Was this giant Sabre part from a Kairouan Mausoleum?

In 1994, Jean-Louis Michon (1924-2013), a Sufi scholar and friend of the Ethnography Museum, discovered in Tunisia the real identity of this disconcerting votive object, forgotten in the museum’s reserve for more than a century. He had already tried to decipher the enigmatic writing engraved on its blade, but he only managed to read certain sura from the Koran. It was when he entered the building called the «mosque of the sabres», which had become a museum, in Kairouan, that he recognized similarly made sabres. In fact, he was in the mausoleum of the magus and master blacksmith Sidi Amor Abbada (deceased in 1856 or 1872), famous for his excesses. On 26 October 1881, the French colonial army entered Kairouan. In 1882, the Genevan businessman François Auguste Sautter de Beauregard (1826-1885) gave the votive sabre to his city’s Archeology Museum. Had he received it through his business relations, as the vicepresident of the Société franco-africaine? Where and in whose hands this sabre had been during the magus-blacksmith’s lifetime, we do not know.

Floriane Morin/MEG