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Old 26th December 2020, 01:58 PM   #1
Marc M.
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Default Latest kaskara for comment

Greetings all
Merry christmas and a better and hopefull year for 2021.
I've just got my second kaskara. the sword is 94,5 cm long, blade 83 cm, wide 3,8 cm, thickness at the ricasso 5,5 mm. A well made blade with 2 fullers. Inside the fullers a floral decoration, blade has some flex. On the ricasso markings on each side. On one side two markings, A lion and a cartouch, 6 gm 126, both deep and clear. On the other side two hands. The handle is cast on the sword, problaby aluminium or zinc.
The lion i've seen before, but the cartouche and the hands not.
According the seller it is a local made blade and the markings and the floral decoration resembling european blades.
Comments are verry welcome.

Marc
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Old 26th December 2020, 02:07 PM   #2
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Sorry, title had to be latest kaskara for comment.
Marc
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Old 26th December 2020, 02:30 PM   #3
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Corrected .
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Old 26th December 2020, 06:47 PM   #4
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Marc,

Nice old "kaskara". I have a single edge sword from Kassaka with a similar cast grip, c.1986. The blade looks to me like those from Ethiopia, especially with the lion. Double fullers are common from there, but not from Sudan. Also, the tapered blade profile more like its imported also considering the gloved hand maker's marks. My guess it's an imported Abyssinian/Ethiopian gurade blade with a 4-piece welded kaskara cross-guard updated with the cast grip.

Best regards,
Ed
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Old 27th December 2020, 01:51 AM   #5
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How heavy is the silver hilt?
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Old 27th December 2020, 03:58 AM   #6
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This blade reminds me of the kinds of Solingen blades that indeed came through Ethiopia in latter 19th c. and often after being mounted with rhino horn hilts were sent to San'aa in Yemen. The rhino from the hilts was of course highly sought for use on janbiyya daggers. The blades were then remounted
with various silver hilts and resulted in unusual combinations, often there would be Amharic inscriptions .

The kaskara was of course well known in Ethiopia as well as Eritrea, and these blades recirculating over generations were likely remounted many times. I think Ed has the best perception of these remounts by the character of the guards etc. as described in the work he has done from outstanding field work in the Sudan and presented here.
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Old 27th December 2020, 09:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Marc,

Nice old "kaskara". I have a single edge sword from Kassaka with a similar cast grip, c.1986. The blade looks to me like those from Ethiopia, especially with the lion. Double fullers are common from there, but not from Sudan. Also, the tapered blade profile more like its imported also considering the gloved hand maker's marks. My guess it's an imported Abyssinian/Ethiopian gurade blade with a 4-piece welded kaskara cross-guard updated with the cast grip.

Best regards,
Ed
Hi Ed
Thanks for the reaction. The Abyssinian connection crossed my mind also.
In older posts on Ethiopian swords, i've found an identical stamp off the lion, also the shape off the blade and the double fullers pointed in that direction.
Glad that you confirmed my thoughts.
best regards
Marc
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Old 27th December 2020, 09:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
How heavy is the silver hilt?
Hi Battara
I don't think its silver but aluminium or zinc, it feels light.
I don't have anything to test silver.
Silver on kaskara handles is mostly wire or thin plates.
Solid cast silver handle would be nice allthough.
Greetings
marc
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Old 27th December 2020, 09:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This blade reminds me of the kinds of Solingen blades that indeed came through Ethiopia in latter 19th c. and often after being mounted with rhino horn hilts were sent to San'aa in Yemen. The rhino from the hilts was of course highly sought for use on janbiyya daggers. The blades were then remounted
with various silver hilts and resulted in unusual combinations, often there would be Amharic inscriptions .

The kaskara was of course well known in Ethiopia as well as Eritrea, and these blades recirculating over generations were likely remounted many times. I think Ed has the best perception of these remounts by the character of the guards etc. as described in the work he has done from outstanding field work in the Sudan and presented here.
Hi Jim
So problaby an Ethiopian/ Eritean kaskara with an european trade blad, which suits me fine. Seller thought it was local made.
Do you have some more info on the markings?
Greetings
Marc
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Old 27th December 2020, 10:49 AM   #10
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I think your seller was right.
It's not an Ethiopian lion for sure, maybe a copy...
As Jim said the fullers look like the Solingen ones.
No one mentioned the numbers... Strange for an African copy.
I'ts not a silver hilt.
I'm sure a forum member will give you a better and precise answer.
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Old 27th December 2020, 05:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc M.
Hi Battara
I don't think its silver but aluminium or zinc, it feels light.
I don't have anything to test silver.
Silver on kaskara handles is mostly wire or thin plates.
Solid cast silver handle would be nice allthough.
Greetings
marc
I agree, lighter probably means aluminum, which might indicate a later (early 1900s) dating for the hilt. And yes most I see with silver are wrapped and decorated, not cast.
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Old 27th December 2020, 05:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
I think your seller was right.
It's not an Ethiopian lion for sure, maybe a copy...
As Jim said the fullers look like the Solingen ones.
No one mentioned the numbers... Strange for an African copy.
I'ts not a silver hilt.
I'm sure a forum member will give you a better and precise answer.
Hi kubur
Europian or native made blade, don't make much difference to me so, long the blade is well made. Its sometime hard to define where its from.
A few things made me doubt on the native origin.
First: the double fullers with the decoration, not that common on native blades. The decoration in the fullers is problaby acid etched, done verry well.
Second: a ricasso is found mostly on import blades.
Third : the markings in particular the cartouche and the hands.
Hopefully someone can shed some light on these matters.
Greetings
Marc
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Old 27th December 2020, 05:51 PM   #13
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Hi Marc,

Yes, your blade is a mystery.

Have a look at these two threads with your lion...

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ethiopian+lion

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ethiopian+lion

No one was able to say where they are coming from...

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Old 27th December 2020, 07:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc M.
Hi kubur
Europian or native made blade, don't make much difference to me so, long the blade is well made. Its sometime hard to define where its from.
A few things made me doubt on the native origin.
First: the double fullers with the decoration, not that common on native blades. The decoration in the fullers is problaby acid etched, done verry well.
Second: a ricasso is found mostly on import blades.
Third : the markings in particular the cartouche and the hands.
Hopefully someone can shed some light on these matters.
Greetings
Marc

These deeply channeled blades are distinctly European, and actually they were made in both Solingen and in England (Mole & Sons) for Ethiopian markets in the reign of Menelik II (r. 1868-1915). These blades were of varied types, many curved for shotels but there were numbers of these straight, channeled blades (as shown in post by Kubur with 2005 threads).

From what I recall, and image from the shambles of my notes, these blades came into Ethiopia, typically to Armenian merchants in Harar mostly, for the Abyssinian armorers (Sarlis Terzian c. 1890 was one of the many and Keverkoff another commonly seen).

The Mole versions often had the Amharic script etched in, while the German examples seem to have had the floral etching. Typically the Lion of Judah is seen at the forte, but this one is different being a couchant lion without the regalia on the Lion of Judah (the Royal Abyssinian mark).

Also, the gloves are typical of German makers marks of latter 19th c. period as yet undetermined. The numbers are it seems commercial administrative associated, and I have seen these types of numbers on various German blades to colonial clientele.

The lion has distinct symbolic value across North Africa from Sahara to Sudan, and several forms of lion exist on Tuareg sword blades (from Kaocen Rebellion, 1916-18) to Hadendoa in Sudan where this may have been 'totemic' (the Hadendoa name assoc. with lion ?).
There was a German firm (C. Lutters & Co.) using a circled couchant lion c. 1840-99(Bezdek, p. 147) and imported blades from there may have influenced native blade producers.

In "People of the Veil" (Rodd, 1928. p.233) it is noted referring to 'Masri' blades, "...another cheap variety has a small couchant lion". These marks were believed to imbue the blade with magical powers.

This convention of 'magical imbuement' was not lost to commercial production of blades, especially in Solingen, where the use of spurious markings for specific clientele had been practiced for many centuries.

As noted, these straight blades, whether intended for Sudan or Ethiopia, carried a couchant lion which may have appealed to either recipient.
Many of these ended up in Yemen (as shown in attached photo) but the blades in any case remained in circulation for generations.

I would say this was rehilted in the traditional kaskara manner, but using solid metal as had become conventional by early to mid 20th c. as noted by Battara. This may well be 'German silver' which is of course an alloy of copper, brass and nickel (I believe) but has similar effect as silver.

With ethnographic weapons, whether it is a weapon modified, remounted, etc and perhaps in modern context with components is not as relevant as the fact it is as representation of the culture and traditions of its users. While many weapons so altered are seen as 'composite' and less worthy collectibles, I see them as iconic historic journals of their often long working lives.
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Last edited by Battara; 28th December 2020 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 27th December 2020, 08:50 PM   #15
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Hi Marc
I have a very similar sword (blade at least). I associate these fuller decorations with Ethiopian influence, and the blade I was always assuming is not locally made but a trade blade of some form. Like yours mine has a panel with numbers which is rather strange. The lion marks look identical between your blade and mine, also the decoration. I think these were therefore trade blades of some kind. Your hand marks are not present on mine and look like a later addition to me.

Some pictures of my example here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/phgeUZgdUYjMEXQS9

Apart from the blade the rest of the fittings and scabbard for mine are of lower quality, scabbard is also unusual in that it is plain and does not follow the usual patterns of other kaskara. The sword itself is on the smaller end of the kaskara scale.

So all in all I had attributed these to cross over between Sudan and Ethiopia, and not that old, very early 20th C. Of course I'm interested to be proved wrong though
Best regards,
Chris
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Old 28th December 2020, 01:41 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefidk
Hi Marc
I have a very similar sword (blade at least). I associate these fuller decorations with Ethiopian influence, and the blade I was always assuming is not locally made but a trade blade of some form. Like yours mine has a panel with numbers which is rather strange. The lion marks look identical between your blade and mine, also the decoration. I think these were therefore trade blades of some kind. Your hand marks are not present on mine and look like a later addition to me.

Some pictures of my example here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/phgeUZgdUYjMEXQS9

Apart from the blade the rest of the fittings and scabbard for mine are of lower quality, scabbard is also unusual in that it is plain and does not follow the usual patterns of other kaskara. The sword itself is on the smaller end of the kaskara scale.

So all in all I had attributed these to cross over between Sudan and Ethiopia, and not that old, very early 20th C. Of course I'm interested to be proved wrong though
Best regards,
Chris

Hi Chris,
As I had mentioned in my post (just prior to this one) these blades are trade blades made for Ethiopia (Abyssinia) from around 1880 into 20th c. by both England and Germany. The British were providing blades for Menelik into the 1930s.
The numbers were a feature which seem to have begun appearing on Solingen trade blades at the end of the century and may have to do with lot or pattern etc. As you have noted, the lion is virtually identical but placed in different place on blade, the point is it was a favored imbuement regardless of location. It likely varied by shop or worker adding it.

The 20th century assessment is of course quite reasonable as these swords remained in use, at least traditionally, well through the century. It is well known that the kaskara was in use in Ethiopia (Burton, 1884, Danakil) and in Eritrea. I once spoke to a Beja tribesman from Eritrea, who let me see a video of their tribal dance ceremonies with kaskara.

As you note, these hand marks are not a known makers mark, and may well have been added by importing dealer handling the blades.
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Old 28th December 2020, 07:07 AM   #17
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Hi Jim
Thanks for the confirmation and the information posted before. I'm interested in the numbers - are the German blades you've seen matching this form of messy numbering on the ricasso?
The process of making them must be interesting. They are not machine created but appear to be raised out of an uneven depression in the blade. Perhaps deeply acid etched like the fuller decoration, but not neatly done. I don't see an easy way to make it by stamps in this form, but could be possible I guess.
I also wonder what they represent, batch numbers maybe. But it's really odd when you think of the way that blades and gun parts were usually marked at that time post manufacture, and why so visible and variable in placing.

Btw I have another kaskara with the Amharic etched in the center fuller very like the examples you posted. Again, this has a lower quality local made guard and rather plain scabbard, with a Hadendoa tassle.

For both these swords I'd attributed it to individual blades moving west, but now seeing Marc's example it suggests that these blades could have been more than a one-off chance. Perhaps more organised late 19thC/early 20thC trade with Ethiopia for suitable blades, hence the poor quality local made fittings and not the better type usually seen on older kaskara. But you raise the idea that these were Ethiopian made if I understand your correctly.
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Old 28th December 2020, 07:15 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Chris,
It is well known that the kaskara was in use in Ethiopia (Burton, 1884, Danakil) and in Eritrea. I once spoke to a Beja tribesman from Eritrea, who let me see a video of their tribal dance ceremonies with kaskara.
Sorry I missed this - I did not know it was in use in Eritrea and thought that its use in Ethiopia was restricted to the Sudanese border regions and slave trade area.

This is something very interesting for me because I have been trying to trace the reason Emilio De Bono had a personalised kaskara. I thought perhaps commemorative of operations against slavers, but if it was in common use in Eritrea then maybe there is another connection.
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Old 28th December 2020, 10:04 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
These deeply channeled blades are distinctly European, and actually they were made in both Solingen and in England (Mole & Sons) for Ethiopian markets in the reign of Menelik II (r. 1868-1915). These blades were of varied types, many curved for shotels but there were numbers of these straight, channeled blades (as shown in post by Kubur with 2005 threads).

From what I recall, and image from the shambles of my notes, these blades came into Ethiopia, typically to Armenian merchants in Harar mostly, for the Abyssinian armorers (Sarlis Terzian c. 1890 was one of the many and Keverkoff another commonly seen).

The Mole versions often had the Amharic script etched in, while the German examples seem to have had the floral etching. Typically the Lion of Judah is seen at the forte, but this one is different being a couchant lion without the regalia on the Lion of Judah (the Royal Abyssinian mark).

Also, the gloves are typical of German makers marks of latter 19th c. period as yet undetermined. The numbers are it seems commercial administrative associated, and I have seen these types of numbers on various German blades to colonial clientele.

The lion has distinct symbolic value across North Africa from Sahara to Sudan, and several forms of lion exist on Tuareg sword blades (from Kaocen Rebellion, 1916-18) to Hadendoa in Sudan where this may have been 'totemic' (the Hadendoa name assoc. with lion ?).
There was a German firm (C. Lutters & Co.) using a circled couchant lion c. 1840-99(Bezdek, p. 147) and imported blades from there may have influenced native blade producers.

In "People of the Veil" (Rodd, 1928. p.233) it is noted referring to 'Masri' blades, "...another cheap variety has a small couchant lion". These marks were believed to imbue the blade with magical powers.

This convention of 'magical imbuement' was not lost to commercial production of blades, especially in Solingen, where the use of spurious markings for specific clientele had been practiced for many centuries.

As noted, these straight blades, whether intended for Sudan or Ethiopia, carried a couchant lion which may have appealed to either recipient.
Many of these ended up in Yemen (as shown in attached photo) but the blades in any case remained in circulation for generations.

I would say this was rehilted in the traditional kaskara manner, but using solid metal as had become conventional by early to mid 20th c. as noted by Battara. This may well be 'German silver' which is of course an alloy of copper, brass and nickel (I believe) but has similar effect as silver.

With ethnographic weapons, whether it is a weapon modified, remounted, etc and perhaps in modern context with components is not as relevant as the fact it is as representation of the culture and traditions of its users. While many weapons so altered are seen as 'composite' and less worthy collectibles, I see them as iconic historic journals of their often long working lives.
Hi Jim
You shure shed light on the subjet. My doubts are gone.
Thank verry much for your explanation.
Greetings
Marc
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Old 28th December 2020, 10:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefidk
Hi Marc
I have a very similar sword (blade at least). I associate these fuller decorations with Ethiopian influence, and the blade I was always assuming is not locally made but a trade blade of some form. Like yours mine has a panel with numbers which is rather strange. The lion marks look identical between your blade and mine, also the decoration. I think these were therefore trade blades of some kind. Your hand marks are not present on mine and look like a later addition to me.

Some pictures of my example here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/phgeUZgdUYjMEXQS9

Apart from the blade the rest of the fittings and scabbard for mine are of lower quality, scabbard is also unusual in that it is plain and does not follow the usual patterns of other kaskara. The sword itself is on the smaller end of the kaskara scale.

So all in all I had attributed these to cross over between Sudan and Ethiopia, and not that old, very early 20th C. Of course I'm interested to be proved wrong though
Best regards,
Chris
Hi Chris
Nice sword you have. Crossgard and handle looks fine by me, of course more recenty than the blade but well made. Since our blades are more or less the same, German import probably.
Greetings
Marc
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Old 28th December 2020, 10:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefidk
Hi Jim
Thanks for the confirmation and the information posted before. I'm interested in the numbers - are the German blades you've seen matching this form of messy numbering on the ricasso?
The process of making them must be interesting. They are not machine created but appear to be raised out of an uneven depression in the blade. Perhaps deeply acid etched like the fuller decoration, but not neatly done. I don't see an easy way to make it by stamps in this form, but could be possible I guess.
I also wonder what they represent, batch numbers maybe. But it's really odd when you think of the way that blades and gun parts were usually marked at that time post manufacture, and why so visible and variable in placing.

Btw I have another kaskara with the Amharic etched in the center fuller very like the examples you posted. Again, this has a lower quality local made guard and rather plain scabbard, with a Hadendoa tassle.

For both these swords I'd attributed it to individual blades moving west, but now seeing Marc's example it suggests that these blades could have been more than a one-off chance. Perhaps more organised late 19thC/early 20thC trade with Ethiopia for suitable blades, hence the poor quality local made fittings and not the better type usually seen on older kaskara. But you raise the idea that these were Ethiopian made if I understand your correctly.
Hi Chris
I think the numbers are stamped in when the blade was red hot, if you look close you see a double print of the numbers. Problably the first blow was oneven or not deep enough so a second blow was made.
Greetings
Marc
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Old 28th December 2020, 04:41 PM   #22
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A picture of the swords in the collection.
Greetings
Marc
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Old 29th December 2020, 03:31 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc M.
A picture of the swords in the collection.
Greetings
Marc

Im glad I could add information and thank you for sharing this.
Outstanding collection!!!! well represented pieces!!!
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Old 30th December 2020, 08:16 AM   #24
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Hi Chris
I'm affraid i have that bug for more than 25 years and it is probably here to stay.
Greetings
Marc
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Old 4th January 2021, 10:26 AM   #25
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Just going through notes, I found a reference to some blades made in Solingen for Cuban machetes which were by Luckhaus & Gunther from c. 1895-1900, and numbered at forte. There were several blades with numbers in sequence.
Perhaps blades going into Ethiopia (typically Harar) for kaskara, as the floral decorated examples might have been numbered in a similar manner.
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Old 12th January 2021, 04:29 PM   #26
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Sorry, I've been unable to post for a while (thank you Jim for helping to sort it out).

I just wanted to concur that these blades turn up regularly in saif mounts and are identical in terms of floral pattern, lion and numbers (although numbers differ). So I think it is a fair bet that this is something similar to the late 19C shipment mentioned by Jim above.
Wrt to the lion - this is so similar that I would be surprised if these are made by multiple producers, but that the position was perhaps not considered critical, as long as it was there.
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Old 14th January 2021, 05:14 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefidk
Sorry, I've been unable to post for a while (thank you Jim for helping to sort it out).

I just wanted to concur that these blades turn up regularly in saif mounts and are identical in terms of floral pattern, lion and numbers (although numbers differ). So I think it is a fair bet that this is something similar to the late 19C shipment mentioned by Jim above.
Wrt to the lion - this is so similar that I would be surprised if these are made by multiple producers, but that the position was perhaps not considered critical, as long as it was there.
No problem Chris, Fernando and Lee are great at sorting out these gremlins that creep into the tech stuff here.
Im glad we can get back to these discussions on kaskara, and the conundrums of these blades. In our conversations it has brought some review and reconsideration, for me at least, in the character of many of the blade variations.
I am beginning to believe that any native sword blade making of any consequence was probably not extant in either Saharan nor Sudanese regions until post Omdurman, as you have suggested. While there were notable blacksmithing artisans who could indeed make knife blades, spear heads and tools, the other work with swords would seem to be hilt making and mounting the volumes of trade blades arriving in networks and circulating already.

In rereading sources and notes from travelers such as Barth, and Denham & Clapperton in the1840s, it seems there was quite a brisk trade in blades included in the networks in which there were a number of entry points.
While some of the numbers of imports seem exaggerated, I am thinking perhaps not as much as thought.

That many blades eventually went to Ethiopia seems well established, and by the colonial period in the 19th c. there were blades going in there from Germany, Italy, Great Britain even Russian blades and cases of Japanese blades (these were not kaskara types).

With the couchant lion, the C. Lutters & Co. used a circled lion as such as their mark 1840-99 (Bezdek p.147), perhaps this was added in imitation? with the 'Lion of Judah' in mind. The kings head seems to be mostly associated with Ethiopia as well.
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