Original Victorian Era Sudanese Mahdi Kaskara Broadsword with Leather Scabbard and Body Sling c.1880
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. 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.
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 quite nice, and is based on the European crusader's massive broad swords of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. This typical design has a cruciform hilt/guard with huge broad blades. It has an overall length of 40" with a 37" blade that has a wide fuller near the crossguard on each side, lightening the blade while strengthening it. The grip of the sword is leather wrapped wood, and probably at one point had a wire wrapping over the wood.
This magnificent Broadsword is contained in its original Dervish leather scabbard, with the characteristic bulge at the point, looking a bit like a snake having eaten a large egg. The leather is decorated and worked with intricate designs and it has crocodile skin wrapped around the fittings, and the bottom retains it's brass "drag". The scabbard also still has the embossed leather "body sling" used to secure the scabbard.
This is a classic Dervish Kaskara Broad Sword, a fine example taken from one of Britain's native adversaries and comes with its original leather covered wood scabbard in wonderful condition for its age
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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