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Old 12th July 2021, 10:16 PM   #1
Kubur
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Default Takouskara

Hi guys,

I got an interesting takouba, some features are close to kaskara and I place this takouba close to Sudan, may be in Chad.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showpo...8&postcount=31

The sword was stuck in the scabbard, in very bad condition, I got a good suprise when I managed to have access to the blade.

I will be grateful for your comments and Kiwatek for translation.

I will post later details of the sword, dress, belt... clearly the sword of someone important...

Kubur
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Last edited by Kubur; 12th July 2021 at 10:32 PM. Reason: pics
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Old 12th July 2021, 10:35 PM   #2
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The inscriptions, different on both sides
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Old 13th July 2021, 12:29 AM   #3
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Kubur,

Congratulations, what a spectacular sword. It is indeed very similar to the one in Hales' book. The scabbard fittings and the hilt construction are like a takouba, while the blade is more like something one would expect to find on a nice, older kaskara. Therefore a Kanem Bornu or Wadai attribution seems reasonable.

It will be interesting to see kwiatek's translation as it may hold the key.

Teodor
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Old 13th July 2021, 12:39 AM   #4
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A very nice piece indeed.
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Old 13th July 2021, 02:18 AM   #5
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Nice inscription too. They are Arabic verses from al-Busiri‘s Qasidat al-Burda (Ode of the Mantle), which are common on kaskaras

SIDE A

ومن تكن برسول الله نصرته إن تلقه الأسد فى آجامها تجم

“Whoever is assisted by God's Messenger,
The lion on meeting him in its wood lies down meekly”

SIDE B

ولن ترى من ولي غير منتصر به ولا من عدو غير منقصم

“And you shall see no friend (of God) but he who is assisted,
And you shall see no enemy but he who is crushed”
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Old 13th July 2021, 08:13 AM   #6
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Wow! Very nice find!

Congratulations!
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Old 13th July 2021, 09:07 AM   #7
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Thank you guys for your nice words
Kwiatek, thank you so much for your amazing help, not only for the translation, but more importantly for your comments and critical edition.
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Old 13th July 2021, 10:05 AM   #8
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A most interesting find ... well done and thanks for posting.
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Old 13th July 2021, 11:34 AM   #9
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I was curious if someone here would pick it up. It is indeed an interesting one, however I don't really see Kanem-Bornu, rather the hilt design is quite similar to some Yemeni designs, although made in the construction method of a takouba.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7895
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Old 13th July 2021, 01:06 PM   #10
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The sword is classic Old Arabian of a style seen since the the 10th C. at least, it's the scabbard that is Takouba like. The inscription is beautifully inscribed, I think this is probably an important sword.
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Old 13th July 2021, 01:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain View Post
I was curious if someone here would pick it up. It is indeed an interesting one, however I don't really see Kanem-Bornu, rather the hilt design is quite similar to some Yemeni designs, although made in the construction method of a takouba.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7895
I can see where you are coming from, it is true that the hilt is in silver and the grip has an helicoidal design.

Then the sword lost her guard so it reinforces the similarity with a Yemeni sword but it is just because the guard is missing...

I know that the sword doesn't fit in "specialised collectors" boxes, so I called it a takouskara.



Please look at the scabbard too.
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Old 13th July 2021, 01:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
The sword is classic Old Arabian of a style seen since the the 10th C. at least, it's the scabbard that is Takouba like. The inscription is beautifully inscribed, I think this is probably an important sword.
Hi David, Please look at this link for sister sword

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showpo...8&postcount=31
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Old 13th July 2021, 01:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
I can see where you are coming from, it is true that the hilt is in silver and the grip has an helicoidal design.

Then the sword lost her guard so it reinforces the similarity with a Yemeni sword but it is just because the guard is missing...

I know that the sword doesn't fit in "specialised collectors" boxes, so I called it a takouskara.



Please look at the scabbard too.
I don't believe in boxes for takouba.

The scabbard is perhaps not original to the sword. The chape is Hausa work.

The sword is not missing the entire guard rather the sheet metal structure remains but the decorated guard plates are missing. As I said this is made in the normal manner for a takouba, but the decorative elements on the grip and pommel are closer to the style seen in Yemen. That's not saying the work is Yemeni the sahel is a vast place with many intriguing takouba and takouba like swords.

This one appears to my eye to have travelled widely and most likely was collected in modern day Nigeria where at the time it was in a Hausa made scabbard. Foreign swords are not unusual in a Hausa context with many state weapons of local Emirates coming from various locales including Ottoman blades, thuluth blade from Sudan etc.

The place of manufacture of the hilt was likely not within the usually encountered centers in Hausa states or in a Bornu or Tuareg context.
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Old 13th July 2021, 07:18 PM   #14
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Based on the existence of another very similar published sword, we can conclude that this is not a one off creation, but rather a type that existed somewhere in the Sahel in the 19th century. Hales pictured his sword in a group of kaskaras, probably because of the blade, and so both of the swords we know like this have kaskara blades.
The style of the chape is Hausa, but it was not limited to just the Hausa states, as we see it on takoubas and telek daggers all the way from Bida to Adamawa and what is Northern Cameroon today. I have a similar chape on a wide bladed takouba, which I posted for comparison to other Northern Cameroon swords in this thread:
https://vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=24269

Adamawa and the Mandara Mountains are not that far from Lake Chad, and the area was part of Kanem Bornu at various times, with very strong Kanuri influence even after the Fulani jihad. I am not trying to prove that the sword itself is Kanuri, just pointing out that it did not need to travel all the way to Kano to get its current scabbard.

The hilt has the construction of takouba hilts rather than kaskara ones, but the choice of material is also important. Silver is almost never found on takouba hilts and very common on kaskaras, as Ed Hunley has demonstrated.

It appears therefore that these swords are the result of mixed influence, and therefore most likely from an area where takoubas and kaskaras were both used to some extent.
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Old 13th July 2021, 08:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
Based on the existence of another very similar published sword, we can conclude that this is not a one off creation, but rather a type that existed somewhere in the Sahel in the 19th century. Hales pictured his sword in a group of kaskaras, probably because of the blade, and so both of the swords we know like this have kaskara blades.
The style of the chape is Hausa, but it was not limited to just the Hausa states, as we see it on takoubas and telek daggers all the way from Bida to Adamawa and what is Northern Cameroon today. I have a similar chape on a wide bladed takouba, which I posted for comparison to other Northern Cameroon swords in this thread:
https://vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=24269

Adamawa and the Mandara Mountains are not that far from Lake Chad, and the area was part of Kanem Bornu at various times, with very strong Kanuri influence even after the Fulani jihad. I am not trying to prove that the sword itself is Kanuri, just pointing out that it did not need to travel all the way to Kano to get its current scabbard.

The hilt has the construction of takouba hilts rather than kaskara ones, but the choice of material is also important. Silver is almost never found on takouba hilts and very common on kaskaras, as Ed Hunley has demonstrated.

It appears therefore that these swords are the result of mixed influence, and therefore most likely from an area where takoubas and kaskaras were both used to some extent.

I'd add just a quick note to this that these long scabbard fittings seem to really pop up the most often on swords where you can find pictorial evidence of them in areas that are the Hausa/Fulani heartland or areas influenced by them, usually having all metal hilts in brass. Mandara and Adamawa were incredibly Fulani influenced post Jihad within the political structure of the local Emirates, courts and regalia. Does that mean the sword had to go that far? No, particularly given the wide network of Hausa traders in the Sudan. Can it just be coincidence? I doubt it but of course the Hausa didn't have an exclusive license on making long chapes but arch and zigzag motif are pretty common for takouba scabbards.

The issue with trying to make a Kanuri connection is that we simply have no provenance to support it. Sadly we have little pictoral evidence of the specifics of takouba from the height of the empire and only some later images from the last rump state in Dikwa. Same goes for
Bagirmi. We have a real lack of information on some of the Chadian emirates as well.

Ragarding the hilt construction, I think it's important to note the general method and hilt components of a takouba like this are within a family of Islamic swords that follow a similar pattern with relatively small guards, using sheet metal construction and solder or braising for the grip tube and pommel. Putting aside the crossguard this is the same construction used on metal kaskara hilts.

The sword overall seems to be early to mid 19th century (give or take), with the blade are there any signs of stamps or marks Kubur?

I absolutely agree it's a distinct type. I wonder where the Hales sword is now, the guard shape is really intriguing and its unfortunate there's no collection location known for it.

I don't spend much time on swords from this region these days but I will have a look through some old pictures and references and see if something pops up from wadai or the like.

EDIT
Just another couple of points in particular about the pommel of this and the Hales sword...

They lack the medial ridge you almost always find, I'm actually trying to think if I've run across any others that didn't have it...

The second point is the 'nub' or extension on the tang at the end of the pommel, also unusual and something you see more often with metal kaskara pommels.

Small details, but they may perhaps help in narrowing the origins down...

Last edited by Iain; 13th July 2021 at 09:11 PM. Reason: pommel....
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Old 13th July 2021, 10:27 PM   #16
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A special thanks to Iain and Teodor, very interesting discussion guys!

I remember an article with people in a valley in Darfur where they use(d) takouba, if you don't have it, I will post it for you.
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Old 13th July 2021, 11:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
A special thanks to Iain and Teodor, very interesting discussion guys!

I remember an article with people in a valley in Darfur where they use(d) takouba, if you don't have it, I will post it for you.
I think I recall it but please do post!
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Old 19th July 2021, 09:06 PM   #18
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I looked everywhere and cannot find the link or the pdf...
Here more details about pommel construction, takouba-ish
The silver hilt has a Sudanese kaskara inspiration,
the spiral design is Ottoman and it explains the similarities with Yemen, under Ottoman rules and influence...
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Old 19th July 2021, 09:18 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
I looked everywhere and cannot find the link or the pdf...
Here more details about pommel construction, takouba-ish
The silver hilt has a Sudanese kaskara inspiration,
the spiral design is Ottoman and it explains the similarities with Yemen, under Ottoman rules and influence...
And the top of the pommel is done in the same manner as many takouba although not mixing metals (such as copper) as is usually seen.

A real cross cultural mix!
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Old 26th July 2021, 11:12 PM   #20
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Hi guys,

In fact, this sword was just an appertizer...
I wanted to see the responses and your interest in atypical swords.
The first sword posted came with another one, from the same sale and same seller, but no mention of origin. I would say in between Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, maybe Nigeria???
The two swords were completely stucked in their scabbards.
The second sword has a very Ottoman guard, a German ? blade for Ethiopia (Jim?) and a kaskarish scabbard.
Despite the look, blade and hilt are very well connected with no movement.
The grip was made of leather like on kaskara (probably more recent), but the wire was lose and I removed it and had a good surprise under, in fact the whole hilt is made of one piece of brass (like some takouba) (gilded?). The most surprising is the pommel, I never saw such pommel...

Here are some old links with similar discussions around strange ottomanish kaskara...

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showpo...81&postcount=1

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showpo...8&postcount=30

All the best,
Kubur
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Last edited by Kubur; 26th July 2021 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 27th July 2021, 01:30 AM   #21
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This sword is also a very interesting one. How is the blade fixed to the hilt: rivets or peened at the top of the pommel?

The scabbard with the characteristic widening looks like a kaskara scabbard.

The blade does not strike me as specifically made for export to Ethiopia. The patterns meant specifically for Ethiopia tend to have Ethiopian symbols, and the practice appears to have started during Menelik II's reign, while this blade looks earlier and more like a blade made for use in Europe, which subsequently wound up in Africa.

The cross guard with those quillons is unique for kaskaras, and to me is somewhat reminiscent of the quillons on swords from Southern Yemen, but there was Ottoman influence in quite a few places, including Egypt, which is even closer.

The pommel is unique, as one would have expected it to be at the same angle as other kaskara disk pommels, but it clearly is not. It is also weird that the blade would be fixed to the hilt in a manner where the base sticks above the guard. It looks like a quality, functional blade but the whole sword looks like something that was never really meant to be used in fighting, but rather for ceremonial or ritual purposes.
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Old 27th July 2021, 11:01 AM   #22
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The blade is a good one and much older than the the export patterns for Ethiopia. These astral symbols are found on European blades from the 17th century and into the early 18th century. I have seen several of this pattern turn up in kaskara and takouba.

Regarding the hilt I have a slightly different idea... I have seen several kaskara and takouba converted into stage swords for theatre, the pommel in particular strikes me as work done in Europe.
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Old 27th July 2021, 11:37 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
The scabbard with the characteristic widening looks like a kaskara scabbard.
Yes, should be something linked to Kaskara and Sudan, nevertheless, some Mandingo swords and daggers scabbards/ sheaths have the same tip. So, I’m not 100% sure that this sword is kaskarish or taboukish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
The blade does not strike me as specifically made for export to Ethiopia. The patterns meant specifically for Ethiopia tend to have Ethiopian symbols, and the practice appears to have started during Menelik II's reign, while this blade looks earlier and more like a blade made for use in Europe, which subsequently wound up in Africa.
Yes, please see Iain response, I agree 18th c. seems reasonable, I saw the same blades on Tunisian & Tuareg swords if I’m not mistaken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
The cross guard with those quillons is unique for kaskaras, and to me is somewhat reminiscent of the quillons on swords from Southern Yemen, but there was Ottoman influence in quite a few places, including Egypt, which is even closer.
It’s the second time that Yemen is mentioned. Maybe I should look at the East (Eritrea) and not the West (Chad)…

Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
How is the blade fixed to the hilt: rivets or peened at the top of the pommel?
The pommel is unique, as one would have expected it to be at the same angle as other kaskara disk pommels, but it clearly is not. It is also weird that the blade would be fixed to the hilt in a manner where the base sticks above the guard
Excellent question, the blade is well fixed to the guard, not peened at the top, just a kind of glue, resin and a small brass rivet. I was sure that the space between the base and the guard will raise some questions. I had the same doubts, in fact until I got the sword. I have many ethno swords and it’s not uncommon, with Indian, Indonesian swords it is very common. In our Western occidental minds, we think about aesthetics, it seems that the people who did this sword were not concerned by this gap.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV View Post
It looks like a quality, functional blade but the whole sword looks like something that was never really meant to be used in fighting, but rather for ceremonial or ritual purposes.

Well, big discussion, I already mentioned in this forum that 50% of the swords here, if not more, were ceremonial or ritual, and very few were used for war or to kill people.
For the sword that I posted, well, with such nice hilt, nice blade and nice scabbard, I don’t see any reason why the sword was not used for fighting, especially with the wire added probably in the early 20th c.
But I agree this sword was maybe just ceremonial or ritual like the first one that I posted… I didn’t find any blood on the blade, only mine as both were very sharp (a good sign of fighting blades)…
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Old 27th July 2021, 11:45 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain View Post
Regarding the hilt I have a slightly different idea... I have seen several kaskara and takouba converted into stage swords for theatre, the pommel in particular strikes me as work done in Europe.
I remember that you wrote something like that about a shortened takouba, then I collected and saw several short takouba and kaskara and I disagree, some swords were just short, short swords, not for children, but for personal and practical reasons.

I was thinking like you about the pommel until I received the sword, the pommel is not added, it is one single piece of massive brass. I think you posted, or you have some takouba hilts with one single piece of brass, do you have an idea where they were made? I’m still struggling with the pommel…
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Old 27th July 2021, 12:04 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
I remember that you wrote something like that about a shortened takouba, then I collected and saw several short takouba and kaskara and I disagree, some swords were just short, short swords, not for children, but for personal and practical reasons.

I was thinking like you about the pommel until I received the sword, the pommel is not added, it is one single piece of massive brass. I think you posted, or you have some takouba hilts with one single piece of brass, do you have an idea where they were made? I’m still struggling with the pommel…
I don't think shortened kaskara are made for the stage, I think some short kaskara with the lizard or alligator scabbards with sheet metal blades are made for tourists.

I have seen several swords that absolutely were modified for this. One was a takouba hilt on a replacement blade that was marked with the name of the theatre Many kaskara were also modified in Europe to have more "european" style medieval disc pommels. They appear in auctions sometimes, its really unfortunate but not uncommon.

I am struggling to see anything African about that pommel as well. yes, some takouba have solid cast hilts, but its usually done in one piece and in the traditional form. See the attached. Yours has a distinct guard, grip tube and then the pommel I think? or you think it was cast in one piece?

I dont' think I've ever seen a takouba with a pommel that was solid but not part of a solid cast hilt.
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Last edited by Iain; 27th July 2021 at 12:12 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 27th July 2021, 12:09 PM   #26
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Ok!

A last question, on the two swords that you posted: how the blades are fixed to the hilts?

The solar pommel is atypical but it doesnt mean that it is European... I wonder which kind of comments I would have received if the first sword posted was not published in Hales book...
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Old 27th July 2021, 12:25 PM   #27
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Ok!

A last question, on the two swords that you posted: how the blades are fixed to the hilts?

The solar pommel is atypical but it doesnt mean that it is European... I wonder which kind of comments I would have received if the first sword posted was not published in Hales book...
The first sword is atypical but its of a construction that's recognisable for takouba and kaskara. We can debate the exact region its from but with or without the Hale example its quite clear its in the same family as other takouba.

The shape of the second pommel of course doesn't mean it has to be European, I am also a believer that there are always unique examples... but its the overall construction as well as the shape. I would be happy to be wrong actually!

Good question on the blades being fixed to the hilts! Both those swords were owned by friends, you can see on the one there is a tang extending through, the second picture is another I used to own where there was some damage to the pommel and you can see there is a tang but it is not peened through the end, and a final one where there is a cast tang "nub" but no actual tang peened.

I think then its a mix, some of them are fixed using resin or some sort of glue and some are peened. All the ones I examined personally there was zero movement in the blade. The third option is if somehow they were cast directly onto the tangs...
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Old 27th July 2021, 12:29 PM   #28
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One last point, even the brass pin in the guard of your example is odd, I have never seen this on any kaskara or takouba, again this doesn't mean it has to be a European modification but... as we can see in your first sword, typically even if elements of the form are different the construction method follows similar rules.

When you add the shape, the construction and the look of it together... that's why I think its a later pommel at the very least.
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Old 27th July 2021, 01:02 PM   #29
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I am inclined to see the second sword as a "bitser"or shotgun job, all or mostly original parts but not originally one item.
The reason for the gap between shoulder and guard would be because of using the original hole in the tang made when it first went into a Kaskara, and the original hole in the guard when it was used in a Shamshir of one sort or another.
Not all shamshir type swords are eastern, the type was often carried by bandsmen in the British army.
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Old 30th July 2021, 06:15 PM   #30
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Iain, I went on your great blog and I found a sword that has some similarities with the first sword posted (hilt and sudanese blade).
What do you think about it?
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