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Ian 22nd December 2017 05:40 PM

West African knives
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This small collection of knives came to me via a student who was from Ghana. They are nothing special--the blades are sheet steel and unsharpened. Typical bazaar knives really. However, the tooled leather on the hilts and sheaths is well done and they are worthy of collecting for the leather work.

I'm assuming these likely were made in Ghana, but anyone having a more precise origin would be greatly appreciated.


Robert 23rd December 2017 07:08 AM

While I know nothing about edged weapons from this area I totally agree with you on the quality of the craftsmanship of the leatherwork of the hilts and sheaths. Could these possibly be items that would have been traditionally worn for special occasions something along the same lines as the Wedding Nimcha ? Hopefully someone with actual knowledge of these will be along to answer these questions.


Martin Lubojacky 23rd December 2017 08:37 AM

I think this leather work is of Niger origin and you can find it in handicraft markets (souiveniers for tourists) min. from Mali through Ghana and Niger to Nigeria (including). The same leather work is used for production of other souveniers like frames for pictures, various boxes etc. IMHO, this knives are made for tourists (not for tribal use and not as a part of costume) and, I think I could say, their shape devellopped a little within the last 20 years.
Nevertheless, the same leather work has been used on the leather sheaths of a very ordinary, nevertheless heavy (industrially made) machetes worn/used by villagers (especially herdsmen) from that vast area. Currently, they use this nmachetes (without any tribal or other ornamentation and decoration) as a useful tool. But their sheaths are nice.

Ian 23rd December 2017 04:26 PM

Thank you Martin L.

That these are knives for sale to those who travel is apparent from the quality of the blades, hence my description as "bazaar knives." The leather work from these areas is good but I did not realize that the quality extended so widely in the region.

Perhaps my description as "West African" is as close as we can get to their origin.


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