Lead Moderator European Armoury
Join Date: Dec 2004
Old 11th October 2008, 05:26 AM
EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Hi Bjeweled, and welcome to the forum!
This is indeed an intriguing piece, and very attractive along with a most distinguished provenance. In my opinion, this is essentially a remounted 'koummya', which is the Moroccan version of the Arab janbiyya dagger. The blade is of the basic koummya profile, though the fullers are not commonly seen on most examples, suggesting this may be an earlier blade.
The intricate outlined motif on the blade seem to be in line with decorative motif on blades in Maghrebi regions, though I have not found exact duplicate of the zigzag linear.
The hilt is most unusual, and completely atypical for koummya, with the camel bone, gold mounted, and jeweled likely intended to honor a heirloom blade. The markings on the horn grip seem to be selected decoratively rather than specifically symbolic, and to carry aesthetically traditional theme.
The 'ichthys' or fish symbol, is of course considered a Christian symbol today, however in early times it was a Greek alphabetic symbol. Interestingly, through the Phoenicians presence in North Africa, this symbol became the letter 'f' in the ancient Berber alphabet, though it seems doubtful that this representation is intended in this motif.
The 'Star of Solomon' or 'Star of David' seems to even further complicate the markings on this weapon which would be most likely from Muslim regions in Morocco. Again, this six point star, now immediately associated with the Jewish Faith as the 'Magen David' (shield of David), had much earlier origins,with its intersecting triangles presenting complex symbolism in various cultures and religions.
Having noted these comments on these familiar symbols, it is important to note here that in art and decoration in North Africa in particular, such symbols were often used incongruently when intended simply as geometric motif.
The blade on this dagger seems to have some age, and as noted, is quite possibly a heirloom, with such remounting typically difficult to assess as far as age, especially with precious metal which does not reveal patination and aging as in standard metals.
An intriguing and extremely attractive item, likely refurbished for either presentation or as a keepsake for a person of importance.
Thank you so much for sharing it here!
All best regards,
P.S. Just found some zig zag info in notes suggesting that the Fulani and Dogon used this motif, likely putting this to the south of Morocco toward Mali. Not surprising! Trade routes...camels.....seems to fit pretty well.