From the collection of: Chris Topping

Attribution

At least 19th century - ethnic origin unknown.

Comments

A unique takouba with many unusual characteristics. A sword of relatively short length the blade of native manufacture with a brass hilt the highlight of which is a extremely well made pommel of distinct form. As this sword does not conform to any other examples I know of it is very difficult to guess at ethnic origin. The short length may point to the Hausa or Nupe, but that is very tentative. The Nupe in particular being known for skilled brass work might provide a clue. It is I think, unlikely to be Tuareg at any rate.

The blade has a flat profile with a relatively wide base for its length, tapering over the entire length of the blade to a rounded point. This flat profile can be seen on Hausa and Nupe swords. The current condition of the blade is poor, inhibiting more detailed comments on the steel.

The real prize of this piece is the hilt, the guard and handle are of brass, darkened with age and of the usual configuration and construction. Oddly there is the remains of wood inside the guard, a departure from the normal method of building a guard around strong steel plates with brass applied over top. This may mean the hilt was designed to be leather covered as no signs of decorative elements on the guard are visible. The pommel however is unusually shaped, with a highly decorated end cap with raised decorative patterns. Raised pattern work is extremely unusual in takouba, the rule being indented designs. This particular pommel demonstrates a very high level of skill. Additionally the pommel has a stock at the base which slots over the tube of the handle, usually the handle fits directly inside the pommel.

The outstanding and unique pommel on this sword make it an example worthy of additional study, in particular the ethnic attribution is an important focal point for research as it might reveal a depth to the existing takouba designs of a group already known to use the form, or might expose a group previously unknown as takouba users.

Measurements

Total Length: 720mm
Blade 585 x 41 mm
Hilt 135mm
Guard 116mm x 27mm