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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 4:02 pm    Post subject: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

This thing is amazing.

Last edited by Alina Boyden on Fri 06 May, 2005 5:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the record this is also from David Alexander's book "The arts of War"
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 4:55 pm    Post subject: Re: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
This thing is amazing.


Wow! I'll have to agree! Do you have any information on the who/what/when/where/why of the sword? It obviously appears to be more of a ceremonial or symbolic piece, though I've been wrong a time or two... I walked away as it was loading to check on dinner, and came back when it was finished. From the odd angle I approached my laptop, it appeared to be wootz, but then I realized it is inscribed with volumes. Any idea what that is all about? Aesthetically, it's awesome, but the engravings make it even more intriguing.

Thanks for posting this (and a reference), Alina!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 4:57 pm    Post subject: Re: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Alina Boyden wrote:
This thing is amazing.


Wow! I'll have to agree! Do you have any information on the who/what/when/where/why of the sword? It obviously appears to be more of a ceremonial or symbolic piece, though I've been wrong a time or two... I walked away as it was loading to check on dinner, and came back when it was finished. From the odd angle I approached my laptop, it appeared to be wootz, but then I realized it is inscribed with volumes. Any idea what that is all about? Aesthetically, it's awesome, but the engravings make it even more intriguing.

Thanks for posting this (and a reference), Alina!


Yeah I had the whole provenance in the book but I forgot to write it down or photocopy it. This book they keep in "the cage" and you aren't allowed to leave the room with it, or use pens around it. This was the last picture in the book, so I just forgot about most of the provenancing. I was searching through every catalog we had so I could get the necessary photographs to document Islamic arms and armor to send over to GDFB. I'm going back tomorrow for a little while, there's still one other whole book on Islamic arms and armor of similar quality that I didn't get to. While I'm there I'll get this one again and photocopy the data.

Oh, and in my un-expert opinion, I'd say this piece is functional. It's incredibly highly decorated and well-preserved, but I don't think the Sudanese made swords just for decoration. Also, the blade looks very functional to me, and very well done. It is the best kaskara blade I've ever seen. I'll get you the translation tomorrow.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 6:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina;

Line gone now Big Grin

Easy when there are no details to save or " Fake " Exclamation



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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice! Yeah, I repositioned this 5 different times and did the scan preview a bunch until I had it just right.

Incidentally, I have a much higher resolution version of this and it is now my wallpaper on my computer.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 7:45 pm    Post subject: Re: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
Oh, and in my un-expert opinion, I'd say this piece is functional. It's incredibly highly decorated and well-preserved, but I don't think the Sudanese made swords just for decoration. Also, the blade looks very functional to me, and very well done. It is the best kaskara blade I've ever seen. I'll get you the translation tomorrow.


That's unreal - I'm still just " Eek! " over this piece. It would almost be a disappointment to think this piece was ever intended for use. I wouldn't doubt it's capable of being used... Ugh, the thought of it taking a beating. I'll be interested in seeing what's in the accompanying text. Oh, as for an "un-expert opinion"? On this (and I'd bet a bunch of other topics), you're way ahead of me!

Again, thanks!

-Aaron Schnatterly
_______________

Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 8:06 pm    Post subject: Re: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Alina Boyden wrote:
Oh, and in my un-expert opinion, I'd say this piece is functional. It's incredibly highly decorated and well-preserved, but I don't think the Sudanese made swords just for decoration. Also, the blade looks very functional to me, and very well done. It is the best kaskara blade I've ever seen. I'll get you the translation tomorrow.


That's unreal - I'm still just " Eek! " over this piece. It would almost be a disappointment to think this piece was ever intended for use. I wouldn't doubt it's capable of being used... Ugh, the thought of it taking a beating. I'll be interested in seeing what's in the accompanying text. Oh, as for an "un-expert opinion"? On this (and I'd bet a bunch of other topics), you're way ahead of me!

Again, thanks!


I have been staring at this thing all afternoon. It is just amazing. I covet this sword. I need this sword. I wonder how much it costs. Maybe I could get PJ or somebody to make one. Kaskaras are known for using european sword blades...
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Andrew Winston




Location: Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the PM alerting me to this thread, Alina. Happy

This is an exceptional weapon. As others have noted, the workmanship is superior, easily the equal of any culture's best work, in my opinion. A sword of distinction for an individual of power and wealth.

The cruciform shape of Sudanese kaskara and the similar, oft-confused takouba of the Northern Touregs are often described as being mounted with "crusader" blades. Needless to say, actual occurances of this are so unlikely as to be almost unkown.

Unlike Alina, my area of interest does not specifically include Islamic weapons (despite hailing from Africa, I do not typically think of swords of this type as "African"-- a term evocative of more tribal weapons like the seme--and, in my opinion, the term "Islamic" is proper, particularly for weapons like the instant sword with what is likely a Quranic verse inscribed on the blade). However, one cannot help but appreciate the beauty of this kaskara

Incidentally, I believe the term "kaskara", simply means "sword", much as the term "saif" does. The swelling near the terminal end of the scabbard is typical. Most of the usual sources assert that kaskara blades are usually imported.

Thanks for sharing this, Alina!

Best,
Andrew

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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Nate C.




Location: Palo Alto, CA
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 8:54 pm    Post subject: Re: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
...I wonder how much it costs. Maybe I could get PJ or somebody to make one. Kaskaras are known for using european sword blades...


First of all, wow, interesting, and WTF?! ? Laughing Out Loud That has to be without a doubt one of the goofiest looking scabbards I have ever seen and yet it interests me strangely.

I totally sympathize about the whole "I want that sword" feeling*. However, given the level of detail in that sword plus the fact that it appears to have dyed Leopard Skin (!?!?!?) on the scabbard might make the original less expensive Eek! Big Grin . Vince Evans might be a good smith to talk to as well. He has some little experience with eastern swords that look really good.


Cheers,

*Not this particular sword but there are a few different ones that I intend to get custom replicas of in the future.

Nate C.

Sapere Aude
"If you are going to kill the man, at least give him a decent salute." - A. Blansitt

If they ever come up with a Swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, then Jumping Off Something. --Jack Handy
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Winston wrote:
Thanks for the PM alerting me to this thread, Alina. Happy

This is an exceptional weapon. As others have noted, the workmanship is superior, easily the equal of any culture's best work, in my opinion. A sword of distinction for an individual of power and wealth.

The cruciform shape of Sudanese kaskara and the similar, oft-confused takouba of the Northern Touregs are often described as being mounted with "crusader" blades. Needless to say, actual occurances of this are so unlikely as to be almost unkown.

Unlike Alina, my area of interest does not specifically include Islamic weapons (despite hailing from Africa, I do not typically think of swords of this type as "African"-- a term evocative of more tribal weapons like the seme--and, in my opinion, the term "Islamic" is proper, particularly for weapons like the instant sword with what is likely a Quranic verse inscribed on the blade). However, one cannot help but appreciate the beauty of this kaskara

Incidentally, I believe the term "kaskara", simply means "sword", much as the term "saif" does. The swelling near the terminal end of the scabbard is typical. Most of the usual sources assert that kaskara blades are usually imported.

Thanks for sharing this, Alina!

Best,
Andrew


Thanks Andrew!

I actually think the Berbers were some of the least converted of all the conquered people in Islam. They were always stirring up trouble in North Africa. What I like about this sword (amazing aesthetics aside) is that it represents cross-cultural connections of indigenous African peoples and eastern influences.
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 8:58 pm    Post subject: Re: The world's most beautiful kaskara         Reply with quote

Nate C. wrote:
Alina Boyden wrote:
...I wonder how much it costs. Maybe I could get PJ or somebody to make one. Kaskaras are known for using european sword blades...


First of all, wow, interesting, and WTF?! ? Laughing Out Loud That has to be without a doubt one of the goofiest looking scabbards I have ever seen and yet it interests me strangely.

I totally sympathize about the whole "I want that sword" feeling*. However, given the level of detail in that sword plus the fact that it appears to have dyed Leopard Skin (!?!?!?) on the scabbard might make the original less expensive Eek! Big Grin .



I second the dyed leopard skin thing. That's what I thought it was. It looks just, I don't know. Purple leopard skin makes it sound hideous but it isn't. Go figure.
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David Etienne




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Alina for always finding out amazing swords!
I have to admit that this one is a pure beauty, and the scabbard is matching it perfectly. I'm sure that if we could see this sword and scabbard combination in his own context (ethnical, cultural, geopolitical, etc.) we won't find it "goofy" at all.

Cheers,

David
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Andrew Winston




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Etienne wrote:
Thanks Alina for always finding out amazing swords!
I have to admit that this one is a pure beauty, and the scabbard is matching it perfectly. I'm sure that if we could see this sword and scabbard combination in his own context (ethnical, cultural, geopolitical, etc.) we won't find it "goofy" at all.

Cheers,

David


I agree completely, David. Much of that which strikes our western aesthetic as "odd" becomes quite acceptable, even beautiful when viewed in the context of the dress and culture the weapons are indigenous to.

As for the dyed leopard skin (if that is what this is), such things may very well have become "over the top" in western pop culture. However, for the Sudanese warlord or king that may have owned this kaskara leopards would have been anything but "goofy".

I've handled a fair number of antique kaskara, and most of them have plain leather on the handle and scabbard. Occasionally, one sees scabbards made of crocodile hide and, even less frequently, entire juvenile crocodile bodies. Those are quite cool!

Best,
Andrew

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 8:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Winston wrote:

I've handled a fair number of antique kaskara, and most of them have plain leather on the handle and scabbard. Occasionally, one sees scabbards made of crocodile hide and, even less frequently, entire juvenile crocodile bodies. Those are quite cool!

Best,
Andrew


Wow, now a scabbard made from an entire juvenile crocodile would be pretty darnd cool indeed! Interesting how such fashions can be cross-cultural. Several North American Indian tribal groups made quivers and bow-cases from entire Bobcat or Cougar skins, and it would surprise me if most other cultures with a strong hunting/warrior-ethic across the globe didn't do the same kinds of things to some degree or another. Perhaps different in the details, but having the same basic concepts intact.

Anyone seen other sword scabbards made from entire animal hides?

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
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http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Andrew Winston




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Gordon.

I'll see if I can dig up some examples of kaskaras with croc hides.

Your comment about cultures with strong hunting/fighting traditions adorning their weapons with animal parts is something I see quite frequently, particularly in "tribal" cultures where animals are often strong "juju" or majik. The various Kachin of Northern Burma (especially the Jinghpaw), for instance have a storied history as hunters and fierce fighters. These tribesmen were recruited by the allies in WWII as irregulars to defend/patrol the Burma Road. It's not uncommon to see old photos of Kachin warriors with swords adorned with tiger teeth and claws. I've got a few like that in my collection, but I suspect my examples are more recent.

Best,
Andrew

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew;

Thanks! I had forgotten about the Karin and Kachin! I was thinking more Indonesian/Filipino/Micronesian, but actually the South-East Asian Hill people make total sense in this regard. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hmong examples as well (though from my understanding they aren't quite as intense as the aforementioned tribes). How about Siberian? We never hear much about those folks in the West, actually, since all of the ethnographies are for some odd reason written in Russian... Wink

Lots of interesting commentary on the Karin and Kachin from the Chindits and Merrill's Marauders during WWII, BTW, but I would wager that you are already quite familiar with those! Big Grin

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Nate C.




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 9:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Winston wrote:
David Etienne wrote:
Thanks Alina for always finding out amazing swords!
I have to admit that this one is a pure beauty, and the scabbard is matching it perfectly. I'm sure that if we could see this sword and scabbard combination in his own context (ethnical, cultural, geopolitical, etc.) we won't find it "goofy" at all.

Cheers,

David

...As for the dyed leopard skin (if that is what this is), such things may very well have become "over the top" in western pop culture. However, for the Sudanese warlord or king that may have owned this kaskara leopards would have been anything but "goofy".

...Occasionally, one sees scabbards made of crocodile hide and, even less frequently, entire juvenile crocodile bodies....


To clarify my earlier remarks, I'm not saying the leopard skin doesn't fit the sword or anything. In fact, next to the rest of the owners regalia it might be pretty tame Razz . I just mentioned it as part of the cost of an accurate replica. I imagine real leopard skin is expensive if not outlawed these days. What I do find a bit odd is the scabbards shape WTF?! . Does anybody know why these scabbards are shaped this way? (i.e. back up club, spare boat paddle Razz , to ease drawing the sword?)

Cheers,

Nate C.

Sapere Aude
"If you are going to kill the man, at least give him a decent salute." - A. Blansitt

If they ever come up with a Swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, then Jumping Off Something. --Jack Handy
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