What is a Takouba?
The takouba is a type of broadsword found in the Sahel region of Africa. It typifies a group of cavalry oriented cultures who formed great kingdoms and empires for many centuries in these areas. Best known as a sword of the Tuareg people, it was in fact a type used across an area the size of Europe and wide range of peoples. The most numerous being the Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri.
The takouba has its roots in a long line of straight bladed Islamic and Byzantine swords used across North Africa. It is likely that it is in many ways an archaic form preserved in the Sahel by tradition and a degree of isolation. Some of the blades found in takouba date back as far as the mid 14th century. It is a weapon that saw use for centuries and formed a core component of the equipment of a Sahel heavy cavalryman or knight. The iconic element of Sahel military force.
The takouba is typically about 1 meter long, with a double edged blade, often an import from Europe. The hilt is the defining part of a takouba and is comprised of a short cross guard either covered in leather or decorative metal plates (typically brass) and a large pommel, either ovoid, usually an indication of an older sword, or flatter with the addition of 'stacks' of metal plates on top.
European blades were the most popular choice for takouba. Widely imported from the famous smiths of Solingen, Belluno and other European centers, the European patterns, particularly types found in schiavona and other basket hilts, became the standard for even African made takouba blades, imitating the marks and fullering of the European models. Generally speaking, triple fuller and single fuller patterns dominate but any blade with good steel was used. Even broken blades were extended with new steel fortes. The oldest blade known to the author in a takouba is from the mid 14th century and in his private collection. Other blades range from the 16th to the 19th centuries, with the vast majority belonging to the 18th and 19th.
This website is dedicated to furthering research and knowledge of the takouba. This includes cataloguing as many extant examples as possible. These can be viewed in the collections application on this website. Where swords are organized by a wide variety of parameters in a specialized format. This is the heart of the research the Society undertakes. Any member of the public can submit their sword.