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Old 28th July 2019, 02:03 PM   #1
motan
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Default Mystery dagger

Some of you may have seen it because I have asked around privately.
This is a small dagger, 25cm I bought as "Iraqi Shibriya, Late 19th century".
Unfortunately no scabbard. What puzzles me is that I have never seen any similar piece before. The decoration and construction look Arabian to me, but the bulge with grooves in the hilt is an Iraqi/Syrian feature. The general shape has vague similarity to Marsh Arab daggers. The blade may be wootz and looks like it is reused, but I am reluctant to etch it. Any thought are welcome.
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Old 28th July 2019, 03:45 PM   #2
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More like a Jambiyah, I think.

My shabriyah: Grips have similar shapes, blades differ greatly tho.
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Old 28th July 2019, 05:36 PM   #3
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Hi Motan

Yes for me no doubt it's an Iraqi March Arab dagger.
You are right this dagger shares a lot of features with khanjar and jambiya.
I guess they were produced by Arabs for the Arabs and this linkage makes senses.
Yes the blade looks like wootz maybe from a Persian blade...

Kubur
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Old 28th July 2019, 08:00 PM   #4
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Hi Krockew and Kubur, and thanks for your reactions.
Kronckew, the question of what is Shibriya and what is not is quite complex and there are examples of daggers called Shibriya that have a Jambiya-style curved blades, not re-curve like yours and the majority of Shibriyas (A.Alnakkas has several of those). But that is beside the point because I would not call mine a Shibriya - it was just the seller's idea.
Kubur, you agree with me and I with you and we are both probably right. However, the fact remains that I have never seen a Marsh Arab dagger that looks anything similar to this one. Maybe, but that is no more than a guess, it is older than late 19th c by several decades.
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Old 28th July 2019, 08:38 PM   #5
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Hi Eytan,
What a nice and unusual dagger. As to where it is from, I really don't know, but the blade fits with either the Kurdish or the Marsh dagger. The handle though to me looks Arabian and resembles closely those of the Hijaz/Asir Dharia daggers. Size of course is much smaller.
So it could be a put together item..............??????????????
When I get a chance I will have a look thru some books I have to see if I can find an exact match for the handle shape.
Stu
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Old 28th July 2019, 10:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motan
Maybe, but that is no more than a guess, it is older than late 19th c by several decades.


Agreed could be early 19th or even earlier
Look at the medium part of the hilt the same engravings than the ones on Arab March daggers...
Yours is just dressed with silver but the silver is very much worked like in the Arab peninsula.
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Old 29th July 2019, 05:08 AM   #7
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Hi Stu,
Thanks for your response and please have a look in your books when you can. Literature that covers Iraqi daggers is very rare as far as I know. I don't know what you mean by "put together". It is of mixed styles and the blade is probably made with an old Persian blade, but that is it.

Kubur,
The resemblance to Marsh Arab dagger is certainly there. I know them and have one myself, like many other forum members. Nice print too. Together with the Arabian style silver decoration, it places the dagger somewhere in Southern Iraq (by circumstantial evidence).
That bead-like bulge in the middle of the hilt is I think an Ottoman-Syrian feature that dates at least to the 18th c. It appears in several types of daggers, like Marsh Arab and later in Majdalis.
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Old 29th July 2019, 06:58 AM   #8
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Hi again Eytan,
What I meant by "put together" was (just suggesting) that maybe at some stage your dagger has been "created" by joining an Iraqi blade to another handle. I personally do not believe that this is either Kurdish or Marsh Arab, but is something else entirely.
I have had a quick search thru my books but can not find anything quite like yours, BUT if you look at the 2 pics attached of Hejazi Dharia, you will note a marked similarity in handle shape. Also to me the silverwork on yours looks very similar to that on Yemeni Jambiya handles.
The above comments of course are not conclusive but are posted for discussion.
What ever the outcome, you have a VERY nice dagger there.
Stu
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Old 29th July 2019, 07:54 AM   #9
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Hey Eytan,

We discussed this before if I remember correctly. I still lean towards an Iraqi attribution. But yes, could also be Syrian. Also, its really worth it to work on the blade.
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Old 29th July 2019, 07:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
The above comments of course are not conclusive but are posted for discussion.
What ever the outcome, you have a VERY nice dagger there.
Stu


I agree with Stu, first it's a stunning piece, second it's just our / my opinion (about March dagger).

Motan for your Syrian dagger, the medium part is similar but not the pommel and the guard that are clearly Turkish/Kurdish types.
Again yours has a guard(?) very thin similar to the March Arab daggers...
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Old 29th July 2019, 09:06 AM   #11
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Hi Stu,
Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever know.
But what you say makes sense. It could be that an Iraqi or Syrian dagger was later dressed with silver in Arabia. The blade is, I think, Persian re-use and neither Arabian nor Iraqi. I will etch it at some point, but I have never done that before and I am afraid I will end up just ruining the nice patina.
Your Hejazi Dharia is excellent and beautiful. I see the resemblance, but that is no explanation as such. You will agree with me that the pommel shape of Hejazi daggers is unique in Arabia. My guess is that it has been influenced by Iraq and other regions to the north.
The Syrian desert, stretching from the banks of the Euphrates to the Rift valley +most Northerly provinces of Arabia, is one big void in terms of dagger types. Influences went back and forth across this area. Northern Arabian Shibriyas that have Jordanian features are one example (A.Alnakkas is an expert on those). I think that many features, like triangular/trapezoid pommel, dog-leg blade and Shibriyas as a dagger type come from this area - but that is an hypothesis that is hardly developed yet. I just added few examples from this area that has features some mixed features.
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Old 29th July 2019, 08:36 PM   #12
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I agree Eytan. It just takes one "oddball" to get us thinking as to origin, and unless there is published detail somewhere, it is doubtful if a concise ID will be reached.
This thread, though not conclusive, encourages healthy discussion which is what the Forum is all about.
Stu
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Old 29th July 2019, 09:07 PM   #13
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After the last examples I have to confess that I agree too...
Could be from Palestine to Iraq.
More I learn less I know.
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Old 1st August 2019, 06:31 AM   #14
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Hi all,
Thanks for participating in this thread. Don't get me wrong, I still think that Southern Iraq or North Eastern Arabia are the most probable origin of my dagger. The reasoning is simple - 1. Central bulge in hilt is Iraqi or Syrian, 2. Silver and decoration is Arabian - not Iraqi and certainly not Syrian.
My other examples are only there to support the hypothesis that there is a source of certain types of daggers somewhere in the space between central Syria (not the main cities), South Western Iraq and Eastern Jordan and it influenced daggers from Iraq, Palestine and Syria. After all, the states in the region as known to us are post WWI creations and did not mean much in the Ottoman era, especially outside urbanized areas.
I can see that the blade is indeed wootz and will post pics when I have cleaned and etched it.
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Old 1st August 2019, 07:21 AM   #15
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If the blade is Persian, it adds more to an Eastern attribution.
You just have an unique 19th c. Koweiti dagger!!!
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Old 1st August 2019, 08:58 AM   #16
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I really like your Mystery Dagger, Motan!

/Stefan
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