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Old 6th October 2021, 10:00 AM   #1
werdna
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Default Persian or Sudanese dagger

Hello,this is my first post so I hope I am within the rules.I have attached 4 photos of a dagger I bought,the description was a Sudanese dagger with thuluth covering the blade,but when I received it the writing on the blade is different to all the other items I have which are Sudanese,I asked a friend to read the writing on one side of the grip and he said he didn't think it was Arabic although some words were the same as Arabic words,the inscription made no sense.I think its Persian,can anyone confirm or deny this for me
regards
Andrew Freeston,PhD
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Old 6th October 2021, 01:12 PM   #2
mariusgmioc
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It will be very useful to have a photo of the entire dagger!

However, from what I can see, it doesn't look Persian at all.

Most likely Sudanese.

The fact the text doesn't make any sense shouldn't be surprising as not all the bladesmiths were literate.
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Old 6th October 2021, 04:01 PM   #3
Jim McDougall
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Marius in spot on, this is most certainly Sudanese, and the script is acid etched These acid etched blades were produced with these widely varied weapons probably at shops in Omdurman during the final years of the Mahdiyya. (latter 1880s).
It is believed that these were in varied forms due to the regional affinities to those with the forces from other places in the Mahdist ranks. The Caliph adopted the etched script to imbue the magic and religious invocations of the Mahdi (who had passed in 1885)in these arms.

Years ago it was generally held that these inscriptions were added by illiterate workers, etc. but it has been discovered that these are actual Quranic phrases, but used in repetition along with often Mahdist invocations in a rather decorative or 'Arabesque' manner. Thuluth was one of the various 'pens' of Arabic script, typically used in elementary level often in broad decorative form as in architectural setting, but often used by the Mamluks in their metalwork. The Mamluk influence is thought to be the source of this script in Sudan in degree.

These were often given to chiefs and Holy men among the tribal ranks who ministered to the forces in battle.
While it is often claimed that many of these were simply made for tourists, the numbers of these brought from the field at Omdurman and ensuing battles is remarkable.

This Zulfiqar, or bifurcated blade, indicates this was probably a votive weapon to one of the Holy men.

The Persian assumption is well placed as the Sufi doctrine and influences were thoroughly present in the Sudan in these times.
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Old 6th October 2021, 05:42 PM   #4
Peter B.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
This Zulfiqar, or bifurcated blade, indicates this was probably a votive weapon to one of the Holy men.
I want to point out that it looks like the center gap and the waves at the edges of the blade were added when the writing was already in place.
Is this in any way related to the assumption made above?
Or would it also be possible that these features were only added to a "normal" dagger afterwards in order to make it more interesting for sale?
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Old 7th October 2021, 03:54 AM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter B. View Post
I want to point out that it looks like the center gap and the waves at the edges of the blade were added when the writing was already in place.
Is this in any way related to the assumption made above?
Or would it also be possible that these features were only added to a "normal" dagger afterwards in order to make it more interesting for sale?
That is of course always a possibility, and I see what you mean as some of the characters seem incomplete as if the blade could have been reprofiled. It could be that one of the thuluth blades might have been cut down to provide a Zilfiqar blade.
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