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Old 7th June 2005, 01:00 PM   #1
Andrew
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Interesting sword. Anyone have any idea?

http://forums.swordforum.com/showth...2055#post592055
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Old 7th June 2005, 01:11 PM   #2
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I would think the answer may lie in the decoration on the hilt and bolster .
Good sharp close-ups of these areas would help immensely .
Indo Persian , but which culture .
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Old 7th June 2005, 02:27 PM   #3
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I would say Morrocan, the shape of the hilt is very similar to that of Morrocan swords. When I get home I'll try to find some pics for you.
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Old 7th June 2005, 03:35 PM   #4
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This is a weird one. The handle almost reminds T'boli Kampilans, the handguard is North Indian and the blade..... Make your guess...
The decorations are the answer
Very intaeresting and very peculiar, but unquestionably a real weapon.

Last edited by ariel : 7th June 2005 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 7th June 2005, 03:36 PM   #5
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I would say N. Africa. A custom made Nimcha for someone who wanted to be different and he could affort it.
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Old 7th June 2005, 04:04 PM   #6
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Just got home and had a look. The hilt is a lot like a Morrocan nimcha hilt.


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Old 7th June 2005, 04:49 PM   #7
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The grip does look N African but I am going to say, the knuckle bow looks a bit Indo/Persian like on a tuwar or somethig like that.The construction is also like Indo/Persian knives and Afghan in particular.What does it most for me is the Peacock ingraving ,an asian bird I believe.I will hazard a guess that it is Afghan or something from the old NW Frontier.Tim
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Old 7th June 2005, 05:46 PM   #8
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Is it just my impression, or is the blade slightly down-curved, yataghan-like?
Sossun pattah blade?
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Old 7th June 2005, 07:01 PM   #9
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Could this be some sort of interpretation of a khyber knife? I realize that it's not the "right" shape, but it is in the right size range.

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Old 7th June 2005, 07:15 PM   #10
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I don't think the decoration is N.African in style .
That leaves Indo Persia and the NW frontier as Tim has said .
Those look like architectural details behind the Peacock , those elements remind me of some N. persian rugs I have seen .
Not to mention the Peacock Throne of Persia .
I can see the Indian influence in the knuckle guard but the hilt is real oddball .

Whatever it is I like it !!
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Old 7th June 2005, 09:28 PM   #11
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When I first saw thing thing it sort of reminded me of some Naga swords from the Assam region. They have a sword with cast bronze or brass hilt with knucklebow and large chopper like blade. Although this example is different than the "typical" Naga sword that I am speaking, it isn't too far a stretch to be an unusual variant. I would love to see the blade up close on this example to see if it might be an Indian import and watered or if it had some of the more Tibetan-like watering you more often see on blades from this region.
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Old 8th June 2005, 03:35 AM   #12
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While the nimchas are N, African, they are common as far as Iraq.....the "arch" at the Bagdad airport are two huge crossed nimchas, I believe (I would have expected Saifs ), which may account for the styling partially.
As to the peacock, that style is unusual for Indian art, and almost looks reminiscent of a Guinea Fowl.
Since it's a chopper, on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give it a 15 **grin**
That is definitely unique, and appears undoubtedly to be user oriented.
Sweet, any way you look at it.
Justin commented that the little "hook" in the inner hilt reminds him of many Turkish pieces, just to add to the confusion.
Mike
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Old 8th June 2005, 10:03 AM   #13
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Going back to the pictures I posted above, Morrocan nimchas also have knuckleguards. Isn't it possible that this is a nimcha who decoration has been influenced by imported Iranian weapons?

I have seen at least one book that called the Iranians "the armourers of the Islamic World", or words to that effect. There is little doubt that from the 17th century onwards, the Ottomans frequently used imported Iranian arms and armour, so why not not North Africans? After all Morroco's neighbors Algeria and Tunisia were both part of the Ottoman Empire.
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Old 8th June 2005, 11:19 AM   #14
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I don't think it has anything to do with a nimcha (the shape of the grip is similar, but not the construction or the guard). The bolster with flat extension is as seen on bichok (yeah, I mixed all the spellings on purpose; yeah, that's a statement), yataghan, etc. (it seems quite distinct to me from both Berbese applied bolsters and E Asian habiki, etc.), but also similar to (for instance) piha kaetta. If the handle is solid brass, rather than wood covered with brass (and it looks solid?), then that suggests more Eastern than Western; certainly not Berber, and though the Bantus cast brass hilts, I think we can all agree this is not central African. The hilt construction and pommel remind me CLOSELY of Bagobo/T'boli sword hilts. The knucklebow is of the Hindoo type, and appears to be soldered on at the back end? (I will examine the other end more closely, too....) The pinky stall seems to me like a variation on the finger-pad/subhilt seen on Tartaric hilts going back to very ancient times, and is seen all around at least the Western end of Tartar influence (N Africa, E Europe, India). Isn't this a khanda blade? The tip of a khanda blade? Very khanda-like; surely there's a relation? It does not seem like anything I'd call a varient on a salwar yataghan, although I can see where a person would see a vague resemblance to kopis. The linked salwar yataghan has a variant of some kind of military hilt based on English (I think?) military regulations, while this appears to be a more entirely native design. I dunno; the more I look at the hilt, the more it looks like it was "constructed"; soldered up out of pieces that were probably cast? Still looks like pretty heavy metal, rather than the Kabyle sheet brass? Do you own this sword?
BTW, check that nimcha with the yelman; very similar blade to those seen on certain parang nabur; trade blades..?.....There are, as I've mentioned elsewhere, two distinct types of "nimcha", Moorocan and Swahili/Yemeni, but the two are fairly similar.
I suppose of all brass bolsters this brass bolster most reminds me of those seen on straight bladed chooras?

Last edited by tom hyle : 8th June 2005 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 8th June 2005, 01:00 PM   #15
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Tom,

Here's a scenario: take a khanda (or similar single-edged blade). Get the blade broken near the base (presumably in a fight). Have someone (possibly a whitesmith rather than a blacksmith) decide to rehilt the broken blade, since it's still pretty useful.

What do you have? A wide, single edged, sharp blade, with no tang. How do you secure it? Cast a brass handle around the fragment, with a big yelmen to secure the blade in the absence of a tang.

Now, about the decoration: either someone has commissioned this salvage operation, or the smith wanted to make something that looked good for resale or whatever.

The reason I'm assuming that a whitesmith (who doesn't work with iron) would do this is because a blacksmith would have reshaped the bottom of the blade. That huge yelmen to me looks like a way of holding the blade in the absence of a good tang. If one has the tools, building a tang would be a safer (and lighter) way of doing it. Alternatively, someone may have been sentimental about the original blade, and wanted to save the entire fragment, leaving the smith with the challenge of making a new hilt around the fragment.

Comments? This is a scenario, but it seems to explain some of the weird construction. If that handle is solid brass, that sword must weigh a metaphorical ton.

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Old 8th June 2005, 01:37 PM   #16
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Well I have migrated over from SF, mainly because this sword, causing all the trouble, is mine.
To answer a few of your queries. Blade does have a very slight downward tilt and while 5cm at the hilt, is closer to 6cm at the point that it becomes double edged.
Hilt is very solid but hollow brass. One piece with no cast mold lines visable. You will also notice that there is a copper section set in the hole, through the back of the grip.
I'll attach another photo of the handle from underneath. Notice a hole, which appears to have been intentional, not general wear. Not visable, but there is another in the main grip. obscured here by the hand guard.
I'll try and get more photos online, as requested.
Good luck
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Old 8th June 2005, 04:56 PM   #17
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It seems clear that the blade has come from some other weapon.I am still going with poor nomad people from around the NW frontier, like Rick said with similar carpet motifs,people like the Balouch among others.Tim
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Old 8th June 2005, 05:31 PM   #18
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Here a few more photos including the blade, which doesnt seem to have any damascus qualities.
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Old 8th June 2005, 05:36 PM   #19
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Sorry forgot the blade one and here the back of the grip. Did anyone notice that both peacock designs have 4 legs!
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Old 8th June 2005, 05:45 PM   #20
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Hi Andy,

Thanks for those extra pics. I'm not sure that those peacocks have four legs. Collectively, those "four legs" have the right number of toes for a normal peacock, so I think it was just the artist's attempt to show legs with width. Crude, but there you have it. I also think that there might be a head-on view of an elephant on the curve of the pommel (forehead and trunk).

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Old 8th June 2005, 06:03 PM   #21
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That does look like an elephant head which could indicate a more easterly origin in India or Nepal.It might be a form of Ram Dao if thats the right name.I know the knife Rsword is talking about, but this does not look as heavy as one of those, they have a knuckle duster as a knuckle bow.Tim

Last edited by Tim Simmons : 8th June 2005 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 8th June 2005, 06:33 PM   #22
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Default Elephant it is

Taken a good look at it and while there is little detail e.g no eyes and mainly outline, it deffinately has a trunk, so a Elephant it is.
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Old 8th June 2005, 07:58 PM   #23
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So do we suppose there were once jewels in those two bezel mounts(?) on either side of the hilt ? Also note the possibly symbolic three dots in the pommel plate ; some of the floriform decoration on the handle looks almost Tibetan .
Fascinating sword !

Andy , I made a large close up from your picture of the 'elephant' ; okay to post it ?
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Old 8th June 2005, 08:22 PM   #24
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Hi Guys

I will throw in my two cents. It strikes me as Indo Persian the knuckle guard screams tulwar the brass overlay is similar to flyssa hilts and the blade is North Indian or even Afghan due to the shape of the choil (as in khyber knives). I have seen a similar blade shape in Dr. Feigels book on wootz swords.

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Old 8th June 2005, 10:03 PM   #25
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Go for it Rick, do the elephant thing. Has anybody else noticed the small ridge, about a third of the way along the inside of the handle. Looks a bit like a trigger but seems to be to improve grip. Have we encounterd that before?
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Last edited by Rick : 9th June 2005 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 8th June 2005, 11:00 PM   #26
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Umm? guys, is SFI down again? All the forums seem to be locked to me. Is it only me, or is anyone else experiencing this?
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Old 9th June 2005, 12:58 AM   #27
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I added the pictures to your post Andy .

IMO if this is a depiction of an elephant it was done by someone who had never seen one in the flesh .

Still thinking it's N.W. Indo Persian , but the engraving is unsophisticated which to me would indicate a less advanced tribe or culture .
Definitely a ceremonial piece or we would have seen one before this .
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Old 9th June 2005, 02:25 AM   #28
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Rick, I'm ashamed of you...."definitely"?
I for one don't think that it's ceremonial, rather just the opposite, and while it may be a one-of-a-kind, it may also be that this simply is the first one that's surfaced, such as my "Philippine bellied chopper from Hal" that remained unique of at least 6 years until the Spanish museum photos were published here and Tom obtained one.We're often tempted to think that all that is known is already known, while in truth, I suspect that more has been forgotten than we'll ever know.
I do think that I'd favor an Afghan/N. India place of origin, and if it's the latter, I suspect that more will surface eventually (and hopefully, at least one in front of me!**grin**)
To me the knuckle guard sems almost to have been welded/brazed on to the existing hilt, and I actually edited it out w/photoshop to see what the effect was, still complete and serviceable looking.
While the holes may have contained gems or such, it's also possible that they were vent hole from the mold so as to keep bubbles from forming in the bronze while it was being cast.
That small notch on the inner grip is what Justin noted, comparing it to a similar feature in many Ottoman knives.
If this is a composite piece, my own gut feelings are that 1) it was made to be used, 2) that it's NOT recent, and 3) it was likely made at a village level with no thoughts of the dreaded "T-word" involved.
Mike
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Old 9th June 2005, 03:02 AM   #29
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This is an extremely interesting piece and I responded on it on SFI, not actually realizing I had linked over I agree very much with the aesthetic influence of Arabian saifs, which include by association the Moroccan 'nimchas', however I am actually thinking more of those of the Yemen and Hadhramaut. The rather hexagonal shape of the grip seems remininscent of these (which Dr.Elgood notes were often manufactured in Hyderabad ). In my post on SFI , I had noted the shape of the knuckleguard as well as the raised nock on the inside of the grip as suggesting the Ceylonese kastane, however in reading the posts on this thread and upon reconsidering ,I tend to agree with the tulwar associated shape more. With this I am inclined more toward the Northwest Frontier as has been suggested on this thread than my original inclination toward the south.

It seems that many of the weapons of India have atavistic inclinations, that is they seem to be interpretations of venerable iconography and representations of ancient weapons in various art. In this case this weapon seems remarkably like closed hilt examples of the Spanish kopis (evolved from the falcata) as shown in "Swords and Hilt Weapons" p.22. This same type closed or voided hilt is also reminiscent of the medieval European dusack which was essentially a heavy, curved blade with opening for the hand to grip the piece.
While it is uncertain exactly how such classical weapons might have influenced this apparant interpretation , it is known that often such representation does occur in many ethnographic weapons in varying degrees .
Another feature that suggests the northern regions of India, in reviewing the additional illustrations, is what appears semi-circle sickle marks along the back edge of the blade. This motif, occurs on some Indian weapons blades as motif in this manner, and is also found on some blades in the Caucusus, where trade with these regions was well established.

This heavy, chopping weapon seems most unusual, and does seem related in degree to the Khyber 'Salawar Yataghan' previously noted in the manner it is hilted.

I didn't notice the peacock in the motif had 4 legs !! But despite that, regarding the peacock I thought the Mughals sort of liked them....and the Rajputs used Peacock plumage as sort of insignia from what I understand.

This is really an unusual variant Andy!! Thank you so much for sharing it.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 9th June 2005, 11:33 AM   #30
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Errata/disagreements of fact/terminology:
The dusaks referred to were, I think, the training weapons, with the guard an extnesion of the blade (which I hear was commonly thin steel covered with hide). Real fighting dusacks are more ordinary sabres/hangers, though I think broad bladed. So many of us have seen those wood cut prints and wanted one of those swords that were never swords, only to find out they were the training weapons; I'm gonna make one from sawsteel one day anyway!
A Yelman is a "dropped" (ie suddenly widened) sharp part length false edge at the tip, as seen on the nimcha above with the bare blade. The part of the handle that grips the blade is a bolster. Long flat bolsters like this are seen in some traditional work, some of which has been mentioned; it would probably be more useful to consider where that work comes from than to look for an unusual practice or occurance (ie "one of" assemblage etc.).

Thoughts:
Looks a LOT like an elephant to me, and I assure you I've seen them. Bi-lobed head top; wrinkled forehead; trunk; looks a lot like an elephant; the angling of the cheeks seems about right, too? perhaps you are thinking of a loxodon? (African elephant) Perhaps a female elephant? Female Asian elephants commonly have no or small emergent tusks, and tusks are not as usually treated with the emphasis in Hindu elephant art that they are in African (think of statues of Ganesh, for instance). Where, not so much are, but where were elephants in the recent historical past? How far North and West? I have this book called Elephant; the animal and its ivory in African culture. It devides the continent by chapters on various cultures, and one fascinating (?to me? ) thing that arises again and again is the elephant as an important symbol and artistic motif in areas where there have been no elephants for even centuries. Perjaps so in India, too?
There is a slight resemblance to the knucklebowed kopis, mainly in the arrangement of the knuckleguard and bolster (and indeed, though the linked one above isn't one of them, there are salwar yataghans with very similar guards; score one for the widespread of kopis and its features; direction of distribution not implied.....score one for Asian knucklebows not modernly coming from Europe, too.); the blade much more closely resembles a known local modern type; it is a khanda blade, part of a khanda blade, or close relative; this seems fairly clear? Breakage is a possibility if it's a rehilt, or a modification due to obsolescence (or foreign-ness?) of the khanda. Thanks for the closeups. The hilt seems to be lost wax cast. There seems to be a slight sloppiness around each end of the knucklebow, suggesting it is soldered (brazed?) on (but could be from the casting/moulding process), and the butt looks like a seperate plate that has been soldered on. The angling is all different, but I note a resemblance to kukuri butts. The copper eyes and line of crescents are proably the only things that remind me of Berber work. The off-center hole in the butt seems mysterious.
The brasswork does not resemble that on flyssas, which is thin hammered sheet over a wooden core.
The finger stall, while looking different, may have similar handling contributions to the narrow area before the pommel on tulwars (etc.).

Last edited by tom hyle : 9th June 2005 at 12:01 PM. Reason: un-neccessary detail again, plus more about the elephant
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