Item:
ON10081

Original Victorian Era Sudanese Mahdi Dervish Kaskara Broadsword with Arm Dagger c. 1880

Item Description

Original Items: One of a Kind Set. In the 1880's the SUDAN the vast land just south of Egypt was ruled by the Khedive from Cairo. Sudan was basically occupied by native Africans in the south and Arab traders in the north. The coming of the Muslim religious leader known as the "Mahdi" unified the population into an uprising against Egypt.

Britain assisted and allowed General Charles Gordon to become the Governor of Sudan on behalf of the Egyptian Khedive. The result was that after a long siege the entire Khartoum garrison, including General Charles Gordon, was butchered leading to much embarrassment for the British Government. It took 14 years, until 1898, for General Gordon to be avenged with the complete destruction of the Muslim Army at the Battle of Omdurman. That's when every School boy in England got a Dervish Sword from his returning Soldier relative!  

The Mahdi army, numbering over 100,000, was made up of many tribes of various origins and used primitive broad swords fashioned on those the European Crusaders had carried back in the 13th and 14th centuries. These were known as Kaskaras and were carried along with a large shield.

This Broadsword, known as a KASKARA, is a great example of the principal weapon carried by the Mahdi's warriors. These were desert people and had modeled the broadsword on those carried by the European Crusaders in the 14th century.

This particular example is, as they all were, based on the Crusader's massive Broad Swords of the 12th, 13th and 14th Centuries being of crucifix shape with huge broad double edged blades. This one has an overall length of 44" and a 37" X 2" blade. This is a classic Dervish Kaskara Broad Sword, a fine example, the blade shows a mass of Islamic engraving over every square inch of the blade on BOTH sides. It no longer has its scabbard as it was most likely lost because it was displayed for over 100 years without it, because of the blades masses of inscriptions.

It is accompanied by a period Dervish Arm Dagger in its very nice tooled leather scabbard. These daggers were bound to the inside fore arm of the Dervish for easy access in close combat. The dagger is 10 1/2" overall, with a 5 3/4" leaf-shaped blade, which is fitted with a large iron ferrule, and leather handle. There is a simple moon engraving on both sides of the blade. The scabbard still retains its plaited leather strap used to attach to the fore arm, and is highly decorated, with both plaited and embossed leather.

Most likely a War Trophy taken back to England after the 1898 Battle of Omdurman by an English Soldier to the delight of his sons and nephews. The pair in very good condition. Ready to Display!

The Sudanese Wars are famously remembered in the movies too: Charlton Heston in "KHARTOUM" and in at least two productions of "THE FOUR FEATHERS". The close of the Victorian era was the height of the Great British Empire. A British soldier's bring back souvenir from his times on the front line.

The Kaskara was a type of sword characteristic of Sudan, Chad, and Eritrea. The blade of the kaskara was usually about a yard long, double edged and with a spatulate tip. While most surviving examples are from the 19th century the type is believed to have originated around the early 14th century, and may represent a localized survival of the straight, double-edged medieval Arab sword. The kaskara was worn horizontally across the back or between the upper arm and thorax. According to British Museum curator Christopher Spring, "in the central and eastern Sudan, from Chad through Darfur and across to the Red Sea province, the straight, double-edged swords known as kaskara were an essential possession of most men."

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