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Old 30th July 2018, 10:43 AM   #1
motan
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Default The question of Egypt

Hello,
This is just an attempt to draw information from the experts on this forum.
I collect daggers from Israel and the surrounding countries and I have noticed that Egyptian daggers are practically absent from any collection.
All that appears as Egyptian are fantasy tourist items or pharaonic age ancient daggers.
The majority of Egyptians are peaceful farmers and merchants and have been ruled by foreign military elite for centuries, who probably brought their own Ottoman types along. Still, every country in the Middle East has at least 2-3 types of local daggers. How come Egypt is such an exception?
So, does anyone know a genuine type of Egyptian dagger?
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Old 30th July 2018, 03:25 PM   #2
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So far I know are the Hadendoa daggers are found also in parts of Egypt.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 30th July 2018, 03:53 PM   #3
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Hi Eytan,

I just remember, see here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14776

Best,
Detlef
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Old 30th July 2018, 10:22 PM   #4
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Thanks Detlef,
But, the dagger in thread is clearly an Ottoman style dagger, and made as a decorative piece. I could have been made in Egypt, but this is not an authentic Egyptian style. I am looking for something local people carried.
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Old 30th July 2018, 11:16 PM   #5
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Good question, which you may have answered in your opening post. It really was not until Mohammad Ali attempted to arm the local peasants and drill them in European manner that the local population even bore any arms. The peasants, unlike peasants in other parts of North Africa and the Middle East were not really expected to provide any kind of military service even as poorly equipped levies, with the military usually supplied by foreign slave mercenaries, such as the Circassian and Kipchaq Mamelukes prior to the Ottoman conquest. This situation goes back all the way to the Fatimid Caliphate.

The military elite certainly had its own decorative style and forms for weapons, as Egypt had sufficient arms producing capabilities until the 16th century, and it may be interesting to see how much of what we consider Ottoman in terms of sword hilt and blade style (and armor too) may have been borrowed from the Mamelukes. However, following the Ottoman conquest it appears that a lot of the bladesmiths along with other skilled artisans may have been resettled in other parts of the Empire, as was the custom in the Middle East following conquests, which must have brought an end to the local arms producing traditions. This explains why we stop seeing blades signed by so and so "Al-Misri" into the 17th century and thereafter, with the local military elite relying on imports or weapons brought along with the mercenaries themselves, such as in the case of Mohammad Ali's Balkan (predominantly Albanian) contingent which turned out to be strong enough to take advantage of the power vacuum left in the early 19th century following Napoleon's campaign.

When you think about it, this is not just limited to daggers, but is also the case when it comes to swords and firearms - following the Ottoman conquest, there ceases to be a style that we can recognize as clearly Egyptian.
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Old 30th July 2018, 11:23 PM   #6
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Thought Motan, that the Ottomans ruled in fact and later in name from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Thus an Ottoman dagger might have been considered Egyptian.

What I hear you asking for is an example of and information on the indigenous versions of the Egyptian dagger.
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Old 31st July 2018, 02:50 AM   #7
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Weapons studded with corals are usually attributable to Turkey proper and to Algeria. The latter had the richest coral deposits .
Moran has asked a good question: come to think of it, I also am unfamiliar with any Egyptian weapons. Mamluks till 16 century, Ottoman thereafter.
Something is indeed very strange: Morocco, Tunis, their Kabyle tribes, Algeria, even Tuaregs, - all had their national bladed weapons. But not the Egyptians.
Teodor might be correct: Egypt was ruled by foreigners for centuries, and they brought their weapons.
What about Libya?
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Old 31st July 2018, 09:17 AM   #8
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Hi,
Thank you all for your response, but particularly TVV who gave a good overview of the Egyptian situation. I think that this phenomenon is wider than Egypt alone.
In early Ottoman period, Ottoman military ruled and had all the weapons. Soldiers who were drafted in Albania, the Caucasus, and the Balkan brought their own regional weapons with them and these mixed into the wider Ottoman culture.

In later Ottoman period, the control over their territory became weaker and less centralized. More local dagger types emerged, but only where tribes and clans with independent character were present, like in, Lower Iraq, the Syrian desert, in Druze and Christian mountain strongholds and Kurdistan.
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Old 31st July 2018, 01:15 PM   #9
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Yes, it is wider.
The best known ( to me) example is what we now call Russia.
Originally , a hodge-pudge of Ugro- Finnish and Slavic tribes , manufacturing simple cutting and chopping tools without any distinctions. Then, they were controlled by the Vikings, and adopted their weapons. Then, they were conquered by the Mongols and swapped their straight swords and daggers for sabers. Then, with the emergence of a Russian State, they got access to Turkish and Persian weapons , and from there on their weapons acquired “ Islamic” overtones. Peter the Great tried to remake Russia into a semblance of a European society and armed his military with European weapons.

And then, as a cherry on top, Caucasian War radically changed Russian military fashions: shashka and kindjail became a basis for regulation weapons, aristocracy and even Tsars started sporting Caucasian garb. A unique example of the vanquished dictating the fashions to the victors.

The best they could achieve was a production of standard weapons of their era ( whatever it was at the time) with a lot of bling and artistic embellishments.

But the “Russian” pattern of whatever weapons , unlike Indian, Persian or Arab traditions never emerged.
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Old 31st July 2018, 05:15 PM   #10
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Libya is an interesting question, but we have to remember that historically it was divided into a Fezzan, with a mostly Tuareg culture and weapons, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. We know that there was at least one sword type in Tripolitania and probably parts of Tunisia, which has a wooden or horn hilt somewhat resembling takouba (but of one piece construction) that was characeteristic of the region. Why no dagger styles emerged is a good question, to which I personally have no good explanation - other areas of the Maghreb were also under heavy Ottoman influence, with Janissary descendants favoring firearms, yataghans and swords manufactured in the Balkans, but local styles, even in imitation of Ottoman forms still emerged. Apart from one sword hilt style, the coastal areas of what is nowadays Libya seem to have fully adopted imported Ottoman weapons, as we can see from the trophies brought back by the US Marines in the early 19th century.
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Old 1st August 2018, 03:19 AM   #11
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Teodor, bravo! You have memory size of British Library!:-)

Here is the my Tunisian sword described by Teodor.It sports a British dragoon blade second half of 18 century.
Also shown the original British sword with a similar blade but in its original garb.

Thom Richardson in his book " Islamic Arms and Armour", p.70 based on the collection of Royal Armoury in Leeds defines Tunisian swords as " very rare"

Not for nothing one with intact crossguard but without a scabbard was sold at Czerny's for 1000 euros + 28% premium.
https://classic.liveauctioneers.com...3967484_a-sword
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Old 20th August 2018, 02:08 AM   #12
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In looking back through archived materials from 2003, I found this old thread started by ruel on the subject of "missing" Egyptian edged weapons. Its conclusions are very similar to discussions here.


http://web.archive.org/web/20030626...TML/001583.html


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Old 20th August 2018, 05:41 AM   #13
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I would definitely agree that Ruel’s hypothesis may have a lot of merit.

It would make very little sense that a large, militarily powerful and rich state like Egypt would not have its own weapon industry.

The question, however, is somewhat different: did post-Mamluk Egypt produce its own patterns that were truly indigenous and different from the Ottoman? Just like Motan, I do not know of any.


On the other hand, some “Ottoman” kilijes from 18-19 centuries carry decorative elements traditionally attributable to Syria, a former Mamluk domain and even at that time governed by Egypt. Astvatsaturian in her book «Turkish Arms” shows a classical Turkish Pala belonging to Prince Mstislavski ( 16 century) signed “Qasym the Egyptian from Cairo”. Recently, a gorgeous Kilij was sold on an internet auction: it was inscribed as a gift from Muhammad Ali Pasha to a British functionary and dated early 19 century. Most likely, it must have been of a local Egyptian manufacture.

The situation must have been similar to the weapons from the Balkans: local manufacture but Turkish patterns.

On the other hand, we can turn the tables 180 degrees: Mamluks, even prior to their defeat at the hands of Ottoman Turks, had swords that are in fact classic kilijes. It might be possible to suggest that the Turkish ones are just reproductions of the Egyptian Mamluk examples , and that what we call Ottoman kilij/pala is in fact an indigenous Egyptian sword.
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Old 20th August 2018, 12:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motan
How come Egypt is such an exception?


Egypt was constantly occupied by different conquerers since around 500 BC.

The career as a province started with the persian Cambyses II. in 525 BC and ended in the 19th ct. after the liberation from Ottoman rule.

As a foreign ruler one the first things you have to do, is to stop any kind of local military arms production!

This is the reason, why wo cannot found Egyptian patterns. It is the same thing as with Greece after it became a Roman and later an Ottoman province. Or with the Balkan under Ottoman rule.

The egyptian weapons before 525 were mainly made from bronze and simply were reused as tools or whatever, since bronze is very easy to shape.

It also often happens, that conquerers destroy or confisticate all weapons to avoid revolt (Germany after WW2).


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Old 20th August 2018, 01:46 PM   #15
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Roland,
Turks actually encouraged production of weapons in their occupied areas. The entire Balkans during the Ottoman rule were a giant weapon forge. Not only did they manufacture “ Turkish looking” weapons but also develop their own styles: witness Epirus swords, characteristic Cretan yataghans, Grecian bichaqs, Bulgarian karakulaks, “naval” yataghans etc, etc.
The entire Elgood’s book is dedicated to them.

Egypt under Mohammed Ali was in reality a quasi-independent state that actually fought with the Ottoman Empire. They must have had a well-developed arms and armor production enterprise.

The puzzling fact is the virtual absence of Egyptian styles, not of actual Egyptian examples. That is what we are talking about.
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Old 20th August 2018, 10:32 PM   #16
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Thank you all for your contributions. I am a bit wiser now but it is still a strange void. Egypt has produced some great weapons from the Old Kingdom and up to the great swords of Islamic pre-Ottoman times, but somehow did not follow up this tradition into early modernity.
Possibly, weapons were produced in Egypt in Ottoman style, but are not identified as a separate entity.
Some areas under Ottoman rule became hubs of weapon production, like the Balkan and Syria which made a variety of weapons to the taste of the different ethnicities of the Ottoman society, while others imported these weapons from these centers. It also makes sense that areas with clan structure and local chieftains or lower nobility developed more local types of weapons, while areas that were closely controlled by an empire did not. In the picture, Muhammad Ali of Egypt who was Albanian, pictured with a sword that seems like a Kilij hilt-Shamshir blade - type Ottomans sword often made in Damascus and popular in all southern areas of the empire.
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Old 25th August 2018, 08:28 AM   #17
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Hi Motan,

I was waiting a bit to see what the others had in mind.
They answered partially to your question.
In fact we all have Egyptian daggers, they are called Ottoman, Turkish, Arab, Bedouin daggers...
As it was mentionned by some members for the Mamluks, it's not always the Egyptians who borrowed these weapons but they also contributed to the field and later theses weapons were used by the Arabs, Ottomans... but they were not Ottoman weapons originally...
Here in these late 18th c. engravings you can see some Egyptian daggers...

Best,
Kubur
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Old 25th August 2018, 12:06 PM   #18
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Hello Kubur,
Thanks. This is a significant contribution. I suspected something in this direction, as you can read in my last post, but there was no evidence. It is there now. But still, it is strange that this great tradition has not continued into 19th-20th c., or did it??
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Old 25th August 2018, 01:44 PM   #19
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Kubur,
Can you specify the source of these engravings and post the legends with the info which daggers are Egyptian?

As a wild guess l might suggest that North African/Arab kindjals older than ~ 1860 might be Egyptian, but after that they might be Turkish as well: Circassians lived in the Mamluk Egypt for centuries, but only after ~ 1864 they were exiled from their native lands by the Russians and were resettled all over the Empire.

As an example, Turks settled Circassians in Amman only in the 1870s, and they became an official Royal Guard in 1920s.
By comparison, the first governor of Khartoum was a Circassian Mamluk ( ~1820s). There are still “Qubba-s” ( secular burial buildings of him and another Circassian governor) in Khartoum on Abbas Avenue ( named after the first governor).

I have a classical kindjal of a Shapsough form ( very heavy and wide blade), with a “Sudanese” leather scabbard. Definitely not a Caucasian or Turkish production:-) I think it is an Egyptian Circassian Mamluk one.

Last edited by ariel : 25th August 2018 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 25th August 2018, 04:41 PM   #20
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Hi guys,

I think the tradition ended before, during the Ottoman period, around the 17th...
Ariel, you probably mention the Qama far left, I think it's a pure Ottoman/Turkish but the blade might be Caucasian, I let that to you.
The legends mention just daggers with no provenance or local names...
These drawings were done in the late 18th during the Napoleonic expedition in Egypt and are very reliable.
There is one dagger that I never saw before, far right (in the corner), any idea of it's provenance??
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Old 28th August 2018, 11:31 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I have a classical kindjal of a Shapsough form ( very heavy and wide blade), with a “Sudanese” leather scabbard. Definitely not a Caucasian or Turkish production:-) I think it is an Egyptian Circassian Mamluk one.

Hı Ariel,
Do we have any chance to see that piece, the Shapsough one? Forgive me if I missed it in ant of the previous threads.
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Old 30th August 2018, 09:56 PM   #22
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Sorry for the late response: trivialities like job, family duties etc. got in the way:-)
But here it is: blade 15" long, 2 3/8" wide near the handle. Was sharpened and resharpened many times.
If you can read the stamp, I shall be much obliged.
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Old 1st September 2018, 09:01 AM   #23
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Ariel, Thank you for the images. It is really very hard to read this. I will ask a friend for it.
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Old 1st September 2018, 12:18 PM   #24
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Thanks for the offer of help!
Is this one better?
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Old 1st September 2018, 12:28 PM   #25
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Or this?
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Old 5th September 2018, 11:34 AM   #26
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The inscription is not clear, we could not read it unfortunately... "Great kindjal", anyway
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Old 5th September 2018, 12:35 PM   #27
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Thanks.
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