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Old 27th June 2020, 06:13 PM   #1
Yvain
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Default A shibriya with a jambiya type blade

Hi everyone !

I recently got this nice (well, in my opinion, but I guess it will not be everyoneís cup of tea ) little dagger. I just cleaned the active rust, and oiled the horn, but otherwise decided to keep the patina of the blade.

It is very simple, with a two parts horn grip riveted to the tang, and a thick, diamond cross-section, blade. The jambiya like blade is nicely shaped and still reasonably sharp.

The sheath is made of thin tin plates, pewter soldered over a wooden core (two parts). The belt loop is made of iron, and as been repaired later in its life.




Some measurements :

Full length (sheath included) : 21cm

Grip length : 9,8cm

Blade length: 9,5cm

Weight (sheath included) : 104g




Iím not exactly sure where itís from or when it was made. Iíve seen shibriya made in the same style described as being from the 50ís up to the 80ís, and Iíve seen these jambiya bladed type described as Syrian (here : http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...light=shibriya), but Iím not sure. What do you think ?

Overall, even if I know the shibriya werenít really supposed to be used seriously and had more of symbolic role, it still feels like a nice and efficient little dagger, and would have been pretty useful as an everyday, or even self-defense, knife in my opinion. It may not be (by far !) the best looking shibriya out there, but I really like those simple, quintessential, and functional examples.

Thanks in advance for your help, and let me know if you need any other information !
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Old 28th June 2020, 06:16 PM   #2
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Any information or guesses would help, so don't be shy ! But I would love to hear what Hombre and Motan think about it ! (Since they seem to be the dedicated shibriya experts here )
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Old 29th June 2020, 06:04 PM   #3
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Hi Yvain,
I can not say too much about this one except that it is Palestinian. The tell-tale signs are the halve circle decorations on the scabbard.
You can call it Shibriya, but classic Shibriyas have a recurve blade, at least most of the time. In my experience, locals call it Khanjar, which is the generic word for dagger in Arabic.
It is primitive, village- type dagger and a member of a family of small, horn-hilted daggers from Ottoman Southern Syria and British Palestine. It is a genuine ethnographic piece that was carried in daily life.
I am trying to find a production center of these dagger for several years now, but I have not found it yet. Some local experts say that only classical shibriyas were used in most of the country and that these daggers are from Northernmost Palestine and Southern Lebanon. Another theory is that they were made the Gaza area. Anyway, it is also possible that they preceded real shibriyas, because most Palestinian Shibriyas are quite late. Who knows?
In construction and materials it is very similar to the horse-head daggers I have, and judging by the construction and thickness of the blade, it looks like one from the late Ottoman period.
Here's one of mine.
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Old 29th June 2020, 06:21 PM   #4
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Hi Motan,

Thank you very much for this valuable information, as I wasn't even sure if this dagger was Jordanian, Syrian, or Palestinian ! At least, I can now narrow down my researches to the Palestinian area, both scabbards are indeed very similar !

You say it might be from the end of the Ottoman period, so around 1920 - 1930 I guess ? That would be way earlier than I thought, and a nice surprise !

If the locals call this type of dagger a khanjar, then so will I ! And, indeed, it seems like it was carried around for some times, the blade is dented and scratched, the scabbard was repaired at least one time, and there is some very small spots of green and blue paint on it, maybe its owner was a house painter ?

Anyway, thanks again for your help !
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:21 AM   #5
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Hi Yvain,
The Ottoman period in Palestine ended in 1917/1918 with Allenby's and the Egyptian expeditionary force's conquest of the area. Late Ottoman is usually meant late 19th to the end of ww1.
The large majority of these daggers come from GB, with some from Australia and New Zealand, so brought back by soldiers returning after the war and from British mandate in Palestine. Yours looks like an early type that has been well-used by the time it was bought, so it could be made before 1918, though not likely before 1900.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:19 PM   #6
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Again, thank you very much for this precious information Motan !

Interestingly, I bought this one in France (from someone that obviously had no idea what it was).

I've started to delve into early XXth century pictures of Palestine, but had no luck so far.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:47 PM   #7
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I know nothing of this type of knife. But I like it. It has a beautiful, somewhat primitive charm.
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Old 2nd July 2020, 01:23 PM   #8
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Hi Yvain,
Thank you for showing this dagger. Always good to know that I am not the only one interested in these daggers.
Many collectors look down on ethnographic weapons from the Levant, maybe because they are relatively recent and primitive, and come from an area in the center of Islamic civilization that produced some of the best quality and most beautiful non-Western weapons (Persia, Caucasus, Turkey etc).
But the area in question was very impoverished and decentralized at the end of Ottoman rule, and landscape is barren and discontinuous. This has lead to small, local production centers with their own style and traditions, while Ottoman officials and soldiers used weapons from their land of Origin, or locally made versions of those.
I also got some daggers from France. The northern border of Palestine borders the French mandate lands of Syria and Lebanon. Many daggers from these border area (for example, Majdali daggers from Jabal al Sheikh/Hermon) were bought by both British and French soldiers.
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Old 2nd July 2020, 11:29 PM   #9
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Hi Rich,


indeed, that's what appealed to me when I first saw it !




Hi Motan,

You're welcome, it's always a pleasure to share my modest collection ! I've always been interested in the pratical use of ancient weapons, I've been studying HEMA for quite some time now, and will hopefully start doing HAMA soon; as such, I've always been more interested in the simple, practical, and functional weapons, rather than the lavishly ornated prestige pieces, that are most of the times not intended to be used.

But I digress, the French mandate in Syria would indeed very well explain how that khanjar ended here in the first place !

I haven't had much time for it today, but if I ever find any photographic evidence of this type of dagger I'll let you know !
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