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Thread: Sudan Mahdi Rebellion?

  1. #1
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    Sudan Mahdi Rebellion?

    A friend of mine in Europe obtained a little while ago this very interresting artefact. The sword has a total length of 78cm, the blade length is 65cm. The width of the blade is 4cm and its thickness 2mm. The scabbard seems to be made out of a crocodile, the engraving or etching is islamic calligraphy. Could you please enlighten us about this nice piece of antiquity? Where is it from? Age? What does the calligraphy say? Does it have a name?
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    Sudan Mahdi Rebellion? More pictures

    More pictures.
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    Sudan Mahdi Rebellion? And even more pictures

    And some more pictures....
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  4. #4
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    Hello Charlie, you have a very interesting kaskara sword. The etching could be deciphered by some one knowledgeable on this subject. Great to have the matching scabbard. Possibly at the battle of Omdurman 2 Sept. 1898, if only they could talk.

  5. #5
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    Thumbs up

    Hi Charlie - the script on the kaskara is acid etched and I think thuluth. If so it is unfortunately very difficult to read. You should also try to shine a light under the langet and see if there is anything stamped there. It looks like there might be from your picture. If so you may have a European blade (although these usually have a single deep fuller). If there is a mark it might be possible to identify the blade manufacturer. You have a very nice kaskara either way.

  6. #6
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    Thank you so much for your quick responses. I immediately conveyed them to my friend in Germany. He will check the blade for a manufacturer's mark. I wish somebody could decipher the calligraphy. I am told, that usually there are not only Koranverses on it, but also the name of the owner. It would be interesting to me and my friend to find out, who originally owned the sword and/or what is written on the blade. Are those kaskaras common in collector's circles? What do you think about the quality of the piece compared to known examples? Are they always so elaborately etched?

  7. #7
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    Hey Charlie,

    Nice Kaskara. I dont think its as old as 19th century. Kaskaras with such blades tend to be newer (early to mid 20th century ar best) or touristy. I had one before with such a blade, was dull, flexible and seemed to be made more for show rather then use.

  8. #8
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    Hi Alnakas,
    I am helping a very good friend out in Germany right now. I spoke this afternoon to David Williams, Director of Antique Arms & Armour of Bonhams in England. He was looking at the same pictures you are looking at. He dates the sword as I did around 1850-1900. This is not a tourist trouphy and definately not with the crocodile scabard which is unique to certeain tribes in spirituality. His main convern was, if there would be a "makers" mark on the blade. Earlier Kaskaras hat their blades imported in finished in the area, later examples copied Europeans. We are presently checking for a makers mark on the blade. I definately disagree with you as a 20th century sample. I am a collector myself and a Supermod on a very great German Antique Forum and I can tell you one thing: This Sword is definately to be placed in between 1850 to 1900. Regionwise I am not sure. The answer is in the etching, and thats what I hope to find out. Corocodile type swords are rather on the rare side and have tribal affinitiy. They are not run down the mill. And this is definately not run down the mill. My friend, who is an antique dealer in Berlin, Germany cleared out a house after the death of the owner. The owner was a collector of african antiques. I myself lived for years in Nigeria and am very familiar with African arts. I am NOT an expert on african armour or swords. I can give a good guess but thats it. To me this sword is definately mid- to late 19th century Sudan; perhaps even Tuareg of the area. What I would appreciate is to give us clues what to look for. Like I got a clue today about "imported" blades and looking for the manufacturer's mark. No, not even Bonhams thinks it is 20th century. Sorry, you are a bit off I think...lol

  9. #9
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    There is one more thing to say: I have absolutely no personal interest in this sword. I don't care weather it is new or old. It is not mine and I don't get a commission. I am just helping out a friend on my forum who does not speak English. Therefor I want you to be as frank as you can...lol....Out Forum is the largest antique forum in german speaking countries and I am one of the supermods and experts. I am a collector myself. But I really need help with this sword; better than to place it into a certain time period and area I cant do. You are the specialists - please help!

  10. #10
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    Croc kaskaras are not really that rare, but are probably one of the most sought after types. I have also assumed that they are tribally related - and at least come from somewhere where crocodiles are easy to find
    I've attached some pictures of mine. This one has a Wilhelm Clauberg blade and your can see 'the soldier' on one of the pictures, Clauberg's name is on the reverse (not shown because it is really hard to see). The other mark is native applied and is often found on kaskaras - unfortunately its significance is unknown (at least to me). This one is an old kaskara, dated by the use of the Clauberg stamp, which changed I believe around 1860 (Charlie, you may well know much more about that than I do).

    To be honest I have never handled one of these thuluth script blades myself, so I don't know whether these would be during or post-Sudan Mahdist conflicts. My feeling is that they are not really fighting weapons and are later. I may however be totally wrong. Finding one with an identifiable 19C manufacturers stamp would be extremely interesting though!
    The main reason I think later is that I have not seen any provenanced bring backs from 19C with these blades, or contemporary descriptions in accounts of the Sudan conflicts - but my experience is limited so if anyone knows of one then I for one would be really interested to see it posted.
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  11. #11
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    Thank you all for your help! Right now my friend is checking out if there is a manufacturer's mark on the blade. Have not heard from him about it yet except that he is upset that he can not sell it on Ebay Germany because of the crocodile scabbard. I lived for years in Nigeria and also met quite a few Tuaregs in Northern Nigeria on the border to Mali. Their swords differ to the kaskara and many of them are made out of modern steel scraps. Their blades (of what I have seen) are not ornamental and the scabbards are plain leather. Never seen a crocodile scabbard or an etched blade like this one. The Tuaregs, Fulani, and other tribes use charms, but theiy are in leather capsules and worn on the body. Have not seen a charm attached to a sword. Chris - your kaskara looks really good! I really like its elegance! Is there anybody on this forum who can read thuluth inscriptions? I don't know what kind of clientel my friend has in Berlin/Germany but every now and then he comes with this antique African stuff. The other day he had me to check out a Benin bronze. What would you think would be a reasonable price for his kaskara? We both have no idea and as I always say on our Antique Forum: The price is with the collector. The other day we saw a tiny plastic mirror for a Smurf figurine change hands for Euro 4000,--! Can you believe this? The particular Smurf figurine without the mirror is worth next to nothing; but with the mirror it has a collector's value of Euro 8000,- as it is one of the rarest figurines. Anyway, I am getting carried away....lol....let's stay with the sword.....

  12. #12
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    The tuareg swords are takoubas, rather different from kaskaras and used over a much larger area of sub-saharan Africa. If you want to know about these then you can do worse than to look here: http://takouba.org/.

    There are some rare cross-over swords with takouba hilts and kaskara blades, but these are quite rare. Normally, the two groups are quite distinct. There is more cross-over on the marks found on the blades, some of the takouba and kakara bearing similar talismanic etchings.

    He could offer it for sale on the classifieds here without any difficulties, but he would need to state a price. I'm afraid its not a Smurf+mirror price though.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Topping View Post
    The tuareg swords are takoubas, rather different from kaskaras and used over a much larger area of sub-saharan Africa. If you want to know about these then you can do worse than to look here: http://takouba.org/.
    Great site, Chris! Thank you for the link.

  14. #14
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    Thank you for the link Chris! Very interresting website I must say. Right now I am waiting for him to check out if the blade shows anywhere a manufacturer's mark.....

  15. #15
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    Just found out that the blade does not show any manufacturer's mark.

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