly elaborate espada jineta, though extant examples of these have been relieved of whatever valuable application covered them.

I am inclined to think that the jineta and kattara are distinctly related elaborately fashioned swords that are not chronologically connected, rather the kattara more likely an atavistic reflection of that earlier grandeur.What would be most interesting would be to discover more on the early Granadan swords used by the rank and file, and just how much they might have influenced the general form of the Nasrid jineta hilt.

The gently downturned quillons on many crossguards on medieval broadswords seem to be a matter of deviation in style not particularly exclusive to either Muslim nor Christian swords. It is clearly present on the Ferdinand sword, which is very much like the crab claw hilts seen in Italy and Germany. The developing quillon arrangements in these crossguards of course do seem to have led to the hilt forms that later influenced the nimcha style hilt.

These are simply my own interpretation of what I understand from what has been discussed, and I look forward for more in the discussion.

Thank you guys!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 1st August 2008, 01:59 PM   #19
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Here we have to ponder how much of the original Arab/Persian influence survived in the Nasrid society and art, and how much of the Bereber culture, which in turn was already quite influenced by the oriental traditions due to its own process of Islamization, was integrated into the Andalusian life. Although the presence of the Bereber culture can't be denied (together with others, like the Christian one), as far as a I know, the Art Historians seem to acknowledge a good survival of Oriental traits in the Nasrid art and culture, as can be seen in textiles, writings, iconography, etc. I won't deny that this is an area that needs a much deeper knowledge than the one I have of such details of the Al-Andalus history and culture to be able to put up a solid discussion, but fact is that there's some archaeological and iconographical evidence from 9th to 15th c. in the Andalusian context for swords that share typological characteristics with the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arab swords. Not as many as one would like, sure, but so far, I think, quite enough to have the Arab influence as a good working hypothesis which I, at least, feel quite comfortable with.

Now, regarding the Qattara, I would like to see if there’s any more or less continuous archaeological/iconographical record of that typology in southern Arabia from early Islamic times to the 17th-18th c., from when exemplars of the Qattara we’re familiar with have arrived to us. Then we would have our answer.

Finally, regarding GALDIUS, as I mentioned in my post one can find online just the issues from 1999 (number XIX) onwards. Number XVIII was never published, and the earlier issues are not online right now. In a fairly recent conversation with one of the Editors of the journal this subject came up, and although the wish to put them online at some point was there, there was some lack of resources to do it anytime soon.
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Old 1st May 2011, 06:11 PM   #20
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Default Omani Swords. Origins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This question posed by Ariel has evolved into some great discourse on a topic that remains quite unclear in so many instances, the chronological and typological development of various sword types. In this case the focus is on the connection between the Nasrid espada jineta and the more recent Omani kattara of 17th and 18th century form. As seems to be agreed, the nimcha of Moroccan form as well as the Zanzibari form are separate developments but also with unclear developmental explanation.

It is great to have both Marc and Gonzalo in this discussion, and I am enjoying having the complexity of this field of study concerning the history of
Hispano-Moresque Iberia and North African Maghreb, being brought into perspective. I think everyone is bringing up excellent points, and it is most interesting seeing the balance of plausibity and probability in motion as the discussion continues.

What I think is most interesting is that the atavistic interpretation of various ancient and classical weapons presents a profound challenge in trying to establish the direct lineage of many relatively modern forms. As is noted, there are distinct gaps in the chronology that defeat such attempts, as well as the absence of archaeological or reliably provenanced examples.

It seems that the elaborate espada jineta was a form in itself of limited production, and as noted in my earlier post, made exclusively for important figures or for in some cases presentation, probably not made in large numbers. These seem to have been sumptuously decorated and the dramatically downturned guard seems to be more aesthetic than practical.

As I mentioned, it seems that in many cases, classic weapon styles are fashioned in later times recalling those early weapon forms. Obviously it would seem these are intended to instill nationalistic fervor in being produced in such forms, and certainly profound reverence is intended in the case of the Qajar 'Revival' arms and armour. In this sense, the Omani kattara appears to have been intended to represent the distinctly elaborate espada jineta, though extant examples of these have been relieved of whatever valuable application covered them.

I am inclined to think that the jineta and kattara are distinctly related elaborately fashioned swords that are not chronologically connected, rather the kattara more likely an atavistic reflection of that earlier grandeur.What would be most interesting would be to discover more on the early Granadan swords used by the rank and file, and just how much they might have influenced the general form of the Nasrid jineta hilt.

The gently downturned quillons on many crossguards on medieval broadswords seem to be a matter of deviation in style not particularly exclusive to either Muslim nor Christian swords. It is clearly present on the Ferdinand sword, which is very much like the crab claw hilts seen in Italy and Germany. The developing quillon arrangements in these crossguards of course do seem to have led to the hilt forms that later influenced the nimcha style hilt.

These are simply my own interpretation of what I understand from what has been discussed, and I look forward for more in the discussion.

Thank you guys!

All the best,
Jim


Salaams,
I have puzzled over the entire question of Omani Short Battle Sword versus the long Omani Kattara, their origins and influence. Then I stumbled upon your observations and the joint exploratory detective work of forum members which leaves me very impressed and staggered by the amount of research . So far as I can see the answer has not yet been proven despite the huge detective work already carried out. My question is several fold.. though I have to admit that I prefer the arguement from the influence of the Nasrid side because I dont swallow the Persian angle though it cannot be as yet ruled out.. Persian influence in Oman was pre Islamic(they built the great fort at Bahla before the 7th Century) and there are weapons today that are directly traceable to Persian weapons such as the Mussandam(N Oman) Shihuh axe linked to the Persian Luristani axe.
The Nasrid dynasty (1242 ~ 1492) fits neatly into a time frame for its influence on the Omani Short Battle Sword. There were trader-explorers moving through the entire Islamic block at about that time such as Ibn Battuta Of Morocco who had visitted Oman in about 1330 and Spain in about 1350. I add this only to show potential interlinking between those two places though he journeyed to almost everywhere in the Islamic world and beyond.
What is interesting is who or what influenced the Nasrid sword style?... Is it not possible that the Omani sword was the first in its style and that sword influenced the Nasrid? It is a big question since if that were the case it would put the Omani Short Battle Sword as earlier than thought to perhaps (and logically) just after Oman accepted Islam. Oman did this during the lifetime of the prophet in the 7th Century therefor could we be in fact looking at a staggeringly ancient weapon? Pushing the envelope back to 7th or 8th century seems unimaginable ... but perhaps it is that old. It could have frozen simply because Oman became completely Ibathi Islamic by the 8th century and therefor other Islamic countries would not copy the sword(logically).
Almost as an afterthought could it not be that the Omani Short Battle Sword is completely on its own... not copied ...frozen in time.. not influencial and totally a one off design?
This brings me to my third question ~ What relationship does the Short Omani Battle Sword have with the long Omani Kattara? In my opinion this is critical, though, like the entire question of its so called predecessor completely shrouded in mystery.
I would describe the Omani Short Battle Sword as a two edged short close action stiff hacking blade like a Roman Gladius. The pointed blade capable of stabbing and probably employed behind a sizeable shield. The hilt with a spiked Islamic Arch Pommel constructed simply of two main parts and put together over a wooden core and with 2 rivets and a third hole for a wrist strap. The pointed pommel possibly a useful weapon against head/face targets. The handle probably covered in leather and a scabbard in the normal simple fashion.
My description of the Omani Long Kattara ~ Long flexible blade with rounded point worked in unison with a small buckler shield at considerable speed and at great distance from the adversary. The handle; long connical with an integral tang and pommel as one piece made with the blade. Pommel often with a hole for a wrist strap. Handle and scabbard leather covered etc.
These two weapons could be off separate planets! There appears to be no evidence of a transition from one to the other.
I put it to the forum that they are unconnected and that the development of the Long Omani Kattara occured because of African influence via Zanzibar in about 1652 when Oman seized it.
Further I submit that the Omani Short Battle Sword is unconnected to any other sword and that it developed much earlier in about the 8th Century soon after Oman converted to Islam.
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Old 1st May 2011, 06:32 PM   #21
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Default Omani Short Battle Sword and Omani Long Kattara

As a guide I have put up two pictures.
The Short blade 60 cms long the Kattara long at 80 cms.
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Old 18th July 2017, 06:32 PM   #22
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To Continue ~ This is an excellent thread and it is an honour to expand upon the details...I found this artwork...I will add more as it happens but this thread is open to comments...

Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 18th July 2017, 06:40 PM   #23
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JINETA SWORDS A quote from a sold item at https://www.worthpoint.com/worthope...-denix-20531549

Quote"Jineta (or Gineta) swords are the most direct, fair and rich inheritance of the hispano-arab panoply. The name origin comes from the Cronicles of Alphonso X which tells us about a berber tribe of the Benimerines also known as Zenetes who moved into the Iberic penninsula during the XIII century to fight at the service of Mohammed I of Granada, and brought with them this type of weapon, with a shorter and lighter blade but still as wide and with a great quality steel as the ones used by christian forces of the time.

Due to their quality and scarcity (nowadays hardly a dozen of these swords survive) the jinetas are universally considered and admired. Besides a few now within private collections and worldwide museums, in Spain only three museums are fortunate enough to treasure some examples; the San Telmo Municipal Museum (Picture 9) in San Sebastian, Basque Country, The Army Museum (Museo del Ejercito)(Picture 10); and the National Archeological Museum (Museo Arqueologico Nacional)(Picture11) in Madrid".Unquote.
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Old 19th July 2017, 05:20 AM   #24
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When I was in Spain a few years ago, I took the attached pictures of the jinetas.

First, a couple heavily adorned examples from Museo del Ejercito in Toledo, I believe the first one is attributed to Boabdil.

Then, a broadsword with an ivory hilt, also one of Boabdil's swords.

Finally, one more sword from the Archaeological Museum in Madrid.
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Old 19th July 2017, 05:28 PM   #25
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Salaams TVV ~Absolutely excellent shots of the Jinetas .

Here are a few more I have been gathering together.
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Old 19th July 2017, 05:30 PM   #26
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I thought to place a book I discovered on the subject ~ Note that this is a historical novel...

Please see http://www.discoverislamicart.org/d...;es;Mus01;31;en

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 19th July 2017, 05:49 PM   #27
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Searching the web I discovered this amazing picture at my armoury.com see http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.13183.html

Whilst the Moroccan Nimcha has occasionally been associated in the design to or from this weapon I see virtually no link whatsoever except a vague potential hint because of the turned down quillons ...which as you can see bare no resemblance at all, nor does the hilt; whilst the blades are totally different...in fact the Moroccan blade is often European.

The swords below are indicated as (Top left to right) but may be incomplete as there are 11 descriptions but 12 pictures!! but it may be correct up to item 7.
1 - Sword found in Sangueza, pommel is missing (XIIIth century ?, probably the oldest known)
2 - Sword of the Cardinal Infant Don Fernando (Real Armeria in Madrid)
3 - Sword said to be of Sayyidi Yahya (Casa de los Tiros, Granada)
4 - Sword of San Marcello de Leon (museo archeologico, Madrid)
5 - Sword said to be of the Sultan Boabil (museo del ejercito, Madrid)
6 - Sword "bèrbère" (armeria real, Madrid)
7 - Sword hilt
************************************************** ******
8 - Sword of the "Cabinet des Médailles" (B Nat, Paris)
9 - Sword of San Telmo (San Sebastian)
10 - Sword said to be of Abindarraez (MET museum, NY)
11 - Sword of the Kassel Museum (Germany)

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 27th July 2017, 05:14 AM   #28
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As Marc rightly pointed out before, the swords with down curved quillons have an old Islamic provenance, and I quote:
"The down-turned quillons found on some medieval weapons and in medieval pictorial sources are generally agreed to be of eastern origin or at least inspiration. The Islamic, Mediterranean and Iberian archaeological evidence ranges from quillons which are both substantial and down-turned, to those which are so truncated and rudimentary that they merely reflect this fashion (figures 28-30, 33, 35, 38-44 & 46-51) They are relatively rare in early medieval western Europe but do appear in Mozarab manuscript illustrations from the Iberian peninsula in the 10th and 11th centuries. As such they probably reflected Islamic Andalusian rather than Christian northern Spanish military styles, particularly as they are mostly on swords whose scabbards are carried on baldrics rather than sword-belts. In these manuscripts, however, the down-turned quillons are often associated with the clover-leaf or trilobate pommel rather than the spherical pommel of the Gibraltar swords 63 (figure 65). Early western Mediterranean examples of genuinely down-turned quillons include the probably western Islamic sword from the Agay shipwreck (figure 39), now considered to date from the 11th or 12th centuries 64, and a fragmentary sword from the region of Seville (figure 40)." David Nicolle, “Two Swords from the Foundation of Gibraltar”, Gladius, Vol. XXII, 2002, pp.178-180.

This is confirmed in the study by Rafael Carmona Ávila, “Un Arriaz Broncíneo Decorado, de Espada de Época Omeya Andalusí, Hallado en el Occidente del Alfoz de Madinat Qurtuba (Cordoba), Gladius, Vol. XXVII, 2007, p.99, who adds that only in the 13th Century this type of quillons are associated with Christian swords in the Iberic Peninsula, but with the variance of beign more long and narrow. He offers a long list of illustrations from this period as a proof.
Interestingly enough, the downcurved quillons had more than a fashion. It was a practical need, derived from an adapted style of fencing:
“It seems to have been from the Sassanian Persians that Muslim Arab swordsmen learned what later became known in Europe as the ‘Italian Grip,’ though this may actually have first been developed in early medieval India. It involved placing the index finger of the sword hand over the quillons, thus bringing the centre of gravity closer to the point of percussion….Light cavalry combat a la jinete was again associated with what western European came to know as the Italian Grip and, according to some scholars, with curved quillons 10 .” (the bold is mine) David Nicolle, Idem. p.158.
From this, we see two elements: the downcurved quillons are first systematically (but not exclusively) used in the Islamic context, and second, the Italian grip (which is not “Italian”) was first used in the same context. I will come to this point later. I don’t pretend that the downcurved quillons were “discovered” or “invented” in any place in particular, though all points to the east. What I expose is the systematic use of this type of quillons by certain cultures, based on practical needs, rather than fashion. About the Sassanian grip which, by the way, is associated with the development of the ricasso, please see Ada Bruhn Hoffmeyer, “From Medieval Sword to Renaissance Rapier”, Gladius, Vol.II, 1963, pp-30, 31.
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Old 27th July 2017, 05:17 AM   #29
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In the early Islamic representations to at least the 13th Century, the curvature of the quillons is more moderate than the later Nasrd-Nasrid swords. Please see this illustrations from David Nicolle, “Two Swords from the Foundation of Gibraltar”, Gladius, Vol. XXII, 2002,pp.168-169.


53) Relief carving of cavalryman on ivory chess-piece, Islamic Sind or eastern Iran 9th century AD (Cabinet des Médailles, inv. 311, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris). 54) Warrior on lustreware bowl, Iraq 9-10 cent AD (Museum of Fine Arts, inv. 57.684, Boston). 55) Warrior on ceramic bowl from Nishapur, Khorasan-10th century AD (Victoria & Albert Museum, inv. C.294-1987, London). 56) Warrior on fragment of ceramic bowl from Nishapur, Khorasan-10th century AD (National Museum, Tehran). 57) Warrior on ceramic bowl from Nishapur, Khorasan 10th century AD (National Museum, Tehran). 58) Warrior on fragment of ceramic bowl from Nishapur, Khorasan, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 66.176, New York). 59) One of a pair of mirror-image gold necklace pendants, Buyid Persian 10th century, (Art Museum, Inv.1953.70, Cincinnati). 60) Unnamed warrior Saint on a Synaxary from Tutun, Fayum, Coptic Egyptian, 10th century AD (Pierpont Morgan Library, inv. M613, f.1v, New York).
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Old 27th July 2017, 05:20 AM   #30
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Take note of the quillons in the figure No.54, and see the similarities with the Qattara.
An image of the swords studied by Nicolle in this study on the page 154:
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