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Old 29th July 2010, 04:54 PM   #1
R_p_doyle
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Default Can anyone tell me about this dagger (khanjar)?

Hello,

I'm brand new to this forum and have learned a great deal from the postings on here. This is a great place.

I recently acquired this antique dagger (khanjar?) on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania, and I was wondering if anyone here recognizes or knows anything about these.

I'd love to find out more about it... how old it may be, where it originally came from, and what it might be worth. The owner believed it to be of Omani origin as there are many Omani families that have lived on Zanzibar for centuries.

This is what I know about it:
From Zanzibar, probably Omani origin. Silver dagger with silver sheath and cloth and leather belt. The silver is of a relatively high quality judging by the color.

Blade is probably made of steel. The whole knife including the belt weighs approximately 600 grams or 1.32 pounds, which is heavy compared to other knives I saw of a similar size. The belt is probably not as old as the knife and was most likely replaced as it was passed down through the family that owned it. The owner believed the knife to be at least 100 years old.

There is an etching of a face and an Arabic inscription on the blade. My guess from looking at other knives in this forum is that it is a family name and Islamic date... but I can't read Arabic. There are also two hexagrams on the blade. (I wondered if this meant the blade was made by a Jewish armorer? Or perhaps the family that owned it was Jewish? I know hexagrams have been used historically in Islam as well, so I'm not sure.) The dagger in the sheath is approximately 12" from top of handle to apex of curve on the sheath.

Any information or insight anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards
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Old 29th July 2010, 09:04 PM   #2
VANDOO
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WELCOME TO THE FORUM.
YOU HAVE GIVEN GOOD PICTURES AND MOST OF THE INFORMATION NEEDED FOR AN ID WHICH IS VERY GOOD FOR A FIRST POST. SO I AM SURE SOME OF OUR MEMBERS WHO COLLECT AND STUDY IN THIS FIELD WILL BE ABLE TO HELP. I AM NOT VERY KNOWLEGABLE ON THESE WEAPONS BUT WILL MAKE A FEW OBSERVATIONS. YOUR DAGGER LOOKS LIKE A GOOD ONE WITH CONSIDERABLE AGE AND IT IS A PLUS THAT IT COMES WITH A NICE DECORATED BELT. THERE IS A POST SOMEWHERE DEALING WITH THESE BELTS. THE FACE AND SYMBOLS ON THE BLADE IS UNUSUAL AND PERHAPS SOMEONE WILL BE ABLE TO READ AND INTERPRET THE MEANING. WE DON'T GIVE PRICES ON THE FORUM BUT PERHAPS SOMEONE MAY SEND YOU SOME INFO VIA PM (PRIVATE MESSAGE) GOOD LUCK ON YOUR SEARCH FOR INFORMATION.
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Old 30th July 2010, 03:32 AM   #3
Steve
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Hi, From my knowledge of these jambiyas I think what you have has come from the Jizan/Asir area of the current Saudi Arabia. By the look of the belt which is a common working class Yemen variety, maybe a little south than north from this area. Although Zanzibar had a strong relationship with Oman, I think this jambiya probably found its way to Zanzibar via the Red Sea - maybe by a sailor or fisherman working this area.

As far as the blade goes, the etchings are not uncommon and must have been a fad at some time. The little head appears often and is usually accompanied with a religious inscription. Sometimes there is a dove or pigeon with jewish stars. I don't know about your translation. Unfortunately, these etchings generally appear on blades of poorer quality. I'm not too sure about the one you have.

The weight you mention is about right for this jambiya+ belt form. Nice piece from an interesting area. Regards.
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Old 30th July 2010, 05:42 PM   #4
R_p_doyle
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Vandoo and Steve,

Thanks a million for the insight. I'm fascinated by the culture and history of the East African coast... especially the islands like Lamu and Zanzibar. I'd love to find out where this piece and a another I have fits into history.

Vandoo - when you say that it is probably of considerable age, do you think the owner's estimate of "100 years old" was a good ballpark estimate?

Steve - If it is over 100 years old it probably dates from Ottoman times, right? Is that who was in control of the Jizan/Asir area on the Arabian peninsula at that time? I'd also love to know if the hexagrams have a Jewish or Islamic meaning... I guess I'm going to have to find someone who reads Arabic for that.

I've also attached photos of another dagger I acquired in Zanzibar on this trip. I don't think it's as special as the silver one, but it certainly looks pretty... I know that the handle and sheath are made of solid amber (which is in good condition relative to others I saw there) and silver with lapis lazuli and coral inlays.

Any more insight can give on either of these pieces will be very much appreciated.

Thanks again Steve and Vandoo.
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Old 30th July 2010, 07:57 PM   #5
T. Sketo
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Having grown up and spent over 30 years in Saudi - this piece is indeed most probably from Jaizan area due to its design which I've seen a lot in SW Arabia. some in Saudi use the yemeni style belt and leather covered sheath especially in the Najran area of Sw arabia and surroundings where a lot of the folk were origianlly Yemeni Shi'ites of the Yam tribe who agreed to ally with Sauai Arabia if they were allowed religeous freedom from Sunni Wahbism when that area was annexed to Saudi.

The belt appears to be Yemeni and the Jewish star on the blade is most likely used to denote or more correctly imply on newer pieces that it was made by Jewish yemeni smiths or craftsman for I have a number of them with both real and false Jewish makers marks on their blades and also soldered onto the back of of some of my North/South Yemeni scabbards of both Janbiya's and the long Sabak or Sabiki Tawils that you find in that SW area of Saudi and sometimes in Yemen.

The antiuque works of the old Jewish daggersmiths are indeed getting scarce in Yemen and their prices command a high level of purchase and respect in Yemen as the old Jewish silves smiths were considered to do the best work in the country for centuries and even today in Israel the Yemeni granulation technique is hghly prized.

After the establishment of the state of israel most all Yemni Jews were allowed to leave but the Jewish silver and gold smith were required to saty until they passed their trade on to local Muslim smiths. As referenced by the esteem in which their work is held now and the absebce of any real good silver work on new Yemeni Muslim made daggers it is apparent that their effort was not entirely successful.

Unfortunatlly, in Yemen as in many oif the other Arab gulf countries none of the young people have a desire nor want to take the time for the requisite apprenticeship and learning to make a life of a humble smith with the result that old quality silver worked pieces have become scarce.

The only country in the gulf that has kept this silver and dagger making practice alive to any artistic dgeree as a national art has been the Sultanate of Oman. Years ago the Sultan Qaboos directed that dagger smithing be kept alive as a ciultural art wherein men were to wear them as pasrt of national costume. This has created a social support network to help keep the art alive.

In all honesty this piece is of moderate quality and has most likely had the Jewish satr and language added to improve its value or as a talisman of some sort. A lot of them will say (as mine do on several - "Malabous al-afia) "Health to the wearer" or "May it bring the wearer good health. I believe that the apparent woman figure opposite the star is a drawn reference to the Queen of Sheba for I have them same figure on one of my janbiyas.



Please feel free to contact me off forum at 334-300-6228 or at sketost@alaweb.com if you have any question sor would like to discuss this piece further.
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Old 31st July 2010, 06:03 AM   #6
kahnjar1
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Hi and welcome to the Forum.
I will not comment further on the Jambiya as I think that this one has been "dealt with". The second item though appears to me to be modern made. It seems to represent a Moroccan Koummya but the hilt shape is different. Also the quality of the engraving is rough, maybe suggesting a tourist?? piece.
Regards Stuart
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Old 5th August 2010, 11:53 AM   #7
Dom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_p_doyle
Any information or insight anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated.
a fact, the sentence between the two Soleiman seal, don't seems to be writing in Arabic language

Soleiman seal, in our case, could be a Jewish blacksmith mark,
but it's used by Muslims also,
for them Soleiman is a Prophet
and his seal is often associated to protection in decor e.i.
for "Islamic talismanic bowl", dated XVI/XVIIth century
as per as pic below

+

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Old 5th August 2010, 06:58 PM   #8
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Hi all. Warning.... this item is now on Ebay
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Old 6th August 2010, 09:08 PM   #9
Dizos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi all. Warning.... this item is now on Ebay


Lame.
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Old 6th August 2010, 09:37 PM   #10
Lew
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Since this is on ebay the tread will remain closed for now.
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