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Old 19th June 2011, 03:07 AM   #1
archer
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Default Tlingit Double Dagger

This came in the mail today. It appears to be the real deal. It was spendy as someone else wanted almost as bad. The mystery for the moment is it is fluted on both sides one other I have photos of is fluted opposite side concave. Does anyone know of examples that I could access online? Thank you, Steve
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Old 19th June 2011, 08:46 AM   #2
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beautiful!
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Old 19th June 2011, 09:28 AM   #3
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Looks good to me, but I am not an expert. Have you tried the American Museum of Natural History website ?
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Old 19th June 2011, 09:21 PM   #4
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Looking at this beautiful dagger I was compelled to search for more information. One of the greatest things to me about these weapons is learning from them, and it is exciting when information accompanies them, so heres what I found.

It seemed unusual from the examples I found, that this one had such perfectly symmetrical flutes rather than the usual midrib in the blade.
While some Tlingit daggers are dual blades like this (somewhat reminiscent of the Indian, Syrian, Sudanese haladie) others are with single blade and with two somewhat voluted arms extended up and outward from the opposite end of the grip.

The leather straps wrapped on the grip are part of a lanyard or tether which is usually wrapped about the body and wrist, these daggers are sheathed and worn at the chest.

This example is intriguing, not just by the superior quality metalwork and fluted blades, but the copper cuffs at the blade roots. These would suggest a weapon intended to reflect wealth or status, which this certainly appears to be. As I was amazed by the apparant skill of the maker, I wondered at what point the tribes began the use of iron over copper for blades.

I found this entry on the Tlingit daggers in "The American Indian" , A. Hyatt Verrill, N.Y. 1927, p.374,
"...the war knives or daggers were most remarkable. Originally these were made of native copper, hammered and ground into shape; but with the arrival of white men this metal was discarded in favor of steel. Securing old files by trade with the whites, these Indians softened, cut, ground and worked the steel into the most beautifully made and highly finished double edged knives. Often these are deeply fluted along the blade; not infrequently they are inlaid with silver or copper, and occasionally one is seen with the steel blade welded to a copper section near the handle".

It is worthy of note that this material was written in 1927, long before the considerable expansion in these Northwest regions and before widespread collecting of these rather esoteric items became popular, so it increases the likelihood of describing weapons actually still in use contemporarily. I would suggest this dagger corresponds more with these earlier known types and would fall into the 'real deal' category!

Excellent reading concerning the Tlingit, and to some extent the weapons can be found in:

"Crossroads of Continents" Ed. William Fitzhugh and A, Crowell, 1988 which has the paper, "Tlingit: People of the Wolf and the Raven" by Fredrick de Luna.

"The Evolution of Tlingit Daggers", Ashley Kristen Verplank, University of Washington thesis, 2009

"Keepers of the Totem" Time'Life books, 1993

"Metallurgy of the Tlingit, Dene, and Eskimo" John Witthoft & Frances Eyman, 'Expedition" Spring 1969

I'm glad this outstanding dagger was shared here, and I hope this information will be somewhat helpful in learning more about these daggers and the tribes who used them.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 19th June 2011, 09:45 PM   #5
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Well done Jim .
Jens
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Old 19th June 2011, 10:20 PM   #6
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Well done Jim .
Jens



Thank you so much my friend!!

Jim
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Old 19th June 2011, 10:49 PM   #7
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We have, of course, explored these daggers on these forums before. You can find some good information here:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/searc...searchid=152681
I look forward to more photos of yours.
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Old 19th June 2011, 11:06 PM   #8
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Default Some Info Links

I have to second Jens' comments. Here are links to Information on the copper types mainly. They give a lot of incite. http://www.penn.museum/documents/pu.../Metallurgy.pdf

http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/fi...it1/e10554a.htm

Jim, I should mentioned that it's 23 5/8 inches long, probably a war dagger, so i don't know how they were worn. You're right about the neck sheaths for the smaller ones. The hide sheaths incorporated copper on the ends to give the needed protection. You must have an enormous library. I need time to go thru all the very much appreciated information, Thanks
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Old 21st June 2011, 06:48 PM   #9
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Do you think the ones with the antenae (are they eyes?) are from a different ethnicity or locality than the ones with the midribs and/or wrapped ricassoes? Does that copper wrap cover the tang as well?
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Old 22nd June 2011, 03:15 AM   #10
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Jim i have ordered a DVD of the Evolution of Tlingit daggers. My Jun 19th post has a link well worth looking over regarding the Athabaskan version of forged copper daggers. Ward the swirls are volutes they appear in older European weapons and may be a link to Migration to Alaska. The copper bolsters are separate and swedged on.
I put up some shots of the volute daggers. first from the top is all copper Athabaskan/ Dene in origins the third is all copper both of these are flat on one side but, not the rounded profile of the third and fourth daggers. Copper Tlingit daggers have a stepped central ridge due in part its thought to cold forming. I haven't figured out where these other dagger came from.

I found a forum thread that mentions, about the Slave killer never having actually killed, that being left up to a double bladed dagger called goox du een. if the slave wasn't released?? http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...american+graves

I included closeups of the blades textures in hopes some of our knowledgeable metal experts may see something of interest in them.
Oh, the eyes question Story goes they emulate rams horns.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 03:38 AM   #11
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Is it possible that cut down sword blades were made in to daggers? On the southern plains we used sword and bayonet reconfigured as spear heads.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 04:55 AM   #12
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Hi Aiontay, These are supposed to be one piece of steel. There have been some fakes done as you describe and some made by for the tourist trade. So be careful. When this one came in I was puzzled by various areas on the blades
being too shiny. hopefully high nickel content. Here's one of a few said to made from Meteorite. They think that several of these were made by a lady smith from The Northern interior of Alaska.
http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm4/item_v...OPTR=792&REC=29
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Old 22nd June 2011, 05:08 AM   #13
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A visit to the Burke Museum's web page might shed some light on your beautiful knife
http://www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/

The Burke have a few in their collection.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 02:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aiontay
Is it possible that cut down sword blades were made in to daggers? On the southern plains we used sword and bayonet reconfigured as spear heads.

Apparently as people who were already metal smiths, the North West coastal peoples preferred to reforge rather than regrind their source materials, so it's much harder to tell. Word of mouth is that they used such things as worn out tools, iron tires, and even barrel hoops. Certainly a large chunk of carbon steel like a foreign sword blade might be in danger of getting reforged in such a community.
The Maori use a wooden sword ("club") with a rounded or squared tip, that has on the back end of its handle, a dagger blade. There is a resemblance. (also to a certain African type though on those the backspike isn't actually a blade)
I notice cultural and artistic resemblances do not seem to be contained by supposed barriers like oceans to anything like the extent that is sometimes supposed.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 09:18 PM   #15
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The item that started this thread does indeed look as if it could be from the 19th century. It can be bit of a minefield Native American stuff "I have learned at my cost" but it is out there. Perhaps you are lucky. Much like the British Museum which has massive totem poles in its atrium. Picked from the source just at the time, late 19th century when the use of local art was at its most weak in a cultural sense.

This will sound a rather "erich von daniken" but I am begining to believe that iron work was happening in the Pacific North West well before official Western/European/USA contact.

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