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Old 13th March 2012, 03:48 PM   #1
katana
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Default Recently made Omani Kattara / Saif

Just recently acquired this recently made Kattara/Saif. Silver alloy fittings, the blade seems to be the typical type fitted to takouba especially with the spatulate tip. Blade edge sharpened but would need honing to improve edge. Blade flexible but not excessively so. Although it has been mentioned that these tend to be 'dancing' swords, I feel that this one was probably more functional, the sword is light and quick and feels good in the hand, definately designed for the slash type cuts (supported by the spatulate tip).

Comments greatly appreciated

Kind Regards
David
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Old 13th March 2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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Hey mate,

Congrats, its a nice sword. I see those selling often here usually with terrible flimsy blades but yours seems different.
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Old 13th March 2012, 05:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
Just recently acquired this recently made Kattara/Saif. Silver alloy fittings, the blade seems to be the typical type fitted to takouba especially with the spatulate tip. Blade edge sharpened but would need honing to improve edge. Blade flexible but not excessively so. Although it has been mentioned that these tend to be 'dancing' swords, I feel that this one was probably more functional, the sword is light and quick and feels good in the hand, definately designed for the slash type cuts (supported by the spatulate tip).

Comments greatly appreciated

Kind Regards
David
Salaams katana ~ Nice new Omani flexi bladed 3 fuller ( Abu thalatha musayil) SAYF. Not a fighting weapon but a pageantry sword only used in the Omani Funoon in the Razha or sword genre and mimic fighting posturing (al yalaah!) where the idea is to score the winning point by touching the thumb (the left one holding the ters shield of the opponent with the round tip.) Kindly see the big thread on the discussion at Kattara for comments. We were meeting friends today and around the table was plus of 100 years experience in this sword; we all have stores selling such pieces.. represented were Muscat, Nizwa and Buraimi shop owners and there was a fair amount of mirth about during the discussion of dancing swords as weapons. Naturally these things could cause a load of damage but they simply aren't and never were, battle swords... Same way that a farmhouse table leg isn't a war club... but it would hurt !

Salaams,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 13th March 2012, 06:37 PM   #4
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Hi A.alnakkas,
thanks, I'm quite pleased with it ....much better quality than I thought it would be (only had pictures before)





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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams katana ~ Nice new Omani flexi bladed 3 fuller ( Abu thalatha musayil) SAYF. Not a fighting weapon but a pageantry sword only used in the Omani Funoon in the Razha or sword genre and mimic fighting posturing (al yalaah!) where the idea is to score the winning point by touching the thumb (the left one holding the ters shield of the opponent with the round tip.) Kindly see the big thread on the discussion at Kattara for comments. We were meeting friends today and around the table was plus of 100 years experience in this sword; we all have stores selling such pieces.. represented were Muscat, Nizwa and Buraimi shop owners and there was a fair amount of mirth about during the discussion of dancing swords as weapons. Naturally these things could cause a load of damage but they simply aren't and never were, battle swords... Same way that a farmhouse table leg isn't a war club... but it would hurt !

Salaams,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
Salaams Ibrahiim,
I can see your point, but the blade does not fit your description of a dancing sword blade.

Blade is not flexible enough to bend 90 degrees ....this one around 45 degrees similar to a lot of British regulation swords I have in my collection. The steel seems of good quality and as mention before the edges are sharp ...a gentle honing would create a very keen edge. "touching the thumb" of a 'dance' partner with this particular blade could leave them 'thumb-less'.
I am not saying that this is a battle sword .....but its not a dance one either. Perhaps this was made to order with a more functional blade

Kind Regards David
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Old 14th March 2012, 06:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by katana
Hi A.alnakkas,
thanks, I'm quite pleased with it ....much better quality than I thought it would be (only had pictures before)







Salaams Ibrahiim,
I can see your point, but the blade does not fit your description of a dancing sword blade.

Blade is not flexible enough to bend 90 degrees ....this one around 45 degrees similar to a lot of British regulation swords I have in my collection. The steel seems of good quality and as mention before the edges are sharp ...a gentle honing would create a very keen edge. "touching the thumb" of a 'dance' partner with this particular blade could leave them 'thumb-less'.
I am not saying that this is a battle sword .....but its not a dance one either. Perhaps this was made to order with a more functional blade

Kind Regards David
Salaams katana ~ This is a dancing sayf of that we have no doubt. In fact it looks like a Salalah job... made recently in a new factory . Where was it found ... ? Yes touching the opponents thumb( the shield hand thumb) sounds hazzardous I agee and it amazes me how not more thumbless people are about. As for lethality, some are razor sharpand I have seen demos of people chopping all sorts of stuff (melons bottles of water ) in half with these but in the entirity of Omani history it has never been a battle weapon as such. Pageant only.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 20th March 2012, 08:00 PM   #6
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Salaams all~ Please see anecdotal proof at "Kattara for comments." # 299. Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 21st March 2012, 05:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams katana ~ This is a dancing sayf of that we have no doubt. In fact it looks like a Salalah job... made recently in a new factory . Where was it found ... ? Yes touching the opponents thumb( the shield hand thumb) sounds hazzardous I agee and it amazes me how not more thumbless people are about. As for lethality, some are razor sharpand I have seen demos of people chopping all sorts of stuff (melons bottles of water ) in half with these but in the entirity of Omani history it has never been a battle weapon as such. Pageant only.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
You seem to be contradicting yourself. You have stated that the so called dance sword blades flex thru 90 degrees. It has been stated that this one does not, so how can you now say it is a dance sword?
Am I missing something here?
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Old 21st March 2012, 09:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by kahnjar1
You seem to be contradicting yourself. You have stated that the so called dance sword blades flex thru 90 degrees. It has been stated that this one does not, so how can you now say it is a dance sword?
Am I missing something here?

Salaams kahnjar1. Look at the sword. It is a classic design . The fact that the blade may be for some reason not springy enough to fit the criteria of aproximate 90 degree bend is outside my control. Its a brand new item... who knows what specification that factory is using? One thing for sure... If the blade is not flexible enough they will be left with their shelves full of useless dancing swords...but they may well be selling them onto the unsuspecting tourist market...( that I can tell you is what is happening) Correct your terminology since these are not "so called dancing swords"... They are dancing swords for pageant only. Perhaps that is what you are missing?
~ see anecdotal proof at "Kattara for comments." # 299. ~

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 21st March 2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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Salam Ibrahim,

I think the anecdote that you linked does not prove much. I think it specifically speaks about MODERN made kattaras (ones with similar fittings to the one here) and I think we all agree that the new ones are likely to be dance only. The problem is assuming that just because the new ones are dance only, therefore the older ones are dance only too. It simply doesnt add up :-)
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Old 21st March 2012, 11:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Salam Ibrahim,

I think the anecdote that you linked does not prove much. I think it specifically speaks about MODERN made kattaras (ones with similar fittings to the one here) and I think we all agree that the new ones are likely to be dance only. The problem is assuming that just because the new ones are dance only, therefore the older ones are dance only too. It simply doesnt add up :-)
Salaams A.alnakkas. Simply adding it up;

Reference A; Omani National Museum.
Reference B; National archive the UAE.
Reference C; The masterwork of Richardson and Dorr.
Reference D; Latest anecdotal evidence.
Reference E; This Forums "Kattara for comment" thread.

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 21st March 2012, 02:48 PM   #11
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Salaams Ibrahim,
I have looked at the blade of this saif to determine functional or not. The blade is comparable to the Takouba both in length and the spatulate tip. I had a late 19thC / early 20th C Takouba which is/was deemed 'functional' and were used as weapons at that time. The blade on the saif is less flexible, slightly thicker and better quality.

If this blade had been hilted Tabouka style, the functionality of the resulting sword would not be in question. I agree that a lack of guard would be a worry, but there are a number of swords that have little or no guard.
The fact this Saif may have been made in a factory is not a 'bad thing'. Swords have been made in 'factories' for hundreds of years in Sheffield, Birmingham and Solingen. But, if made in a factory I would have thought that their specification would be the same. There is no doubt in my mind that this sword could be used as a weapon. It 'handles' well, seems well balanced, especially when used in slashing cuts (the spatula tip reinforces this function).

This blade doesn't fit the criteria of a dance blade, but you could argue that the guardless hilt does. Perhaps this blade was an older one, over cleaned and re-worked ? Perhaps this blade was made to be functional ? Were the Saifs ever carried as personal protection ?

As a footnote, is there any evidence of blades made in Oman being sold in Africa ? The thinking is ....could some Omani blades be used, rehilted as Tabouka ?

Kind Regards David
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Old 21st March 2012, 03:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana

As a footnote, is there any evidence of blades made in Oman being sold in Africa ? The thinking is ....could some Omani blades be used, rehilted as Tabouka ?

Kind Regards David
I'll jump in here for a sec. To my knowledge there is really no reason to think this is the case. This basic pattern was in plentiful supply it would seem from European sources and from local manufacture. The resemblance in blade profiles I think is simply due to local copying of similar European patterns.

It is possible that there was importation from the Red Sea area, but I have never run across a reference to it in the period accounts from the Sahel region - just references to local manufacture and European imports.
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Old 21st March 2012, 03:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
I'll jump in here for a sec. To my knowledge there is really no reason to think this is the case. This basic pattern was in plentiful supply it would seem from European sources and from local manufacture. The resemblance in blade profiles I think is simply due to local copying of similar European patterns.

It is possible that there was importation from the Red Sea area, but I have never run across a reference to it in the period accounts from the Sahel region - just references to local manufacture and European imports.

Hi Iain,
thanks for the input, I was thinking of a 'supply' in modern times, say the last 2 or 3 decades .... it was just a thought, as the blade on this Saif seems an anomaly ie not usual for a dance blade.

All the best
David
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Old 21st March 2012, 03:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by katana
Hi Iain,
thanks for the input, I was thinking of a 'supply' in modern times, say the last 2 or 3 decades .... it was just a thought, as the blade on this Saif seems an anomaly ie not usual for a dance blade.

All the best
David
Aha I see what you mean now. In that case, I'd say even more unlikely as there is quite a nice cottage industry still turning out takouba blades. I don't think there's a market to justify the expense of importing them in modern times.
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Old 21st March 2012, 04:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
Salaams Ibrahim,
I have looked at the blade of this saif to determine functional or not. The blade is comparable to the Takouba both in length and the spatulate tip. I had a late 19thC / early 20th C Takouba which is/was deemed 'functional' and were used as weapons at that time. The blade on the saif is less flexible, slightly thicker and better quality.

If this blade had been hilted Tabouka style, the functionality of the resulting sword would not be in question. I agree that a lack of guard would be a worry, but there are a number of swords that have little or no guard.
The fact this Saif may have been made in a factory is not a 'bad thing'. Swords have been made in 'factories' for hundreds of years in Sheffield, Birmingham and Solingen. But, if made in a factory I would have thought that their specification would be the same. There is no doubt in my mind that this sword could be used as a weapon. It 'handles' well, seems well balanced, especially when used in slashing cuts (the spatula tip reinforces this function).

This blade doesn't fit the criteria of a dance blade, but you could argue that the guardless hilt does. Perhaps this blade was an older one, over cleaned and re-worked ? Perhaps this blade was made to be functional ? Were the Saifs ever carried as personal protection ?

As a footnote, is there any evidence of blades made in Oman being sold in Africa ? The thinking is ....could some Omani blades be used, rehilted as Tabouka ?

Kind Regards David

Salaams katana ~ No drift into Africa sword style happenend with this blade. Even in Zanzibar the blade was only used by people of Muscat origin not by native Zanzibaris. In fact as a side issue one of the things I loooked at fairly early on was seeing if this type of blade(flexible round tipped) had spilled over into any other countries ~ I considered the present day UAE to be part of the Oman in the timezone we are looking at(17th to 20th C) so I was looking more at Yemen and Saudia and the red sea hub. I was also looking for evidence of spillage as it was thought that these could have been European trade blades. There was no evidence..this seems to be a home grown blade... Omani.

This is specifically for the Funoon, the pageant and dance routine of Oman. It took over from the old battle weapon Sayf Yamaani as the new fashion of heraldic dance in honour of its predecessor and those who fought...its all on the other thread at "Kattara for comment."

A lot of people have been duped by this sword as it appears to be a warlike sword and they sharpen it to razor edge but only to honour their forefathers. It is however only a dance accoutrement not a weapon ..In the case of such a sword being made with a less than flexible blade ... it would never sell to an Omani but could go on the market to visitors... I sold 10 last week as gift items they are brilliant.

Please have a look at the latest anecdotal evidence or in fact hang on whilst I download it to here ...Dancing Swords. Omani Sayf.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Salaams Reference note for Forum library.
From http://www.thenational.ae/news/.../...ng-trade-in-rak
Anecdotal Evidence; The Omani Sayf; Dancing Swords Only.

Quote "RAS AL KHAIMAH // In the markets of the old town, swords are easily available and readily sold to mountain tribesmen.

"All Shehhi [tribesmen] should have swords," said Azziz al Shehhi, 22. "It's nice for dancing, not for fighting. These are for gifts, for celebrations."
Mr al Shehhi owns four swords, four traditional knives and two rifles that belonged to his father. But the party favourite was always the sword, an essential for any mountain celebration, he said.

Strong swordsmanship is the mark of a good wedding for mountain tribes like the Shehhu and Habus. Swords are not raised in combat, but thrown metres in the air and then caught.

The swords are forged in the workshops of the old RAK market, many of which have operated for more than three decades.
Shopkeepers must be licensed to sell swords, but are not required to keep records of how many they sell or to whom.
They make them according to demand. Some months they may sell only one or two, and other months they will sell dozens, especially in the summer wedding season.

Swords can be bought in glass cases as gifts and are a traditional reward at sporting events such as camel races. More often they are sold as an accessory for weddings, along with the canes and the yerz, a tribal axe.
Swords are sold blunt so men can catch them while dancing, but can be easily sharpened. Honing usually comes at the behest of elders, who want swords sharpened to a fine edge to honour their forefathers.
Zahee Ahmed, 28, of Pakistan, sells to tribesmen, sheikhs and tourists, as well as to shops in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. He said he had yet to hear of any case of swords being used as a weapon. "It's not dangerous," said Mr Ahmed. "We make them for celebration, not for killing. This is not for fighting, it is only for culture. The man is crazy if he will fight."
There is no age requirement on who can buy a sword, but some stores will only sell to Emiratis.

For many years, bargain hunters would often skip the markets of old RAK and buy from the family of Charchambi Daad Mohammed, a Baluchi axe and sword maker who crafted the weapons in his house.
Until last year, he roamed the streets of the Nakheel market with a bundle of swords and axes under his arm to be sold to whoever had the cash.
The swords business got a boost last December after Fujairah's first annual Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition, in which TV viewers and audience members voted by SMS for their favourite sword dancer.
RAK swordsmiths reported a sharp rise in demand for a month afterwards". Unquote.

Having said all that there are some monumental people in history that thought this was a battlesword and I can only think the Omanis then had as good a laugh as they are getting now ...but its all in good fun... When asked "Is this the sword Excalliber? The Omani souk owner will reply ... oooh yes ! Is this sword made of moonrock ?... OoHH YES ! aM i A TEAPOT... OOOH YES!! Well you know what I mean. Its what they think you want to hear. It makes for interesting research.

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi; 21st March 2012 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 21st March 2012, 07:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams kahnjar1. Look at the sword. It is a classic design . The fact that the blade may be for some reason not springy enough to fit the criteria of aproximate 90 degree bend is outside my control. Its a brand new item... who knows what specification that factory is using? One thing for sure... If the blade is not flexible enough they will be left with their shelves full of useless dancing swords...but they may well be selling them onto the unsuspecting tourist market...( that I can tell you is what is happening) Correct your terminology since these are not "so called dancing swords"... They are dancing swords for pageant only. Perhaps that is what you are missing?
~ see anecdotal proof at "Kattara for comments." # 299. ~

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
I agree it is classic design and NEW MADE, as it would appear are a lot now being sold on various websites based in the middle east. I find it interesting that there appears to be no mention against these advertised items mentioning "dance". One draws from this that either the seller is not aware of their use, or is not perhaps telling the whole story.
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Old 21st March 2012, 07:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams katana ~ A lot of people have been duped by this sword as it appears to be a warlike sword and they sharpen it to razor edge but only to honour their forefathers. It is however only a dance accoutrement not a weapon ..In the case of such a sword being made with a less than flexible blade ... it would never sell to an Omani but could go on the market to visitors... I sold 10 last week as gift items they are brilliant.

Please have a look at the latest anecdotal evidence or in fact hang on whilst I download it to here ...Dancing Swords. Omani Sayf.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Salaams Reference note for Forum library.
From http://www.thenational.ae/news/.../...ng-trade-in-rak
Anecdotal Evidence; The Omani Sayf; Dancing Swords Only.

Quote "RAS AL KHAIMAH // In the markets of the old town, swords are easily available and readily sold to mountain tribesmen.

"All Shehhi [tribesmen] should have swords," said Azziz al Shehhi, 22. "It's nice for dancing, not for fighting. These are for gifts, for celebrations."
Mr al Shehhi owns four swords, four traditional knives and two rifles that belonged to his father. But the party favourite was always the sword, an essential for any mountain celebration, he said.

Strong swordsmanship is the mark of a good wedding for mountain tribes like the Shehhu and Habus. Swords are not raised in combat, but thrown metres in the air and then caught.

The swords are forged in the workshops of the old RAK market, many of which have operated for more than three decades.
Shopkeepers must be licensed to sell swords, but are not required to keep records of how many they sell or to whom.
They make them according to demand. Some months they may sell only one or two, and other months they will sell dozens, especially in the summer wedding season.

Swords can be bought in glass cases as gifts and are a traditional reward at sporting events such as camel races. More often they are sold as an accessory for weddings, along with the canes and the yerz, a tribal axe.
Swords are sold blunt so men can catch them while dancing, but can be easily sharpened. Honing usually comes at the behest of elders, who want swords sharpened to a fine edge to honour their forefathers.
Zahee Ahmed, 28, of Pakistan, sells to tribesmen, sheikhs and tourists, as well as to shops in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. He said he had yet to hear of any case of swords being used as a weapon. "It's not dangerous," said Mr Ahmed. "We make them for celebration, not for killing. This is not for fighting, it is only for culture. The man is crazy if he will fight."
There is no age requirement on who can buy a sword, but some stores will only sell to Emiratis..................

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi

Salaams Ibrahiim,
very interesting, several thoughts .....any idea why sharpening the blade honours the ancestors, after all the dance sword is symbolic of a weapon .....surely this would be enough. Secondly, the makers have to sell the swords blunt ( I am assuming this is a requirement of the licence) yet, in the case of mine, the blade would produce a fine edge if honed. Why provide such a blade (a better quality steel) when they should generally remain blunt? It almost seems that the swordmakers are able to produce weapon grade blades without 'officially' supplying a weapon, a 'loop-hole' as it were.
Can we assume that the Elders whom have sharpened blades do not use them for dance. Is it possible that there are differing quality of blades both in type of steel and its flexibilty, so that a blade type could be specified if it is to be sharpened ? Thank you

Kind Regards David
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Old 22nd March 2012, 07:22 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
Salaams Ibrahiim,
very interesting, several thoughts .....any idea why sharpening the blade honours the ancestors, after all the dance sword is symbolic of a weapon .....surely this would be enough. Secondly, the makers have to sell the swords blunt ( I am assuming this is a requirement of the licence) yet, in the case of mine, the blade would produce a fine edge if honed. Why provide such a blade (a better quality steel) when they should generally remain blunt? It almost seems that the swordmakers are able to produce weapon grade blades without 'officially' supplying a weapon, a 'loop-hole' as it were.
Can we assume that the Elders whom have sharpened blades do not use them for dance. Is it possible that there are differing quality of blades both in type of steel and its flexibilty, so that a blade type could be specified if it is to be sharpened ? Thank you

Kind Regards David

Salaams katana ~ There appears to be some chivalrous/honourable reason why dancing blades are made sharp and of the thousands of those blades I have seen to date they are indeed all sharp ... No one would dare turn out on parade with a blunt job... except of course children who carry small versions of the same sword. I can see how the thinking goes... after all their forefathers turned out with the actual fighting sword (Sayf Yamaani ) many years ago and that was razor sharp so it appears in honour of those people~ the ancestors of old. Their forefathers. Relatively this is a new item only appearing "perhaps" in about 1800 to 1850 in the al bu saaidi dynasty and perhaps in the same time frame that the curved Kattara was received into Oman. That research continues.
Blade quality varies. Some have less flexibility and some don't spring back straight... these are considered of low quality since the whole idea is to make the blade vibrate whilst dancing and parading..The entire "Funoon/Razha" performance is extremely warlike thus many visitors go away with the impression that this is a weapon when in fact it is not... and never was. The weapon that it superceded in the pageant "The Sayf Yamaani" was the true fighting battle sword. That weapon, essentially, retired to Icon status in the same timeframe and anyway it was made generally obselete in the broader sense because of gunpowder weapons in the same way that spears became obselete. I have one Sayf Yamaani being Iconized at this time with the royal hilt etc.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 22nd March 2012, 10:59 PM   #19
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I have a problem with the very concept of a "dancing sword".
I just cannot believe that in any warlike culture ( and Omanis certainly were warlike) anybody would spend money and effort to acquire a sword used only for occasional ceremonial/entertainment purpose. Correct me if I am wrong, but that would be considered as a dishonor for the fighter displaying his macho attributes ( that is what a sword dance is all about).
Dancing with swords is a time-honored tradition in many cultures ( Caucasus, for example), but it always involved real weapons. This was a display a masculinity, a sacral activity, and using a non-fighting blade would defeat the purpose. On top of that, swords were not cheap, and making a blade for occasional dancing only would be an awful waste of money. Dancing would not damage the real blade, thus, there was no reason to substitute it for a flimsy copy.
The elasticity of Omani kattaras is not an argument against it's fighting capabilities: witness Indian Urumi, the custom of Caucasian blademakers to sell their blades fit into a circular kitchen sieve, old German legends about the sword of Siegfried that bent like a sheave when carried on the shoulder etc.

Aravian fighting style did not have blade to blade contact, and mail was not used as a rule. Thus, light thin blade was more than sufficient for a slashing cut against an opponent who was wearing only fabric robes.

Per Elgood, the most valuable blades of the 19th century in Arabia were European Shinityan ( St. Etienne) and Majjar ( Magyar, Hungarian), both famous for their elasticity. No European blades of that time was known to bend under its own weight.

The development of specifically dancing swords was thus most likely related to the period when swordfighting became obsolete. Again, this would be similar to the Caucasian theatrical swords used by choreography troupes.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 02:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I have a problem with the very concept of a "dancing sword".
I just cannot believe that in any warlike culture ( and Omanis certainly were warlike) anybody would spend money and effort to acquire a sword used only for occasional ceremonial/entertainment purpose. Correct me if I am wrong, but that would be considered as a dishonor for the fighter displaying his macho attributes ( that is what a sword dance is all about).
Dancing with swords is a time-honored tradition in many cultures ( Caucasus, for example), but it always involved real weapons. This was a display a masculinity, a sacral activity, and using a non-fighting blade would defeat the purpose. On top of that, swords were not cheap, and making a blade for occasional dancing only would be an awful waste of money. Dancing would not damage the real blade, thus, there was no reason to substitute it for a flimsy copy.
The elasticity of Omani kattaras is not an argument against it's fighting capabilities: witness Indian Urumi, the custom of Caucasian blademakers to sell their blades fit into a circular kitchen sieve, old German legends about the sword of Siegfried that bent like a sheave when carried on the shoulder etc.

Aravian fighting style did not have blade to blade contact, and mail was not used as a rule. Thus, light thin blade was more than sufficient for a slashing cut against an opponent who was wearing only fabric robes.

Per Elgood, the most valuable blades of the 19th century in Arabia were European Shinityan ( St. Etienne) and Majjar ( Magyar, Hungarian), both famous for their elasticity. No European blades of that time was known to bend under its own weight.

The development of specifically dancing swords was thus most likely related to the period when swordfighting became obsolete. Again, this would be similar to the Caucasian theatrical swords used by choreography troupes.

Salaams Ariel,
Firstly; I have never used the arguement of sword elasticity against its fighting capability.
Secondly; I'm afraid I have to correct you since Omani swords developed differently..The flexible sword is only for Pageants.

They have one battlesword; The Sayf al Yamaani. I think you have one no? Does it have a stamp?
The later dance and pageant flexible design entered the equation probably in the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan in about 1840.
Lots of European swords developed elasticity and even the Shotley Bridge maker (of German ancestry ) made a great flexi blade that he concealed in his top hat and astounded clients and onlookers at an arms fair.
It may help to unhinge somewhat in considering the country that Oman was at the time... It was by definition still very much in the dark ages and visitors were few... hardly any ventured outside the capitals city walls... it was like that up to the mid 20th century. Witnesses are few and their accounts are interesting but suspect because they are often vague. What is equally important is the fact that weapon freeze occurred in the case of the Sayf Yamaani and it continued to be used into the 19th C and Iconised even today..I have one being Iconised with the Royal Hilt now. Techno freeze was prevalent in countries like Oman with extremes of terrain, climate, warring tribes etc and outlined by Anthony North in his book on Islamic Arms.

Good pageantry dance swords are well sought after.. A sword doesnt need to be a battle sword to be collectible after all... Look at court swords for example.
Some of the pageant blades are excellent... but that on its own doesnt make them fighting weapons. Pageant and dance only. That was and is what they were for.
The swords are sharpened to razor pitch in honour of the forefathers who went before... and probably fought years ago with the real weapon, itself extremely sharp; The Sayf Yamaani. The elasticity is so that they can be buzzed in the air with a wrist flic. The round end is for touching the opponents shield hand to score a winning point in the mimic fight.

It is a fact that when researching swords the tendency is to stray into logic and common sense and where both these factors are screaming "battle sword" !! when in fact it is not. It has tricked many people down the ages especially when observing the apparently violent antics of the mimic fight scene in the Funoon. Its just an act. Its a very importand tradition however and good blades for this are well sought after... see the main discussion on Kattara for comments and please post your sword pictures there if you can..

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 23rd March 2012, 03:12 PM   #21
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"I have one being Iconised with the Royal Hilt now"

Can you explain please?
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Old 23rd March 2012, 03:32 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
"I have one being Iconised with the Royal Hilt now"

Can you explain please?

Salaams A.alnakkas ~ I have a few old Omani Battle Swords and have one in my workshop being fitted with a royal hilt ~ see picture of Sayf Yamaani and the longer dancing pageant Sayf and the other picture of a Royal Hilt.~
Im putting together an Omani Battle Sword and a Royal Hilt.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 03:53 PM   #23
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Ibrahim, are you refitting an old complete blade?? Its your choice but.. it seems like destroying a good antique ;-(
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Old 23rd March 2012, 04:02 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Ibrahim, are you refitting an old complete blade?? Its your choice but.. it seems like destroying a good antique ;-(
Well I have plenty you know... and I always wanted an Iconized Old Omani Battlesword ... and some spare blades etc in the workshops... If it works well I may do a few more... they make good gifts . The hard part is getting a decent scabbard built but I have some originals to copy.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 06:38 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Well I have plenty you know... and I always wanted an Iconized Old Omani Battlesword ... and some spare blades etc in the workshops... If it works well I may do a few more... they make good gifts . The hard part is getting a decent scabbard built but I have some originals to copy.
....but you are NOT creating the real thing....just a REPLICA I do hope that when complete, that it is clearly labeled or the hilt stamped as such, so as not to deceive possible buyers/owners in years to come.
There are enough so called "genuine" pieces around already which the uneducated pay large amounts of money for.....
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Old 23rd March 2012, 07:33 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
....but you are NOT creating the real thing....just a REPLICA I do hope that when complete, that it is clearly labeled or the hilt stamped as such, so as not to deceive possible buyers/owners in years to come.
There are enough so called "genuine" pieces around already which the uneducated pay large amounts of money for.....
I have to agree here. The problem is not so much in who Ibrahiim chooses to gift or sell to, but who might receive the sword somewhere down the line when the history of the sword is lost or misplaced. Then it becomes a forgery.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 07:40 PM   #27
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As for the other question at hand, i admittedly know very little about these swords, but to my untrained eye i cannot see how the hilts on these so-called "dance swords" would be at all practical in a battle situation. Not only is there no cross piece to protect the hand, but also no pommel of any substance to keep the blade from slipping out of the hand in the heat of battle.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 08:17 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
As for the other question at hand, i admittedly know very little about these swords, but to my untrained eye i cannot see how the hilts on these so-called "dance swords" would be at all practical in a battle situation. Not only is there no cross piece to protect the hand, but also no pommel of any substance to keep the blade from slipping out of the hand in the heat of battle.
Same set up can be seen on a variety of other swords, biggest example would be Manding sabres. That's not to say I claim to know the function of the Omani sayf, but the configuration isn't necessarily something that makes it entirely impractical as a weapon.

As for the other issue of rehilting... I have always maintained we should preserve what comes into our possession. When you are putting something entirely new onto a piece, rather than preserving what exists, or carefully restoring missing pieces to an already existing hilt, it ceases to be restoration.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 09:17 PM   #29
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I have an analogous question: what about the kattaras that do not bend 90 degrees and are not vibrating? The majority I have seen are just like that, mine included, and it is not new, with pretty sturdy and crude blade and a "genoese" gurda marking. Does it make sense that there would be 2 different "models", one for dancing and another for fighting?

I see not so much problem with "straying into logic", but rather straying out of it. Even European court swords were meant not only for show, but were manufactured under decent fighting standards. Male sword dancing is a sacral experience in all cultures, and creating an intentionally non-battle-ready swords for such an activity would be utterly illogical. Especially in a close, "dark age", society like 19-cen. Oman.
BTW, my quilloned Kattara has no markings. Plain, sturdy, locally-made, unsophisticated killer. Love it!
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Old 23rd March 2012, 09:21 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
As for the other question at hand, i admittedly know very little about these swords, but to my untrained eye i cannot see how the hilts on these so-called "dance swords" would be at all practical in a battle situation. Not only is there no cross piece to protect the hand, but also no pommel of any substance to keep the blade from slipping out of the hand in the heat of battle.
The sword is also used for the Raz'ha which contains a sort of combat practice. Am sure losing grip while doing Raz'ha is equally embarrasing (but less lethal then losing grip in battle..) so the hilt is not really an issue, that also considering that there are other examples of swords with no guard or pommel.

Here is the Raz'ha: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpfIp_TR_PQ for more context.
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