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Old 21st June 2011, 09:53 AM   #1
Atlantia
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Default The Syrian Jambiya/Khanjar

Following on from email discussions with several forum members plus a couple of non-members who read these pages, I thought that it might be useful to try and identify the criteria needed to differentiate the georgraphic origins of these increasingly collected distinctive daggers.

As far as I can ascertain, there seem to be various manufacturing centres.
Damascus of course, Majdal Shams (مجدل شمس) in the Golan, and others.
So, what are the pointers for identifying the origin of these daggers?

I have some examples, and some thoughts. which I will return with later.
I know some other forumites have some very fine examples.
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Old 21st June 2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
...snip... I know some other forumites have some very fine examples.
Hi ...
my truth, which is not necessarily "THE" truth
concerning Syria (without Jordan or Israel)

it seems (?) that there are three different productions,
two ... nearly similar
- Magdali - Druze production from "Majdal Shams" (Tower of the sun) - Golan
- Damascus production

the third one, is for the Palestinian, an Bedouin Jordan market, .. more specific

the "Magdali's" is characterized by an hilt flatter, and less decorated
but with some poems (?) engraved on the blade, close to the hilt
I never got a chance to know what is writing, translation resist to all translators

- Damascus production, the hilt is carved in a more elaborated way
the blade is often with colored inserts dots or engraving stars 3 or more
red, black green, recalling the national colors,
it also has two or three gorges along its length,and has sometimes light engraving

as far as I know, the hilt are constituted of ;
- rings made from goats horn
- rings made from bone
- rings made by copper, or brass, could be by silvery
- sometimes inclusion of coral, mother of pearls
- sometime a date (one with me is dated 1923 Gregorian in Arabic characters ...)

that's what my friend "Rimon" told me and teach me
he is furbisher in Islamic edged weapons, and established in ... Damascus - Syria
all the best

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Old 21st June 2011, 06:01 PM   #3
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This type of dagger is often referred to as 'Majdali Daggers' as they are most famously made in Majdal Shams (مجدل شمس) in the Golan Heights, although (as Dom says) I believe that there are other centres of production including most famously Damascus but also I believe elsewhere around the modern border of Israel.
Here are my best two. An almost identical pair in near mint condition.
I have never seen others with their original suspension sashes.
I've always thought that these are classic 'Majdali Daggers' (from Majdal Shams) and despite the swollen hilt normally seen on the Damascus ones I'd stick with that origin, Dom?:

Edit: because my writing this crossed over with Dom's post, so I'm integrating my answer for clarity.
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Last edited by Atlantia : 21st June 2011 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 21st June 2011, 06:14 PM   #4
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Hi Dom, Thank you for your help

Lovely examples btw.

So, following on from what Dom has already told us. These daggers traditionally have good quality thick blades of flattened diamond section. Double edged and steeply curving towards the tip.

While they at first glance have a garish tourist look, they are in fact serious things and generally more sturdy and rigid than most Arabian daggers.
They would easily punch through heavy clothing, even light armour!
Their construction is very similar to the knives of the Canary Islands, with disks of inlayed bone and horn slid onto a full length tang which are secured with a brass terminal often screwed into place by means of the tang being threaded toward the end.
As they age, the horn tends to loose its grip on the inlays and often small pieces are lost.

As variations, these do sometimes appear with 'other' influences apparent.
Ottoman for example, but I have even seen them with double edged blades that look like a Kindjal.
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Old 21st June 2011, 06:26 PM   #5
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Default Damascus Syrian Jambiya?

I recently two jambiya reportedly from Syria. According to Dom's classification, the first one shown here would be Damascus. Am I correct?

best regards,

Dave A.
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Old 21st June 2011, 06:29 PM   #6
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Default 2nd Syrian Jambiya

This one doesn't seem to fit Dom's categories but the seller also claimed it was from Syria. Any insights?

- Dave A.
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Old 21st June 2011, 06:32 PM   #7
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Default Magdali jambiya

Here is my third Syrian jambiya, provisionally identified as from Magdal Shams. Sorry I don't have better pictures at this time.

- Dave A.
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Old 21st June 2011, 06:45 PM   #8
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Hi Dave,

The first and second I would say are Majdali type. Either from Majdal Shams or possibly one of the other villages in that area.
They look to have very good age.
These tend to date from 1920-1950. But those might be older (say 1900-1920). I would guess that the first is showing Ottoman rule in it's crescent and star decoration.

Good examples.
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Old 21st June 2011, 07:14 PM   #9
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Here's a fairly standard Damascus type.
Interestingly, this has a slightly unusual inscription, which although typically a little rough, is legible enough that I can pick out the date of 1358, which I make to be 1939.

If anyone can pick out any other words I'd be interested?
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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:51 AM   #10
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I find it interesting that both the (or just some?) Syrian and Jordanian Jambiyas are inscribed with the Gregorian date written in Arabic. Due to the confluence of cultures in and around the Holy Land, perhaps?

Anyway, I'll take and post a couple photos of my own Syrian example in a day or so...
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Old 22nd June 2011, 05:35 AM   #11
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Just to share mine...



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Old 22nd June 2011, 06:35 AM   #12
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Default Previous Thread re Syrian Dagger

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=6959
This in one that I once owned and the link to the tread which describes it. Same type of hilt but a straight blade and Neillo scabbard.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
I've always thought that these are classic 'Majdali Daggers' (from Majdal Shams) and despite the swollen hilt normally seen on the Damascus ones I'd stick with that origin, Dom?:
Funny, because they are a compromize between "Majdali" (blade) and Damascus (hilt)
they are with their original suspension cord ... and new
apparently, those two daggers have never been worn,
really they are just very beautiful
all the best

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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=6959
This in one that I once owned and the link to the tread which describes it. Same type of hilt but a straight blade and Neillo scabbard.


One of the examples that I had in mind. I would say again that this is an example of Ottoman rule showing it's influence in Syrian Crafts.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dom
Funny, because they are a compromize between "Majdali" (blade) and Damascus (hilt)
they are with their original suspension cord ... and new
apparently, those two daggers have never been worn,
really they are just very beautiful
all the best

+

Dom


Thanks Dom, they are beauties. Old but near perfect.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devadatta
Just to share mine...



Excellent examples.
I like the tray as well!!!
I actually had mine displayed with an Ottoman/Syrian tray for a while!
Which neatly brings me back to the influence of Ottoman rule on that part of the world.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA
Here is my third Syrian jambiya, provisionally identified as from Magdal Shams. Sorry I don't have better pictures at this time.

- Dave A.
Hi Dave
all your Syrian jambiya are ...
"Majdali" type from "Magdal Shams - Golan"
very well typed I just Love them

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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:03 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA
This one doesn't seem to fit Dom's categories but the seller also claimed it was from Syria. Any insights?

- Dave A.
and the seller was fully correct
more Syrian than that I.M.P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E
specifically from Golan Mountains ... it's a splendid "Majdali"

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Old 27th August 2011, 09:59 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
Excellent examples.
I like the tray as well!!!
I actually had mine displayed with an Ottoman/Syrian tray for a while!
Which neatly brings me back to the influence of Ottoman rule on that part of the world.


Dom and Mrs Dom, have been kind enought to provide a translation of the Syrian tray I posted:

Central Tughra: Abdlhamid II

Outer panels:

"- 1 - MASAA'AEB EL ENDA ASSABRE read it normally, and you will have the Arabic reading)
- 1 - THE PATIENCE IN CATASTROPHE

- 2 - MAWAHEB EL AZAMETE MENE
- 2 - IS FROM A GREAT TALENT

- 3 (above) - DAMASCUS SANA 1908
- 3 (below) - NASSAM AMAL

- 3 (above) - YEAR 1908 DAMASCUS
- 3 (below) - DONE BY NASSAM

- 4 - ABIB AL ZEKHRE ALA CHOURBENA MAZAK
- 4 - WITH THE TASTE OF OUR DRINKS, WE WE RECALL, THE MEMORY OF OUR LOVER (under-meaning, the Holy Prophet Mohamed)"


Thank you my friend.
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Old 28th August 2011, 07:43 PM   #20
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Two and a half years ago, I posted here a real sword with identical handle. Then, it did not attract any attention.
Perhaps, it can add something to the present discussion.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...highlight=druze
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Old 28th August 2011, 08:31 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Two and a half years ago, I posted here a real sword with identical handle. Then, it did not attract any attention.
Perhaps, it can add something to the present discussion.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...highlight=druze


Hi Ariel,

It appears to be a standard (size and shape) 'Damascus' type dagger hilt mounted to a sword blade. Rather than some specific sword variation of that type.
There seem to be no adaptations or even concessions to the longer blade, even though Syrian swords are often Shamshir type (with guards) and the blade is a sabre which presumably had a guard of familiar type.
Also of course the blade is a 'foreign' sabre and not a Syrian blade (like those in the daggers).
The scabbard mounts are a mixture of the usual kind of 'shamshir' scabbard hangers and crude throat/chape that follow the general construction of those scabbards seen on the daggers.

So, I'd guess that this is a genuine period hybrid rather than a recognised tpye. An atypical re-using of a sabre blade by local craftsmen.
I'd guess at a date of between the wars.

Best
Gene
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