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Old 24th October 2020, 04:43 PM   #1
RSWORD
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Default Unusual North African sword possible Takouba variant

This one is a bit of an oddball. The handle is a thick chunk of steel with a very Takouba like blade and the scabbard also looks like scabbards from this region. It is made from the same Materials (you can see the stacked cloth, leather) that I have seen from other North African swords. Havenít seen another example like it. Would love thoughts and opinions as to origin.
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Old 25th October 2020, 10:58 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Well Rick, I guess nobody is gonna take a shot at this, so I'll take a stab
It looks like the whole thing is made out of a single piece of stock, and the blade shape resembles those from the Dongola region on the Nile in Sudan.

With the curious 'anthromorphic shape' of the hilt, these artisans were pretty innovative so hard to say what the inspiration was. It would really be tenuous to compare this to the ancient Hallstadt and other European 'anthromorphic hilts', but thats what it reminds me of.

In some ways these recall the shapes of the Tuareg arm daggers but these are far less complex geometrically.

Clearly there is some symbolism involved but needs more research, I cannot say I have seen like this in African stuff, but hope somebody out there has better ideas.
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Old 26th October 2020, 02:05 PM   #3
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The piece could well have been made in the Dongola region as Jim suggests. That area has a tradition of iron working that goes back to the Meroitic period. The Nubians from there were a separate ethnicity with a Christian tradition until the 1500s that was at odds with the Mahdi and fought against them.

The piece appears to me to have been made in two parts. Maybe even at separate times. The grip is of unknown design, but it was forged and finished with a square profile without hammer marks as does the blade. The pictures suggests to me that the grip was flanged somewhat to accept the blade. But this could be just the way the photo appears.

The scabbard is old and weathered, but of a relatively 100 year old "modern" construction. It looks like a paper/cardboard base, then cloth wound and finally a leather cover.

Interesting and puzzling sword.

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Old 28th October 2020, 01:44 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback on the sword Jim and Ed. I love a good mystery!
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Old 28th October 2020, 02:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RSWORD
Thanks for the feedback on the sword Jim and Ed. I love a good mystery!



Yes you do Rick!!! and you've brought up and solved a lot of em over all these years!
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Old 29th October 2020, 06:51 AM   #6
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Hey Rick,

From the photos it's hard for me to tell what the approximate dimensions are. Question: is the grip long enough to get a comfortable hold on, without the iron protrusions of the "pommel" area digging into the hand? Reason I ask is that I wonder if this hilt was designed for talismanic or symbolic purposes.

The blade seems beefy enough to do some damage, though. How long is it?

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Old 31st October 2020, 01:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Hey Rick,

From the photos it's hard for me to tell what the approximate dimensions are. Question: is the grip long enough to get a comfortable hold on, without the iron protrusions of the "pommel" area digging into the hand? Reason I ask is that I wonder if this hilt was designed for talismanic or symbolic purposes.

The blade seems beefy enough to do some damage, though. How long is it?

Philip


Hey Philip,

The grip is not quite long enough to accommodate my hand. The protrusions sort of dig into my hand so I agree it most likely has some type of talismanic or sumbolic purpose. The blade is only 22" long but it is 2 1/4" wide at the forte.
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Old 1st November 2020, 06:30 PM   #8
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Just to add my two cents on the takouba similarities, the takouba scabbards are actually really different in construction and materials. Morel describes them extensively in his article on the Tuareg sword, and states that they are made of leather only, in multiple glued layers. No stitching is used in the making of those scabbards (see picture).
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Old 4th November 2020, 10:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yvain
Just to add my two cents on the takouba similarities, the takouba scabbards are actually really different in construction and materials. Morel describes them extensively in his article on the Tuareg sword, and states that they are made of leather only, in multiple glued layers. No stitching is used in the making of those scabbards (see picture).



Thank you so much Yvain for this excellent insight into takouba scabbards.
It is outstanding to have these details from these sources which are not only typically not readily accessible to us here, but that they are in French so that also presents a certain barrier.

As being discussed, this most curious example seems to be from Dongolan regions in the Sudan, but frankly defies any indication of use other than symbolic or perhaps some sort of tribal ceremonial item as Philip has suggested in earlier entry here.
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Old 4th November 2020, 02:13 PM   #10
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Could it have a use as some sort of peg or stake?
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Old 5th November 2020, 04:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
Could it have a use as some sort of peg or stake?
Regards
Richard



Interesting suggestion Richard!
While the fact that it is with scabbard would of course suggest it is not such an 'implement', one wonders if in Taureg culture or any of the nomadic groups of North Africa that perhaps even such an item might be afforded apotropaic imbuement.

The elements of the tribal tents are often in one degree or another, with symbolic value or with perhaps some talismanic virtue, much as we see applied to weapons in motif and markings.

It would be interesting to look more into these aspects of the materials used by these tribal people and the manner in which these symbolisms might be applied.
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