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Old 13th November 2017, 11:49 PM   #1
Ian
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Default African (?) -- from where?

A friend asked me what this knife was and how old it might be. I feel that I should know what this one is but a quick search of my files turned up nothing. The stacked, full tang hilt seems to be made of bone and horn disks. The blade is well made, sharp and has a wicked point. The scabbard is brass and has a stamped design (as shown). An incised design appears at forte also.

The appearance suggests WWII era or thereabouts.

Ideas?

Ian.
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Old 14th November 2017, 12:59 AM   #2
BBJW
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I would guess it is a post WW2 N. African copy of an English Fairbairn knife.
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Old 14th November 2017, 04:01 AM   #3
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I'll say Somalian Erythrean with a scabbard influenced by Ottoman Yemen.
Early 20th c.
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Old 14th November 2017, 04:07 AM   #4
Battara
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Have you considered the region around Syria?
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Old 14th November 2017, 09:07 AM   #5
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Hi,
Although the scabbard indeed looks Syrian, the dagger is from Ethiopia, or at least that is what I read. Of course I can not say it is not from Somalia or even Erythrea. It does looks quite new. I am adding a pic. of similar daggers I have found described as Ethiopian.
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Old 14th November 2017, 11:24 AM   #6
Martin Lubojacky
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It is simmilar to some Ethiopian styles, nevertheless it is not from Ethiopia.
I would say (north) Sudan.
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Old 14th November 2017, 02:01 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. I greatly appreciate the feedback. Motan, thank you for pictures of your knives, some of which have similarly engraved blades.

I'm not feeling quite so stupid now that I have seen what you all think! My initial guess was Ethiopia or Sudan based on what little I could find in my records and online. My friend will have to be satisfied with a general region rather than a more specific answer. As far as age, the knife has been cleaned recently and the blade polished, so I think it looks newer than it actually may be. That said, I don't think it is any earlier than WWII, and perhaps later.

Very helpful comments.

Ian.
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Old 15th November 2017, 03:57 AM   #8
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In Italy there is a town, named Scarperia, where most of the high quality knives have been made for centuries. There is a museum dedicated to locally made blades. The museum hosts blades related exhibitions. In 2016, from July 30 to October 30, the exhibition was devoted to "Blades from the Horn of Africa". Most of the blades were on loan from the Ethnographic Museum of Florence. The blades includes everyday utensils and some weapons. These items had been collected from around 1880 to 1900 by scientific expeditions in the Horn of Africa, mostly Eritrea that, at the time, was becoming an Italian colony. The knife on page 21 of the small catalogued printed at the time of the Exhibition caught my attention. It was collected, according to museum records, in Eritrea, by a Carlo Gastaldi, between 1888 and 1898. The scabbard is in brass. The blade has Kuranic writing. So, my guess would be that it came to Eritrea from across the Sudanese border. The Eritrean Beni-Amer and Beja nomads know no boundaries. Especially 100 years + ago. So the question really is: is this knife it Eritrean or Sudanese? I believe that it is the PLACE where it was found and not the place where it was made that will establish that. Otherwise, half of my Ethiopian swords would have to be called European..... Cheers, RON
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Old 15th November 2017, 05:16 AM   #9
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Thanks Ron. The scabbard in the catalogue looks very similar to the one I showed, and the knife has some strong similarities too, although the blade shape is obviously different.

Ian.
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Old 15th November 2017, 12:22 PM   #10
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I tried to find something on internet. But in this case it is difficult...just one picture from pinterest described as "rare Sudan dagger" (without any in-reference).
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Old 15th November 2017, 12:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roanoa
The scabbard is in brass. The blade has Kuranic writing. So, my guess would be that it came to Eritrea from across the Sudanese border. The Eritrean Beni-Amer and Beja nomads know no boundaries. Especially 100 years + ago. So the question really is: is this knife it Eritrean or Sudanese? I believe that it is the PLACE where it was found and not the place where it was made that will establish that. Otherwise, half of my Ethiopian swords would have to be called European..... Cheers, RON


Interesting
And IF the blade was Sudanese?
and the knife Erytrean?
It will be an Erytrean knife with a Sudanese blade.
The scabbard looks Syrian but in fact influenced by Yemen.
Yemen and Syria were both under Ottoman influence.
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Old 15th November 2017, 03:04 PM   #12
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Abyssinia was greatly influenced by the Arabian Peninsula. Mostly Yemen. The Italian bought the Bay of Assab (their first foothold into the Horn of Africa) from a Yemeni Sheik. The Abyssinian silverwork was almost exclusively of Yemeni design, if not imported directly from Yemen. So were the sword decorations. It is no surprise that the brass scabbard of the knives in question show influence from across the Red Sea.
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Old 17th November 2017, 03:11 AM   #13
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Hello All,

I have no idea about the quite lovely dagger. For now at least, it's outside my area of interest.

However, I did study the Somali Language for a couple years in college with a brilliant teacher, poet, and filmmaker from Hargeysa (he goes by "Macaalin Saciid," or "Teacher Saciid"). More than once he talked about the close cultural connection between Northern Somalia and Yemen. It is said that along the Northern Coast of Somali, when it's quiet, you can sometimes hear them singing in Yemen.

Is it true?
I have no idea.
But it is rather poetic, isn't it?

Have fun,
Leif
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