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Thread: Highly engraved old sword What is it?

  1. #1

    Highly engraved old sword What is it?

    To all,

    I recently purchased a most unusual sword which looks like it might be very old, but I have no idea how to begin to date it or to learn more about it. Almost the entire surface is engraved, all except a small area on the bottom of the hilt. The designs are all of various animals and of men in different postures, one seems to be praying. I am attaching some pictures, I will be happy to provide more if needed. The blade is fairly thin is easy to bend. Also the blade was shimmed in place with two pieces of wood. I have not cleaned it or done anything to it, nor will I till I learn what is safe to do. I hope that someone will be able to help in this matter as I am very interested to learn about this
    sword. If possible I would like to know how old it is, its purpose and where it was made and anyother information possible.

    Thank you for your help in this matter!

    Here is some additional info from questions I have received:

    Thanks for the input! I am new to this so I am not sure how to tell if it is acid etched or engraved. Some parts of the design go deeper into the metal, but most of it is quite shallow. I wonder if it could be a combination of both acid etching and engraving? The center part of the handle has a different design, which is easy to see. The other four surfaces, all but the butt end, have various animals going in a circle. These animals are the same as those on the blade, which makes me think the handle, may be original, unless the design was copied at a latter date. There are two rectangular tabs that help wedge the handle and blade together with the wood shims. When properly wedged it would be fairly sturdy. I can press my fingers against the blade edge without being cut, but it does look as thought the blade was sharper when new. I would say that the blade is more flexible then bendable. The edge of the blade is complexly free of design. There is a frame like line that goes all around the blade demarcating the edge. Some of the animals like an antelope with long horns are not mythical while others look like a combination of two animals combined; one is a bit like a baboon with very sharp teeth, another looks like a lion-dog. The handle is made of metal, but it has oxidized differently to the blade. I can’t think of anything else to add right now. This is my first experience with swords so please forgive my ignorance; I will do my best though. I there any way that I can attach bigger photographs? Thanks again, I am enjoying this and appreciate the time and effort, which has gone into this great site.

    Rich Schadle
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Richard C. Schadle; 03-11-2002 at 08:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Hi Richard - it's very interesting looking. It's hard to tell that much from the photos (sometimes it can just be hard to tell things from photos in general, no matter how good). It appears that the blade has been etched (i.e. with acid) to produce the 'engravings' along the blade? Or is it actually engraved?

    Is the blade sharp? With the engravings I wonder whether it might be a 'decorative' blade, especially as you say it bends easily (though flexibility is desirable in a working sword too). If I could see the engraving better I might be able to make a better guess at it's origin. The handle is unusual, rather a contrast from the ornateness of the blade; perhaps it was rehandled at some point in time.

    Another good place to pose questions, especially if you suspect it might be non-European, is:

    cheers, Ben.

  3. #3
    Haven't seen one exactly like it before, but the "two ball" grip and the engravings style are reminiscent of swords from Benin and Sierra Leone. Is the blade sharp and flexible, or dull and bendable?

  4. #4
    Tough call there; could be Ngombe, maybe Benin, but I'm thinking maybe more tourist-ese. It's hard to say; call it maybe 1st 1/2 of the 20th C?


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