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Old 31st August 2021, 01:55 AM   #1
Peter Hudson
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Default The African Great Lakes and The Omani Empire.

Considerable thick fog shrouds details on both parts of my tltle. Several years ago I located one important detail about the middle of the region while tracing Omani Traders and what they were up to operating inland from The Zanj and how they were involved in slavery and other persuits like hunting for Ivory Rhino, and where Slavery fitted into the picture a lot of that. To that I must add the other commodities being traded by the Omani merchants who were hauling a lot of goods into the region such as cotton and other items since the Great Lakes was an excellent Iron producer and also did a lot of business in trading salt. Said the Great who ruled Oman from 1806 was apparently fond of Zanzibar although I now believe the lobby from the famous Indian Kutch traders who had settled in Zanzibar were more important in convincing him to move there than we may have thought..Supporting these trading specialists would bring fabulous wealth to Omans coffers and set up several large shipping organisations ensuring a monopoly in the Indian Ocean.

Surprisingly it wasnt til 1840 that he made the crucial decision to move Omans capital there to Stonetown . By then Zanzibar was a gigantic spice Island region filled with Cloves ...again it was the Kutch who shipped that around the Oceans. The Cloves were transplanted on Zanzibar from Mauritius.The growth in Slavery was met by Omani Slave Traders working in the Great Lakes...as well as exporting Black African slaves up the Red Sea and the Gulf even though this was deemed illegal but it didnt stop until 1970 ! and it only stopped by Royal Decree when slaves were all given their freedom and allowed to choose an Omani surname instead of a single name such as Jumma (Friday)

Slave traders by the mid 19th C still had 100 years to play their game. It cannot be over emphasised how important the ruler was and he was instrumental on a number of odd inventions... One of his wives...Sheherezad had invented some...including a Royal Khanjar with a redesigned Hilt and the Royal Turban as well as a beautiful Camerbund . The Hilt of the Sayf Yamaani was to be awarded Royal status by being heavily decorated in silver. One sword which is called The Sayf...was made for Pageants Weddings and both Eids and used in the famous and important traditions called the Funnoon ,,,It was a cheap but effective march past the Ruler item and given to guards and military for parading and for the Razha mimic dancing done as part of the Funnoon celebration dancing even Today. Although the Sayf was simply decorated it was also the fashion that Vips could have their Sayfs highly decorated since they had the money etc... The Terrs could also accompany the Sayf.

On discovering the track through the jungle and mountains the Omani Traders also came to realise that a better blade was available particularly in the middle region of The Great Lakes...A Country that is now Bunyoro...but I shall give the full name later...In the early 18th and 19th C this had been the mightiest of nations in that region but was filled with mystique and legend Today it is much reduced spanning the Eastern side of Lake Albert and only a fraction of its original size...

Weirdly and in keeping with the mythology all the people vanished after a Royal cow disappeared one night and the nation declined drastically....Some said they all went below ground or into one of the Great Lakes.....

By then ...about mid 1850 ...the other sword had appeared and became known as the Kittara and was a badge of office carried by Omani Slave Traders. It was curved with heavy unsharpened backblade on a long handle which was identical to the Sayf hilt and given the Terrs in the same way as the Sayf but in this regard its name was different.. It was called The KITARA


The name of the famous Country in The Great Lakes is Bunyoro-Kitara.

Peter Hudson.

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Old 1st September 2021, 05:54 PM   #2
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Map of Bunyoro-Kitara
Light blue egg shape being The Empire Bunyoro and Kitara making this a single word Bunyoro-Kitara...The operational area of Tipu Tip is to its west and takes up a huge swathe of Central Africa.
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Old 1st September 2021, 07:58 PM   #3
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Please see https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...RM=VRDGAR&ru=%

A very interesting Video by the BBC on the key points about the Great Lakes development. I have to add that it does earmark industries like metalworking, banana cultivation cattle herding and salt production while it misses out totally the slave trade. It is well worth seeing.

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Old 1st September 2021, 08:35 PM   #4
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Dear Peter River Hudson Pasha,

Please send us some photos of the about mid 1850 ...other sword had appeared and became known as the Kittara and was a badge of office carried by Omani Slave Traders. It was curved with heavy unsharpened backblade on a long handle

elf Shukran habibi

Kubur
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Old 1st September 2021, 09:54 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Peter, it is fantastic to see this material placed here. For many years the curious Omani broadsword known as the KATTARA remained simply a little known anomaly in the collecting community.

At the time I first acquired one of these, a little over twenty years ago, these were seldom, if ever offered in sales or auctions, a what little was known on them was in the seminal reference on Arab arms, "Arms and Armor of Arabia" by Robert Elgood (1994). Beyond that, there was the reference by Richard Burton ("Book of the Sword", 1884, p.166), which was actually taken from Demmin (1877), and showed a drawing of one of these tapered cylinder hilts without guard.

There were no references to the antiquity or origins of these open hilt swords, nor to the term 'kattara' by which they were known.

When meeting Peter some years ago, and with him having been situated in Oman for many years at that time, and with his interest and knowledge in Arabian edged weapons, the topic of the 'kattara' came into focus.

He knew these as the ceremonial broadswords used in traditional 'sword dances' in the Funoon events he has described. These had become part of these ceremonial functions from the time of Said the Great (c.1806).

The key to the mysterious origins of these Omani swords seemed to have come from his important Sultanate in Zanzibar, which had become one of the prominent trade centers of the 19th c. This was apparent as Burton (1884) had noted these distinct swords as from Zanzibar.

In retracing Burton's activities in Africa in his famed explorations which involved for the search for the source of the mighty Nile River. .....I found a remarkable reference by him:
From "The Lake Regions of Central Equitorial Africa", R.F.Burton , 1859.
'Journal of the Royal Geographic Society" vo.XXIX (1859, p.381).

"...swords in East Africa are carried only by strangers. The Wasawahila and the slave factors preferred the KITTAREH, a CURVED saber made in Oman or Hadhramaut or in its stead, an old German cavalry blade. The Arabs carry as a distinction, the 'firanji'- a straight thin double edged guardless and two handed sword , about 4 feet long and as sharp as a carving knife".

The merchants and traders of Oman,via Zanzibar would trek into the African interior deep in to these regions of today's Uganda,and they were likely the 'strangers'; 'slave factors' and prestigious merchants that are described by Burton.

These figures are likely those noted by Burton again in 1884 (Sword, 1884,p.166_), "....the Arabs of Zanzibar preserve the old two handed weapon of Europe, with a thin , flattish, double edged blade ending in a beveled point".
Further, " the usual shape carried by Arab gentlemen, is three feet to three and a half feet long; the long tang tapers toward the hilt, and is cased in wood and leather; the pommel is cylindrical, and the grip wants guard and quillons. Demmin (p.396) finds it 'difficult to understand how this singular weapon could be wielded. It serves mostly for SHOW, and when wanted is used like a quarterstaff with both hands. ".

It is noted that the Bedouin around Muscat had won or bought many ancient weapons from older days, and conserved them with religious respect.

Here we note that the broadswords of Oman and Zanzibar we have known as 'kattara' were clearly well known by the 1850s in the interior of Africa, and with that to the Omani Sultanate in Zanzibar, but they were not known by that term, only as usual, as sayf.
As also shown, these were worn as symbols of prestige and power, but not intended as weapons.

In the regions of the interior, and as clearly adopted from the traditions there, in the then Kingdom of Kitara, the sword was the key element of stature and power, and called KITARA.

From "The Warrior Tradition on Modern Africa", ed. Ali Amin Mazrui (p.24)
"...in Bunyoro too, the word 'KITARA' , means a sword but has historically come to signify an empire, worn by individuals possessed of significant virtue".
from "Bunyoro Kitara in the North Interlacustrine Region",
by G. N. Uzoigwe, "East African Kingdoms".

As seen here, a compelling source for the term KATTARA for these broadswords we have now known for considerable time, without knowing the origins of the form nor the term. This information on the trade activity into the African interior, the bustling and significant center of Zanzibar reveals the true origins of both in compelling degree.
The style of the open hilt resembles not only the well known Omani khanjhar, but much earlier Seljuq Turk, Mamluk and other forms with open hilts and cylindrical type grip and pommel.

It has seemed, as discovered by Peter, that the KITARA term was used primarily for the curved examples of these open hilt swords, with the sayf term as typically used collectively, applying to the broadswords.
The curved examples may well have been seen with a certain hubris as reflecting ones experience and activity in the interior.

The broadswords, often mounted with prestigious European blades, were soundly regarded in the weapon category by that feature, but were worn more in status circumstances.

The examples later produced exclusively for use in the traditional dance ceremonies had lighter blades, but reflected the character of the traditional sayf and kitara worn by the higher echelons and merchant class.
These were obviously never intended as weapons, but for use in the dance ceremonies.

The first pic is of the humble example I acquired in the late 90s, which is clearly one of the 'dance' swords.
Next, an example of 'kitara' saber, with probably early 19th c. or earlier cavalry saber blade, this probably East European but many were indeed German as noted. These were easily acquired with profound German presence in trade activity in East Africa.,
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Old 2nd September 2021, 01:48 AM   #6
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Thanks Jim, Your input is accurate and precise with superb references supporting your post ...as always. Thank you for your supporting evidence. A good deal of further evidence can be found simply by tapping Omani Swords into SEARCH and this function is free and easy to use by Forum members.

A number of vital parts of the puzzle are also important such as the part played in the Omani Funoon which are the unwritten acted out traditions... The Funoon. Its a big subject but in short it is the unwritten traditions from the beginning handed down through music, dance, and poetry as well as a sort of Pantomime enactment that that reaches way back to pre 8thC. In this way they record many events mimicking camel trains, ships trading chests of silver and gold and of course war all set to music/ drum beat or poetry and singing. For the sword enactments we see the Sayf and Terrs being used. In fact much of the Rythm is absorbed by the Slave Trade especially from Central Africa and Zanzibar which has left an indelible imprint on Omani music and dance down the ages. In addition myth and legend has erased much of the BunyoroKitara facts because like the Omani form these pageants and enactments took over from the written word thus events were simply passed down and often changed or forgotten in lieu of myths and legends...That is clearly seen in the Bunyoro-Kitara model.

Regarding swords a clear picture is retained in the Razha sword dance where mimic swordplay is acted out and scored with one single winning point when one swordsman touches the opponents thumb of his shield hand with the flat spatulate tip of his Sayf...end of contest. Another enactmant is carefully choreographed for the duelling Khanjar....The dance is called The Bar'aa.

Interestingly the terrs has been handed down so that it is carried with each sword from The Sayf Yamaani to the Sayf and then to The Kitara. ....

In this post I will show the link between the Sayf Yamaani to the dancer.. Later a picture of the individual who ordered the form...and was responsible for moving the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1840 and thus the interaction with the Great Lakes. Said The Great.
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Old 2nd September 2021, 02:01 AM   #7
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Before I advance I want to place the Tughra or signature Of Said The Great as it is a mark we see on a lot of Omani Hilts of the Dancer Sayf form as above... and the Kitara. On Khanjar belts as well as Sayf Hilts and copied later onto Kitara hilts..The long Omani hilt is clearly copied onto the heavy Kitara and the Terrs Shield is handed also to it... as is an almost identical leather scabbard style. Since Oman takes virtual possession of Zanzibar and attracts many artesans from Oman so that Omani weapons are then produced at Zanzibar; the linkage is obvious. See below.
Peter Hudson.
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Old 2nd September 2021, 06:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Hudson View Post
Before I advance I want to place the Tughra or signature Of Said The Great as it is a mark we see on a lot of Omani Hilts of the Dancer Sayf form as above... and the Kitara. On Khanjar belts as well as Sayf Hilts and copied later onto Kitara hilts..The long Omani hilt is clearly copied onto the heavy Kitara and the Terrs Shield is handed also to it... as is an almost identical leather scabbard style. Since Oman takes virtual possession of Zanzibar and attracts many artesans from Oman so that Omani weapons are then produced at Zanzibar; the linkage is obvious. See below.
Peter Hudson.
This is really interesting Peter! and I had not thought of tughra being incorporated into scabbard designs, being more familiar with these occurring on Ottoman blades. While it is often assumed that such scabbard leatherwork designs were aesthetic here we see an actual symbolic motif.

On the scabbard of mine, most leather has disintegrated, but I am wondering if the same degree of decoration existed on the ceremonial 'dance' sayf which was produced with flexible blades for the dynamics of the dance.
Obviously, the personal status Omani sayf with European blades would have been afforded such decoration.
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Old 2nd September 2021, 08:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
This is really interesting Peter! and I had not thought of tughra being incorporated into scabbard designs, being more familiar with these occurring on Ottoman blades. While it is often assumed that such scabbard leatherwork designs were aesthetic here we see an actual symbolic motif.

On the scabbard of mine, most leather has disintegrated, but I am wondering if the same degree of decoration existed on the ceremonial 'dance' sayf which was produced with flexible blades for the dynamics of the dance.
Obviously, the personal status Omani sayf with European blades would have been afforded such decoration.
Thanks Jim, This is a good point and worth reinforcing...Said Sultan took a long time to relocate his Oman capital to Zanzibar and a lot happened in the meantime for example with design of certain artefacts. Sheherazad had done a number of things including a completely new Khanjar hilt where it was to become the Royal Khanjar (see Omani Khanjars )
This design was adopted for the basis of a new Royal Hilt on the Sayf Yamaani. Also on Forum...
A new camerbund was deigned and a new turban both in Royal Colours. The Terrs was ordered to be carried with the Dancing Sayf... thus can be seen with that sword in slave merchant groups on Zanzibar and with guards around Muscat for pageants only and heralding The Sultan, Eids, weddings etc...The sword next in line to appear would be The Kitara and that would also be worn with the Terrs often slung across the back.

Regards, Peter Hudson..
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Old 2nd September 2021, 10:30 PM   #10
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Thanks Jim, This is a good point and worth reinforcing...Said Sultan took a long time to relocate his Oman capital to Zanzibar and a lot happened in the meantime for example with design of certain artefacts. Sheherazad had done a number of things including a completely new Khanjar hilt where it was to become the Royal Khanjar (see Omani Khanjars )
This design was adopted for the basis of a new Royal Hilt on the Sayf Yamaani. Also on Forum...
A new camerbund was deigned and a new turban both in Royal Colours. The Terrs was ordered to be carried with the Dancing Sayf... thus can be seen with that sword in slave merchant groups on Zanzibar and with guards around Muscat for pageants only and heralding The Sultan, Eids, weddings etc...The sword next in line to appear would be The Kitara and that would also be worn with the Terrs often slung across the back.

Regards, Peter Hudson..
This pictureshows how the Dancing Sayf has arrived in the modern day application of The Funoon accompanied by the Terrs Shield and the colourful royal Turban and Camerbund..
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Old 2nd September 2021, 11:29 PM   #11
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This pictureshows how the Dancing Sayf has arrived in the modern day application of The Funoon accompanied by the Terrs Shield and the colourful royal Turban and Cummerbund..
Just rounding off with a few relevant pictures as below...

1. The most important man of all regarding Zanzibar Oman and the Great Lakes Said Sultan..THE GREAT... who moved the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1840 and created the spice islands and formed a very powerful merchant marine across the Indian Ocean and militarily in the region...For good measure he wears a Royal Turban and a Royal Khanjar.
2. Cloves being taken to port by slaves by an Omani Slaver displaying an Abu Futtilla gun and a curved Kitara sword..
3. Tippu Tip the biggest Slaver who had half Omani nationality and who owned 10,000 slaves and plantations in Zanzibar and central Africa...
4. A slave market in Zanzibar with Omani Slavers shown wearing the curved Kitara and slung around his back a Terrs Shield. Note one Slaver wearing a pistol ...These are known to often show African dancing tribesmen carved into the barrel.
5. Tippu Tip again but this time wearing an Omani Shamshiir and a Royal Khanjar..
6. The Royal Hilt designed on a SAYF Yemaani for the Ruler at !. by one of his wives Sheherazad which was almost identical to the Royal Khanjar she also designed ...Later she ran away to Persia and joined their army... She was of Persian Royal extraction ...but by then had fallen somewhat out of favour.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.
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Old 3rd September 2021, 02:38 PM   #12
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Fascinating information.
Here a picture of the Sultans palace at Stone Town Zanzibar.
januari 2020
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Old 3rd September 2021, 06:14 PM   #13
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Fascinating information.
Here a picture of the Sultans palace at Stone Town Zanzibar.
januari 2020

Yes that was flattened as below....and later rebuilt.

Quote https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Zanzibar_War
."The Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted around 40 minutes, and is the shortest war in history.

The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British authorities preferred Hamud bin Muhammed, who was more favourable to British interests, as sultan. In accordance with a treaty signed in 1886, a condition for accession to the sultanate was that the candidate obtain the permission of the British consul, and Khalid had not fulfilled this requirement. The British considered this a casus belli and sent an ultimatum to Khalid demanding that he order his forces to stand down and leave the palace. In response, Khalid called up his palace guard and barricaded himself inside the palace.

The ultimatum expired at 09:00 East Africa Time (EAT) on 27 August, by which time the British had gathered three cruisers, two gunboats, 150 marines and sailors, and 900 Zanzibaris in the harbour area. The Royal Navy contingent were under the command of Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson whilst their Zanzibaris were commanded by Brigadier-General Lloyd Mathews of the Zanzibar army (who was also the First Minister of Zanzibar). Around 2,800 Zanzibaris defended the palace; most were recruited from the civilian population, but they also included the sultan's palace guard and several hundred of his servants and slaves. The defenders had several artillery pieces and machine guns which were set in front of the palace sighted at the British ships. A bombardment which was opened at 09:02 set the palace on fire and disabled the defending artillery. A small naval action took place with the British sinking a Zanzibari royal yacht and two smaller vessels, and some shots were fired ineffectually at the pro-British Zanzibari troops as they approached the palace. The flag at the palace was shot down and fire ceased at 09:40.

The sultan's forces sustained roughly 500 casualties, while only one British sailor was injured. Sultan Khalid received asylum in the German consulate before escaping to German East Africa (in the mainland part of present Tanzania). The British quickly placed Sultan Hamud in power at the head of a puppet government. The war marked the end of the Zanzibar Sultanate as a sovereign state and the start of a period of heavy British influence." Unquote.

Peter Hudson.
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Old 5th September 2021, 04:48 PM   #14
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Hi Peter,
Thanks for this beautiful review.
One comment only: I am from Michigan, and we get mightily offended when some people refer to " Great Lakes" as something not surrounding our state: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. In crosswords they are often related as HOMES.
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Old 7th September 2021, 02:00 AM   #15
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Hi Peter,
Thanks for this beautiful review.
One comment only: I am from Michigan, and we get mightily offended when some people refer to " Great Lakes" as something not surrounding our state: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. In crosswords they are often related as HOMES.
Hello Ariel and many thanks for the support..

Regards, Peter Hudson.
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