Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Yemen Jambiya? (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10798)

Lew 21st September 2009 02:52 AM

Yemen Jambiya?
 
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Picked this up today looks Yemeni early 20th century with a well forged single layer blade. Horn hilt could be rhino but I don't think so?

Steve 22nd September 2009 02:32 AM

Hi Lew,
I'm glad you bought this piece and posted it for comment. I was also watching it on ebay. I agree with you, in that I don't think the hilt material is rhino. The mabsem doesn't show a lot of wear but the platted design certainly puts it into the bottom west corner of the arabian peninsula.
The silver looks pretty good quality?
Do you have any feeling on a closer geographic basis for where the dagger would have originated?
Steve

Lew 22nd September 2009 02:40 AM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
Hi Lew,
I'm glad you bought this piece and posted it for comment. I was also watching it on ebay. I agree with you, in that I don't think the hilt material is rhino. The mabsem doesn't show a lot of wear but the platted design certainly puts it into the bottom west corner of the arabian peninsula.
The silver looks pretty good quality?
Do you have any feeling on a closer geographic basis for where the dagger would have originated?
Steve


Steve

here are a few other Yemeni examples for comparison.

Michael Blalock 22nd September 2009 01:52 PM

This type is worn in the Lahej. The area around Aden and the other small feudal kingdoms with a long tradition of contact with India.

Ferguson 22nd September 2009 02:31 PM

Very nice!
Steve F

Steve 23rd September 2009 01:12 AM

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Thanks Lew, I've always liked the silver hilted one, if you happen to want to sell in the future?

Following from Michael's comment, I think the little leather scabbard was the scabbard of choice in the Lahij and Yaffa areas, and also well represented in the Hadramaut. This scabbard style also translated into a silver equivalent. Although Elgood doesn't give an example I think the "madd" referred to on page 86 is describing this scabbard, but probably in silver? I would be interested if someone else has an interpretation of the "madd"?

However these handy little leather scabbards also found their way throughout Yemen. The photo, which I've hopefully attached, shows seven daggers in the leather scabbards, only one of which comes from the southern area. The hilt design and silver work can give a good guide as to where the dagger originally came from.
steve

Montino Bourbon 23rd September 2009 01:17 AM

so how's about a guide to...
 
Which handle matches which location? I would love that.

Lew 23rd September 2009 11:26 AM

Steve

Those are great examples have never seen that style of banding at hilt have only seen the herring bone style. Can you post a pic with the blades showing?

Lew

Steve 24th September 2009 10:26 AM

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Hi Lew,
I've attached a photo with the blades showing , but I substituted one original dagger with another silver hilted dagger. This silver hilted dagger - which is one of my favourires -also came in a small leather hand stitched scabbard from Taiz.
As you can see I clean the blades but don't have the ability or time to polish them.
Steve

Lew 24th September 2009 10:58 AM

Steve

That is a really nice bunch of jambiya you have. The silver one on the end is lovely I think it is a Mecca style variation?

Lew

Steve 25th September 2009 12:04 AM

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Lew,
Yes, I also think that the silver design on top of the hilt has some Mecca imagery. The dagger is heavy, with chunky silver and has a rural feel about it.
I've attached another photo.
There are many interesting points about this group but one is the other silver hilted dagger. I have seen a few of this style around. The silver is quite thin but of high quality and wears with use very quickly. I think the dagger originated in Assir. However if you look at Elgood p.91/92 I think you can see the same dagger in the Hadramaut in 1943 and if you look at Artzi's home page the same dagger is there with a Mecca style scabbard. I think Artzi's one looks the most natural and is probably closest to it's original format. Unfortunately I can't get a clear close up to really examine the total jambiya. I have attached a small photo from the web page.

Goes to show how these daggers got around - but we are not talking about large distances in the Assir/Yemen area.

Steve

Oriental-Arms 25th September 2009 01:20 PM

More about Yemeni Jambiya Daggers
 
Here is a photo of the Mecca style Jambiya reffered to by Steve.





The handle is silver and the pommel is supposedly a presentation of the Kaaba mosque in Mecca. I have however seen similar handles on Yemeni and Hadramout daggers as well (see my comment on the origin of styles below).

More Yemeni Jambiya daggers from our private collection below:





#1) Rhino horn handle with silver fittings
#2) Supposedly Amber handle (need to confirm it)
#3) Whole silver handle, silver scabbard.
#4) Rhino horn handle with silver fittings, silver scabbard.
#5) Rhino horn handle with pierced silver fittings.
#6) Rhino horn handle with silver fittings and colored stone also on the scabbard
#7) Cow horn with silver nails

Regarding # 5 and 7, the size, scabbard style and pierced fittings suggest an Indian origin. May be made in India for export to Arabia or for the use of local wealthy Arab.

To the origin of styles:

The attempt to identify and typify the styles of handle and scabbard to a certain area or origin is a great challenge and I hope someone will do it. Yet I am afraid that styles has been migrated during the last 200 years all over the peninsula, changed blades and scabbards so what we see today is a mix of all styles all over. Best of luck to whoever will challenge it.

fernando 25th September 2009 03:29 PM

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Sorry for the intrusion :o
Looks like this shape is missing here :confused:
Isn't it also regularly seen?
Fernando

.

kahnjar1 25th September 2009 09:20 PM

And another
 
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This hilt is similar to one posted by Fernando, but the scabbard is entirely different. Translation is makers name and Jeddah 1958. Comments?
Regards Stu

Steve 26th September 2009 05:01 AM

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Thanks Artzi, all and any information is helpful. It's interesting to see daggers 3 and 4 used in the Hadrami silver scabbards.
Stu, I have found a jambiya I have which is a little cruder than your one but seems to have similar words written on the reverse of the handle. If you look at the writing you can see similar formations. I am sure there is no date and am guessing that Jedda is not mentioned - but maybe another town. I have included a pic of the dagger and a stamp on the blade (which I think is very unusual) which may indicate Saudi made?

Who did your translation for you? Maybe someone could have a look at mine and give an opinion.
Also, Ferando, I would think the dagger from your post would also have a inscription on the reverse of the handle?

This style dagger with the heavy granulation and two large pins in the hilt is known in Yemen as Hodeida style, from the Tihama plains.
Steve

kahnjar1 26th September 2009 05:31 AM

Hi Steve,
Translation was done by DOM of our Forum in an earlier post re this item. Full translation reads AMAL MOHAMED MIDWANE 1378 (1958AD) JEDDAH. The date is the middle line of 4 symbols.
I do not see any date on yours though.
Stu

Michael Blalock 26th September 2009 08:57 PM

I believe it says "made by Mohamed ----" I can read the last part.

Steve 27th September 2009 12:25 AM

Thanks Michael. I'm pretty sure my piece was made in Saudi, also probably near Jedda. I forgot to attached a picture of the blade but it has a small Saudi coat of arms with palm fronds stamped into the metal. By the way, I can see you're interested in this region and I appreciate your input on some of the older threads I have read on this forum.
Steve

fernando 27th September 2009 03:27 PM

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Hi Steve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
... Also, Fernando, I would think the dagger from your post would also have a inscription on the reverse of the handle?...

Thanks for pointing out that these variations are called Hodeida and are provenant from the Tihama plains.
The inscription in the handle reads OMAR ABDALLAH HASSAN. The two first names were translated by fellow member Aqtai and the last one was picked by a Moroccan ex-coleague of mine. It was rather easy for her, as Hassan was precisely her husband's name. There is no date in this example.
But there is an interesting inscription 'hidden' in the handle, near the blade fixation, which could be the silversmith mark (name). Assuming that Yemenite Jews were the traditional specialists in the silver work area, this could (should) be an inscription in the local hebrew version, the so called temani.
Have you ever seen such type of inscription?

Fernando

.

ward 27th September 2009 04:03 PM

Fernando here is the best guess El-ijahu. My wife knows some hebrew but some of the letters are pretty worn on this example.

fernando 27th September 2009 05:15 PM

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Hi Ward,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ward
Fernando here is the best guess El-ijahu. My wife knows some hebrew but some of the letters are pretty worn on this example.


Thank you so much for your (and your wife's) help :) .
I will be digesting such unexpected news.
Your'e right, the inscription is rather faded; but the place where it is located and the photographer don't help at all :shrug: .

.

fernando 27th September 2009 05:48 PM

Maker's name or owner's name ?
 
I am surprised :confused:
I always thought that the engraving on the handle reverse was the owner's name, made by the maker, in the act of selling the piece to a client.
Am i definitely wrong?
Fernando

ward 27th September 2009 06:44 PM

I would say makers name is correct. I have a yemani powder flask that has hebrew all along the top that no one has been able to translate. You might want to check with Artzi on the translation.

fernando 27th September 2009 06:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ward
I would say makers name is correct. I have a yemani powder flask that has hebrew all along the top that no one has been able to translate. You might want to check with Artzi on the translation.

This time i was referring to the dotted Arabic engraving on the handle pommel, not the the Hebrew symbols near the blade.

ward 27th September 2009 07:00 PM

Sorry The Arabic on this piece I believe refers to the owner. You are correct.

Oriental-Arms 27th September 2009 07:06 PM

Hebrew Translation
 
The Hebrew letters does not make much sense. The letters are: ALEF, LAMED, yOD, NOON, HET and the last one is not clear. it might be sound like ELINAH ???, might be name, or the first three letters might sound as ELI - which means MY GOD.

ariel 27th September 2009 07:52 PM

The second one looks like Beth/Veth to me: there is a horizontal line at the bottom.
Still, I cannot guess what it means.
Avi- noakh?

ward 27th September 2009 09:06 PM

The problem with hebrew and arabic is that it is often written as in this case without voweling. So on top of figuring out the actual letters that are present, than you have to know what vowels to add to the word. I would think in this instance a name would be the most likely, but admit the one we translated to may not be correct. A religous inscription seems doubtful.

fernando 27th September 2009 10:19 PM

Thank you Artzi,
Thank you Ariel,
So i see it is quite complex. I will be digesting your sugestions.
Toda raba :) .

I see your point Ward, in that it wouldn't be a religious allegory but, instead, the discreet engraving of the silver smith name. I have read somewhere that Hebrew smiths in Yemen (Temani) were allowed to craft janbiyya hilts but not the blades.

Fernando

ward 27th September 2009 10:47 PM

Jewish guilds tradionally have done much of the silver and gold work. Even today silver work or koftkagari would be done in a seperate workshop than the forging of blades. One workshop does not generally do all the work on a finished piece for sale but draws on a lot of subcontractors.

Steve 27th September 2009 10:57 PM

Sorry to come in late but the time difference is a bit extreme.
I have had several of these Hodeida hilts translated and they have always come back " work of..." or "made by.." as Michael's did above. I have to go by these translations and take it that the name on the back of the hilt is the makers name. It has been a proud and long tradition for the makers name to be transcribed onto silver pieces, including jambiya hilts, scabbards and adornments- in fact it was law to do so at a time in Sana under the last Imams.

With regards to the hebrew inscription. It would appear from others posts, that you have another signature. Occasionally I have seen hebrew writing on silver jambiya pieces. Not often- usually the jewish name was written in arabic. A silver spacer is sometimes used between the inside of silver hilts and the blade - as in this case although the spacer seems a little odd in not covering the complete distance. Maybe this is the photo or something more is hidden under the resin.

As a guess I think the hebrew signature might refer to the provider of that silver piece or the person, with the division of labour in making these, put the blade into the handle and added the additional silver spacer? Just an opinion.

Steve

Michael Blalock 28th September 2009 12:42 AM

After taking another look, I see that the last name on Steve's Jambiya which I could not decipher earlier, is Midwan. The same name that is on the Jedda Jambiya that Khanjar1 posted. Since the 1st and last name are the same and the script and style of Jambiyas is so similar, they must be by the same maker.

Steve 28th September 2009 03:13 AM

well done, Sherlock.

fernando 29th September 2009 05:53 PM

Alright Steve,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
...Sorry to come in late but the time difference is a bit extreme.
I have had several of these Hodeida hilts translated and they have always come back " work of..." or "made by.." as Michael's did above. I have to go by these translations and take it that the name on the back of the hilt is the makers name. It has been a proud and long tradition for the makers name to be transcribed onto silver pieces, including jambiya hilts, scabbards and adornments- in fact it was law to do so at a time in Sana under the last Imams...

So it is the handle maker's name. As we say over here: against facts there are no arguments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
...With regards to the hebrew inscription. It would appear from others posts, that you have another signature. Occasionally I have seen hebrew writing on silver jambiya pieces. Not often- usually the jewish name was written in arabic. A silver spacer is sometimes used between the inside of silver hilts and the blade - as in this case although the spacer seems a little odd in not covering the complete distance. Maybe this is the photo or something more is hidden under the resin....

I see your point. There is indeed a silver mount all around, between the handle and the tang; but it looks as, instead of its purpose being to cover the resin space, the intention was more to use it as a fixing wedge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
...As a guess I think the hebrew signature might refer to the provider of that silver piece or the person, with the division of labour in making these, put the blade into the handle and added the additional silver spacer? Just an opinion.

I see; a sort of hallmark from the knife setting operator.

Then in this case we would have an Arabic guy making the handle and a Jewish fitter mounting the weapon ... and potentially another smith forging the blade :eek: .
I know that very often weapons are the result of a cocktail of smiths; but i wasn't expecting for this sequence, though :confused:

Fernando

spiral 29th September 2009 07:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando

Then in this case we would have an Arabic guy making the handle and a Jewish fitter mounting the weapon ... and potentially another smith forging the blade :eek: .


From what I have read of the Yemeni jambiya craftsman such a scenario would be typicle, also other people to make the wooden scabbard, a woman to stich an embroided belt & a leather smith to make that into a complete belt. etc.etc.

Interesting no ones illustrated my favorite type the classic Sana T shape grip in translucent yellow rhino horn, I beleve the most expesive jambiya in the world had a similar shaped handle. {& a worthy provenance off course.} & that it one of the most sought after type of handle amongst, judges & politicians in the Yemen?

Here is one from Artzi`s site.

Spiral


Steve 30th September 2009 01:46 AM

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Yes, the manufacture of a jambiya with belt can pass through up to 10 hands. No such thing as multi-skilling in this process!
Fernando, I've attached a pic of the stamp on my Jedda jambiya blade. It looks like the Saudi coat of arms and again confirms the place of manufacture. It is the only arabian jambiya blade I've seen with an identifying stamp, but I guess where there's one there must be others.

Spiral, I have to agree with you in that I think Sana'a produced the best of the Yemen jambiyas. Not only dagger but scabbard, belt and adornments. I've attached a photo of the one you mention which sold for over a million US dollars. A great PR exercise if nothing else.

Steve

Gavin Nugent 30th September 2009 02:25 AM

Same can be said today
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ward
Jewish guilds tradionally have done much of the silver and gold work. Even today silver work or koftkagari would be done in a seperate workshop than the forging of blades. One workshop does not generally do all the work on a finished piece for sale but draws on a lot of subcontractors.


The same can be said to today, the Diamond district in New York is the same, store 1, buy the diamond, store 2, buy the setting, store 3, have them put together, store 4, cleaned polished and valued.
It is interesting how tradition in many facets continues through the centuries.

Gav

ausjulius 30th September 2009 04:18 AM

i think there is a very good chance that in the past many of these were mad ein india as some posters suspect,, there is after all many yemanis living in india and pakistan and most major cities have to this day an "arab" ethnic population who has been there for a very long time,, most still wearing arab dress or at least on some occasions, most of these arabs are from yeman..
i do recall there was a huge immergration during the last 500 years to malaysia, indonesia, sudan and some other areas of east africa.. even to england a small amount in the 19th century, guess exstream over population has plagued yemen for a long time


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