Shotel

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Shotel
(Collection of the British Museum) Shotel, BM.jpg
Shotel
(Collection of the British Museum)

A shotel (Amharic/Tigrinya ሽቶል or also spelled as ሽተል) is a curved sword originating in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The curve on the blade varies from the Persian shamshir, adopting an almost semicircular shape. The blade is flat and double-edged with a diamond cross-section. The blade is about 40 inches (1,000 mm) in total length and the hilt is a simple wooden piece with no guard. The shotel was carried in a close fitting leather scabbard. [1]

Contents

History

Evidence for the shotel dates from the earliest Damotians (Damites) and Axumites or the Medri Bahri kingdom, used by both mounted and dismounted warriors. After the Solomonic restoration of Atse Yikuno Amlak I and Bahri negus, the resurgent Emperors began to re-establish the Medri Bahri and Aksumite armies. This culminated in the reign of Amda Seyon I. Eritrean and northern Ethiopian forces were armed with short and long swords such as the Seif and Gorade. The Shotel swordsmen known as Shotelai or hanetay and organized in the Axurarat Shotelai comprised one of the elite forces of Amda Seyon's Imperial host. Along with the Hareb Gonda and Korem cavalry, Keste Nihb archers and Axuarat Axuarai lancers were said to be the forces that "flew through the air like the eagle and spun on the ground like the avalanche", by a contemporaneous historian.[ citation needed ] Shotel techniques among others included hooking attacks both against mounted and dismounted opponents that had devastating effect especially against mounted cavalry. The shotel could be used to hook and rip the warrior off the horse. Classically the Shotel was employed in a dismounted state to hook the opponent by reaching around a shield or any other defensive implement or weapon. [1]

Design

Its shape is similar to a large sickle and can be effectively used to reach around an opponent's shield and stab them in vital areas, such as the kidneys or lungs. It closely resembles the Afar Gile. The Gile has two cutting edges, while the shotel's upper edge is unsharpened and sometimes used braced against the swordsman's shield for strength. The Shotel and other Eritrean and northern Ethiopian swords are occasionally referred collectively in Geez as Han'e.

However, the mid-18th century European visitor to Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, Remedius Prutky, often used the word shotel to describe a carving knife. [2]

See also

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Medri Bahri

Medri Bahri was a medieval Kingdom, also known to Ethiopians as Mareb Melash, it was situated in modern-day Eritrea and was ruled at times by the Bahri Negus and lasted from the 12th century to the Ethiopian occupation in 1879 and subsequent Italian colonization in 1889. It survived several threats like the invasion of Imam Gran and the Ottoman Red Sea expansion, albeit Medri Bahri irretrievably lost its access to the Red Sea due to the latter. The relation to the Ethiopian empire in the south varied from time to time, ranging from independence to tributary status to de facto annexation. At first the residence of the Bahr Negash was at Debarwa, but during the 17th century it was relocated to the village of Tsazega due to the same-named clan taking control of the kingdom.

References

  1. 1 2
    • Stone, George Cameron (1999) [1934]. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times . Mineola NY: Dover Publications. p. 562. ISBN   0-486-40726-8.
  2. J.H. Arrowsmith-Brown (trans.), Prutky's Travels in Ethiopia and other Countries with notes by Richard Pankhurst (London: Hakluyt Society, 1991), pp. 77, 165.