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Old 10th May 2005, 11:19 PM   #1
Michael Blalock
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Default Yemeni/Omani Sword

I received my Omani/Yemeni sword today. As you can see from the photo the hilt is very similar in shape and size to my silver sword. The blade is shorter and very crudely forged with lots of little flaws, cracks and waves in the blade, though the blade is very sharp and has just the right amount of flex. I do not have much knowledge of blade making or iron work. There are several notches in the edge from sword play. It would be a very effective weapon. The handle appears to be made with brass sheet which I have never seen on a Yemeni or Omani Jambiya and has been filled solid with lead. This is not the case with my other sword with is hollow and delicate. It appears as though this lead was done at a later period. The scabbard has been recovered with modern fabric. It is very heavy and would make a good club. Several of you mentioned books with similar swords pictured. Could you post these so I can have a look.
Thanks

Michael
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Old 10th May 2005, 11:23 PM   #2
Ian
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Michael: Is that you with your first edged weapon? Very cute picture.

Ian.
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Old 10th May 2005, 11:34 PM   #3
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Yes, The dagger came first. I got that in Lebanon. My folks took it away for a couple of years after I drilled a hole in the headboard of my bed.
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Old 11th May 2005, 12:40 AM   #4
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I'd suggest that your recently acquired sword is newer Than your first piece due to the unsophisticated forging and the shallow repousse' work .

Re, your dagger ; I had a friend in preparatory school who had a miniature metal lathe ; he made me a 2" long 18th century style brass cannon that fired #6 bird shot , 3 flakes of smokeless shotgun powder were enough to drive a shot through a 3/8" piece of wood . I used cap gun powder for the touchhole .

One day it disappeared , never to be seen again ...

Damned Grownups spoil all the fun !
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Old 11th May 2005, 02:14 AM   #5
Michael Blalock
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My guess is the swords are of the same age. The silver sword has a Solingen trade blade. I would assume that the majority of these swords would have had localy made blades like the smaller sword.
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Old 11th May 2005, 03:51 AM   #6
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Gentlemen,

These are very rare swords indeed but they are not Omani, nor for that matter are they from anywhere in Arabia. They are from the Emirate of Bukhara in Central Asia, as a brief comparison of the repeating engraved motifs on any of the examples of bronze and silverwork from that region pictured in A SONG IN METAL, Abdullayev et al, will show. The few examples I have seen were datable to the early 19th century. There is a fine sword of this type in the Moser Collection, now part of the Berne Historical Museum in Switzerland but it (and all the rest) were taken off display a couple of years ago for some reason. There is another in the V & A pictured in Coe's SWORD AND HILT WEAPONS p. 141; it is included with a group of other swords and unhelpfully described, "Turkish and Persian weapons of the 16th-19th century" or something similar. Jarnuszkiewicz's excellent work SZABLA WSCHODNIA I JEJ TYPU NARODOWE shows the origin of this form on plate 11, a 9th century Samanid king from a fresco at Nisapur carries one extremely similar. Perhaps Pan Michal de Wolviex can post this?
Given the conservative nature of Central Asian groups-- both nomadic and sedentary-- it is not unusual that the form survived so long. One doubts nonetheless that they were ever very common; swords in Central Asia in general, except for that unpleasant late 19th century variety of Afghan saber that so clumsily sought to duplicate the fine lines of the Caucasian shashka, were relatively rare and then usually limited to Persian shamshirs, or the equally rare Bukharan sidearm which looks like an attenuated peshqabz, see Elgood ed., ISLAMIC ARMS AND ARMOUR, FLINDT, for examples.
These swords are quite rare. Congratulations on such fine acquisitions.

Sincerely,

Ham
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Old 11th May 2005, 05:51 AM   #7
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Who was (is) that masked ham! Sorry, and thanks, Michaels sword has been bugging me since I saw it on the SFI site.

Thanks and please stick around .
Jeff
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Old 11th May 2005, 11:41 AM   #8
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After a little research on the web I see that there is a strong connection between Yemen and Buhkara.

"Mir-i-Arab Madrasa (1535) The Mir-i-Arab madrassah with the mosque Bukhara's main kosh ensemble. Under the left dome are buried Ubaydullah Khan (one of the first Bukharan royal not to have his own mausoleum) and Sheikh Mir-i-Arab after whom the madrasa is named. He is variously described as an architect, a Yemeni merchant, and "spiritual mentor of the early Sheibanids".

This explains how a centeral asian sword could have ended up in Yemen in the 1960's.
I will need to do more reading.

Thanks,

Michael
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Old 11th May 2005, 02:52 PM   #9
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Default Bukhara ???

Hi all

Very interesting observations indeed but I must say I do not agree with the Bukhara attribution. In my humble opinion both are Yemeni swords. This type of sword is rather old. They were common in Yemen in the 16 to the late 18 or early 19 C. at the most and disappeared or better replaced with the Nimcha style Saif. At the mid to late 19 C. Several similar exemplars are on exhibit in the main museum of San’a’. I have not been there myself but I have good evidence from very knowledgeable colleague who visited San’a’ and examined these swords in person. The original scabbards for these type of swords usually includes a silver strip spirally bound on it. A very similar spiral binding is also common on Bukhara swords as well as other oriental swords.

From the two swords we have here, I think that the brass handled one is older, probably 18 C., with a later replaced crudely made blade. The silver handled one is later, with a 19 C. Solingen (?) made, trade blade.

Recently, similar newly made swords start to appears in the bazaars of San’a’ for the tourist market. I have somewhere in my articles drawer a copy of an tourists magazine advertising visits to Yemen, with several beautiful photos of a souvenir shop in the market, full of similar newly made swords. I hope I can find it some day and post it here.
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Old 11th May 2005, 05:11 PM   #10
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Here are the swords I was talking about, all from the 15th century.

"Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths"
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Old 11th May 2005, 06:09 PM   #11
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According to the Arabic captions in that book, all those swords are Mamluk swords from the 2nd half of the 15th century.

I actually saw a very dilapidated edition of that book many, many years ago in the library of the faculty of Archaeology at cairo University.
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Old 11th May 2005, 08:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqtai
According to the Arabic captions in that book, all those swords are Mamluk swords from the 2nd half of the 15th century.

I actually saw a very dilapidated edition of that book many, many years ago in the library of the faculty of Archaeology at cairo University.


Thats what I said, mamluk swords from the 15th century. This book is amazing, and there is no other book in the world that covers the same subject in this detail, god bless Dr.Uncal.
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Old 11th May 2005, 11:19 PM   #13
Michael Blalock
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Default Mamluk

I see a similarity in the following pictures.
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Old 11th May 2005, 11:52 PM   #14
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Oriental arms mention that one of them may have a European trade blade in it,I have an old saif with what I believe is also a trade blade from Europe has a lot of flex to it ,and a very similar shape and fuller.Ill try to get a pic up for comparison if you'd like.
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Old 12th May 2005, 12:06 AM   #15
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Please do.
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Old 12th May 2005, 09:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Blalock
I see a similarity in the following pictures.


Yeah, the straight sword in the first pic you have posted is certainly of the same type of swords you have, but the other pics.... I see no resemblance, these swords are covered in detail in "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths".
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Old 12th May 2005, 07:37 PM   #17
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Sorry for poor resolution,if I set it any higher the pics wont go through.
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Old 27th June 2005, 01:15 AM   #18
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I found these photos on a site promoting Yemeni Handicrafts. www.yemen-handicraft.net. The pictures are poor but appear to show replicas of a double edged sword similar to mine.
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