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Old 20th February 2021, 04:02 PM   #1
ausjulius
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Default any images of Madagascan swords?

any images of Madagascan swords?
ive seen knives and there is some veriety but its hard to see the south east asian influence.. although theyer not really entirely african looking either..
many seem to have a large blade like a french chefs style knife.. some can be 40 or 50 cm long and with a wooden or cast brass handle.. others ive seen have a leaf shaped blade and a wood or horn handle... still others re a bit like the rattan knive sin south east asia.. theyer a upcurved knife blade on a long handle..

but ive only ever seen one image tagged as a madagascan sword and it looks like a dabh blade on a short wooden handle almost.. although its unclear if its an imported blade by the image .. if i locate it ill uploaded it..
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Old 21st February 2021, 06:00 PM   #2
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I think that everything you can see can be found at the musée du Quai Branly in Paris, even online: many knives, even interesting ones, but a single sword and even not very significant ... Maybe someone else is better at finding?
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Old 24th February 2021, 11:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duccio
I think that everything you can see can be found at the musée du Quai Branly in Paris, even online: many knives, even interesting ones, but a single sword and even not very significant ... Maybe someone else is better at finding?
Santé à tous!
ill be honest, i can find little informaiton bout any tools or bladed items even knives, the only thing ive come across is the angady a type of local forged steel shovel.. about that it,
one or two images of vague things.. a knife or a tool with no details of its origin or ethnic group that uses it.. some spears here and there with little information.. i can see in videos of madagascar they use for example two types of a curved bladed tool with an upswept tip one is pointed and smaller and the other can be quite heavy and for chopping.. the upsweapt tool is quite distinct.. but even that we dont have a name. they look distinct .

you mention images online in quantity from a french museum.. could you direct me to those images i can see none in their catalogue (maybe im looking in the wrong place)

i have attached some images i could find of some of the hafted chopping tools and the billhook the billhooks are very similar to some types form indonesia
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Old 24th February 2021, 11:26 AM   #4
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QGqjDVvrCs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tPWrNd0pz8

he has a blade like a big kitchen knife but heavy.. ive seen image sof these with brass handles handles with figures on them.. but also brass and horn or wood handles where the hilt is directly cast to the blade. as well as this type with wooden handles. and it looks like the french made trade blades in this shape as ive seen several european made blades of this type in images of madagascans..
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Old 25th February 2021, 05:42 PM   #5
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https://www.quaibranly.fr/fr/explore...re%5D=&filters[]=couteau%7C2%7C&filters[]=Madagascar%7C0%7Cet

Link to Musée du Quai Branly, keyword: couteau+Madagascar


http://www.africanarms.com/gallery?a...ife&ba-page=14

look at the photos below, the knives of the Bara people.
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Old 27th February 2021, 09:03 AM   #6
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As far as I can make out, the peoples of Madagascar did not really use "swords" in the historic period. Their main weapon before the introduction of firearms was the spear.
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Old 28th February 2021, 05:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duccio
https://www.quaibranly.fr/fr/explore...re%5D=&filters[]=couteau%7C2%7C&filters[]=Madagascar%7C0%7Cet

Link to Musée du Quai Branly, keyword: couteau+Madagascar


http://www.africanarms.com/gallery?a...ife&ba-page=14

look at the photos below, the knives of the Bara people.
thanks,
yeh i vant see much of knvies in those images form the mkuseum wite.. the other brass handled knives are still made today by the look of it but with more stlyes.. i saw some brass and aluminium handled ones confiscated from poachers ona news site while searching recently. ill see if i can find the pictures.. some had a gunstock shaped grip too with the blade of the knife like the musket barrel and the wooden grip as the foregrip fo the gun..
im guessing there is some good degree of regionalisim and styles but it was all either lost,, or ignored by the french and has survived in some limited degree but because its so obscure we have little reference for it in our world.. even among french collectors...
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Old 28th February 2021, 05:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
As far as I can make out, the peoples of Madagascar did not really use "swords" in the historic period. Their main weapon before the introduction of firearms was the spear.
well thats a presumed statement as.. we dont seem to have any accurate informaiton on any madagascan weapons, bne it swords, bows, speargs, pole weapons, knives, sheilds.... ect..

the malagasy word for a sword is "sabatra", so id presume they had some form of wepaon that they denote that word for as sabatra is not a machete and its not a knife, the dictionary tells me "antsibe" is a machete.. so a "sabatra" is not a machete.
see "antsibe" image attached.. in the image to the left the heavy bladed knife (not the european made machete) .. i mean this is a defined style.. almost like some southern indian chopping knives. and its not inspired by some european tools.. it appears to be native.

ive seen several videos of the making of traditional malagasy spades "angady" and i can see the hollowed out wooden troughts made of tree trunks like you see in indonesia for edge quenching longer blades, which tells me they are forging SOMETHING longer than a spade or knife or billhook..
but what it is.. i guess well have to find some madagascans!.
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Old 28th February 2021, 06:18 AM   #9
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here i found soem more images.. this is the dahb like swords ive seen.. also french wikibeadia has images of two "19th century madagascan sabres" under the french section on machetes that are with knuckle blows but have similar blades..
this clearly shows some sort of swords


an interesthing very thick bladed knife
http://ancientpoint.com/inf/188749-a..._mid_20th.html

this dahb type sword in the links Duccio post earlier
https://www.quaibranly.fr/fr/explore...telas/page/11/

images fo malagasy swords fomr wikipeadia i have dfound with a similar blade

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machette#/media/Fichier:Sabre_d'abattis_MHNT_ETH_AC_MD_56_Juilen.j pg

these are pretty distinct..
im really confused why even in french informaiton is so obscure, maybe few things have survived or european weapons were preferred
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Old 28th February 2021, 12:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ausjulius
well thats a presumed statement as..
Incorrect.

Extract from "The History of Mankind" by F Ratzel, 1896 and another extract from "The British Museum Handbook to the Ethnographical Collections", 1910 :-
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Old 28th February 2021, 06:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Incorrect.

Extract from "The History of Mankind" by F Ratzel, 1896 and another extract from "The British Museum Handbook to the Ethnographical Collections", 1910 :-
Excellent references Colin! well support your observation regarding 'swords' and Madagascar.
While Madagascar is one of the larger islands in the world, it was remote and only tribally populated until about the 18th century. Tribal cultures typically have the spear as a primary weapon, which serves both for hunting and warfare. Most tribal cultures, especially in isolated context, have not had inclinations toward the sword, unless incidentally by exposure to outside cultures. Even then, the sword is seen more as a curiosity and an item of prestige more than an actively used weapon form.

As a maritime replenishing station, it was visited by vessels frequently, especially as well known in the golden age of piracy 17th into 18th c.
With this of course, these kinds of instances would have provided certain types of weapons and tools of European styles in limited degree, but there would not been any sort of native production of these. Naturally, limited forging of smaller metal tools or weapons is always possible in these native cultures.

It seems the early inhabitants populating the island were of Indonesian origin, coming from the Malay peninsula by outrigger, but this must have been an arduous journey as open sea voyage of that distance would have been impossible in those times. With this, it does not seem that any sort of regular contact would have been likely in earlier times, so any steady or ongoing Indonesian influence would not seem the case. However trade from western India to East Africa was well known and with Arab trade networks so that source for influences may well have had presence.
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Old 28th February 2021, 10:07 PM   #12
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Historical background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indone...scar_relations
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Old 28th February 2021, 10:46 PM   #13
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The second sword shown by ausjulius in the above post is indeed a Lao daab, most likely pre-WWII. The curator's notes indicate a date avant 1942, consistent with the style and condition of the sword. Because both Madagascar and Laos were under French rule at the time, it would not be surprising to find a Lao daab making its way to Madagascar, although an error in attribution by the donor or the museum is also possible. The daab is made in a traditional Lao/Northern Thai manner, and is very unlikely to have been produced by a native of Madagascar.
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Old 1st March 2021, 07:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
The second sword shown by ausjulius in the above post is indeed a Lao daab, most likely pre-WWII. The curator's notes indicate a date avant 1942, consistent with the style and condition of the sword. Because both Madagascar and Laos were under French rule at the time, it would not be surprising to find a Lao daab making its way to Madagascar, although an error in attribution by the donor or the museum is also possible. The daab is made in a traditional Lao/Northern Thai manner, and is very unlikely to have been produced by a native of Madagascar.
.
no i doubt it was introduced from some place in asia, infact the two "cutlass" type swords tagged as madagascan from the french wiki article have the same blade and handle construction and same furrel but have a D guard attached. .. id say its an indiginious weapon... the locals have had iron and steel since they arrived from indonesia and ignoring the malayian and later bantu peoples who both worked iron.. additinally there is sizeable ethnic groups whos founders were somalian, as well as arab/indian/sumatran. the arabs having introduced writing., additionally europeans were present on the islands for a long time prior to when the french finally invaded in the 1890s.. the only reason it was not colonised previously was because of the very fact that there was a resonable population that possessed large amounts of european guns at an earily date.. and had some form of organised government that allowed the mobilisation of a some sort of army that was sufficient to see off plucky arab traders and later european entrepreneurs which makes me think were swords traded and if so why not copied? .
it seems from what i can read that guns became so popular there earily and in sizeable numbers. i do not know if they made any guns themselves but in the 19th century frances prime agent on the island produced gun powder, soap, fabric, houshold goods.. ect and supposidly guns in his factory untill his demise..

on any accout the scant descriptions you can find do mention their abundancy.. although that dosnt help with our question of swords. just because guns ARE mentioned dosnt dismiss the exsistance of swords.. and they seem to have a distinct native word for sword that is not of arab or indian in origins and seems to imply some sort of weapon (when i search it on search results for images it mostly shows criminals with crude "rambo"... "swords" with cast aluminium handles.. some recently made fantasy weapons for their nafarious acts)... the fact of the matter it seems is.. we are collectors.. and of both knowlage and phisical items.. and nobody here, myself included seems to accuratly know about madagacan weaponry, nor where to obtain some further detailed insight... for now.. i think we must continue digging.. maybe some francophones can glean more.. . .. or maybe some details of a private collection of the time
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Old 1st March 2021, 02:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Tribal cultures typically have the spear as a primary weapon, which serves both for hunting and warfare. Most tribal cultures, especially in isolated context, have not had inclinations toward the sword, unless incidentally by exposure to outside cultures. Even then, the sword is seen more as a curiosity and an item of prestige more than an actively used weapon form... As a maritime replenishing station, it was visited by vessels frequently, especially as well known in the golden age of piracy 17th into 18th c... With this of course, these kinds of instances would have provided certain types of weapons and tools of European styles in limited degree, but there would not been any sort of native production of these.
.
I follow Jim's and Colin's path in that one may find traces of outside (European) vestigials of swords but not of local sword production.
Madagascar coast was first touched by Europeans when Portuguese Diogo Dias, in August 10, 1500, saw his ship deviated from the main fleet by sea currents, while in route to the Far East. He named the island São Lourenço, the saint of the day. It is beleived that later some beligerent contacts took place, the locals being a very hard or impossible crowd to admit intruders; massacres might had happened.
Then, when jumping to the XVII-XVIII centuries, we have records of piracy activity on the East coast of the island; not that the famous Libertatia pirates sanctuary has yet been passive of evidential proof, but there a cemitery Saint Marys island), highly plausible to be one of period pirates.
To say that, it is nothing fictious to beleive that, through all these historical incursions, one could find one or two surviving swords, or their remnants, even those modified and adapted to ceremonial activities or symbols of power, like in other registered cases in Africa, for one.
As for the locals 'preferred' weaponry, history says that:
Peaceful coexistence ended in the second half of the 16th century, when the ruler Andriamanelo (c.1545-1575), started a series of wars against the Vazimba communities, forcing them to flee or assimilate. Adriamanelo is credited with the first use of ferrous spearheads in Madagascar, which gave his troops a great advantage on the battlefield.
His son Ralambo (1575-1612) continued his father's policy... He was also the first ruler to earn firearms from merchants in coastal provinces with contacts with Portuguese and Arab countries.


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Old 1st March 2021, 03:29 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ausjulius
no i doubt it was introduced from some place in asia, infact the two "cutlass" type swords tagged as madagascan from the french wiki article have the same blade and handle construction and same furrel but have a D guard attached. .. id say its an indiginious weapon... the locals have had iron and steel since they arrived from indonesia and ignoring the malayian and later bantu peoples who both worked iron.. additinally there is sizeable ethnic groups whos founders were somalian, as well as arab/indian/sumatran. the arabs having introduced writing., additionally europeans were present on the islands for a long time prior to when the french finally invaded in the 1890s.. the only reason it was not colonised previously was because of the very fact that there was a resonable population that possessed large amounts of european guns at an earily date.. and had some form of organised government that allowed the mobilisation of a some sort of army that was sufficient to see off plucky arab traders and later european entrepreneurs which makes me think were swords traded and if so why not copied? .
it seems from what i can read that guns became so popular there earily and in sizeable numbers. i do not know if they made any guns themselves but in the 19th century frances prime agent on the island produced gun powder, soap, fabric, houshold goods.. ect and supposidly guns in his factory untill his demise..

on any accout the scant descriptions you can find do mention their abundancy.. although that dosnt help with our question of swords. just because guns ARE mentioned dosnt dismiss the exsistance of swords.. and they seem to have a distinct native word for sword that is not of arab or indian in origins and seems to imply some sort of weapon (when i search it on search results for images it mostly shows criminals with crude "rambo"... "swords" with cast aluminium handles.. some recently made fantasy weapons for their nafarious acts)... the fact of the matter it seems is.. we are collectors.. and of both knowlage and phisical items.. and nobody here, myself included seems to accuratly know about madagacan weaponry, nor where to obtain some further detailed insight... for now.. i think we must continue digging.. maybe some francophones can glean more.. . .. or maybe some details of a private collection of the time

Very well said, and it is well established that 'absence of evidence does not constitute evidence'. I think that probably the reason there has not been some sort of published material on the 'swords of Madagascar' is because there does not appear to be an established tradition of the use of them in notable degree.
The fact that examples exist, such as the interesting ones you have shown, reveals that of course, natives would adopt European type hangers in limited degree as they became available. This is of course an example of the types of hanger/cutlass that were used on vessels in 17th-18th c.

Of course the natives had iron working abilities and resources, and most native cultures used these from ancient times to fashion tools and weapons. While these typically are items in the range of tools and implements, the type of metal weapons were axes and daggers, but not swords in the manner of blades of notable length.

In many regions such as Arabia, where blade making once existed, the metalwork now comprises dagger blades. The advent of trade, and availability of blades from those sources virtually supplanted the need to forge sword blades. Producing knife or dagger blades as with axes and tools, is far less demanding than that of sword blades.

If sword combat is not part of the native methods of warfare, then there is no need to establish production of, nor training in use of, the sword.
Typically the 'sword' in most native tribal cultures has become a useful implement (such as machetes) or a significant element of status, bearing and often ritual.

In North Africa, the presence of swords was well established from early times, especially with Islamic influence which became significant in those tribal cultures. While in Central Africa, the types of edged weaponry ranges from axes and daggers, to more curious forms such as 'throwing knives' and sickle type weapons. Aside from certain sword types such as the shotel and seme in Kenya, there is limited 'sword tradition' in most of central and south Africa.

While I am not actually a collector any longer, I do enjoy studying arms and armor from a historic perspective as I have for nearly 50 years. I very much enjoy these kinds of queries of notably esoteric texture.. and quite honestly once even pursued 'what kind of swords did eskimos use?'. I do not mean that flippantly, it was an honest question.
I found that obviously the 'eskimo' peoples (a rather misapplied term usually) per se' may not have had swords, but discovered that certain groups in Siberian areas to the islands as far as Japan did indeed have some presence of the sword. The Ainu people had a sword (usually Japanese blade), which was important to tribal ritual and status, but was never used for combat of any kind.

With that, I hope these analogies do not detract too much from the discussion, but wanted to add some perspective as to why those of us here may not have a particular awareness of the swords used in Madagascar, or for that matter, places where the sword was not a prominent weapon.

PS Fernando, we crossed posts, excellent perspective in your entry as well!!
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Old 8th March 2021, 04:17 PM   #17
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the issue is not that theres not publications on swords in madagascar, the issue is that theres not ANYTHING published about the regions arms and metal working.. the little information that exsists seems innaccurate as well, vague ect, ive so far found little to anything even about their other arms, but they had them. i dont know, maybe the colonial french administration was very restrictive. but it seems off that they in one generation.. - the colonial period is rather short there.. wiped out this information.
as i said, the fact that their languages have native words for swords - different from machetes or chopping tools implies they had such an item,
just as ive seen silver axe head amulets with heads very similar to arabian and perian axes - as oppose to african or asian weapons... but never an antique real example.. maybe the french just scooped all weapons up and crushed them or outlawed their making?
.. the administration their was famously cruel and ruthless... apparently. so fear of rebellion was real.. the enigma continues. im curious even if their older weapons are work hardened iron like old bantu arms or edge quenched untempered steel like south east asian arms. even some information about their iron smelting.. their bellows are the indonesian type, not african types.
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