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Old 30th October 2021, 11:05 AM   #1
Richard G
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Default Ali Dinar(?) Kaskara

This recently sold at auction in the UK for 8,200.00. With premium that's nearly 10,500.00.
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Old 30th October 2021, 07:44 PM   #2
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My run-of-the-mill one cost considerably less - well under $100 with scabbard. Unless this belonged to the Mahdi, I think somebody with more money than sense got carried away during the bidding. Maybe the etchings will reveal a worthy provenance that justifies the cost!
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Old 1st November 2021, 09:09 PM   #3
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To be fair, this is a very nice kaskara, with a silver gilt pommel and a very high quality crossguard that also looks like it has been gilded. The blade looks like a 19th century European import and the brass (?) dot inserts are unusual. It is definitely a sword that belonged to someone of high status and could have been one of the many swords Ali Dinar owned.
To get to a high price at auction you need to have at least 2 people bidding on a sword, so more than 1 person must have put a lot of value on this particular kaskara.
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Old 2nd November 2021, 01:44 AM   #4
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This sword has a remarkable resemblance to one in the late Tony North's book on Islamic arms (the monograph) and was attributed to Ali Dinar. When I asked him about it (this was some years ago) as I was doing research on another kaskara attributed to Ali Dinar, he indicated the photo in a grouping of four swords from Sudan, and this particular sword now belonged to a guy in Malaysia as he thought.
This was about 16 or 17 years ago. Possibly the sword has now come out of an associated estate. If anyone has that book the photo of four swords is in it (I dont have my copy at the moment).

As noted by Teodor, Ali Dinar had numbers of swords in his armory, so quite possible this is one considering its notable quality, inscription and gilt decoration.
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Old 2nd November 2021, 03:22 AM   #5
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There are at least 3 other attributed Ali Dinar kaskaras previously auctioned for tens of thousands GBP. At least one is reported by the British Museum. Google search on "Ali Dinar swords auctions UK".

Apparently, most of Dinar's swords were looted from his residence compound when the British military drove him out of El Fasher in 1916. Had they been official Spoils of War (wink wink) there should have been an inventory. It would be interesting to attempt a Chain of Custody of his known swords and try to get as good and inventory as possible.

I believe an argument could be made that the swords were/are works of art as opposed to being actual weapons and the patrimony of his family or at least the state of Darfur. Could be like the Benin bronzes recently returned to their original home.

Just saying,
Ed

Last edited by Edster; 2nd November 2021 at 03:43 AM. Reason: added auctions UK
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Old 2nd November 2021, 09:31 AM   #6
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A fine Darfur kaskara. There was a very similar example in the British Museum exhibition about the Sudan, some years ago.
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Old 2nd November 2021, 01:14 PM   #7
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I would not be surprised if the price realized is due to one or more Islamic art museums in the middle east bidding on it. It is almost certainly from the same workshop as the Ali Dinar swords. As Ed states the price reflects the art market value more than the arms & armour perspective.
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Old 6th November 2021, 05:46 AM   #8
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Default Darfur kaskara at auction

I liked the look of this kaskara except for the goldish/brass dots which I thought looked crude and unappealing to the point that I wondered if they were a later edition to ''flash'' up the blade or to differentiate it from the many similar.
regarding the posts about only needing 2 bidders(I also collect ancient coins) a Naxos tetradrachm recently achieved approximately $740,000NZD at auction(I only kept a note after converting to NZ dollars),the coin is rare but the sale price is insane
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Old 6th November 2021, 12:00 PM   #9
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According to the auctioneer the dots are a 'gold alloy'.
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Old 6th November 2021, 07:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by werdna View Post
I liked the look of this kaskara except for the goldish/brass dots which I thought looked crude and unappealing to the point that I wondered if they were a later edition to ''flash'' up the blade or to differentiate it from the many similar.
regarding the posts about only needing 2 bidders(I also collect ancient coins) a Naxos tetradrachm recently achieved approximately $740,000NZD at auction(I only kept a note after converting to NZ dollars),the coin is rare but the sale price is insane
regards
Andrew Freeston

Gold or gold metal filled dots have certain significance on Islamic blades as described in Yucel ("Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths", 2001). These appeared in varied groupings and numbers, however seem to have usually been situated toward to blade tip. I have seen certain cases where some kaskara, otherwise quite plain, have had such 'dots' near the blade tip, but were most likely brass filled.
In Islamic symbolism and allegory it seems numbers are key, so it is hard to say what specifically these dots might mean, but they are likely placed there to augment the inscriptions and invocations on the blade.
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Old 7th November 2021, 01:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
In Islamic symbolism and allegory it seems numbers are key, so it is hard to say what specifically these dots might mean, but they are likely placed there to augment the inscriptions and invocations on the blade.
The five dots can mean the Five Pillars of Islam.
The second interpretation of the five points is the family of Muhammad: Muhammad himself, his daughter Fatimah, his son-in-law Ali, his grandchildren Hasan and Husayn.
In favor of the second version, I think it will be that a separately located point is larger than the others (Probably a langet prevented it from being placed in the center of a square of four points).
Perhaps translating text between dots can help (excluding the "magic square").
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Old 9th November 2021, 12:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
The five dots can mean the Five Pillars of Islam.
On one of the photos there appear to be two more dots towards the tip of the blade, so it might be 7 instead of 5 dots altogether. A reference to the seven sleepers? We probably will not know for sure, but it is fun to speculate.

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Old 9th November 2021, 03:27 AM   #13
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There is such a thing as Seven Pillars in Ismaili Islam.
TE Lawrence called his war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
There are seven dots on the blades of Chinese Jians, symbolising Ursa Major.
Seven days in a week ( Jewish, Christian and Moslem).
Any more possibilities?
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Old 11th November 2021, 12:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
On one of the photos there appear to be two more dots towards the tip of the blade, so it might be 7 instead of 5 dots altogether.

Teodor
Thank you, Teodor. I didn't see these two dots before.
Without these dots, I had another beautiful interpretation of the five dots:
the hand of the owner of the sword is led by Muhammad himself, followed by his family and only then by the humble owner of the sword, modestly fulfilling the will of the Prophet.
But now I'm at a loss. Who are the two at the tip of the blade?
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Old 11th November 2021, 12:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
Any more possibilities?
Seven Fridays a week (Russian proverb)
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Old 11th November 2021, 01:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
A reference to the seven sleepers?

Teodor
In the Islamic tradition, there would be eight names. Kitmir, their dog, was also with the youths.
I also think that in this case the dots would be located in one block.
But look at the photo below. Recently, Marius showed his Ottoman kard.
On its handle is a Tree of Immortality with the same arrangement of five dots. And two separately outside the composition.
I think they should also be considered separately on the sword blade.
Most likely, this is a metaphor of spiritual ascent through the observance of religious precepts, or Sufi practices.
Something similar in meaning to the drawing "the Prophet's ladder" (Kirk Narduban) on the blades.
In the Ottoman tradition, the image of a tree may probably have another meaning (the famous dream of Osman I about a tree growing out of him),
but in this case I think the same "message" is on the kard and the kaskara.
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