Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Got a Kaskara, & thoughts about Giraffes (

JoeCanada42 26th October 2021 06:32 PM

Got a Kaskara, & thoughts about Giraffes
12 Attachment(s)
I Recently Acquired this sword from eBay,
it was called antique African Tuareg tribe sword.
I recognize it to be a Kaskara, that's about as much as I can tell.
Came from USA to Canada to get to me, I used UPS instead of USPS...
by mistake. had to pay customs brokerage fees, and it was inspected and opened by customs. there was a 3 day delay. otherwise was a good deal.

If anyone can share some info about it would be cool, or some opinions.

Its is Solid, It is sharp from about the markings, which are also the balance point.

My first thoughts wielding the sword was it could liberate a giraffe of its head.
Turns out there are giraffes in that area where the sword originates.
I find the Tassel on the Handle reminds me of Giraffes Horns.
the Scabbard reminds me of a Giraffes Tail & the Two triangles dangling on the scabbard reminds me of the Ears.

JoeCanada42 26th October 2021 06:33 PM

10 Attachment(s)
more photos

Edster 27th October 2021 01:19 AM


You have a nice well used Beja kaskara made in Eastern Sudan. The worn tassel on the grip is a Beja stylistic signature. The blade has a nice distal taper signifying a very qualified bladesmith. The three fullers are common on locally made blades and were inspired by similar fullers on imported munition grade likely German trade blades. The circular marks are likely the maker's mark similar to those used in Kassala. The cross guard appears to have a gap on the bottom. This suggests a one-piece unit made by forging a pre-cut template. This innovation was developed around 1950 as it became increasingly more difficult for craftsmen at the time to make the more traditional 4-piece guard.

The squares on the scabbard are Kaskara style. I don't know the significance. The scabbard is really dry and could use a good leather rejuvenation.

I'm not aware of the kaskara being used on giraffes, but they were used to hamstring elephants by the Hamran tribe hunters as reported by western travelers in the mid-1800s. Dangerous work.


JoeCanada42 27th October 2021 02:33 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Thank you very much Ed,
I wonder if you are the Same Ed who wrote

(in post #4 , figure 17, I think the two swords are numbered inversely)
I am trying to understand figure 14...

I am still finding a lot of good threads about kaskaras

By Gap on bottom did u mean like weld seam? or something else?
I took some better photos.

I am willing to consider any tips on leather treatment for the scabbard


Edster 27th October 2021 03:07 PM

Yep, one and the same Ed. Also you may like the three papers I wrote on Kaskara available on the Forum's Geographical Index under Africa.

Yes, the weld seam as you show. The flat pre-form is explained in the papers on cross guards.

Any kind of "leather food" with lanolin will work on the scabbard.

The metal piece at the top of the scabbard is likely aluminum. The one at the bottom is a replacement.


Jim McDougall 27th October 2021 05:32 PM

What an interesting post and kaskara Joe!
I had never been aware of giraffes being hunted with kaskara, not being especially familiar with big game hunting in the first place. It does appear that the regions of S. Sudan and into Ethiopian regions of course were well exposed to the kaskara.
I once knew a gentleman from Eritrea who was Beja, and shared with me videos of his tribal group doing ceremonial dances with kaskara.

I think Ed has put together the most comprehensive and insightful material on the kaskara's history and construction, including into modern times that is known on these swords.
With ethnographic weapons, as in these cases, they need not be 'old' to be collectible and fascinating. It has always amazed me that edged weapons remained in use in native contexts well through the 20th century.

As Ed suggested, I use a lanolin based oil for restoring dried out leather (the same as I use on my old bomber jacket) and it is amazing to see the results.

JoeCanada42 28th October 2021 02:16 AM

Thanks for sharing all the good info Ed,
Hi Jim, Thanks for dropping in, glad to hear from ya.
good stuff, I got lots to read,
would be cool to stumble upon some obscure giraffe stuff lol.

Philip 31st October 2021 09:59 PM

Hey Joe,
Congrats on getting a very clean, compleat example that's right as rain! So much nicer than many that you see out there.

My only suggestion is that you resist the temptation to carry the thing when you visit the zoo.

JoeCanada42 3rd November 2021 12:31 PM

Haha lol!, that was a good laugh, and thanks for the compliments on the sword.

Edster 12th November 2021 01:16 AM

Giraffe Hunting

In pursuit of your interest in giraffe hunting I dug up an article on the subject. But first the Alamy pics you show have it all wrong. No swords or camels involved. Runned down on horseback and hamstrung with a spear.

Great and detailed article by Ian Cunnison. Giraffe Hunting Among the Humr, Sudan Notes and Records V.39 (1958). Available via Jstor if this link doesn't work.

Also, a lesser article by R. Davies of same group. SNR, V.2 1919. ELEPHANT AND GIRAFFE HUNTING IN THE HOMR TRIBE (SOUTH-WEST KORDOFAN.

Take care,

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