Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Maghrebi (?) Saif for Comment (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14310)

TVV 26th September 2011 02:25 AM

Maghrebi (?) Saif for Comment
 
5 Attachment(s)
This sword was found in Northern Bulgaria, but it certainly does not look Balkan or Eastern European. To me it looks like an early Maghrebi saif, based on the hilt. Interestingly, it is made og two cow horn scales and not from a single piece of horn. The blade is marked with a Gurda - could it be Italian?

It belongs to a friend of mine and we both appreciate all your comments.

Thank you,
Teodor

kahnjar1 26th September 2011 04:51 AM

Certainly has that North African look about it. As to age I can not comment. Interesting piece.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14143
Check this thread particularly pics on post #39. Remarkably similar style.
Stu

Gavin Nugent 26th September 2011 05:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Certainly has that North African look about it. As to age I can not comment. Interesting piece.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14143
Check this thread particularly pics on post #39. Remarkably similar style.
Stu

I agree with Jim's assessment in post #43 that it is likely a Bedouin sabre.

I think Broadaxe will be able to have the final word on this as he has a fine collection of Bedouin sabres.

The example you show looks to have a very fine old blade on it.

Perhaps a short PM or email to Broadaxe would be beneficial.


Gav

TVV 26th September 2011 06:53 AM

Thank you Gentlemen,
The example in the other thread is exactly of the same hilt style.
Bedouin is certainly a possibility. The Sinai/Palestine examples (as identified by Artzi) tend to be characterized by a lack of a knuckle guard. However, I do not know enough about them, and there may be variations.
I have sent a PM to broadaxe, hopefully he will chime in.
Regards,
Teodor

broadaxe 26th September 2011 08:45 AM

What an interesting saber with a strong Badawi flavor. First let's look at the blade: geometrical profile appears to be European military saber of the late 19th century but the presence of gurdas suggest it was made primely for the trade market. The steel looks pattern welded! Rare but not out of the equation. Second, the hilt is a hybrid of North-African influence with degraded Nimcha-style guard and the grips are pure Bedouin technique, twin (horn?) slabs with simple rivets and reinforcing brass bands. I believe this is a kind of premium Sinai Bedouin saber put together, because of the high quality blade, the horn grips have unusual fine cannelures and the d-guard engraved with typical criss-cross pattern that can be seen on axe heads, war hammers, billhooks and even fire-steels from the region of Sinai and parts of Israel (I think also in Jordan).

A.alnakkas 26th September 2011 01:07 PM

Hmmm there is a similar one in Tirri's book, he clasified it as Algerian Nimcha.

Gavin Nugent 26th September 2011 02:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Tirri's book

Nuff said ;-)

Gav

A.alnakkas 26th September 2011 03:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by freebooter
Nuff said ;-)

Gav

Hah, explain it on an email mate :-P

Jim McDougall 26th September 2011 08:10 PM

Thank you Gav, for the kind reference to my previous comments on the cited thread and as you have noted, Broadaxe has outstanding knowledge of these weapons as well as well situated collection of them, as shown by his outstanding post.
A. Ainakkas, the wonderfully photographed book by Mr. Tirri is an outstanding collectors guidebook which is large on photography but in my opinion wanting with regard to detail in captioning and assessment, particularly in cited references. I would note here that it is typically dangerous to regard any material published as the final word on things such as identification or classification without subsequent corroboration in other references ( I am not directing toward you as I know you simply cited that as a reference). As with most published material, it is of course common for new evidence and data to surface which results in revision of the original material. In many cases when statements or observations are based more on opinion that supported material, and not clearly qualified as such, it can lead to unfortunate outcome circumstantially.
Having noted these instances in a broad sense pertaining to published material in general, I would note here what I have expressed on many occasions. Mr. Tirri's book is an outstanding collectors guidebook, and as such was apparantly not intended to be a scholarly reference, but a compilation of mostly his own collections with identifications applied to the items reflecting his own opinions and observations. It accomplishes its role as a collectors guide accordingly and serves well as such, and while largely well identifying items, there are some which leave a degree of question with regard to final assessment, and need qualification pending continued research.

With regard to the Algerian attribution, I would presume personally that the design of the horn grip and fluted motif on the sides seem to recall a particular character also seen on certain Maghrebi koummya grips, and may support in degree that influence. Naturally the diffusion of these decorative influences travelled considerably in the ever present trade networks, and certainly would have been experienced in those into the Sinai.

The sharply right angled pommel, and cap does seem to me to recall Eastern European sabre hilt forms of 17th-18thc. and the blade certainly does seem to be a trade blade of similar form to Solingen types of latter 18th century with the cavalry 'hatchet tip' which would have been of course quite present in the Red Sea trade networks. It is worthy of note that Hungarian blades and influences were quite present in Arabian swords. The apparantly spuriously applied 'sickle marks' are likely native additions as they are seemingly misplaced through the fuller area and incongruent in configuration. These became quite well known from Styrian blades and in turn with blades from Eastern Europe. They became the 'gurda' in Caucasian parlance from Genoan and later Styrian trade influences in the Black Sea regions.
The pommel seems to correspond to the same profile seen as mentioned on the vestigial versions on the Bedouin sabres previously described.

While decorative character and for that matter, even the blade, as well as the two downturned quillons would lead in some degree to the Algerian presumption, the shape of the pommel and knuckleguard direct compellingly in my opinion to the Sinai Peninsula and the Bedouin tribal groups there and eastward.

Actually it seems that there may be potentially a place for this type of sabre in the broader classification of the North African and Arabian sa'if's collectively referred to by collectors as 'nimcha'. This would extend from the Moroccan and Algerian versions to the Arab forms with varying hilt features often termed 'Zanzibari' and well classified by Louis-Pierre (LPCA) in his outstanding work. In this case this perhaps may be considered the 'Sinai Bedouin' version with eastern provenance of the group.

TVV 27th September 2011 04:26 AM

Thank you broadaxe, Jim and A.Alnakkas for your comments. Mr. Tirri's attribution may have been based on gut feeling, and I have to admit my first reaction when I saw this sword was Algerian as well.

However, the argument for a Bedouin origin is much stonger. Given the Sinai attribution, I wonder if the blade may be Caucasian, as per Elgood those became very popular in Arabia from Syria and Jordan all the way to the Hadhramaout in the 19th century with the Circassian diaspora. The Gurda was perhaps the most imitated early European makers' mark by caucasian swordsmiths. I agree with you Jim that the blade does look a little earlier though, maybe 18th century.

It also does have a pattern welded appearance that I guess was never intended, and which is present on many hand wrought blades. It is my understanding that the previous owner dipped the blade in acid to clean it, thus etching it in the process. Nothing can be done about that now, but at least we get to see how it was made.

Thank you again,
Teodor

Billman 27th September 2011 10:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by broadaxe
I believe this is a kind of premium Sinai Bedouin saber put together, because of the high quality blade, the horn grips have unusual fine cannelures and the d-guard engraved with typical criss-cross pattern that can be seen on axe heads, war hammers, billhooks and even fire-steels from the region of Sinai and parts of Israel (I think also in Jordan).

If anyone has images of the billhooks from this region I would be most grateful to receive copies via PM or website billhooks.co.uk as I have nothing at all from the eastern Mediterranean, except one modern Turkish tool and an image of an Isaeli one from eBay... Thanks in anticipation...

Billman 27th September 2011 10:33 AM

Not heard the word "gurda" used to describe the mark on the blade so did a quick web search and found this site:

(site deleted)

Probably already well known to all you weapons buffs, buy just in case it is new - some similar gurda marks on the blades they are selling...

broadaxe 27th September 2011 03:13 PM

I believe this pattern welded blade was made and meant to be shown as-is, on purpose. While it might be Caucasian, I strongly believe it is German or Magyar, because of its shape. One of my Bedouin sabers has a caucasian blade (a lot of gurdas all the way...), possibly Khevsurian and it is almost dead straight, looking like an extra-long butcher knife. Another saber has a d-guard, but it is rather simple piece of bent metal. Billman, you can start a thread on billhooks if you like and post the photos you have, I'll throw in some of mine.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2011 03:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Billman
Not heard the word "gurda" used to describe the mark on the blade so did a quick web search and found this site:

(Site deleted)

Probably already well known to all you weapons buffs, buy just in case it is new - some similar gurda marks on the blades they are selling...

Salaams ... That is a nice website and they have some great publications for sale ... Theres a few swords with Gurda marks too... on Palash Khevsur swords. I hope that one day we can have a full on weapons book library on the forum.
Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi

Jim McDougall 27th September 2011 06:03 PM

Teodor thank you so much for putting the steam back into this thread!! and for posting a great example of Afghan 'shashka'. These are referred to as 'psuedo shashkas' by Lebedynsky as while they are of the Caucasian shashka form, like guardless Bukharen sabres they are actually are of a separate group.

These hatchet tip blades are cavalry blades of usually latter 18th century and typically were German and East European, actually the influence for the British M1796 pattern swords. Actually Solingen makers were producing these into the 19th century as is shown in illustrations in Gilkerson ("Boarders Away") and similar blades often ended up on cutlass type weapons.

The 'gurda' is simply the Caucasian term used to describe blades made typically in Chechen regions and bearing these dentated arcs commonly referred to as 'sickle marks'. These paired toothed arcs appear to have originated in North Italy (often presumed Genoa, however many locations used them in various forms) then were copied in Styrian regions and later other regions as marks of quality. Like many other such marks they were likely associated with trade guilds, and became signals of quality control because of those associations.

As previously mentioned, blades from Germany as well as from East Europe entered the trade networks and in degree many of these blades were from Caucasian regions, particularly those of Chechnya. Those Khevsur blades with the 'sickle' (gurda) marks lining the blade back were (according to Askhabov) produced in Chechnya in Ataghi, I have seen them as well usually on Khevsur 'pranguli'. Elgood notes that blades with presumably Hungarian origin are termed with reference to 'Magyar' (cant think of the term offhand).
It will be noted that many of the Syrian hilt sabres (Badawi) have blades with Hungarian mottos in Latin, thus I have seen them misidentified as Hungarian hussar sabres through the years.
Clearly these blades entered Arabian markets through Syria, and through there into the Sinai regions via Bedouin trade and interaction.

Actually the forum itself contains many threads and references which in effect is very much a library, and can be utilized best by using the search feature using key words. In any case, asking the questions here always gives us the opportunity to bolster the ever growing archives here and often add to those many years of threads with valuable data.
Always learning together!!!! :)

All the best,
Jim

TVV 20th November 2011 06:07 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Here is another one of those swords, also found in Bulgaria. The hilt is in rough shape, with the knickleguard and the metal band on the pommel missing. The blade is quite interesting, with a mark which I read as GENOA. How would you gentlemen date it?

Thank you,
Teodor


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