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Old 7th April 2005, 03:15 AM   #1
Aurangzeb
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Default Jambiya

Greetings To All !

Attached are a few pix of a Jambiya that I acquired some time ago. The handle is made of amber, the fittings on it are silver and brass. The blade is sharp and it does not appear to be a 'decorator piece'. A coin embedded in to the handle is from Oman, dated 1961. The design appears to be of a design common in Yemen. Any comments and information on it would be most welcomed and very much appreciated !

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to help me in the past !

Sincerely,

Mark.... Wapwallopen, PA
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Old 8th April 2005, 02:38 AM   #2
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Hi Aurangzeb

I have a jambiya much like yours but mine is an older one. I bought mine from Artzi's table at the Maryland show. Artzi thinks it's an old Yemen style jambiya and my friend Saleh who is from Yemen told me it is a style that is found along the border between Oman and Yemen. Here are some pics of my jambiya with a close up of the hilt. The silver is a good grade and is quite heavy. Your jambiya is quite nice and I like the amber hilt


Lew
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Old 9th April 2005, 03:02 AM   #3
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Hi Louieblades!

Thanks for the help on my jambiya I.D. problem.My dagger is definatly no older than 1961.The coin on the hilt was an origenal part of the dagger not a later addition(it is firmly planted on there and nailed through the amber handle out the back where it is fasened with a silver stud in the shape of a flour.) The amber handle on it feels very nice in the hand and is very well carved,definatly not made for decoration! The amber has only minor natural faults in it. The coin is an Muscat & Oman 5-Baisa depicting a dhow.

Question how are these held?I have read that they are held going down sugesting a downword stab but with a curved bade chould glance off and come back at the user.(beleive me accedent involving a curved razor knife and a block of soft wood at 10:00 at night is not fun! )Or outward and is used in a slashing/stabbing motion like a scimitar slash?

Thanks again for the help!
P.S.-any typos are because I am typing this at 11:30 at night!
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Old 9th April 2005, 03:44 AM   #4
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Hi Mark

Jambiyas are more for show today and a status symbol in many Arab countries. I guess it could be used as a dagger to slash or stab? The mid rib in the blade was used to stiffen the blade and it also acted as a armor piercer against chain mail but that was hundreds of years ago.

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Old 9th April 2005, 12:06 PM   #5
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Hi Louieblades!

Thanks for all the help with my jambiya.I still like the fact that there are still craftsman in Yemen and Oman that practice the age old tradition of quality dagger/sword making.But I can say it must be slightly uncomfortable sitting down with one of these on the front of a belt! Soon I will be adding my Turkish jambiya to this thread.

Thanks again for the help!
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Old 9th April 2005, 03:26 PM   #6
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Hi Mark,

Is there any way to get a close up of the handle? Amber seems a unlikely material to use. I have heard of giraffe horn or hoof used which looks like amber (I think Derek posted a shotel with a similar grip). I have never seen this myself and wonder if anyone here who has, will comment.

Thanks
Jeff
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Old 9th April 2005, 05:03 PM   #7
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Default Jambiya Handle Close-Ups

Hi Jeff D !

Here are a couple of close-ups, both front and back of the Jambiya grip. Please see attached files.. Your comments are most welcomed and appreciated !

Sincerely,

Mark..
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Old 9th April 2005, 05:58 PM   #8
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Genuine amber can sometimes be very hard to determine according to my friend who is a jeweler and a gemologist . Sometimes the only way to find out is a destructive test (in your case) by determining the specific gravity of the material , ie removing and stripping the hilt .

The hot pin test OTOH will tell you if it is plastic or horn and possibly amber (depending on its state) ; If it smells like plastic it is plastic, if it smells like burning hair it is most likely horn , if it smells piney (can't find a better word right now) it may be amber .
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Old 9th April 2005, 11:03 PM   #9
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That's a nice jambiya. I've seen several like it in the antique shops in Dubai. I would certainly concur that it's from around Yemen/Oman. The grip looks like amber to me. Try this: rub it vigorously -- we're talking about the jambiya grip here -- and smell it. Seriously! Does it have a scent?

-d
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Old 10th April 2005, 02:54 AM   #10
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Thanks Mark for the additional photos. I personally cannot tell if this is amber or giraffe horn , but Elgood doesn't mention amber as a material in these daggers . He does quote this; " giraffe horn, which has a rich translucent amber colour and was imported from East Africa..." (pg 93 The Arms and Armour of Arabia). Unfortunately he does not have any colour photos of it.
Does anybody have any colour photos or references of either of these two materials (no pressure Jim ).
In any event your dagger is a keeper!!!

Jeff
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Old 10th April 2005, 12:19 PM   #11
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Hi Derek!

I did rub the hilt like you told me and it smells woodsy or outdoorsy,loss of words smells odd.To me it seems to heavy and hard to be horn and does not show any of the fibers of horn.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 10th April 2005, 03:30 PM   #12
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AFAIK there is no such substance as giraffe horn. No one has ever meaningfully (ie with evidence I can check and anylyze) anwered me against this, and I'd sure appreciate it if anyone who can, will. Reading about giraffes I find they have a bone surounded by skin; no keratenacious horn on their heads. What is the substance usually called giraffe horn? Don't know. Giraffe bone is very fine-grained and nice, but otherwise ordinary bone, and much like camel bone. Maybe the horn of a different, less penis shaped animal? Amber can, interestingly, and this has been known for centuries if not millenia, be disolved in hot oil and shaped; many large amber pieces have been made this way, and I think, that done properly and traditionally, with the "right" natural oil, temp. etc. it is not detectible, at least by "ordinary means" from nonreconstituted amber (reconstituted amber on the market now is in a plastic (epoxide?) matrix, and quite different, BTW); same colour, smell, etc. Amber has a sweet acidic smell you will never forget, often, if you've a sensitive nose, I guess, even when just sitting around. Also, it is said to have some kind of activity in regards to static electricity that is different from horn. I don't know; another subject that has never propelled me to experiment; rub it on you cat and see if it sticks to the wall just kidding, but truly, there is such a thing; knowing of it you could look it up. One gets comfortable weaing Death, and his traditional seats are usually quite effective, but one does not want to get too comfortable or unaware; real fighters often walk around with their hand resting on hilt, and say they have to use that hand, and they're feeling Spidey sense (almost always for real fighters in some degree; part of what makes you a real fighter instead of a real dead guy), the other one will often just drift over to "cover" the dagger situation; to protect it and be ready to use it (this may present some problems in AfrAsian Islam, with its customs around the left hand; I haven't hung out with a lot of Arabs and Berbers, and the Arabs I have known dressed like any other American; "no edge, no edge; you've got no knife, have you?"......
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Old 13th April 2005, 11:10 AM   #13
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Default Amber jambiya

Is it possible this jambiya handle is agate and not amber? I have read that agate is used in Yemen these days. Amber is very light. When I lived in Yemen in the 60's the good Jambiyas were all Rhino horn but everyone described them as Giraffe horn. The cheap ones were buffalo horn. I never saw a pale handle like the amber handle back them. The really nice rhino handles were translucent but still had an earthy brown color.
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Old 16th April 2005, 02:53 AM   #14
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To address two issues, 1) Tom there very deffiniteiy IS a "giraffe horn" and it's very similar to rhinocerous horn in being composed of a compacted hair-like substance as opposed to most other forms of "horn" (I'm more familiar with it on live animals than as weapon hilts) and is reputed to be held in high esteem for the same reason, ie, it swells slightly when wet, making it almost adhere to the hand rather than becomming slippery and hard to hang on to.
As to the yellow color of this hilt, I suspect that it's plastic, having seen several dozen pieces only a couple of years ago that were all imported from Morocco in a single container by an antique dealer here in Florida that appeared nearly identical.......they were of both styles, the one similar to yours and the traditional elongated khoumiya style as well, all with nice, user blades.
Keep in mind that plastic does not necessarily have the same cheap connotation that we in the US commonly associate with it, particularly in regions where humidity, arridness and destructive insects are a factor.....just recently I aquired that Jambiya with the Saudi royal insignia on it with the belt inset with a white plastic immitation patent leather and it was anything but an inferior piece.
Mike
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Old 17th April 2005, 09:58 AM   #15
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Conogre thats very interesting about the girafe horn as Ive always been someting of a sceptic about it, I presume its a hollow shell of horn that is over the boney skull protrubrences then?

Is it then realy large & thick enough to be carved to the shape of the jambiya handles?

I am still slighty skeptical but would love to have my doubts eliminated.

Can you source any detailed pix of of the sectioned giraffe horn? or something else to help convince me?

This is something I would love to learn more about.

Spiral
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Old 17th April 2005, 02:20 PM   #16
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If I recall correctly Artzi had some examples used as shamshir scales .
Possibly in the afterglow of victory from winning that stunning kris he will share an example or two ....
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Old 18th April 2005, 01:18 AM   #17
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Hi all!

The handle conducts static electricity.I found out in an odd manner,today while my cat was charged with static(don't ask me how?).I rubbed te handle across it's back and shocked myself with the handle after rubbing the cat with it!My cat,Catbert liked it!It is not p0latic I am sure,to heavy and has faults and a piny smell.

bye
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Old 21st April 2005, 06:56 AM   #18
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Your last description pretty well sews up this particular piece being amber then, Aurangzeb.
Amber can be confusing because it comes in many different "shades", from almost colorless and nearly as transparent as glass to completley opaque and almost a mustardy brown that looks like solid dried putty.
Most fossilized materials are created as the original substance, bone, shell, scale or even feather is gradually replaced by minerals as a "cast", while amber, as far as I know, is unique in that it's the original substance that is extremely compressed into a super hardness over the millenia.
Tom, giraffe horns are exactly like rhino horns in that there is no bony protruberance from the skull other than a rounded bone "bump" that serves as the anchoring base, with the rest just compressed "hair" that grows into a hard, solid mass that's definitely not hollow .
While the texture IS denser at the very center, it's all the same material and is carvable.....to the best of my knowledge, giraffe horns probably max out at about 8"-10" long and about 3" thick on very old bulls.
Giraffe horn, by the way, is different from that of a rhinocerous in that it culminates in an expanded round knob at the end, while on the rhino, of course, can grow to great lengths and become extremely thin and pointed, deadly when driven by the mass and power of the living animal......I've seen film of them driving it into the heavy body of a Landrover or even hooking it under a fender and visibly lifting the vehicle without the horn itself breaking, a testament to how strong "hair" can be.
To the best of my knowledge, these are the only two living animals with this type of horn, while some extinct relatives had gigantic versions.....one of the brontotheres had a nose horn that exceded living rhinos in length and divided at the apex into two huge rounded masses very much like those of a giraffe, living pile drivers in their time.....now THOSE would have made some hilts!
Mike
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Last edited by Conogre : 21st April 2005 at 07:17 AM. Reason: added illustration
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Old 21st April 2005, 11:06 AM   #19
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Thanks, Conogre; good explanation. I suppose it not being technically horn is why it's hard to find as "horn" when reading about giraffes. All horns are, AFAIK, modified/grown-together hair, and I've never been clear on what basis the distinction of "true" horn is drawn; I suspect it involves a naked-eye "hairiness" of appearance; another horn often called compressed hair/not true horn is pronghorn horns, and they are largely hollow with a bone center, not unlike cattle horns.
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Old 21st April 2005, 01:23 PM   #20
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A "true" horn is a cutical grown around a bone (and thus is hollow to varying degrees), while fused hair such, as giraffe and rhino horn, does not have an underlying bone.

While we are at it, antlers are boney growths with an abscission line along which they separate from the skull, and are shed and re-grown seasonally.
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Old 24th April 2005, 04:56 PM   #21
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Hi All,

I have learned a lot, but, I am not quite ready to let this one go yet. Both amber and plastic can be electrically charged. I don't know about horn. The other possibility is that this is copal (an immature amber). Aurangzeb, is there any way to get a closer look at the end (end on), to see if it is grainy?
I will include first a picture of giraffe horn jewelry and a picture of Zanzibar copal below. If anyone has any pictures of giraffe horn I would love to see them.

Jeff
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Old 5th January 2012, 03:30 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff D
Hi All,

I have learned a lot, but, I am not quite ready to let this one go yet. Both amber and plastic can be electrically charged. I don't know about horn. The other possibility is that this is copal (an immature amber). Aurangzeb, is there any way to get a closer look at the end (end on), to see if it is grainy?
I will include first a picture of giraffe horn jewelry and a picture of Zanzibar copal below. If anyone has any pictures of giraffe horn I would love to see them.

Jeff


Salaams all ~ I was intrigued at the discussion on Girraffe Horn. (So I have resurected it) With a view to expanding the database on all things bone handle, horn hilt etc etc.
In Arabia the common term for Rhino Horn is Ziraff(or Zraff) which apparently means Rhino. In my early days as a collector I was told that the stuff was from the hoofs of the Giraffe but I didn't believe that.
Is there a quick test like the burn test which can ID Rhino horn.. The test for Amber ( Arabic; Anbar) is that it floats ... and another way is that it burns though that would be drastic ! Then there is the translucent edge of Rhino Horn which improves with time.

It would be useful to have a study on the different horns; walrus, waterbuffalo, Zraff, Giraffe, (I dont think it exists either) and some of the better bull horns and the prehistoric extinct stuff..Mammoth and Mastadon.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 5th January 2012 at 04:24 PM. Reason: text
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Old 5th January 2012, 04:32 PM   #23
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Hi Ibrahiim

As far as I know the only tests for rhino horn is that it is translucent and even dark rhino horn will allow light to pass through it when held up to a high intensity lamp or flash light. The other test is to look directly at the end of the hilt and you will see the ends of bundled fibers. I will see if I can find you some pics.
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Old 5th January 2012, 04:52 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark
A "true" horn is a cutical grown around a bone (and thus is hollow to varying degrees), while fused hair such, as giraffe and rhino horn, does not have an underlying bone.

While we are at it, antlers are boney growths with an abscission line along which they separate from the skull, and are shed and re-grown seasonally.


As a biologist I have chip in at this point on the giraffe horn debate . I cannot define what a 'horn' is in any scientific way as there are many types of external growths commonly termed horns, which , as has been pointed out, derive in many different ways. However if the question is : 'Is a giraffe horn of a similar structure to a rhino horn ?' , then the answer is 'no'. Giraffe horns are properly termed ossicones . Only giraffes, okapi ( and their extinct relatives ) have ossicones. Ossicones are derived from ossified cartilage, ie cartilage which has becomed hardened through calcification . Ossicones remain covered in skin and fur throughout the life of the animal. Rhino horn by contrast is made of keratin ( the substance which forms hair and nails for example ) and does not have a fur or skin covering . In short , the horns of the giraffe and the rhino are structurally and biological completely different . However what I found very interesting was Ibrahiim's Arabian word for rhino which sounds somewhat like giraffe ... might not this explain how the myth of giraffe horn parts of weapons became established .. a simple mistranslation ?
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Old 5th January 2012, 05:06 PM   #25
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Here are a few pics of rhino horn.
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Old 6th January 2012, 01:17 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conogre
Your last description pretty well sews up this particular piece being amber then, Aurangzeb.
Amber can be confusing because it comes in many different "shades", from almost colorless and nearly as transparent as glass to completley opaque and almost a mustardy brown that looks like solid dried putty.
Hi Mike and the others forumites
just to confuse a little bit more the situation ...
you have two (2) kind of false amber stone
- "kahraman"; Karaman is a town in south central Turkey
- "faturan" basically made from amber powder mixed with resin, kind of bakelite, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faturan

both are very well know from Turkish, because they are the main producer on 18th or 19th century
you could have advantage to read the explanations of ;
http://www.efosjewelry.com/amber_info.html

jointed pic's to illustrated my comments

+

Dom

ps/ don't be upset against me
I put a lot of time to understand and know these particular materials,
but now .. I'm acute on this subject,
I suspect that the handle of the jambiya is in "Kaharaman"
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Old 9th January 2012, 01:57 AM   #27
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Several years ago i had a jambiya that had a giraffe horn handle. It
was a honey colored handle with small gold nails driven in the front.
Unfortunately it was stolen a few years ago but before that i had a chance
to show it to a man from Africa who has a lot of experience with this kind of
thing and he told me it was not the horns of the giraffe, which he says are
very porous, and therefore not good for use as a handle material, but what
is used is the hoof which works well. He said he likes it much better than
rhino horn for handles..........Dave
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Old 9th January 2012, 02:18 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveS
Several years ago i had a jambiya that had a giraffe horn handle. It
was a honey colored handle with small gold nails driven in the front.
Unfortunately it was stolen a few years ago but before that i had a chance
to show it to a man from Africa who has a lot of experience with this kind of
thing and he told me it was not the horns of the giraffe, which he says are
very porous, and therefore not good for use as a handle material, but what
is used is the hoof which works well. He said he likes it much better than
rhino horn for handles..........Dave



Salaams Dave ~ Interesting about the hoof of Giraffe. I will do some searching on this to see if I have missed something ... as I have noted the peculiar wording in Oman for Rhino is Z'raff and I was once told that Giraffe hoof was used as hilt horn... Your story bears out that.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 9th February 2012, 05:04 PM   #29
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Salaams all~ My post on Omani Khanjars #3 brings this post into focus... threfor... Bump. Ibrahiim al Balooshi. http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14878
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