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Old 24th October 2020, 04:37 PM   #1
RSWORD
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Default African Takouba with early(?) European (?) blade

Hello. With some of the recent Takouba threads it got me thinking about a couple in my collection. My gut instinct says this is a pretty early European blade on this Takouba hilt, or at least what is remaining of it. The blade, when held vertical and I tap the pommel, rings like a tuning fork. It is a very well forged blade. The wide fuller from the forte and the thick shoulders of the blade along with the quality tempering make me think this is an early European blade. Would love to get some opinions. Thanks!
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Old 24th October 2020, 04:38 PM   #2
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A few additional pictures.
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Old 26th October 2020, 09:42 PM   #3
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It looks like an older European blade, but whether from the 19th century or earlier is for me personally hard to determine. Trade blades came in two main patterns, one of which included a single broader and shorter fuller. The fittings on the other hand look newer, from the 20th century. It is interesting to see the brass plates, which seem to serve an aesthetic rather than a structural purpose on this sword.
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Old 28th October 2020, 01:42 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments and thoughts about this blade.
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Old 28th October 2020, 06:03 AM   #5
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Can you provide basic dimensions of the blade itself -- length, width at forte, width just below the point?

I'm intrigued at what might be under those brass plates, from the photos there appears to be some "lumpiness" especially on one side. Wondering if their presence is more than merely aesthetic, especially considering the complete lack of decoration.
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Old 28th October 2020, 04:22 PM   #6
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It appears that in the construction of this takouba, the crossguard must have been damaged or broken away, leaving the remainder of the sword intact.
The blade is clearly European, and does seem early, of the broadsword type which saw use in schiavona and various types of sword in Europe.

While this type fuller resembles those on 17th century examples, it seems to have existed earlier as well of course, as a pretty standard form.
I think we can safely presume this blade is probably 17th century European especially with the character described with its tempering.

The metal plate is an affectation occurring on many Tuareg takouba and if I recall, I think the term is 'adabal' in description. Iain Norman has accurately described these as 'sandwich' type mounts, and suggests they were used in mounting damaged blades.
Here however, it seems clear that the blade did not require such support and the 'mount' was more decorative.

The question then becomes, were these metal plates (some iron,some brass) aesthetic or structural?

It would seem that as influences are spread culturally through diverse tribal expanses across the Sahel and Sahara, it might be a little of both. While in cases where structural integrity needed attention might have obviously placed these 'plates' accordingly, others may have seen them as decorative design features,offering more surface for decorative motif.

Perhaps it became simply a symbolic feature suggesting some sort of imbuement in the sword itself, as often the case with markings etc. which were seen as imbuements of magic and power.

We can only speculate on these factors of course, and any resultant theories would be mitigated by the character of the peoples using the weapons.
In many cases, the shapes of the blades,as well as the materials selected in the construction of each sword are symbolic factors as well.
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Old 28th October 2020, 11:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Can you provide basic dimensions of the blade itself -- length, width at forte, width just below the point?

I'm intrigued at what might be under those brass plates, from the photos there appears to be some "lumpiness" especially on one side. Wondering if their presence is more than merely aesthetic, especially considering the complete lack of decoration.


Hey Philip,

The blade is 31 3/4". It is 2" wide at the shoulders and remains 2" wide at the bottom of the plate down to just pass the fuller. Then it begins to taper down to the tip. The pictures are a bit deceiving. There is no lumpiness. The plates are fairly flat on each side with a side panel on each side connecting the plates and there is some solder peaking out from some of the separation this side panel now has. Can't really see the blade beneath the plate but the one section I can see from the plate/panel separation it looks normal.
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Old 28th October 2020, 11:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
It appears that in the construction of this takouba, the crossguard must have been damaged or broken away, leaving the remainder of the sword intact.
The blade is clearly European, and does seem early, of the broadsword type which saw use in schiavona and various types of sword in Europe.

While this type fuller resembles those on 17th century examples, it seems to have existed earlier as well of course, as a pretty standard form.
I think we can safely presume this blade is probably 17th century European especially with the character described with its tempering.

The metal plate is an affectation occurring on many Tuareg takouba and if I recall, I think the term is 'adabal' in description. Iain Norman has accurately described these as 'sandwich' type mounts, and suggests they were used in mounting damaged blades.
Here however, it seems clear that the blade did not require such support and the 'mount' was more decorative.

The question then becomes, were these metal plates (some iron,some brass) aesthetic or structural?

It would seem that as influences are spread culturally through diverse tribal expanses across the Sahel and Sahara, it might be a little of both. While in cases where structural integrity needed attention might have obviously placed these 'plates' accordingly, others may have seen them as decorative design features,offering more surface for decorative motif.

Perhaps it became simply a symbolic feature suggesting some sort of imbuement in the sword itself, as often the case with markings etc. which were seen as imbuements of magic and power.

We can only speculate on these factors of course, and any resultant theories would be mitigated by the character of the peoples using the weapons.
In many cases, the shapes of the blades,as well as the materials selected in the construction of each sword are symbolic factors as well.


Hey Jim,

I'm thinking along the same lines as you are. My guess is that the blade is 16th or 17th century European. From what I can see from some of the plate separation is that the blade looks normal from the shoulder into the plates. I don't think it is a rewelded blade. I have wondered if there was a blade marking that was covered for some reason. Maybe they didn't like the marking. Otherwise, in this case, it seems purely decorative. Can't see any other reason why it would be on there.
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Old 29th October 2020, 03:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RSWORD
Hey Jim,

I'm thinking along the same lines as you are. My guess is that the blade is 16th or 17th century European. From what I can see from some of the plate separation is that the blade looks normal from the shoulder into the plates. I don't think it is a rewelded blade. I have wondered if there was a blade marking that was covered for some reason. Maybe they didn't like the marking. Otherwise, in this case, it seems purely decorative. Can't see any other reason why it would be on there.



It is my impression that brass had a highly apotropaic character in these regions in the folk religions that were practiced pretty much intertribally.
The position of the bolster/adabal on that section of the blade I am thinking must have been following the conventions of such placement on the blade. I'm not sure hiding a marking would have been done. A blade with a marking which had bad connotation would have been avoided, but I have not heard of any such instances.
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Old 29th October 2020, 06:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RSWORD
Hey Philip,

The blade is 31 3/4". It is 2" wide at the shoulders and remains 2" wide at the bottom of the plate down to just pass the fuller. Then it begins to taper down to the tip. The pictures are a bit deceiving. There is no lumpiness. The plates are fairly flat on each side with a side panel on each side connecting the plates and there is some solder peaking out from some of the separation this side panel now has. Can't really see the blade beneath the plate but the one section I can see from the plate/panel separation it looks normal.



Thanks for the numbers, Rick!

Here's an early example of the same style blade on a German "bastard" (hand-and-a-half grip) hilted sword ca. 1520-30. Blade is 36", width 1 3/4" at the hilt, and after all these years it is dead straight and pretty darn sharp. With this hilt it balances just over 5" ahead of the hilt, and weighs about 2 lb 4 oz so it's very manageable in one hand, and quite fast with the left hand helping it along. I can imagine that mounted as a kaskara, it would make a deadly sword indeed. The Belgian collector who had it told me that this style blade started appearing at the end of the 1400s as well. Hallmarks of the design are a pronounced though not acute profile taper, single fuller at the forte, and the remainder of the blade of flatttened hexagonal cross-section (the facets appearing very rounded on many examples due to wear and corrosion). The cross-and-orb blade markings seen here are German. Would be curious to see if there any markings under those brass plates on your sword! A wolf might even be lurking there...

You certainly pick up some interesting blades. Remember that thin, very broad Arab double-edged one that you found so many years back? I still wonder if it was actually of medieval origin.
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