Swords with decorated leather sheaths

Manding, mid-20th century
From the western savannah regions south of the Sahara (Eastern Senegal, Guinea, Mali)

A prized possession

This type of sword remains one of the most prestigious weapons among the Manding people, being owned by men of high social status. It has a curved single-edged blade set in a hilt without a handguard. These blades are often of French manufacture, originally designed as cavalry sabres. They are further enhanced by the highly decorated scabbard, often embellished with tassels and large, round buttons of leather. This tradition of finely tooled leatherwork is common to the western savannah, Mauritania and Morocco.

This weapon is one of three distinctive types of long-bladed sword broadly characteristic of the Islamicized people of the western , central and eastern savannah regions of Africa. The other two are the takouba of the central savannah and the kaskara of the eastern savannah.

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More information


C.J. Spring, African arms and armour (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)


Length: 89.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1979.Af1.4677.a, b;AOA 1979.Af1.4678.a, b



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