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African steelworks never reached the high degree of perfection found in European or Asian swords. If quality blades are found in African swords, they are works from importation. Blades of European origin are frequent, but their quality is ordinary, expressly wrought for the African market, regardless of them having marks from prestigious manufacturers.

The kaskara, seen in the image below, is a sword typical from the tribus living in the Eastern Sahel (Darfur, Sudan, Eritrea), and its origin is probably from the 15th century. The blade is straight and has up to one meter long, while the handle is cross-shaped, topped with a disk-shaped pommel. The scabbard is made with rawhide and presents in its final part a characteristic shape of ornamental purpose.

Kaskara sword.

Saharan swords crafted by Touareg and Toubou peoples have a straight blade with two edges, in similarity with european blade weapons and unlike arabian blade weapons, which have a single-edged curved blade.

Three Touareg swords known as takouba. The upper sword has a sheath lined with embossed leather, while the sword itself is austere. The center sword has also a leathered sheath, but the manufacture is rude in both sheath and sword. The bottom sword, presented with no sheath, is a finely elaborated piece, with decorative engravings and applications.

Touareg takouba swords.

Two touareg daggers and their sheads, decorated with embossed and pigmented leather. Leather work is one of the most remarkable touareg artistic works.

Touareg daggers.

The following weapons were made by the people known as the Toubou, which live in northern Chad, eastern Niger, south-eastern Lybia and south-western Egypt. They are said to be an agressive people (behaviour that would include their women as well) and ancestral enemies of the Touareg. These weapons were used in past times by both men and women; daggers were usually carried by Toubou women, and it has been said that until the 19th century they carried swords as well.

The sword in the upper image is an usual piece to be hung on the waist, while the sword below is a more unusual one, designed to be carried on the arm. The first sword has a sheath lined with engraved leather, and some engraving is present also in the handle. The second sword has also a leather lined sheath, but the manufacture is crude.

Toubou sword.

Toubou sword.

Daggers for men and women have similar design, but women use smaller ones. The daggers in the pictures below present different degrees of craftmanship quality. The sheats are covered with leather or reptile skin, and simple engravings are present in both the handles and the blades.

Toubou daggers. Toubou daggers.

Toubou daggers.



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