Original Victorian Sudanese Mahdi Dervish Kaskara Broadsword with European Blade & Leather Scabbard c.1880

Item Description

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 39 3/4" with a 34 3/4" X 1 3/4" blade, which we believe to be European in origin, probably from the 15th-16th Centuries. It bears a crisp German ARMORERS MARK and an early CHRISTIAN SYMBOL at the front end of the single narrow fuller on one side and what appears to be an early RUNNING WOLF mark on the other. Further forward on each side of the blade there are phrases in Arabid writing, most likely passages from the KORAN. The grip of the sword is wood wrapped with leather, and there is a bit of rope tied around the bottom with a small red tassel.

This 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. Unfortunately, the copper drag fitting broke off long ago, so the blade protrudes from the bottom. The leather of the scabbard is quite decorated with embossed designs on both sides. It still has the rings for the body sling, however only the very ends of the sling are still present.

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.

Blade length: 34 3/4”
Blade Style: Double Edged Broadsword
Overall length: 39 3/4”
Crossguard: 6 5/8”
Scabbard Length: 32" (Missing Tip)

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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