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Thread: Berber Sword III

  1. #1
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    Smile Berber Sword III

    Today I've acquired my third Berber(?) sabre. These things seem rather common to be so poorly documented!

    You can see some more pictures of my other 2 in this thread
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  2. #2
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    Re: Berber Sword III

    Here are all three together. The new one (middle) seems to possibly retain the original blade point, rather than the more angled tip as on the other 2. Some examples have a curved tip that comes to a small point, like this one at Oriental-Arms:

    http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/OA/items/000091.html
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  3. #3
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    The hilts are decorated quite differently, despite the similar form.
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  4. #4
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    ...
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  5. #5
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    This inset brass disc has a crescent and star motif that might suggest an Ottoman origin/influence?
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  6. #6
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    Hi Adam,
    I haven't this style, makes me think of something between a shashka and a nimcha.
    Any idea if there is any significance to the open ring in the pommel?
    do they have scabbards?
    regards,
    -d
    Rollin' the dice on fire...

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by derek
    Hi Adam,
    I haven't this style, makes me think of something between a shashka and a nimcha.
    It's an apt comparison, but I believe they are much more closely related to the nimcha than the shaska.


    Any idea if there is any significance to the open ring in the pommel?
    There must be, I think, but I don't know what it is. I've seen some speculation that it might be for a wrist strap, but none of the examples I've seen have shown any evidence of having had one.


    do they have scabbards?
    I have damaged scabbards for the first two, this most recent one doesn't have one at all.

    The scabbards are interesting, though: The wood core of the scabbard (which is covered in tooled leather) is shaped like a ] instead of completely surrounding the blade, and they have an angled "toe" at the end which is reminiscent of some Ethiopian swords as well as Arab jambiyas.

    -adam
    But swords need no demonstrations.
    -Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

  8. #8
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    These unusual swords are virtually undocumented anywhere, but seem to have some consistancies in form, and it is generally agreed that they are Berber, probably from Morocco. I have seen unpublished notes that suggest they are from the Rif, or Atlas region, but there is no hard evidence to support this.
    It is believed that the unusual profile tip blades come from Spanish sources, suggesting sources in the Spanish colonial regions of Morocco, again unsubstantiated.
    Much of the decorative motif on examples with horn hilts resemble Moroccan form, and examples of these have been found among Mexican weapons among groups of Spanish colonial weapons, again suggesting a connection to that sphere.

    Aside from the fact that these are a guardless sabre, there is of course no connection to the shashka, unless via extremely remote development possibilities. These Berber sabres do have similarities in hilt form to the flyssa, the straight heavy bladed sabres of the Kabyles of Algeria, also a Berber tribe. The hilts of these flyssa' also are extremely stylized, resembling a birds head motif, the large aperture possibly being the eye. It does seem possible that it may have had practical use for placement of a lanyard or sabre knot, but I have never seen one on these.

    I think the only was we will ever assess these as an indiginous ethnographic weapon to a certain region for certain will be either finding key points of provenance or possibly seeing them in photos of tribesmen taken by early travellers. At this point we can only presume them to be of a form likely to be from the Spanish regions of Morocco and used by Berber tribes.
    Best regards, Jim

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